If you’re a regular reader of Little Dog Tips, this blog post is probably not for you.
You most likely have learned a lot about potty training from my blog already, if it’s been one of your personal struggles, and know that there are many ways to communicate with a dog, like using potty bells, that help them understand where to poop and pee.
But if you’ve ever been given this advice, or even used this practice, and wondered if you’re doing the right thing… this is an article for you.
First off, I’d like you to know that this is written without judgement.
Conflicting advice from family, veterinarians, trainers, blogs and books can make it extremely difficult to do right by your dog.
Especially when you’re losing sleep over potty training.
Especially when you’re sick and tired of cleaning up.
And you’re worried about permanent damage to your home.
Why Do So Many People Rub Their Dog’s Nose In Poop Or Pee?
I’m in a lot of dog-related Facebook Groups, so at least weekly, I see a post about someone who has been rubbing their dog’s nose in their own poop or pee, and wondering why it hasn’t worked.
I don’t think most people can do this in good conscience. People are asking these questions because they don’t like punishing their beloved dog in this awful way.
I’ve read a lot of dog books and articles, and I’ve only seen advice against this. I’m not sure where this advice originates.
I don’t believe any reputable veterinarian would recommend such an unsanitary training method, if we can call it that.
I don’t think any trainers are still doing this, but since there are no required regulations in the training industry, it’s totally possible that people are still getting this advice.
I think this advice comes from way back in the day, when dogs were just starting to enter our homes. Dogs were not yet considered “part of the family” to most people.
All you need to know on this point: this advice is outdated. No professional would tell you to do this because there’s better, safer, more effective ways to communicate with your puppy.
Why Is It Bad To Rub Your Dog’s Nose In Their Wastes?
Actions must have consequences, right?
If a dog hates having their nose rubbed in their wastes, she’ll stop going potty on the rug, right?
Well, here’s the thing.
Even though it’s unsanitary to do this, if your dog is relatively healthy, they probably wouldn’t get sick from it. Dogs regularly eat their own feces, and the worst illness they would get is extended the lifecycle of worms that they already have in their body.
Dogs don’t dislike the odor of their own feces and urine quite as much as we do. For dogs, wastes are an integral part of the way they communicate with others of their own species.
Even so, one of the most effective ways to potty-train a dog is to use a crate. A dog will typically hold their feces and urine while crated because they do not want to soil their sleeping space.
So, rubbing your dog’s nose in their poop might not be as unpleasant as you might expect, though they definitely will not enjoy the experience.
The potentially traumatizing part of this practice is the physical force you’d use to hold the puppy down, and rub their nose into the carpet.
I’m not sure if people are getting more detailed advice about this. Are they restraining their puppy to the point of a struggle? Are they smearing feces all over their own dog’s nose?
It’s horrifying to imagine. I’m trying to remain non-judgmental, and I would hope that anyone who has make this mistake was able to avoid doing it to the point of extreme trauma.
If you were to rub your dog’s nose in their feces right after she had an accident, she will associate going potty on the floor with this bad experience – but she’ll learn that she needs to hide from you, rather than magically figure out that you want her to go potty outside.
If you were to do this long after the accident, it would be even less effective.
The truth is, the biggest lesson your puppy will learn is that you’re scary to be around. As this practice is often done early in the puppy’s life, it builds a relationship based on fear.
When your dog fears you, they don’t know when you’re reaching towards them to pet them – or to force them down.
But My Cousin’s Uncle’s Dad Did This And It WORKED
For every strange, abusive training method, there are dozens of people who will defend it with anecdotes. If it worked for me, they say, it must be the best way to do it.
People have success with all kinds of training methods because they build habits. No matter how abusively you treat a dog, if you keep taking them outside, they’ll sooner or later get potty trained.
But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes those dogs stay fearful, which leads to stress that makes it even more difficult for them to control their bladder.
What your so-and-so wouldn’t tell you is that they may have abandoned many dogs that they used this practice on when it failed.
For that one resilient dog who, on the off chance, was successfully potty trained without humane methods, it can seem to work. But that’s despite, not because of, the abuse.
How Should I Potty Train My Puppy Instead?
If you’re reached the end of this article, I’m hoping you’re jumping for joy at the idea that you actually don’t need to use training methods that make you feel bad on the inside.
Not everyone who has rubbed their dog’s nose in poop is a bad person. They may have not known any better.
Fortunately, we now have access to so much more information, so many more methods and choices that we no longer have to do things that scare our dogs just to train them.