Clicker Training and Information​

Welcome Home Labs Resources

Clicker Training and Information​

Posted by Welcome Home Labs
7 months ago | November 16, 2023

I am including this here as an example of how clicker training can work.  You can do all of these basic training needs/ideas without the clicker but it is a helpful method for some households and dogs do respond to it.  

House-training Your Puppy with a clicker

Experienced dog owners who are new to clicker training are often heard to say, “I wish I started clicking when my dog was a puppy.” Clicker training is a powerful method of molding a puppy’s attitude and capacity to learn. When a puppy knows right from the beginning that it can earn rewards in the form of a treat or a chance to play with you by paying attention and learning new behaviors, it matures into an extraordinary canine companion. Clicking will give your puppy confidence and comfort through positive experiences and clear communication. Here’s how to get started house training the clicker way with the potty training.  Clicker training can be used in all training and I recommend that you and your family look into it to see if it  is a puppy training method for your household .

Clicker training for the potty spot

Your goal is to teach your puppy the right place to eliminate. The first thing you must do is choose one spot that will be his permanent bathroom: the “potty” spot. When you take your puppy out to potty, always use the same door and go to the same potty spot.
Watch your puppy carefully in the potty spot. Plan on waiting for him. Let him sniff around. When he begins going, quietly say your potty cue a word that will tell your dog that this is the place and time to go. (Be careful in choosing your “potty” word. You will want to use this word in public. This cue will come in very handy when you’re away from home.)
Click and treat just as your puppy is finishing his business. You want to click while the behavior is still happening, but not so early in the process that your puppy stops eliminating prematurely in order to get to his treat. With a bit of practice you’ll quickly learn to time your click and treat so that your puppy associates his reward with eliminating in the right place yet isn’t interrupted before completion.
Soon your puppy will know that: potty in house = no reward; potty in potty spot = really great rewards!

Clicker training for the outside bell signal

A bell can be a useful tool for your dog to tell you he wants to go out. Because s/he can’t speak to you in your language, he must use a signal to tell you he needs to go out. You must learn to recognize that signal. Put a bell on the door that leads to the potty spot. The bell rings every time someone goes in or out that door. Remember how fast a dog learns what a doorbell means?  Well, your puppy will learn that the bell means that the door is opening. Many puppies will go to the bell and ring it without any special training. However, to speed up the process, take him/her to the bell. If s/he touches it, click and treat him. Then quickly open the door and run outside, praising him. If s/he shows no interest in touching the bell, you can rub A LITTLE cheese or peanut butter on it.



Crate training

Day use:  It is a good idea to put the puppy in a crate during the day when you can’t watch him/her AND all of your puppies needs have been tended to from eating, bathroom to playing and cuddles.   If used correctly, a crate can be a welcomed place for your puppy.  It is a natural den spot.  Most puppies don’t want to eliminate in their nest. If your puppy is very small and you have a large crate, divide it up so the puppy has enough room to stand up and turn around but not a whole lot more  Crates are excellent tools so that you aren’t finding surprises and trying to teach puppy from behind but rather watch and be attentive with your puppy while your puppy is out of the crate and then they sleep in their den when you are there to teach.  The idea is that the crate is used as a tool initially as your puppy learns the rules/flow of the home and then it will be optional in time if your dog would rather nap at your feet, on a kitchen rug or in their crate.

Crate are also great tools for night training as well.  

