Potty Training: The No Tools Story
Let's just take away all of the tools for a moment to see what a typical scenario could look like:
Owner is sitting on the recliner with the foot rest up while puppy plays with its toys nearby. It goes to the water bowl for a drink, located behind the recliner on the tile on the edge of the kitchen. On its way back, it squats to pee, but owner does not see puppy just behind the recliner. Puppy happily continues back to its toy or over to owner for a pat.
Owner thinks, "I haven't taken puppy out for a while, I better make sure puppy doesn't have to go potty." So, during a commercial, owner rises from the recliner and puppy follows owner outside. Puppy then sniffs around a bit, picks up a stick, runs around with it, looks at the flowerpot, comes to owner for a pat and then goes to sniff some more. Owner stands by the door waiting. After several minutes, puppy finally squats and owner heaps on a lot of praise. Good boy!
Then owner opens the door to go back into the house with puppy following right along. Unknowingly, owner steps over the now drying pee spot on the floor. Owner is proud of puppy and sits back down on the recliner, picking puppy up to snuggle. Puppy enjoys the affection for a while, then squirms to get down and owner complies.
Puppy goes back over to its potty spot to sniff and the urge to go number 2 overcomes it. Puppy sniffs around the floor until it finds a particularly nice spot down the hallway, far away from its bowl and out of the living room and begins to push.
Owner wonders what puppy is up to and looks around the corner of the hallway just in time to see puppy pushing. Owner grabs puppy, scolds it, and rushes over to the back door. Although puppy stops pushing, it is distraught and confused. Owner places puppy on the ground outside, but puppy is upset and confused so just stays with owner, sitting quietly.
Owner waits for puppy to get up and sniff around. Puppy cautiously gets up and moves to the grass, sniffing around. Puppy eventually poos and owner praises puppy. Puppy and owner walk back into the house.
When you do not use any tools and rely on your own ability to watch your puppy, you may not always be 100% aware. Setting up a specific space for puppy means that you do not have to be as perfect in your abilities. When you have puppy in an enclosed space, you can sit in the recliner and see puppy, you can move to the open kitchen and see puppy, your eyes know right where to focus to see puppy, and you do not have to wonder or worry just where puppy is if it has gone out of sight. It can only be in its space.
Secondly, not setting up a specific space for puppy means there is no incentive for puppy to communicate to you that it needs to use the potty. It has the entire house to explore as it wants. Without a confined space to target your work with your puppy, you allow puppy to decide when and where it can go in the house. There are no boundaries so it doesn't understand them.
In the next lesson, we will take a look at common mistakes that people make in potty training and how to avoid them.