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Pet Column: Housebreaking Made Easy

Here are some basic training tips for you and your puppy.

Failing to teach your dog to eliminate in the proper place is perhaps the most common reason why a dog ends up in the shelter. They need to be educated on what is expected of them.

They don't know unless you guide them. How could they? The world is a big, scary place for them and they depend upon you for everything. If you don't give them the rules they will attempt to figure it out themselves. They will be testing you and pushing your limits until they know what they can or can't get away with. They will make up their own rules because they don't know any better. This, of course, may be just the opposite of what you want. They must be taught exactly what YOUR rules are. You need to be very, very clear.

If you have ever raised children then you know all hell may begin to break loose unless you do ALL THREE of these things with your children. Dogs are the same way!

1) You must be consistent...do the same thing the same way every time untilthey “get it!”
2) You must follow through..don't say anything unless you are prepared to follow up on whatever you decide is the rule.
3) You must mean what you say...dogs and children can “sense” when you are lying.

Dogs, like a children will attempt to push their limits. They do this not out of defiance but just because they are trying to get the lay of the land. They are trying to understand where their limits and boundaries are. So, you must be very clear from the very beginning. Dogs thrive within the boundaries that YOU set up for them!

There are different ways to teach your dog proper eliminating habits. The best and most effective way is to crate train. This is not difficult if you take a methodical step-by-step approach:

1) Get a crate for your new dog.

2) Lovingly put your puppy in the crate at night or anytime your puppy cannot be supervised, but never more than 4 hours at a time! It is most important to make crating comfortable and fun with a blanket, a few of their favorite toys and a treat or two. Dogs have natural instincts to feel safe within a “den”, but If your puppy chews
on the bars, tries to bend open the door to escape or cries and whines for longer than 20 minutes, do not crate them! Being confined can be very stressful for some dogs and this stress could result in separation anxiety. Consult a professional. Also, dogs prefer not to soil their sleeping quarters.

3) No water after 6:00 or a couple hours before bedtime.

4)Choose a “pre-designated potty place”, somewhere just outside the house and close enough to his crate. It would be best to pick the place that they have already gone before...because they obviously like that spot, as long as it is close to the house.


Immediately after confinement, first thing upon waking and within twenty minutes after every meal, go directly to the “pre-designated potty place”. Don't stop for play or smell or anything. Take your dog out to that SAME place EVERY time and supervise!

5)Choose a “potty word”. Use the same “potty word” each time. This word must sound different than any other word you may ever use in your normal speaking voice. Like “Potty Potty Potty” about 2 or 3 octaves higher than how you usually speak.

6) Stay in the SAME place for a “chosen amount of time” perhaps ten minutes, until your dog has eliminated or until the time is up. If your dog still hasn't gone in the “chosen amount of time”, head back towards the house. This shows them that they need to go
when YOU tell them to! They will eventually “get it” don't worry....there may be a few “mistakes” in the house, thats to be expected, but don't panic. Even if it happens on the way back to the house, that is a good sign that they are understanding their time is up.

7) If your puppy eliminates in the house, don't punish them unless you catch them in the act. Dogs live in the moment and you will just confuse them if you punish them after the fact. HOWEVER, while you clean it up you NEED to let them know you are NOT happy and that this is unacceptable behavior!! Pick up the poop in a plastic bag or pee
cleaned up by a paper towel, take both and the dog out to the “pre-designated potty place” and use the “potty word”, wait a certain amount of time and praise him lavishly if he goes. If he doesn't go at that time thats okay, he will get it eventually. You may have
some accident or two, but be consistent, be patient and mean it.

8) Watch for the signs that your dog needs to eliminate, like sniffing the ground, arching their backs, panting or circling a spot. Urgently say “uh-uh-uh!” Take them immediately out to the “potty place” and praise, praise praise!

9)Keep the puppy on the same schedule...If you have just acquired a puppy he will need to eliminate more. Take your new puppy out to the “potty place” every two to three hours.Don't forget to praise.

10) Praise, praise praise....When your puppy does his business in the “pre-designated potty place” within the “chosen amount of time”, praise them like you have never praised them before!! Have a party. Make sure they know that you are the most happiest person ever because of his little “present”. It would be a good idea to have a
treat handy so he will understand that when he goes where you want him to he will ALSO get a treat.


11) It may be a good idea not to run back to the house immediately after your dog has relieved themselves because your dog might learn to hold it so they can stay out longer. Yes, yes believe me, your dog is smarter than you think!! The best possible scenario would be to take them out for a much appreciated walk and praise, praise, praise!!

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