Let me start off by saying potty training is hard work but it needs to be your number one priority. If your puppy is having accidents in your house do not punish your puppy because it is not the puppy’s fault. You should be taking your new puppy out every 20-30 minutes for many weeks until that little light bulb goes off in your puppy’s mind. When in doubt take your puppy out!
I get so many emails like the following concerning potty training:
“We have been try to potty train our deaf dog and as soon as he comes back in the house he pees everywhere! Even when we leave him outside for 30 minutes in our fenced back yard he still comes in and pees. What can I do to stop this?”
Above: Our newest deaf puppy Axl Blu who at 9 weeks old is in full potty training mode!
Photo above: Our deaf Boston Terrier Bowie when he was a wee little one.
My answer is always the same. First I ask a question that goes something like this: “Do you go out with your dog when he does his/her potty business?” 90% of the time the reply is NO. What I seem to be hearing often from many new deaf dog parents is they are putting their deaf puppy/dog out in a fenced back yard for 20 to 30 minutes and they are assuming the dog is “going potty”. I think this is a common mistake because what is actually happening with the deaf dogs is they are running around the back yard taking in all the sights and scents of the back yard. Basically they are having a great time exploring the back yard. They love to explore because their sense of smell is so strong. They can smell every little critter who has recently passed through the back yard.
Never ever use potty pads (unless you have a toy or miniature breed who can’t hold it very long). Why? Because you are teaching your new puppy it is okay to go potty inside the house.
Also a puppy/dog who is in full potty training mode should not be allowed free reign of the house. The dog need to be in the same room you are in. Purchase an X-pen you can use to block off hallways that lead to other parts of your home. You will need an X-pen when you start your crate training and it is probably my number one vice when bringing in a new deaf puppy (because my older dogs need a break from the puppy). We use an Xpen to section off the kitchen so the pup has room to run but I can work in the kitchen and keep an eye on him. If you discover your puppy is not getting the potty training down and he is having a lot of accidents in the house please consult with your vet to make sure your deaf puppy does not have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). It is also very important to have a really good urine neutralizer to clean up accidents. The one time I had a puppy mill survivor dog who was a senior, I used a belly band on him. I still took him out often but if he refused to potty he had to wear the belly band and if he went potty every time we went out, then as a reward he got a break from the belly band.
An X-pen as seen above will be your greatest tool not only for potty training, crate training but also to give the other dogs in your home a break from a little “land shark” of a puppy jumping and biting them all the time.
Here is what Chris and I did with our five deaf dogs Bud, Nitro, Bowie, Cornell and Axl Blu to potty train them. First, we took our deaf dogs out attached to a leash at least every 30 minutes or so until they were 100% potty trained (or we took them out as often as we could). When in doubt take them out! Next we did some research on the proper way to crate train dogs. Be sure to read our articles on our DDR Training Blog about Crate Training. Crate training is crucial for deaf dogs because many of the deaf dogs are Pit Bull mixes, boxers, Aussie Shepherds, Border Collies and Jack Russel Terriers.
With our deaf puppies they are out and about in our home but we must be with them and section off rooms so they don’t have free roam of the house. They get to come out for about 1.5 to 2 hours and then they nap in their crates 1-2 hours, then out for 1-2 hours then nap in their crate for 1-2 hours (all day long). It is important to note to keep them up after 8pm -10pm and keep them active in that time so they will sleep through the night. When we have a new puppy we take them out to go potty at 1am, 4am and get up at 5:30-6am. Now that Axl Blu is 4 months old if we take him out at 11pm he will sleep straight through until 5 or 6am.
Having an X-pen around the crate makes crate training so much easier. See why in our Crate Training blog post.
Many are working breeds who have energy to burn and they get bored easily which can result in them getting into things which can harm them or they just start chewing up anything they can find laying around the house (including expensive furniture). Crate training done properly can help you avoid behavior issues like separation anxiety which happens frequently with deaf dogs (only use the crate for good things like sleeping and eating – never punish a dog by making him go into a crate after he/she has done something bad). It is very important to get up early and get your deaf dog a lot of exercise before he is crated for the day. If you have someone who can come over at lunchtime and give your dog a potty and play break that also helps a lot.
I also found a great video on Potty Training Tips by YouTube by Kikopup and she reiterates everything we have posted this far on potty training your deaf dog/puppy in this video. The only tweak you will make is instead of the sound of the clicker you will tap the puppy, smile, give a thumbs up sign and remember the reward for the puppy is to come off leash (if you have a fenced yard) or hook the puppy to the 20 to 30 foot long line to run around.
