For all new members, please check out the thread New to the Forum? What to do and forum guidelines.
Question about Ian Dunbar's approach on Potty Training
  • I did a search but didn't find anything related to these specific questions.

    I notice a lot of people on here are dead against puppy pads and anything encouraging indoor elimination. Dunbar suggests a litter tray. How did you avoid the puppy soiling the crate without a litter tray, at times when he might be left alone for periods of time when you can't release him every hour, such as going to work or during the night etc. I am all for not having a litter tray, I really want him to be able to only soil in the garden. He will have to start coping with us being at work 3 (on occasion 4) days a week starting from when he's nearly 12 weeks old. We're planning on having someone (puppy sitter and sometimes myself) to come in twice a day at first so that every 2.5 hours or so someone comes to let him out.

    Also, I sort of get the long / short term confinement thing but we were planning to use the playpen for when we're occupied with things like cooking / eating dinner etc. Dunbar suggests using the crate for that then playpen and litter tray for when you're going to be out. I don't think the playpen will contain the puppy after a couple of weeks of having him, especially as Shibas are escape artists. We were going to use the crate for when he's home alone (it's much bigger than the ones shown in the book) and playpen for when we're home when we can't directly supervise him. Is this a decent trade off?

    I do like the chew toy thing though, but what do you do if the puppy isn't particularly interested in a stuffed kong?

    I guess what it all comes down to is your own interpretation of advice such as this. However, if you change it you might not know if you're going to make things worse for yourself, especially as a first time puppy owner!

    [mod edit: changed title to correspond with discussion]

    Post edited by sunyata at 2013-12-09 12:04:06
  • amtiamti
    Posts: 1066
    I've never read Dunbar (bad, huh?) so I can't comment on his methods. If your pup doesn't like the Kong, then try another chew toy. Mine don't care for the Kong unless there is something inside it. Otherwise, it sits at the bottom on the toybox. Cow hooves have been a consistant hit with all three dogs, and they always seem to go back to them when they want something to chew on. They are hardy, last a long time, cheap, don't damage teeth, but stinky. Some people say their dogs like Nylabones, but I've had zero luck with those too.
  • Usually a puppy won't soil the crate if it is small. That's why the crate is useful at night (they also usually won't go overnight,but often wake up quite early!) or if you've left them in the crate for a few hours. A 12 week old puppy should be able to hold it 4 hours or so, so the crate would help encourage that, if all is normal and if the crate is not so big that they have space to pee and then get out of it. If you have a large crate, and it sounds like you do, you'll need to block part of the crate off so it is small at first, because the idea is to keep the crate small enough that pup won't want to soil it (ie there is not room to get away from it if they do). You can expand the crate size as the dog grows, and when pup is reliably not soiling the crate

    With most of my dogs, the crate has worked fine--they haven't wanted to soil it. I suspect, however, the reason Dunbar suggests playpen + tray or pad is that some puppies WILL soil the crate, and then you've got soiled crate plus wet dirty puppy when you get home, and the playpen gives them a space to go if they need to and get out of it. I've never had a puppy that would soil a crate til now (I have an Akita puppy) so now I understand the need for the other way of doing this--she'll just go in the crate if she has to go.

    Probably I'd start testing this out with the Shiba pup. Will he keep his crate clean? If so, leaving him crated vs. the playpen (which you're right he might escape from) might be the better bet.

    Also, something I learned this time around: if you have to use pads for emergencies, it's better NOT to get the pee pads for dogs. You can get chux pads:

    that are better because they are not scented and won't encourage the puppy to pee on them. I ran afoul of that problem in our house with our difficult to housetrain puppy--she's peeing in the house a lot less now that we use the unscented pads.

    Anyway, Dunbar is great, but remember you may need to tweak his suggestions to fit your particular situation. good luck!
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2013-12-08 14:32:26
  • Yes that's exactly what we're doing :) I find a lot of what he says makes a lot of logical sense, though I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of his writing style, but that's my personal preference. I haven't let it detract from what I'm learning :) Just about to start reading After you get your puppy!
  • And btw, most Shibas are pretty easy to housetrain and won't soil their crates. my hard to housetrain puppy is an Akita, and I also think she's just a little more difficult than average for the Japanese breeds (but probably about average for other dogs).
  • RyanRyan
    Posts: 293
    I had pads out until Bella started to shred them. I don't have any issues with her inside. Suki I never used pads on but he wasn't an inside dog for the first 7yrs of his life.
    Bella (Sherae Aka Akicho) | F | Born 27/1/2012
    Suki (Aust. Ch. Betlin Takaisuki) | M | Born 03/02/2005, adopted 10/09/2012
  • nds421nds421
    Posts: 19
    Hey guys! I also have another question regarding his training methods.

