Tips for House Training Dogs

Housetraining is a necessity for every new pet parent and retailers should be able to provide dog owners with the knowledge and products they need.




There are a variety of housetraining aids available to pet owners, but none of them will work without an understanding of the basic process. With this in mind, offering tips on housetraining will lead to future sales, as well as customer loyalty.


According to Tom Wien, director of marketing at Cardinal Pet Care based in Azusa, Calif., today’s pet parents like to be informed. They are constantly seeking out information. One study points out that millennials tend to cast a wide net when they’re looking for information to support a decision—they “actively gather, curate and assess information from many, many sources.”


“This is a great opportunity for retailers to engage with their target audience,” says Wien. “By having a conversation with potential shoppers, retailers can learn more about the pet owners’ needs.”


Housetraining is an issue for customers not only with new puppies, but with adult adopts and fosters too, as training can be lost or forgotten under the stress of a new location.


“The Humane Society of the United States recommends following several steps when housetraining a dog or puppy, including consistency and rewarding,” adds Wien. “This is a perfect opening for the retailer to suggest training treats, such as Pet Botanics Training Reward dog treats.” Pet Botanics Training Reward dog treats are available in bacon, beef, chicken and salmon, in regular size and mini.


Other suggestions from Cardinal’s marketing expert are to host in-store training sessions and product demonstrations, distribute blog articles and quick tips via social media, perhaps even create or find a video that shows the steps needed to train a dog to use a doorbell to ask to go out and relieve itself.


“The pet parent may not make an immediate purchase, but may look for more information,” says Wien. “Making sure training information is readily available in store, with displays and signs, and online, with websites and social platforms, in addition to training store staff to make high quality, personal recommendations, is key.”


Linda Zimmerman, breeder and exhibitor of Legacy Old English Sheepdogs, has seen many pups go to new homes and believes, like Wien, that consistency and rewards are the keys to successful potty training.


“Take pups out after sleeping, after eating and after playing—every time,” says Zimmerman. “Take them out on a leash to keep them focused on the task at hand and so you can be right there to reward and praise immediately.”


Zimmerman cautions that young pups are not usually physically able to achieve no mistakes until five or six months old, when their bladder control begins to mature.


Puppies, and older dogs that haven’t lived in a house or were never reliably trained, need to be taught that not eliminating indoors, or eliminating in a specific spot, is a normal part of house manners. Retailers have a lot at their disposal to aid with that process, besides advising on training techniques. The PetSafe Train ‘n Praise Potty System uses an automatic treat dispenser to encourage pets to use the connected pee pads. Once a pet uses the pad, moisture sensors send a signal to the unit which dispenses a treat. Keeping the pet confined near the area especially after waking, playing, eating and drinking is helpful.


Just as with any type of housetraining, look for cues that they need to potty, such as sniffing around in circles or whining.


Why would some dogs need an indoor potty option, like the Train ‘n Praise? Dogs may live in apartments or condominiums, dogs (or their owners) may be elderly or infirm, and some owners’ work schedules don’t allow them to be home frequently enough for a dog’s comfort. Those that travel with smaller dogs will testify that using pee pads in hotels can be ideal. PetSafe also offers the Pet Loo, a faux grass pad with a removable waste container below it.


“The key is positive reinforcement and keeping them close to the area of the PetSafe Pet Loo potty when they most likely need to go, says Tina Ingersoll, product manager for Plainfield, Ind.-based PetSafe. “Your dog can take their own potty breaks when you’re not available so that it doesn’t have to hold it for too long or relieve itself on the floor. The PetSafe Pet Loo is also a great solution for urban areas where people may not have yard space.”


Another convenience and training aid from PetSafe is Skip To My Loo, a training attractant for any designated potty area, indoors or out. Its unique scent encourages dogs to mark where it’s been applied. Ingersoll says that, “the biggest tip is just to remember to use positive reinforcement when potty training instead of scolding.”


If you scold a pet for not using the bathroom where its supposed to, it will become afraid of the new product and not want to use it. Rewarding and encouraging pets with treats and praise will help you get much better results. It’s also important to be patient, as it may take some dogs longer to adjust new systems. Try to be consistent and supervise your dog during training whenever possible, so that you can help guide them to the proper place to potty and be there to reward them afterward.


Other Incontinence Issues

Sometimes there are physical or health issues that make incontinence a problem, and there are ways for pet owners to deal with that reality more easily, too. Linda Jangula, owner and inventor of Wiki Wags brand Disposable Male Dog Wraps, suggests that there can be many reasons for incontinence, including lack of muscle development, injury, infection, cancer, certain medications or surgeries. Fear, excitability and senior years can also cause lapses. While a visit to the veterinarian is always directed first, there are plenty of solutions in place to help pet owners.