Depending on the age of the puppy, you may have to get up in the middle of the night to take him out. Some people like to keep their puppy’s crate in their bedroom at night, so they can easily hear when he wakes and can take him out before he eliminates in his crate.   Remember that your puppy will wiggle, make noises and adjust and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to go outside for a potty break.   The puppy will have a few transition days/nights (3-14) as they are get used to not having their litter mates to cuddle with.   Of course at first this is normal and often a needed step in the teaching of where to take care of potty business.  If your puppy is still needing to be taken outside during the night after a few weeks then maybe there are other adjustments that you can make during the wake hours.  First of all, be sure that the night isn’t too long and that the last one up in the house lets puppy out before bed and the first one up in your house lets puppy out first thing in the morning.  At 10 weeks old, from our experience, I think it is reasonable to expect a puppy stay dry for a 7 hour night.  Secondly, if you are still having trouble then pull the water earlier in the evening.  Also, be sure that you are exercising puppy after dinner before you snuggle up.  Consider maybe gibing dinner to your puppy a bit earlier.  Lastly, if you have a towel or a blanket in the crate at night and that is wet or has a pile in it regularly then remove the bedding until puppy has learned to stay dry and clean.  A puppy can learn to pee and poop in their bedding because that isn’t uncomfortable for the puppy.  We always use the idea and methods that align with setting up your puppy for success.  There ARE things that we can do to make this a reasonably quick transition.  Make sure you do what is best for your family as a whole.  If you are up at night a lot and you are tired in the day…that isn’t helpful for you.  You want to have your time with your pup as positive playing, loving time and your pup will learn to enjoy a full night sleep if you help to encourage this from early on.  

House training/ Potty training/ Accidents

Your puppy is counting on YOU to TEACH him or her.  

If your puppy has an accident, try not to be angry or upset (this is sometimes hard but it WON’T help the teaching if you get upset).  If s/he fears you it will slow his learning. Remember that your puppy is counting on you to teach and show the way.  These English Lab puppies are really smart and they WILL learn rather quickly if you give them opportunity to be consistently taught.  This is not an instant process, but if it’s done properly your dog won’t fear you and s/he will learn what you want quickly.  Most of the puppies that start out at Welcome Home Labs are fully potty trained by 11 weeks of age if not sooner.  Many people have said that their puppies came trained but I give credit to observant, committed families that continued to teach and train their puppies and made this a priority.  Not matter what the season or situation…COMMIT yourself to potty training your puppy.  If you make this a focus for two weeks then you should have many, many, many years to enjoy your Lab and you will also TRUST your Lab.

If you understand when your puppy needs to go out, then you can eliminate many accidents. The following suggestions will help your puppy succeed with his retraining.  

Don’t punish an accident just give opportunity to display the correct behavior. Never push his nose in the waste or scold him. He won’t understand, and may learn to go to the bathroom when you’re out of sight. 

  • Always watch your puppy.
  • You can tie him/her to you with a lead while you are in the house.  
  • You can also crate train your puppy.  Take puppy directly outside after being in the crate. 
  • Feed on a fixed schedule.
  • Usually s/he will need to go potty right after s/he has eaten (2-15 minutes). 
  • Always take him/her out after eating, playing, or any excitement or after a nap/ cuddle time.

The first step is to give your puppy ample times to go in the correct spot ALL throughout the day and sometime in the night.  They will only go inside if they are not taught where the correct spot is to go outside and or if they are not taught to be able to count on you to give them ample opportunities and they don’t know how to communicate to you that they need to go.  They were taught here at Welcome Home Labs from four weeks of age that there is ‘a spot’ to go and they all detected the sensation to go potty ahead of time and walked to that spot on their own about 99% of the time.  The ‘accidents’ are more accidents of the people and not the puppies.   😉 Watch your puppy and teach and there won’t be ‘accidents’.

When the puppy has an accident in the house remain as calm as possible. If you’re watching your puppy, you will catch him/her before he finishes. Quietly get the puppy and take him out to his potty spot. You can use an item that makes some noise to toss near your puppy to startle him or her a bit so that they stop peeing mid-way through but only do that if it is an immediate response on your behalf.  Either way, swoop up your puppy and continue to go outside using the words of “outside” and “go potty” and such along the way but at a much more quickened pace. Use your potty cue, and if s/he goes, click and treat him/her. (If s/he doesn’t eliminate, try again later. When s/he does go, click, make a fuss over him, and reward him with a treat or play.)

Go back into the house and use paper towels to pick up the mistake. Place the towels in the outdoor potty spot. Leave the towels there as a signal to your dog that this is the correct place for him to eliminate.  It is also wise to keep a couple of poop piles in the correct outdoor potty spot during the training days.   

Clean up the area your puppy used by mistake with white vinegar. Vinegar will help eliminate the odor. You can also buy products at pet stores to help remove the smell. Removal of the odor is important in discouraging the puppy from using that spot again.

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