Housebreaking Your Puppy Good Puppy Good Dog

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Housebreaking Your Puppy Good Puppy Good Dog

by Michael Russell

No, no, no! A puppy?s life! ?No?, frequently the first word that comes to your mind when she looks up at you and starts tearing up the paper?or squats! But should it be? After all, tearing up paper is fun, going potty when the urge hits is natural?regardless of where. Don?t simply reprimand the puppy for doing what comes naturally; take some training steps to change the behavior. A well-trained puppy makes a good dog.

Training should start as soon as you bring a new puppy into your home. Why let her learn bad habits that you will have to change later? Training doesn?t need to be a struggle, but the more diligent you are; the shorter the training period will be. Basic to training, when a puppy is doing something it should not be doing in order to be a good citizen of its environment, redirect her activity and praise the new good behavior. Train yourself to recognize the ?I?ve got to potty!? signs. She may suddenly start to run in circles or start sniffing the floor or, later in the training, run toward the door. She may even just give you the look. You?ll get to know it!

When not interacting directly with the puppy and/or not being able to supervise her closely, she should be crated or confined to a small area (small relative to her size). Baby gates work well for this. Whenever the puppy whines first assume she has to go to the bathroom and take her outside?rain, shine, sleet or snow. Stay close, preferably with the puppy on a leash, so that you can offer praise immediately while she potties. Using a leash more easily allows you to, with a gentle tug, regain the attention of an easily distracted puppy and to establish a specific area of the yard for elimination. Praise must come immediately, not after the fact, so that she relates praise to going potty outside. Teach the puppy ?outside?? and the language of elimination??go potty? or ?do thing?, ?do other thing?, whatever terminology you wish to use; just keep it consistent and be sure everyone in the family uses the same commands and tone. Soon she will pair ?outside?? and elimination. The goal is to get the puppy to eliminate on command. If a puppy is not yet used to a leash, put the leash on and carry her outside to the elimination area saying, ?go outside? along the way. Put the puppy down and then switch to your command for elimination. Go inside immediately after the job is done so that she knows the phrase ?outside? is for a specific purpose and was not for play. When the purpose is for play, use a different term.

Before and after playtime or walk time?any change of activity, take the puppy out to potty. Also, take her out within a half hour after eating.

A word about crates: Using a crate will allow house training to proceed more easily. Puppies usually do not want to eliminate where they sleep. For that reason the crate should be just large enough to stand up, turn around and lie down. Any larger and she will eliminate at one end and sleep at the other. Eventually, she will lose the instinct to not mess in her bed area and start spreading it around. You can purchase crates large enough for the grown dog with a divider panel and size it for the puppy.

A puppy should not be crated more than 2 hours without a potty break until she is at least 3 months old. Then you can start adding up to an hour each month until she is 6-8 months. You will begin to see what time pattern is best for your puppy. Just before placing the puppy in the crate and immediately after removing her, you should take her outside to potty.

Immediately after going outside successfully is a good time to allow the puppy some freedom. (If the puppy did not potty while outside replace her into the crate and try again in a few minutes.) This is when the baby gate comes in handy. You can allow some freedom while keeping her somewhat confined, safe and out of trouble.

Want a chance at a full night?s sleep? Take up the water supply about 2 to 3 hours before your bedtime and potty the puppy just before you retire for the night.

Remember, accidents will happen during the training period. All is not lost. To correct this behavior, she must be caught in the act. If you don?t catch her in the act, don?t try to correct her after the fact. When caught, use voice tone to let her know that this is unacceptable behavior, say in a firm voice (not an angry voice) ?Augh, augh. Potty outside?; then change to an encouraging voice tone and say ?Go outside?. Take her out on her leash to her potty area. Give her praise for finishing outside.

Establishing this new habit of going outside to potty could take 2 to 3 months, but will get better as time goes on. The number of accidents will decrease, the puppy will respond more and more often to your commands to eliminate and she will more and more frequently ask to go out. Be sure you are attuned to how she asks and respond quickly.

By the way, do you have an older dog that is starting to have accidents in the house? After being sure that there is no illness, backtrack on the housebreaking routine. A little refresher course should correct the problem quickly.

You?ll notice that paper training is pretty much ignored here. That is basically because it is an extra step which can be confusing for the puppy: first you train her to go to the bathroom in the house by placing her on the paper or specially treated puppy training pads when you discern that she needs to go and then you turn around and teach her to not go in the house by moving the paper closer and closer toward the door, eventually taking the puppy and the paper outside. Then you have to eliminate the paper altogether. It is best to start with the crate and outside training from the start unless your circumstances absolutely do not allow it. An additional benefit of crate training over paper training is that the puppy learns that she can hold it when the urge first hits.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Dog Training

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