Don't just assume any surface will do to stimulate Scruffy to do his business; dogs can be quite meticulous about the surfaces they use as their private toilets. While a bathroom sign and a primitive drawing of a boy or girl is all it takes for humans to locate a restroom from several feet away, in the doggy kingdom you'll need to take a different approach. A tad bit of knowledge in doggie psychology goes a long way.
Momma's Waste Disposal
You may wonder what canines used to do in a wild setting when humans weren't even part of their lives. In the old days, mama dog gave birth in an underground den where her pups were safely looked after and fed. Proper waste removal was among her motherly duties. The septic tank in this case was mama dog's stomach. By ingesting her pup's waste, mama dog removed any traces of smells that may have attracted dangerous predators. Nowadays, despite the lack of predators in your home, this primitive evolutionary behavior can still be seen in mother dogs.
Innovative Pee Pads
Welcome to the wonderful world of pee pads. Upon visiting the house-training aisle of your favorite pet store, these absorbent pads are sure to stick out. Some are scented with attractive pheromones, others offer the scent of fresh grass so to entice your puppy to use them. Sticky edges allow the pads to be effectively stuck to your floor. Regardless of the type you choose, pee pads are the canine toilets of the 21st century. Some main disadvantages? Some dogs like to tear them up or miss the spot.
Good Old Newspapers
Looking for a nostalgic glimpse into the bygone era? Then take some time in paper-training your dog and use yesterday's Sunday news. The advantages of using old newspapers are many. For starters, newspapers are cheap, readily available and your recycling efforts are appreciated by Mother Earth. Secondly, newspapers can be used as an effective substitute for pee pads. You can use special attractant sprays to make newspapers more enticing. Disadvantages include soggy papers leaking on the floor and dogs missing the target.
Doggie Litter Boxes
If you thought litter boxes were exclusively made for Puddy Tat, think again. Litter boxes purposely crafted for dogs are the new craze for apartment dwellers owning petite dogs. A variety of materials are available for your dog to do his business on, including dog litter, shredded newspapers or synthetic, fake grass. Of course, some training is necessary to get your dog used to using a litter box and some skittish dogs may pose some challenges, but the effort is well worth it, especially on those lazy, cold, winter days.
If you're planning to make your dog use the great outdoors as his potty, then you can train him to do his business on specific outdoor surfaces. A grassy area, a corner covered with gravel or a special area of your yard can become Scruffy's new toilet. In some cases, you may find it helpful to use pee posts. These pheromone-scented posts should make your dog instinctively hike his leg and use them as favorite potty spots.
Making Odd Materials Attractive
When it comes to getting a dog used to going potty on a specific surface, reward-based training is dog's best friend. Arm yourself with treats that make your dog lick his chops. The moment you catch him using the designated area, throw a party and dish out those special treats. The more he is rewarded, the more he will feel compelled to use those designated potty areas. Also, make sure you pick a quiet location for your dog's potty area and promptly clean up accidents with an enzyme-based deodorizer.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.