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Conflicting advice on housetraining - pee pads and treats or no?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by kahvi, Dec 2, 2020.


  1. kahvi

    kahvi PetForums Junior

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    We've had our puppy for close to a month now. I've mainly been following Ian Dunbar's advice in terms of keeping her in a puppy pen during the day while I'm working so she can only make 'good choices' and can't get into trouble.

    In her pen she has a pee pad - we're using newspaper secured to a pee pad tray. We chose newspaper because it's what another trainer (Tuire Kaimio) recommends and it's what people in my family and my best friend did when their dogs were puppies, so it just felt like a normal choice. Nuka doesn't use the pee pad much though because I mostly take her out throughout the day - it's just there for situations when I can't take her out (like 3h client calls or when I go to the shop and my partner forgets to take her out). I just find it really convenient that if she needs to go whilst she's indoors, then it's in one spot and it's easy for me to clean up.

    When I take her out I say 'hurry up' when she's doing her business. Her breeder used this cue and we're sticking to it. I also give her a treat (cooked chicken) whenever she pees or poops, as Dunbar's advice is: 'Enthusiastically praise your puppy when she eliminates, offer three freeze-dried liver treats'.

    But the view on giving treats from the Dog Training Advice and Support Facebook group (run by dog trainers) is: 'the dog is being rewarded for what he did not where he did it. [...] the clever dog will learn to do lots of little wees and never fully empty their bladder. The insecure dog may wee indoors to appease you if you get cross about something else because they know that this is something that pleases you and gets rewarded'. They also advise against using a pee pad, which they say can be 'very confusing for the pup that is taught or permitted to toilet in the house'.

    We've had a few accidents indoors where we've been playing in the lounge and she suddenly stops to pee on the carpet, but lately I've been making sure we take breaks during play to go outdoors and we haven't had any accidents in the past couple of weeks. When she's peed in the lounge we've just cleaned it up with no fuss. Also, recently we were playing and she suddenly ran to the backdoor, so I went out into the garden with her and she did a poop (I was so proud), so I feel like she's starting to get it.

    But have I made a mistake by using newspaper? And is it wrong to give her treats for peeing in the garden?

    Sorry for the long post!
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    DTAS is amazing, and I have the greatest respect for their opinions but this is one of, I think, two points where the advice here differs a little (the other is that people here often recommend removing themselves when puppies are mouthing).

    The advice given by many people here is to praise very enthusiastically for outside toilets - I do think puppies make the connection that it is the place of the toilet that they are being rewarded for. If our dogs thought they were being rewarded just for weeing, they would never housetrain, would they? They would be weeing at every opportunity for the reward.

    Regarding the pads, I do think they can give mixed messages by confusing the puppy about whether indoor toilets are allowed if the puppy is being encouraged to use them. But, if a puppy is going to have to toilet because you are on a three hour call, she is going to have to toilet wherever she is. So it makes little difference whether it is on carpet, newspaper, a pad or whatever - so I wouldn't be trying to "get your puppy to use the paper", I'd have as much down in the pen as possible so that she isn't actually aiming for it, it just makes cleaning easier iykwim. And ignore accidents, and reward outside like you have been doing.

    Just a couple of words on your ”hurry up” cue.

    I sometimes use that in the house (not necessarily aimed at my dog) so just be careful you don't confuse her with that in future.

    The other thing is you need to use it only while she is actually in the act of toileting until she fully understands what it means, and only then can you start using it as a prompt.
     
    #2 JoanneF, Dec 2, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
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  3. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel Banned

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    Hello

    I will just chip in here and say i used ian dunbar's methods with both my dogs when they were pups for house training, chew toy training. Crate training. And they worked a treat. But the methods are rigid and i am a very rigid personality.
    So i followed them to the letter.


    Just to focus on the house training part. I did not have puppy pads or newspaper. Using dunbar's methods, neither of my pups ever soiled in the house.

    We missed maybe 4 or 5 pees but they were pretty much dry inside a week (not trained and asking to go out i hasten to add but dry as in peeing fast in the garden and not at all indoors as we took them out regularly as advised by dunbar)


    It is a very simple binary system, Dunbar's.

    Basically, you control the environment so tightly that house training errors are eliminated.

    You watch your pup like a hawk and take out regularly. Treat and praise highly for outdoor toilets and work hard to ensure the pup never gets the chance to eliminate indoors by use of pen and crated areas.


    I also set up a penned area in my garden so it was very clear to the pups that was the area they toileted in.



    Really, i would say they pretty much got the system within a couple of days.

    But you do need to set aside time where you are so focused on your pup, you never miss a 'mistake'



    It is perfectly possible.

    But probably only for control freaks like me!



    If i remember rightly, dunbar does show a set up for if you do need to go out of the house, leaving pup behind. With a crate, enclosed by a pen and pads in the pen part. Crate door left open.


    I never needed that as our house is never unoccupied but i would say it works best if you can devote a solid week to watching like a hawk. Very easy to do if pup is contained in a pen. No pads, no newspaper.

    Simple system.

