Allowing a dog to poop inside the house isn't for everyone. But for city dwellers living in high-rises or owners with mobility issues, teaching their small dogs to eliminate inside rather than outside is a practical alternative.
The process of paper training begins as soon as you bring your small breed puppy or dog home. How quickly he learns depends on you. With a regular feeding schedule and consistent training, dogs usually start relieving themselves in the right spot within seven days. It takes a few more weeks for paper training to become habit.
"The quickness of success really depends on the owner's consistency," says trainer Josh Pitts of Pawsitive Pack Leading in Newark, Calif.
Pitts says there's a lot more to paper training than just teaching your dog where to go. First, you'll need to choose a product. Most modern owners forgo newspaper in favor of absorbent potty training pads (about $30 for 100 pads) or litter boxes designed for dogs (starting at $80) that hold real or artificial grass. Pitts recommends carefully choosing a spot to put the pad or litter box for your pet. Once you've picked a location, such as a laundry room or enclosed outdoor balcony, stick with it. Changing the location later on will only confuse your dog, he says, and set back any progress you've made.
Dog trainer Teoti Anderson of Pawsitive Results in Lexington, S.C., prefers litter boxes because they give dogs an easily defined space in which to eliminate. Plus, she warns, some puppies enjoy making confetti out of the pads or newspaper.
Anderson emphasizes that it's important to feed your dog at the same times each day. Doing this makes your dog's elimination schedule much more predictable. In general, puppies need to relieve themselves about 30 minutes after eating; adult toy breeds within an hour.
Puppies also typically need to potty after sleeping, drinking, playing and chewing. Signs your dog has to 'go' include sniffing the floor, circling or suddenly running out of sight.
When you see this behavior, lead your dog, on leash, to the right spot or pick him up and place him there. Then give a verbal cue: a word or phrase for your dog to associate with going to the bathroom.
"They won't know what the words mean at first, but after you pair it with the action over and over it will eventually sink in," says Anderson. (She uses "Do your business.")