With the right equipment and techniques, you can train your cat or dog to “go” in the right place every time.
Having indoor pets can be wonderful — but what should you do when you find a little yellow puddle on the floor?
Urinating in inappropriate places is a common problem among indoor pets, says Melissa Aguilar, a pet trainer and owner of Mutt Maniacs in Los Angeles. This is partly because dogs and cats often can’t tell the difference between indoor and outdoor urination. “If you’re that little, everything seems huge,” Aguilar says. “The house might as well be outside to them.”
However, training pets to “go” in the right place is not as hard as you make think.
A Kitty-Litter Box Primer
For cats, Aguilar says, no special litter-training techniques are usually required — just introduce your cat to her litter box and the rest should take care of itself. However, some cats can develop “outside-the-box” habits when owners fail to change the litter on a regular basis.
“The big key is keeping that litter box clean,” Aguilar says. “If it’s too soiled and messy, they won’t use it and will find other areas to go.” For extra assurance of litter training success, locate the box away from where your cat eats and sleeps and, if you have a large house, consider keeping two litter boxes in separate parts of your home.
Getting Your Dog to Go Outdoors
Training dogs to urinate in the right spot often involves crate training, which teaches them urinary control. To do this, introduce the dog to the crate gradually by feeding him his meals in or near it, and leaving him inside the crate for short periods. Once he has adjusted to staying in the crate for a half-hour at a time, he can be left in it briefly while you leave the house — and you won’t have to worry about accidents. However, be sure to take a dog outside to relieve himself on a regular basis.
For puppies, here’s a rule of thumb: Use the dog’s age in months minus 1 for how often to take him out. “If he’s 3 months old, take him out every 2 hours,” Aguilar says. “A 4-month-old would be every 3 hours, and so on.” Dogs over a year old can usually hold it for at least 5 hours, she adds.
Dogs can also be taught to urinate indoors in litter boxes or plastic-backed “pee pads,” but if you go this route, make sure that the designated area is far away from anything that might confuse the dog. “Set up the potty area as a very clear, separate space in your house,” Aguilar says. “Don’t put it near an area rug. That’s one problem I see a lot — the dog begins to think that the rug is a pee pad, too.”
When Accidents Occur
If an accident happens, react swiftly without going overboard. “If you catch them in the act, you can interrupt it and sort of make a fuss and scold them,” Aguilar says. “But never lose your cool. Just take the dog outside immediately.” For cats, wipe up the urine with a paper towel, place the towel in the litter box, and put the cat in the box, gently scratching its front paws in the litter.
If you see the puddle several minutes after it has occurred, don’t bother trying to scold your pet. “If you find the accident even 5 minutes later and correct them, they will have no idea why they’re in trouble,” Aguilar says. “So watch them carefully.”
Both dogs and cats should be praised for eliminating in the correct place. Some pets may also enjoy a small treat. “Dogs like to work for praise and attention,” Aguilar says. “They’ll actually move along a lot faster that way.”
If an otherwise trained pet suddenly begins urinating in inappropriate places, a little investigation can often locate the reason for the behavior. Even small changes in a pet’s life can have a big impact. “I had a client who rearranged her living room furniture,” Aguilar says. “Their dog flipped out. For two weeks he was peeing all over the house.” Other causes can include bladder infections, sudden dietary changes, and not being spayed or neutered.
A pet trainer can be very helpful in working with pets to solve urination problems. While so-called “dog psychologists” and animal behaviorists may offer similar services, in many cases they are not necessary. “Even on those pet TV shows, a lot of the problems I see are common problems that are pretty easily solved with a trainer,” Aguilar says.
To find a knowledgeable trainer, ask associates at pet supply stores or your veterinarian for recommendations, and always inquire about their qualifications. “Seventy-five percent of dog trainers have no professional training,” Aguilar says. “They just maybe shadowed someone or did even less than that. Ask them who they’ve studied with and if they’ve done a mentorship. You’ll find a lot of them haven’t.”
With practice, patience, and praise, training pets will be a rewarding experience for you and your four-legged companion.
Original Article by Jennifer Scott on Everyday Health
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