    Toilet right equals praise and treats.

    Toilet wrong equals scoop up, rush outdoors, no treats.

    And clean any mistake areas very thoroughly with urine off spray.

    Good luck!
     
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  4. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    I think using newspaper the way you are is completely different from people who are more or less training their pups to go on puppy pads rather than outside. I have always put paper down in the kitchen overnight or if I am out for my own convenience and gradually it gets used less and less as the puppy can hold on till outside. I do not use treats for any training , just voice praise or a stroke. I still tell my dogs to have a wee to hurry them up. I started it as puppies when they were sniffing around looking for somewhere to go. You sound like you are doing well. Stop reading on the internet and read your dog and then you will get it right - as you seem to be.
     
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  5. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    Isla, who is a greedy dog, cottoned on very quickly to the giving her a treat when she toileted and she started doing pretend wee’s in order to get food however tiny the morsel, so I just stuck to praise, but that’s just her and her greediness.
    Basically you are going in the right direction and in the main you are being successful, so don’t doubt yourself, it’s perhaps just a bit of fine tuning here and there.
    When giving praise/treat after a toilet, then make sure you go to the puppy rather calling her to you so that she knows it’s for toileting outside and not for a recall.
    I never bothered with pee pads, someone gave me some when I first bought the puppy home and I put one in the crate overnight, but she just chewed it, so I didn’t use them after that. Prior to this dog I had always put a puppy in a safe room overnight (the utility room) with some paper on the floor in case of overnight wee’s, it was a system that seemed to work well and a lot of people did this many years ago.
    I found using a crate did seem to speed up house training or maybe I just had a puppy with a strong bladder who was quick to learn this time. She only had very accidents in the house and like you found, it was mainly because I didn’t take her out in time when she was playing.
    It’s just a matter of getting into a good routine of taking the puppy out regularly to toilet and trying to keep an eye on her in between times although I understand completely how difficult this can be when you are working and allowances have to be made.

    You do sound to be doing things right so don’t worry unduly
     
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  6. kahvi

    kahvi PetForums Junior

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    Thanks for your input - and great to hear your perspective on the Facebook group!

    We only started using the pee pad tray after she started to tear the newspaper up and drag it around her pen and chew it :rolleyes: she still tears at it if she can find an edge of the page but on the whole it's stopped her eating it, which is good. I see what you mean about it encouraging her to aim for it though..

    As for 'hurry up', we've now banned the term in the house just to be safe! :D

    Awesome to hear a success story of Dunbar's methods! I will admit I'm probably not as rigid with it as I should be and there are aspects of it that I'm struggling with (which I'll probably ask for advice on at some point) but I do like how he lays out clear guidelines :)

    Thanks, I do feel like I've got better at reading her over the weeks (or at least I like to believe I have!)

    I've been having a quick glance at the ground when she wees sometimes to see if it's actually wet or if she's just pretend weeing for treats! :Hilarious

    I will make sure to go to her to give her treats though - I don't think I've been paying enough attention to this.

    I don't currently put her in her crate during the day. She sleeps in it at night ok but I feel like she's doing ok without it during the day. I do see how it would likely speed up housetraining though
     
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  7. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    A story. We taught our cues as ”do weewee” and ”busy busy” (separate cues for different toilets). Timber was just getting the hang of house training when a friend visited. We were asking how her work was going and she replied ”oh, you know - busy busy ...”

    Noooooooo!
     
  8. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    I reckon dogs understand us a great deal more then we think. When I got Isla I thought I would use a more sensible cue word then I had with my last dog which was ‘be a good girl’ as I did wonder if someone said good girl to her she would immediately squat and do a wee. I tried very hard to say ‘busy, busy’ but before I knew it I was saying ‘be a good girl’ and off she would go and wee. She’s never inappropriately reacted to me or anyone else saying good girl to her in praise so I reckon she has a good snigger and does what she knows I want at the right time and accepts the same words as praise at other times
     
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  9. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel Banned

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    Nor did I. I used a crate at night, same as you and a pen in the day.

    This completely prevents your pup nipping off and peeing under the table or out of sight and you not noticing.

    The dunbar system depends on you getting this "on/off" system.

    A bit like an animal that learns to press a lever for food.

    Except in this case the lever is eliminating outdoors = treats. (On)

    Eliminating indoors = no treats (off)

    If you can set up the environment so there are only those 2 choices, puppies learn super fast.

    Without a pen or contained area, the pup introduces other options:


    Pee under table (no one sees) = nothing happens
    Pee under table (someone does see) = commotion to get pup out, associated noise and hands grabbing.

    Pee on your expensive brand new shoes = loud cries and tense annoyance!!

    Pee on tatty old slippers due for bin = laughter and cuddles


    Obvs made up examples but do you see how, by allowing too much freedom around the house, the puppy gets a very confused message about where it is actually ok to pee/poo. Because more variables are introduced and the pup then gets different responses from you so there is no clarity for the pup.

    Us humans are so inconsistant and this does make it difficult for our puppies!

    So you have all these extra 'levers' and the puppy is actually very confused about what each one does.

