New Guest Column: Snoqualmie Valley Pet Training 101; Advice From An Expert

Today launches a new guest column on Living Snoqualmie for all you valley pet lovers.  Twice a month Melissa Grant will offer up advice on pet training – and I know MANY of you in the valley have and love your pets.  Melissa is a Pet-ology Expert and In home Dog Trainer at Le Chic Pet.  To get more training tips visit the LeChic websiteGot a specific topic you want Melissa to cover?  Just send it to  Enjoy!

Fall is in the air and so is new puppy season! Sniff sniff oh no something else is in the air too! One of the biggest challenges of raising a dog is puppy potty training. Potty training a puppy is something that should begin from the moment you bring your new dog home. Patience and consistency go a long way in teaching your new puppy the rules for his new environment. Here are a few tips to get your potty training skills off on the right paw.

Never punish your pooch for house training accidents.  It is counter-productive and will frequently teach the dog some other unwanted behaviors.  You may just be teaching your dog to avoid eliminating in front of you.  This could lead to the dog refusing to go when you  take him for a walk, and then sneaking off  to go in another room away from you.

Always clean up accidents with an odor neutralizer, such as “Nature’s Miracle”.  Some soap or other cleaning products will not adequately clean up the smell leading the pet to eliminate in the same area again.

When working on house-training, take the dog out after all of the following  activities: waking up, resting, drinking water, eating, playing, training, and actively sniffing.

No matter what your day-to-day schedule, try to keep your pup’s days similar.  Do not have two very different schedules on weekdays and weekends.

Always take your dog out the same door to relieve himself  in the same area of the backyard.  If possible, use a different door when taking the puppy out to play or to go for a walk.  Always take the puppy out on a leash until the puppy understands the routine.  This routine will help this bathroom area become the first and most consistent place for the puppy to relieve himself.

Always calmly praise and/or treat immediately after in the correct area.  However, be careful not to praise in such a manner that the dog stops going to the bathroom.

Set up the puppies sleeping and eating areas so that he travels in a straight line to his bathroom area- no twists and turns to get outside.  Since puppies are easily distracted, it is important to be calm when taking the puppy to his bathroom area.  He may confuse bathroom time with playtime or walk time if you do not act significantly calmer when taking him for a potty run.

Make an elimination log for the puppy.  It may sound silly, but it is a critical component in housebreaking.  If you know when the puppy is most likely to eliminate, begin to tailor your potty runs around those times and begin eliminating potty runs at times when you are certain he never goes.

You can extend the number of hours the puppy can hold his bladder at night by: #1 Withholding food and water a minimum of 2-3 hours before bedtime.  #2 Exercise the puppy sufficiently to increase the likelihood of elimination and to get him tired.

Never assume the puppy has eliminated.  You must witness the puppy eliminating before he can begin “free time”.  A very common mistake that dog owners make is to bring their puppy in the house after the puppy has been in the backyard for a while and giving the puppy “free time”.  Dog owners assume that the puppy has probably gone potty because he was in the backyard.  Always put the puppy on a leash and walk him over to the potty area before bringing him back into the house.  If the puppy does not go, the owner can bring the dog in the house, but he must be confined.

After one or two weeks of no accidents whatsoever, add one extra room of house and supervise closely.  If puppy is successful, add one room every two or three weeks.

Starting at age three months, gradually extend the duration between outings-add one half hour every week or two.  If the puppy starts having accidents, back off and do more frequent outings for a couple of weeks again, then try again.

Strive to be as consistent as possible but expect some errors and setbacks. Don’t worry dogs are very resilient and so are you. One day it will all click for you pooch and you will have a properly trained pup. Good Luck!


About Melissa:  She is an animal behavior college certified dog trainer. Melissa spent her adult working life in retail management before switching careers to dog training. As a child, she dreamed of having a career working with animals, but life took her in another direction. She decided to make her dream a reality, enrolled in a certification program from Animal Behavior College, and graduated with honors. Upon graduating, Melissa opened her own private training business and started working as the group dog trainer for the Factoria Petco in Western Washington. Melissa has had memberships in the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, a the International Association of Canine Professionals, a professional member of the American Dog Owners Association, a Canine Good Citizen evaluator and a former volunteer for the Humane Society of Seattle/King County. Melissa has also been a frequent guest on KOMO 1000 news sharing her views on dog training.

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  • #1 is patience. Your point about not assuming its all done is right on. You need to give it time. In trained my puppy with patience so that now, she does it all on command. We have a set schedule because I know when she has to go. She wouldn’t bark or give any indication of having to go….except her ‘donut dance’ (dances in a circle), which does double duty as ‘feed me’. So I know when I see the donut dance, it’s one or the other, I’ll underscore the patience point by saying that many small breeds including mini Dachshunds take many months to housebreak. Other breeds like Labs or Retrievers get this down a lot quicker. You really need to be patient, loving, and heap on the praise and little treats. Oh, and lots of Oxyclean!

    1. Hi Lynn! You are so right, patience is #1. Right up there with persistence and consistency. Small dogs can be a particular challenge. Dogs tend not to eliminate where they eat or sleep. For a big dog that can include your entire house, for a small dog across the room can feel like Europe. Extra patience can be required for the little ones. Short term inconvenience long term benefit! It sounds like you know what you’re doing. Good for you and your pooches 🙂

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