“Regardless of the reason, these disposable diaper wraps prevent unwanted accidents, making for some very happy families,” says Jangula. The Lavon, Texas-based company developed their Disposable Male Dog Wraps as one of these solutions. These disposable wraps need no other pad to be inserted and are stylish, with re-adjustable tabs that allow them to be used several times if necessary. These wraps also wick the wetness away from the body, keeping the pet dry and preventing rashes.


“Sometimes pet owners are dealing with marking in the house,” Jangula adds. “Many people think their dog will go outside then come inside to potty out of spite. Or they leave the house to run an errand only to come home to surprises they didn’t expect. Marking goes as far back as their ancestors running in packs, needing to stake their territory.”


“When you are in the midst of training your male dog not to mark his territory on the curtains in your living room or trying to get your new puppy to not pop a squat on your unwashable rug every time he needs to go potty, our diapers and belly bands prevent the actual mess from occurring,” says Pet Parents founder Blake Anderson. “The training process stays the same, but without the messes that frequently happen during housetraining. Sometimes dogs even prevent themselves from going when the diaper or belly band is on, which could be a good tactic for housetraining. You can remove it when you let them outside and they know it is the appropriate time to go.”


The Bethesda, Md.-based company offers solutions in the form of washable dog diapers, belly bands and pee pads. Anderson created his products due to the loss of his geriatric, incontinent childhood pet.


“Sometimes incontinence isn’t ‘trainable,’ especially in senior pups or dogs who have health issues, but the messes that occur because of them can always be prevented if our washable dog diaper or belly band is being used,” adds Anderson. Owners of females in heat can also benefit from the washable dog diapers. The washable pee pads can be used for indoor training, or underneath incontinent dogs to protect beds, floors and furniture. Pet Parents also sells cat diapers, which are useful in cases of spraying, post-surgery issues, incontinence, traveling or visiting other people’s homes.


It’s important to remind pet owners that housetraining doesn’t happen overnight. But what can be done to best deal with the aftermath of accidents? First, blot up—or pick up, in the case of solids—as much as possible and dispose of it. Then use a quality cleaner and odor control product on the spot.


Skout’s Honor’s Stain and Odor uses BioKore, a revolutionary, safe and environmentally-responsible surfactant that is both a surface tension reducer and a solvent. It works on stains, eliminates odor, at the source, never expires, can be used on any water-safe surface and is not affected by other cleaners or environmental conditions.


“It doesn’t have to be the first cleaner you use, but it will be the last,” says Jenny Gilcrest, director of marketing for Irvine, Calif.-based Skout’s Honor. “House training is a process. The good news is that a little patience, lots of love and a bottle of Skout’s Honor Stain & Odor will get you through it.”


According to Vanessa Grimes, account manager and puppy owner at Dallas-based Live Pee Free!, if you spray the company’s Dog Urine 2x odor eliminator on any mishap spot, the liquid-positive ions will eliminate the negative ions found in urine and all organic odors, leaving that area free of puppy training smell woes.


“Undoubtedly, there will be accidents from your new furry bundle of joy, accidents that leave urine and feces odor. Live Pee Free! is able to eliminate pet waste odors using Noble Ion Odor Technology,” says Grimes. “The less your animal can smell their own odor, the easier for you to complete potty training successfully.”


Some sprays are safe to use directly on the pet, should the accident include pet fur, such as Best Shot’s One Shot Deodorizing Spray, and for bigger jobs, a good rinseless shampoo product will spot clean without needing to bathe the entire animal. Best Shot offers One Shot Dry Clean Spray and BioGroom’s Waterless Bath No Rinse Shampoo has long been an industry favorite.


No matter whether a pet owner chooses to teach their pet to relieve themselves indoors or out, uses an automatic treat dispenser or distributes treats by hand, the best advice a retailer can give is for dog parents to be patient and understanding.


“First of all, remember the dog is new to your family, your home, your schedule and activities. Nothing is familiar, and this is possibly its first time away from mom and siblings,” says Jangula. “It takes a heavy dose of patience from your whole family due to an overwhelming amount of adjustments. Never expect instant success and remember that scolding only makes matters worse, which also takes away their confidence. You need a balance of ‘tender’ training for it to be a pleasant experience, with lots of praise when there is success. Patience and kindness at all times.” PB


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