I read a great tip from an article by dog trainer Kathy Diamond Davis the other day.
The question was how to bring an outdoor dog inside. The dog was an adult and had never been housebroken. Her perspective was this:
“I don’t train my dogs to ask when they need to go outside. I take them outside on a schedule. Their bodies easily adjust to wait until the next scheduled [potty break]. I get many questions from people who don’t consider their dogs housetrained until the dog will get their attention and persuade them to stop what they are doing and take the dog out every time the dog needs to go. In many cases, this is expecting too much from the dog.”
Kathy’s distinction between training a dog not to soil the house and training a dog to let you know when he/she needs to go out is important.
Without knowing it, I have trained my dogs the same way. We go outside first thing in the morning, after every meal, whenever I come home (no matter how briefly I’ve been gone) and last thing at night before bed. This way, the dogs have predictable breaks, and they “hold it” until the next break. Of course, if they’re not feeling well, have drunk too much water at the dog park or otherwise need an extra break, they get extra breaks. I also let them out if they’re hanging out at the door.
But I like Kathy’s suggestion that we take responsibility for getting our dogs outside for a potty break, rather than giving that responsibility to our dogs.
Check out Kathy’s book, Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others, or read her blog at http://kathydiamonddavis.blogspot.com/