When I flew home with my puppy five years ago, on the day she was 8 weeks old, she already had a handle on house training. Her breeder, Denise Wall, would take the puppies out and tell them, “Go potty.” And go potty they would. In fact, on our way home, after the plane had been delayed twice, I took Sky into the ladies room, put down a wee wee pad and said the magic words. And go potty she did, on the wee wee pad rather than on the carpet in the waiting area.
Pooping and peeing on command may be one of the best things you ever teach your dog. Having a command speeds house training because it tells the pup what it is you want her to do – and if you can, she will. For adult dogs, it says, Hey, it’s raining. Let’s get this done. Or it might say, This doesn’t look like where you go at home, but, trust me, this is the place. For me, it’s communicated to my service dogs that they ought to pee in the train station (yup, that’s where they go) or hold it in until the next long stop, long being as short as five minutes when you travel by train. And for the traveling pet dog, the dog visiting NYC who usually goes on grass, Go Potty can put an end to a long, unproductive walk.
Speaking of NYC, while I was thrilled that my puppy was half house trained at 8 weeks of age, I did change the command. I prefered something that kept what I was doing my own business, as it were. Years earlier, I used to tell my second service dog, Flash, “Smoke ’em if you got ’em,” which some of you might be old enough to recognize. It was, a long time ago, a way of saying, “At ease.” To Flash it meant he could stop heeling and find the perfect place to relieve himself. And what stuck was “smoke.” It worked well for both of us, especially when we traveled by train and had to wait in line with the smokers for those precious five minutes in a station. “Flash isn’t leaving, is he?” they’d ask, cigarettes and lighter in one hand, the other holding on as the train rocked back and forth. “Nope,” I’d tell them, “he’s just going out for a smoke.”
Whatever command you choose, think of how great it would be to let an 8 week old puppy know exactly what’s up and to be able to rush a dog of any age when the weather is making you wish for a warm blanket and a good book to read.
Now the question is this. How should I illustrate this post? Oh, I know. Happy training, fellow dog lovers!