Toilet matters for dogs & cats: How to house train puppies, kittens and older pets

Just like toddlers need to be potty trained, so new puppies and kittens, and even adult dogs and cats have to be house trained and learn good potty habits when they join your family. As dogs and cats age, they may often suffer from incontinence.  Once again, this is also very similar to us humans – as we grow older, it is quite common to also develop incontinence.    Feelgood Pets PetAlive looks at toilet or house training for puppies and kittens as well as how to control incontinenence or ‘accidents’ in older pets.

House training your new puppy

House training your dog or puppy requires three very important things – Patience, Committment and Consistency. It’s only natural that your pup will have several accidents in the house before he is properly house-trained – be prepared for this as it is all part of the joys of living with a puppy or new dog.

Here are some tips to help you succeed in house training your puppy:

1. Stick to a regular routine

Babies and children thrive on a regular routine, so do puppies. By establishing a schedule for your pup or dog, you are teaching him that that there are specific times to eat, play and ‘go potty’. Puppies are able to control their bladders for one hour for every month of age. Start off by taking your puppy or dog outside every two hours to eliminate and then after eating or drinking, playing and immediately after waking up.  

When you take your pooch outside, always take him out on a leash to his ‘bathroom spot’. A good idea before you take him out and while he is doing his business is to use the phrase “go potty” which he will eventually associate with what he has to do. It is therefore recommended by vets and animal experts that they are taken out every two hours to prevent any accidents.  
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2. Supervise your  puppy

When your puppy or dog is inside, you and other family members have to keep a close eye on him so that he doesn’t get a chance to soil in the house.  This is the time where you have be vigilant and watch for any signs where he may want to eliminate. If you notice that your pup or dog is restless, circling, sniffing around, squatting, barking or scratching at the door, then you should put him on his leash and take him to outside to his bathroom spot.

You can also keep him on a leash if he is inside with you and you aren’t playing or training him at the time. Allocate a certain area outside in your garden or yard for your pooch and keep him on a leash there. Don’t give your pet full reign of your outside area until he is properly house trained.  
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3. Reward your puppy

It is very important to reward your puppy with praise or a treat every time she eliminates outside. Remember that you have lavish the reward immediately after he’s eliminated and not while he’s eliminating or when he goes back inside. Following this step will ensure that he follows your instructions and learns what is expected of him.

However, remember that when your puppy is small, ‘accidents’ are bound to happen, especially at night. Do not punish your pet by shouting or smacking as this is not only unfair, but will also make him insecure and anxious – which will not help with house training.
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4. Feed on schedule

Puppies need to be fed quite often during the day, usually three or four times per day depending on their age. By feeding your dog at the same time each day will make it more likely that he will be consistent when he needs to eliminate.  Remove water bowls two hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood of having to take them out during the night. 
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5. If you are going to be away for long periods...

 

Puppies under 6 months cannot control their bladders for long periods of time and should not be expected to either. If you are going to work, it would be best to arrange for someone to take him out to eliminate or your house training efforts will even take longer.

If you don’t have any other choice but to leave him alone, then you have to teach him to eliminate in a designated area in your house – using newspaper or a training mat for your furry pal to make use of.
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Toilet training your kitten

Cats tend to be easier to house train than dogs. The reason for this is that they are quite fastidious about their cleanliness and grooming, and definitely more independent and self -sufficient than dogs. Kittens naturally prefer sand or a litter box and will normally choose this over a carpet so your task is easier!

1. Choose the correct sized litter tray

The first step to potty training your kitty is to get her an appropriate sized litter box. From about four weeks old, your kitty will start displaying signs of readiness like scratching the carpet – this is a good indication that she’s ready for litter box training. The litter tray should be small with low sides to make it easy for kittens to climb in and out of.  
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2. Find a place for the litter box

Cats function very well in small spaces. When you bring your kitty home for the first time, choose a room in your house that you can close off.
Confining her to a small space or area for a few days will encourage her to use the litter box. Make sure that you keep the litter tray close by for her to use when she needs to. If you move her to another room where you are going spend time with her, be sure to have another litter tray there too. 

Be careful not to place litter trays in high traffic areas.  For instance, don’t place the litter tray near to her food bowls because cats don’t like doing their toilet business where they eat.  A good spot for the litter tray would be close to her bed. Having a few litter boxes throughout the house where your kitten or cat will be spending time is also a good way of reinforcing good potty habits.
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3. Guiding your kitten

Initially, you would need to introduce your kitten to her a litter box so that can get used to the idea of using it. Start off by playing with her first and then place her inside the litter tray. It’s important that she associates the litter tray as a positive experience and feels safe there.

Once she’s inside the litter tray, check to see if she scratches on her own. If she doesn’t scratch on her own, you can help her by moving her front paw gently in a scratching motion to dig in the litter. Take her out when she’s ready, play a little bit but then put her back in between tries. Most kittens cotton on to what to do quite quickly and your little fur ball will get the hang before you know it.
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4. Establish a routine

Toilet training your kitten or cat becomes even easier if you stick to a routine. Once your kitty has eaten or napped, place her in the litter tray. If you are patient and consistent, and willing to put in the effort, your kitten will use the litter tray when she needs to do her business.
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5. A few things to remember   

It is most likely that your kitty will have a few accidents – when this happens, don’t punish or shout at her. Punishing your kitten or cat for accidents in the house will only make the problem worse in the long run. If an accident happens at home, never clean the area with ammonia based products because pets often confuse the smell of ammonia with urine and therefore go back to the same spot to urinate.

What kind of litter is best to use in a litter box for kittens? It is also very important to choose the right litter for your kitty. There are different types such as crystals, clay, clumping, recycled wood or paper pellets. If the litter tray is dusty, it may irritate your cat’s nasal passages, causing her to avoid the litter tray. 

For smaller kittens, a finer litter will be more attractive to them, rather than rough and larger crystals which may hurt their paws and will not be comfortable for them to use.  Lastly, clean your kitty’s litter tray frequently! 

Remember to clean the clumps out of the litter tray as young kittens may eat it which could then cause a blockage. Remove the old litter, wash and then replace with fresh litter. Kittens and cats do not like to use a dirty litter box an this may cause them to go and look for another spot to use – which you don’t want to encourage!
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Toilet issues and incontinence in older pets

Sadly, as many dogs and cats age, they tend to experience more medical problems and often suffer from incontinence. The inability to hold their urine may happen while they are sleeping or while they are at home during the day. Common causes of incontinence in older dogs and cats are because of urinary tract or kidney infections.

Any dog or cat who was previously house trained, but begins to have multiple ‘accidents’ should be checked out in case of a bladder infection or other problem. In most cases, the underlying causes of incontinence can be treated and managed.

In the Feelgood PetAlive range, we have natural remedies to treat and prevent bladder problems and infections in dogs and cats. Our UTI Free is a 100% homeopathic remedy specially formulated to treat bladder infections, cystitis and UTI’s in both dogs and cats. For pets with kidney problems, use Kidney Dr from Feelgood Health which is a herbal remedy to promote urinary tract health and support kidney functioning. For older dogs and cats who are unable to control their bladders due to old age or other illness, our Better Bladder Control is a gentle, natural remedy to strengthen weak bladders and reduce “dribbling or leaking” accidents.
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  • Erika Hofgman - April 17, 2018

    What more healthy options are available for fleas and ticks for cats

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