I’m going to give folks the benefit of the doubt on this one.
I’m going to go with the story that you simply never put any thought into it when you purchased “pee pads” for your puppy.
I’m going to choose to believe that had you spent more than 2 seconds thinking about how they work, and the concept behind the use of such a tool, you would have laughed at the fact that they even exist for such a purpose.
What is housebreaking? What is it that we are wanting the dog to do? We all can agree on these questions as they appear to be quite obvious.
The mission is simple, the dog is to always eliminate outside, and never eliminate inside.
I do hope there isn’t a debate here.
THE PEE PAD PROBLEM
A pee pad is pretty self explanatory. It is a pad that comes already scented with an odor that will encourage a puppy to go to the bathroom on it. People use them to create a space INSIDE where the puppy can predictably go to the bathroom.
For those trainers who make the decision to endorse the use of this tool (a group which I clearly am NOT a part of), there is a seemingly coherent approach.
They suggest you simply move the pads closer and closer to the door eventually putting them outside so the puppy learns to go outside. This is done for those who have their puppies alone for extended periods of time while at work during the day.
I get it. I really do.
I just don’t like it and the reason I don’t like it is because it causes confusion for the puppy and I HATE anything that results in a puppy or dog getting confused.
If our goal is to never have the puppy eliminate in the house, to me its unacceptable to employ the use of any tool or method that allows that very behavior to happen.
So how do we execute this mission? Well we sure as hell don’t accomplish this by knowingly encouraging the puppy to take a piss inside!
Seriously, isn’t that what pee pads do?
This is that part where I assume that anybody using pee pads for their puppy simply didn’t put any thought into it. I think being hasty is a more palatable criticism than the alternative.
Instead we will use the puppy’s genetic programming to our advantage.
Puppies are instinctively motivated to go to the bathroom away from where they sleep. This is mother nature’s way of keeping the den or bed tidy and clean.
Our job is to simply expand the puppy’s view of what the “den” is.
We view the entire house as a den, but to the puppy, the bedding area might simply be a small corner of their crate, which makes EVERYTHING else fair game for the bathroom.
We will utilize a small crate/space at first, only allowing the puppy out when we are directly supervising and interacting with him. I always suggest feeding in that area as well to further discourage the desire to pop a squat in the same area where food is being served.
Slowly and strategically increase the space while simultaneously rewarding whenever the puppy goes outside.
NEVER yell or punish for an accident inside.
This simply will slow down the process and encourage your dog to HIDE when they want to go inside.
In summary, you confine to a small space that you also feed in. You only have the puppy loose in the house when you are giving it your undivided attention. You never punish accidents but instead simply pick the puppy up and put them down outside. You always reward when the puppy goes outside.
Whether it’s housebreaking or teaching your dog not to jump on people, confusion is almost always the biggest obstacle. Understanding how learning takes place is key to being able to communicate what you want from your puppy. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to read THIS ARTICLE that will help you in your communication abilities.
Most of the time our puppies are simply confused when they break our “rules” and they probably don’t have a clear idea of what the rules even are. The only stubborn one in the equation is the human who refuses to reflect upon how they are interacting with their dog, and accepting the reality that there is substantial room for improvement.