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How Long Should 'Bathroom Walks' Be?

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Q: On a 'bathroom walk' with my dog, how long should I wait for him to go? If it's been 10 minutes or so and he hasn't done anything -- does that mean he doesn't have to?

A: Our pets can be very skilled at training us. What I suggest to people house training a pup is the following: Take the dog out on a leash, to the same spot (so that spot and that substrate become the pet’s bathroom), when the pet goes instantly reward with effusive praise and a very special treat. Everyone pretty much says that. Here’s what I add – now play with your dog, even if it’s only for 60 or 90 seconds.

Here’s what sometimes happens, the dog learns that when I do business – yes, all this good stuff happens, but then my person goes away (goes to work). So, the puppy, delays and delays… and also some puppies just learn to take their time outside because – well, it’s more fun to sniff around.

I don’t know if you wait 5 minutes or 9 minutes or 12 minutes – that’s up to the owners. But I do know you can pretty much train a dog to go on command by saying “go potty” or “do it” the dog is going.

Training a puppy that it’s all business is important, I think. So, whether it’s 5, or 9 or 12 minutes – whatever your deadline, if your pup is sniffing and not going, just take your puppy back indoors. Either place the puppy inside the crate (if the puppy is crate trained) or tether the dog to you. Realize you have a loaded weapon and in 10 minutes, times to back outdoors and try again. Give it about 2 minutes, if puppy doesn’t go, then back inside for another 10 minutes. Eventually your puppy will go. When that happens, it’s time for a party, effusive praise, treats, and at least 60 seconds of playtime.

Steve Dale is a pet expert and certified dog and cat behavior consultant. His new books, Good Dog! and Good Cat! are available for purchase here.

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