Q: We have two Cavalier King Charles spaniels. We also have 18-month-old twins who now play in the yard every day. I regret not having trained the dogs to eliminate in a specific area of the yard. We do not have the time to always physically lead the dogs to a spot. Are there other ways to accomplish this?
A: Dogs are creatures of habit and like to eliminate in one area and one type of ground surface all the time. If a dog is led to that particular area by hand and is forced to stay in that spot every single time, then that area gets hard-wired into the dog’s mind as the place to go. The operative phrase here is “led to that area by hand,” and you indicate there is not enough time in the day to do this with 18-month-old twins to care for.
I was in a similar situation years back with multiple dogs to train, and I solved it by fencing in a small area with chain link by the back door. When it was time to let the dogs out, I would lead them to the fenced area, close the gate and go back in the house. After 20 minutes, the dogs finished what they had to do, and I let them out into the yard to run and play.
After a few weeks of this, the dogs got so used to the routine that I was able to take the gate off.