Training Techniques

Offering the right products and advice to help customers be successful in housebreaking their dogs will not only help retail sales, but also ensure that these pets stay in healthy, loving homes.




One of the most common issues that face pet owners—and one that they consistently ask for help with—is housetraining. The importance of training pets to urinate and defecate appropriately cannot be overstated. Shelters cite housebreaking accidents as a prime reason for owner surrenders, so a little help at the right time can help keep a pet in its original home.


While there are times that references to a qualified local dog trainer are the best thing to offer pet owners experiencing difficulty housebreaking their animals, and medical issues as a cause for poor potty training must always be ruled out before suggesting alternatives, the vast majority of pet owners just need a bit of direction and assistance. Owners often make the mistake of thinking that potty training is something that, once started, will simply mature into perfection over time. The truth is that dogs need to be trained consistently until there are no accidents. Patience is key in training this—or any—behavior.


If retailers can help with that training process by sharing information and suggesting products, customers will be grateful. With this in mind, retailers should stay on top of new and current products, and a good relationship with distributors and other suppliers will allow you to do that.


For instance, Richell USA Inc. is well-known as a supplier of crates, gateways and confinement of all kinds. But did you know that the company also offers housebreaking aids?


Richell’s PawTrax is a mesh training tray that holds doggy pads inside. Once a pet is trained to this, the tray can be used to transition to the outdoors. It can also be used for travel, especially when there is not a designated area for pets in a hotel, airport or relative’s house. The trays are easy to use and clean, and they are thin enough to pack in a suitcase.


According to Noriko Scott, marketing assistant manager at Richell, making the housebreaking process easy for customers is vital to good sales. The company does this by offering single brand shopping—a customer can purchase a whole crate set with a removable tray, divider, wire top, training tray and doggy pads all in the Richell line.


“Advice on how to use all of these products together can really make a retailer stand out in customer service,” says Scott.  To help, Richell offers product videos on YouTube and pet retail websites that show how the products work and suggest training tips on how to best use them.


To find the right solution for a pet owner’s particular situation, retailers should make sure that customers know about the wide variety of options that are available for effective housetraining.


“Housebreaking products are in high demand, but many pet owners believe that pee-pads are their only option,” says Tina Ingersoll, marketing specialist in the waste management category for PetSafe, a company that offers a variety of products designed for effective housetraining, including litter boxes, poop bags, cleaners and a couple of indoor/outdoor potty stations suitable for all sizes of dogs.


“Awareness is still low for dog potty solutions such as the PetSafe Pet Loo Portable Pet Potty, so it is important that retailers help the customer understand what it is and how it works,” she says. “The best thing to do in-store is to set one of the potty systems up as a demo. Allowing people to see it, touch it and understand it are the first steps to introducing them to these newer, more convenient solutions. PetSafe has also developed a line of accessories for the Pet Loo, including enzymatic cleaners and a special potty training attractant called Skip To My Loo, which can be displayed with the Pet Loo to give the consumer an all-in-one solution.”


PetSafe also offers the Piddle Place Portable Pet Potty, another great alternative to pads, even for medium and large dogs. To help consumers in using both the Pet Loo and Piddle Place systems, PetSafe has multiple videos on its website ( that provide a clear idea of how the products work, as well as a series of excellent informational articles on how to potty train one’s pet.


Avoiding & Cleaning Up Mistakes

Sometimes, what appears to be difficult housebreaking is really no more than a breakdown in communication between pet and owner. Many pet owners assume their dog is being  difficult or defiant about going outdoors, when it’s really that owners can easily miss subtle cues indicating the need—a certain look, sniffing, whining, restlessness. Luckily, Poochie-Pets, LLC, offers a simple, easy solution to this age-old problem.


PoochieBells are cheery sounding bells that are attached to a high quality leather strap designed to hang on the doorknob.  According to Cheryl Pedersen, founder and CEO and founder of Poochie-Pets, the product’s distinctive jingling act as a communication device that enables dogs to alert their owners when it’s “potty time.”


“Based on simple conditioning to associate potty time with ringing a bell, this tool is both auditory and visual,” she says. “Once a dog understands that potty is an outside action, the next hurdle is how to communicate with family that it’s that time.  PoochieBells hang on the inside of the door within reach for any age/height/size dog—two sets of bells are easily heard by the entire family.”


Even with all the right tools and a great housetraining strategy in place, accidents will happen, of course. With this in mind, retailers should be prepared to provide effective solutions for that, too.


In cleaning urine or fecal matter, it’s important to remove odor as well as staining, since pets are attracted to the odor and may return to the same spot if it isn’t removed thoroughly. According to Jenny Gilcrest, vice president of marketing for Skout’s Honor, while enzyme cleaners may have been the best way to break this cycle in the past, there’s now something better—BIOKORE.


“Potty training is something that’s ongoing for a while, so pet owners need something that works well and is safe,” she says. “BIOKORE does not require spraying and waiting, it works instantly. It’s based on a mild surfactant and is the next generation of eco-friendly products.”


While they all might seem beneficial and desirable at first glance, not all green cleaning products are quite as effective as pet owners need.


“[BIOKORE] is green cleaning technology that breaks down and lifts away stains on contact,” Gilcrest explains. “The unique ingredient provides twice the cleaning power by volume of traditional toxic chemical solvents, yet is rapidly bio-degradable, bio-renewable and non-toxic.”


Of course, customers will appreciate having the best of both worlds.  PB


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