    Honestly, if you can even set aside a weekend to do dunbar's containment method, you will be amazed at how fast the results are.
     
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  10. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    oh well, all the puppies I have ever had in my life have managed to get housetrained despite free ranging in the house, back door open in good weather so they take themselves out, no treats and newspaper on the floor. Same as most puppies pre internet days. Dogs are not as stupid as we make out.
     
  11. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel Banned

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    Were they trained with literally no 'accidents' in the house though @Blitz ?

    Coz the puppy we had back in 1979 definitely wasnt! I remember a lot of rubbing her nose in it and running her outdoors (wrong, i know but i think a lot of people thought that was the way back then) and i distinctly recall she did a dribble of sloppy poop right down my brand new corduroy jeans as in one dash for the door!

    She got there of course. But there were accidents and it took longer than 24 or 48 hrs.

    This dunbar method was sooooooo fast. In fact, with murphy he only ever peed once in the house and that is when we first brought him home. Put him down and he peed on the carpet right away. Then, using the dunbar method, nothing else at all.

    Tilly was started off in an outdoor shed with a settee and covers where the pups could pee and poo wherever they liked so she prefered to pee on soft things. She never pooped in the house but we did miss 3 or 4 pees.

    It is such a fast method.
     
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  12. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    I think it's worth making the distinction between newspaper and puppy pads.
    Newspaper: smooth surface, unscented (OK, it does smell of something, but doesn't have added chemicals that attract the pup to pee on it), often an informative read first and an enjoyable suduko and crossword, and cheap/free with no VAT.
    Puppy pads: soft fabric texture, similar to a rug or duvet. Scented with stuff to attract the pup to toilet on it, so pup may be more likely to transfer the idea to substances of a similar texture and are enticed to toilet indoors. Relatively expensive, with VAT.
    I don't mind putting paper down in a pen, but you'll never get me buying puppy pads.
     
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  13. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    It was not instant back then but these current two were already crate trained so they slept in the crate and were clean from the first night apart from the odd accident- I do not get up to them. They had the run of the house but I took them out regularly. No treats just praise and virtually no accidents. I dont think anyone can say there is never an accident with a small pup unless they spend literally every moment watching it and have fantastic speed getting it outside. The crate certainly seemed to speed things up but then again maybe not as a young pup has no bladder control so it either wants to go so does or does not want to so doesn't. Like all things with dogs some methods work for some people and not for others and some work for some dogs and not others.
     
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  14. kahvi

    kahvi PetForums Junior

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    Haha oh dear :Hilarious maybe I'll put up a sign by the front door with a list of banned terms

    Yes I do find it awfully good for this! Last year when we told my partner's mother that we're getting a puppy she warned me with horror stories of how her dogs chewed the legs of their expensive dining room table and peed on the dining room curtains every day etc. (they had free reign of the house from the day they were brought home and nobody ever goes in the dining room)

    Nuka has now settled into a routine where we play outside in the morning, she relaxes all day in her pen and amuses herself with chew toys, and then we spend more time together in the evenings. It gives me so much peace of mind during the day knowing that she's ok and not doing anything she shouldn't be!
     
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  15. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    Excuse me, but just where are the obligatory puppy pictures? You don't get to ask questions without posting cute photos you know. ;)
     
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  16. LotsaDots

    LotsaDots PetForums Senior

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    I have a puppy who is almost house trained but he is 18 weeks old. Ive been with him pretty much constantly for 10 weeks but still missed several accidents. I take my hat off to anyone that can house train a pup in a few days! I think it does depend on the breed aswell, little dogs have smaller bladders and will need to go more often (literally every 15 mins when he was 8 weeks old!) also busy dogs tend to get distracted easily and don't finish the job. We had many times he would wee outside get back in and go again immediately! Now I spend a bit longer in the garden with him to make sure the deed is fully done and as they get older accidents become less frequent. We do use treats but my mum has house trained many dogs (including our other terrier) very successfully and quicker than we have done without any treats at all. I think whichever method you use most dogs will get there in the end.
     
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  17. kahvi

    kahvi PetForums Junior

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    This is Nuka, the little troublemaker:

    128141045_860927264710804_7844903779598030511_n.jpg

    Please excuse the fleece jumper she's wearing - it's made from the sleeve of an old fleece as per advice from this forum :) It was too big for her when I took this picture a few days ago but it's already starting to look a little short on her!
     
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  18. Nicola234

    Nicola234 PetForums Senior

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    Hi
    I’ve always took my pups straight out to toilet after waking up, feeding or play times or every half hour if none of the above apply, I’ve never given treats for toileting but lots of praise in high pitched voice ‘such a good girl/boy etc’ and they’ve been toilet trained pretty quickly. I’ve left papers down at night just in case but if they cry I’m straight up and out again, they have such small bladders as puppies it’s asking a lot of them to go through the night, that said my pup that came to me at 4 months from kennels in Romania has never once toileted in the house, I do think some dogs are better are toilet training than others and in my experience girls are quicker at learning than boys but obviously this can vary x
     
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