    Like @Nahatalie said, Dunbar says to use the x-pen for long term confinement. On page 10 of his book (linked below), he says to put a potty area in the pen.

    However, most people recommend against letting the shiba go to the bathroom in the house. His own book says to not let the dog have any accidents.

    So, I'm a little confused. Starting from 8 weeks old, our baby will be alone for 2 hours a day (between when my bf goes to work and I come home from work). Should the dog have a potty area in the pen? If we put him in the pen for longterm confinement during those 2 hours, will we have potty issues?

    His book for reference:

    Thanks guys!
    Post edited by nds421 at 2016-02-18 15:40:01
  • @nds421 - It's okay to start off with a potty pad when they are really young. It's better to use a pad in the house vs having accidents in the house. It teaches them pad = pee so after they're used to it, it's easier to transition the pad outside where they then associate it with going outside. Then you can get rid of the pad altogether. Each puppy is different, some are easier to potty train than others so it depends on how he adjusts when you get him.

    With a pup so young, some people advise against bringing them outside since they don't have all their shots yet, but for me personally, it's more important that they go out and experience the outside world as soon as they can. I think 2 hours is fine with an 8 week old pup, optimally after emptying out or after tiring him out. I'm a big fan of crate training myself and only used an X-pen after my girl was potty trained. It taught her to like the crate and made training much much easier. The more space a puppy has, the chances of having accidents is higher and you risk going backwards in training.
  • a longer confinement would be on the order of more than 2 hours. If for some reason neither you nor your partner can let your puppy out, give them a bigger space to roam in (expen) and make sure they have a place to potty because at that age they will need somewhere to go.

    For me, I just planned my time accordingly so I could let Ham out every two hours, but I know that not everyone has a schedule as flexible as mine. But there is a good chance that you'll confuse your puppy about where to go if you rely on using potty pads.
  • Ditto what everyone else said.

    For the first couple of months she was crated in one of those Midwestern crates with a moveable middle section so that we could slowly expand it as she grew. After about 2 months, we then bought an ex-pen that attaches to the crate, so she can hang out and play with her toys, or go to sleep in her crate (which we cover with blankets to keep the sunlight out).

    In the crate, we put the potty pads underneath a towel, so that it would be easy to clean up, and also so she doesn't shred them.
  • nds421nds421
    Posts: 19
    @justifiedgaines, if we put him in the expen while we're gone, what should we put as a place for him to go to the bathroom?

    Also, what's the difference between "making sure they have a place to potty" and using potty pads?

    Thanks for your help!!!
  • dougfoodougfoo
    Posts: 41
    I just got my pup @9.5 weeks old

    I was sold on the Dunbar method, but the breakdown I found is...
    -My pup doesn't respond to treats. My trainer said she the 1% that doesn't like liver
    -Also doesn't play w/ chewtoys (dont care about treats in Kong!!)
    -She did great peeing on pad first 2 times using the 1-2 hr system (in crate/out/in) but then started lying down on the pad like it is her home.. and if we believe the theory.. she won't pee in her home anymore..
    -Sure enough she started not wanting to pee on the pad, but held it till I gave up on the pad and let her out a little or peed half way out of the playpen ! (my mistake i know!)

    She never had an accident in her crate/home, but in playpen yep and outside the pen yepo.

    My trainer said ditch the 1-2 hr strict program and just leave her in the playpen w/ unlimited water and be happy if she learns to pee off her bed/crate, but in the pen area anywhere. Trainer feels we can encourage her to use the pad -- and soon enough she'll learn & also be walking outside to pee anyways ??

    The execution of Dunbar is difficult I felt because ...
    1) every 1-2hr in/out is a tough schedule (even every 2 hr)
    2) when she doesn't pee, Dunbar rule is take her back in and put her to create/sleep again (difficult to wake the pup, stand her on the pad then no-pee, back! -- feels sad)
    3) my situation of non snacking pup

    I will try what the trainer says... though I wonder if I should doubt the Dunbar system...