The following information is what has worked best for me when training my two deaf dogs Nitro and Bud.
When potty training a deaf puppy, don’t just let him go outside in the back yard without supervision. What happens is new deaf dog owners often complain that their dog will come in the house and go potty after being outside in the yard for 20 minutes. What usually happens in this situation is the puppy will go outside unsupervised and sniff around and explore for 20 minutes and the new deaf dog owner assumes the puppy has gone to the potty when in reality it was exploring and taking in nature.
In my opinion, a deaf dog or puppy should always be with you on a leash 100% of the time until it is fully potty trained. Why? Because this way when you take the puppy out on a leash, you can tap the dog on the shoulder to start communicating what you want the dog to do. You can give the dog signs of what you expect the dog to do when you take him out on a leash. When you get to the back yard or take your deaf dog for a walk, give your pup the “go potty” sign. Most of us use the letter “T” for toilet which is the “go potty” sign and then we point to the ground.
Use this sign for “go potty” which is the ASL Finger Spelling letter “T” for toilet” and then point to the ground which means “go potty, there”.
Walk around and keep tapping on the pups shoulder and repeating the “go potty” sign until the dog does it’s potty business done. Once your deaf dog goes potty, give the dog a big smile, a thumbs up sign (for “good job”) and then you can reward the dog/puppy by unleashing the dog to go explore (only unleash the dog if you have a fenced in area). The reward for the dog is do go EXPLORE after the pup goes potty. If you don’t have a fenced area, you can still give the dog a big smile, a thumbs up sign and a treat. Repeat, repeat, repeat! Also if you don’t have a yard you can un-clip your deaf dog from the leash and clip a 20 or 30 foot long line on for them to go explore (long lines run around $20 at your local pet supply store). If it is cold outside put a jacket on your puppy and as soon as he/she goes potty as a reward they get to come into the warm house. We prefer potty training in the winter because the puppies do their business right away because they know their reward is the warm house. Since we feed our dogs four smaller meals a day, I always know my puppies poo times and they are like clock work so we stay outside until the puppy poos. My puppy Axl poos 6 times a day.
What our Deaf Dogs Rock potty training method does is achieve three specific goals.
#1. It teaches the puppy when you give it the “go potty” sign, and it goes potty, then it will know from training it has a reward coming. The reward can be to go EXPLORE or you can bring out a toy or ball to throw for the dog.
#2. It teaches the pup to “go potty” on cue when it sees the sign for “go potty” from you.
#3. It teaches you your pups potty habits (down to his/her exact poop schedules) so you always know when and what your puppy should be doing when you take it outside to “go potty”.
I have six dogs and I know all their potty habits. I know that in the morning if my deaf dog Bud has not gone poo at 6:00 am and 7:00 am (2 times) he will not touch his breakfast until after his second poo in the morning. This is great information to know to be able to plan your morning routine. Dogs need a consistent routine and training schedule.
When you first start potty training, try to take your puppy or dog out every half hour or so if you can. Even if you work during the week, try to be consistent during evenings and weekends. If you consistently do all of the above and are still having issues with your dog going potty in the house, you might need to take your dog to a Vet to rule out a urinary tract infection (UTI). With a UTI a dog can’t hold the urine for long periods of time and will urinate often. The Vet can treat a UTI with antibiotics to clear up the infection. If you have old rugs or furniture that has been marked over and over by other dogs in the past try to replace those rugs or take them up and clean those areas completely. Even if you can’t smell your dog’s personal scent on rugs and furniture, your dog can so it is important to neutralize the scent. You can purchase urine neutralizer at your local pet supplies store. I even mope my floors with diluted urine neutralizer to make sure they are clean.
If you find your deaf dog or puppy can’t make it through the night without having an accident in his/her crate, then be sure to limit the dog’s evening water intake. Try putting the water bowl up out of the dog’s reach after 7:00 pm. Also set your dog up for success by getting up between 1:00 am-2:00am and again around 4-5am to take your puppy out to go potty until the dog/puppy can hold it all night.
If your dog has an accident in the house, take the puppy outside and tell them to “go potty”. Try to clean up the spot in the house with a neutralizing pet spray product which will take the scent away. Don’t punish the dog for having an accident. If the puppy/dog has an accident inside the house, it is usually the fault of the caregiver for not taking the dog outside often enough or not knowing the body language of a dog getting ready to pee. If you see the deaf pup start sniffing around in the house or turning in circles then the dog is getting ready to go potty.
I hope this information helps you with your future potty training.
~ Christina Lee – Deaf Dogs Rock