I forgot, somewhat, over the last couple months how much I miss interacting with my dog. During the first couple months we were at home, my roommate had taken over the dog. That is, the dog was living in a different part of the house. Alternately put, he was having sleepovers downstairs.
This came about for what I thought were reasonable reasons at the time. Patrick was not sleeping through the night and I thought the dog reacting to new baby would add unnecessary stress. To be honest, having him away was a relief on some levels.
Having him back, though, has been fantastic. I forgot how much I interact with the puppy on a regular basis -the constant reinforcement of behavior and modifications thereof.
The newest command that we're working on (don't ask me why I didn't do this years ago) is "go poop/pee". As in, snap of the fingers in a direction along with command. In past years I would let the dog outside to do his own thing and bring him in after 5-10 minutes. Or I would hang out with him in the back until he went to the washroom. This is less practical with the cold snaps that we've been having (it was -20C outside this morning) so I had to figure something out.
How do you train your dog to go to the washroom on command?
- Start with success. That is, wait until he really has to go before you start trying to train the behavior.
- Reinforce positive behavior with positive actions. Erik is very praise oriented and because he is not free-fed any food treats (i.e. piece of kibble, chunk of discarded green pepper) make him very happy.
- Continually reinforce the same standard. Given that I have obsessive compulsive behavior this is fairly trivial for me.
- Add to the behavior once the dog is consistently performing. In Erik's case after a week or so I realized that I didn't like him pooping so close to my carport so started the snapping and pointing to indicate direction. It took him a day or so to grasp what I was indicating but now I can quickly turn him around whenever he gets within 10' of me.
This is not for everyone but changing bathroom breaks from 5-10 minutes to a minute even alone made it worthwhile for me. The added benefit of directing his waste somewhat is also satisfying in its own way.