    Thoughts? Otherwise pup is lovely.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
    @dougfoo - Ditch your trainer, s/he sounds like an idiot.

    Why are you trying to get your dog to potty indoors? That just confuses them in the long run. Properly potty train your pup from the start. There are TONS of great threads on proper potty training techniques. I suggest you start reading through those.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • dougfoodougfoo
    Posts: 41
    @sunyata -- as a high-rise apt city dweller no choice until she is vaccinated. It'd take me 5min to get downstairs... so I must indoor train first and regardless must teach her about either holding her pee or peeing on a pad.

  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1272
    Do you have a balcony that you could put a patch of grass on (like fresh patch or doggie lawn)?? I think the pads are just adding an extra step in potty training and don't help anything. From my point of view, if you're planning on training your dog to potty outside, the sooner the better. You're able to take advantage of baby bladder's need to pee often, and really reinforce that outside is the place to go. Even if it took me 5 minutes to get to a patch of grass outside, I'd choose that over complicating things by trying to indoor train. If you think it's hard to potty train now, just wait until you have to transition it to outside and aren't able to take advantage of the almost constant need to pee that a young puppy has lol. When she gets older, I totally recommend having a bell by the door that she can learn to ring to tell you that she needs to go out. :)
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
    The five minutes it takes to get outside is totally worth it.

    Transitioning from a dog that has learned to pee inside whenever she wants to a potty trained dog (knows to hold it until she is outside) is REALLY tough. I really suggest just doing the traditional potty training routine instead of trying to teach her to pee inside.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    The idea of having a schedule is so you take the puppy out before he/she desperately needs to go. So if you do it immediately after a nap, a meal or playtime the five minutes it takes shouldn't be a concern most of the time. If a freak accident happens in the elevator, just clean it up.
  • NikkitineNikkitine
    Posts: 776

    You do have a choice and honestly, it's more important to get her out there earlier than later if not for potty training, then for exposure to the outside world. Shibas can be notoriously picky about where to eliminate and puppies pick up a preference to where they like to pee early on. The more you use pads now, the harder it will be to transition to grass later. If you are truly worried about her contracting anything, pick her up and hold her until you get outside and onto a patch of grass that's in a more secluded area. Use that same patch of grass everytime. Or if you have a small balcony or patio, use one if those fake grass potty patches so she gets accustomed to going outdoors and the feel of grass at her feet. Use a trigger word right when she eliminates.

    It's definitely worth the time and you'll appreciate teaching her earlier than later when she grows up and decides she ONLY wants to go indoors and you'll have a much harder time changing it up.
    Posts: 412
    @dougfoo - I live in a condo as well and I attempted to train Ponyo on some real grass turf we got from HomeDepot, but she refused, so we ended up having to take her outside and scoop her up the instant she was done.
  • pyleapylea
    Posts: 235
    @dougfoo: I'm also an apartment-dweller in the city and have taken Pylea out for potty since day one. Sure there was a slight risk, but socialization and desensitization were more important. I only allowed her on the sidewalk of our immediate block and did not allow her to step in mud or grass. She mostly did her business in a neighbor's flowerbed (they said it was OK). I also washed her paws every time we got back inside. The times she started to pee indoors, I would interrupt her and pick her up to go outside to finish. She never peed on me or before we got outside.

    Also, does your pup respond to praise or pets? Pylea is treat-motivated most of the time, but not at the dog park or when there's other exciting stuff around. Like if she came when called, she would take her otherwise-favorite treat and spit it out. But I realized she enjoys a nice chest rub as a reward in those situations. Also I only ever feed her meals for doing something I ask. Do you feed your pup in a bowl? Try feeding a few kibble at a time for following commands.
  • dougfoodougfoo
    Posts: 41
    Hi folks, I decided to take the risk and outdoor train her. It was too painful trying to wait indoors.. she would cry every 1-2hr and for a 10wk puppy hold it for 4-5hrs! Made it really hard to leave home for a few hours ! Phew.

    As I posted in another thread, I agree to the risks.. but I realize the research is #'s -- nobody cares about that when its your puppy that got infected but I'm being very careful!

    So far potty training outside (for poo) is way easier! Now I need to get the pee moved from pad to outside too!

    Thanks all.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion

Who's Online (0)