House Breaking Your Puppy or Dog

By Toni Drugmand and Fred Hassen

Believe it or not, house training is one of the easiest things to teach a dog because dogs are clean by nature and don’t like to soil their den area. Using this concept, begin by supervising your puppy when he/she is not in her den-crate environment. The biggest reason people fail with house training is that they give the puppy more freedom than she is capable of handling. An unsupervised dog is bound to make mistakes.

Use a Crate to Replicate the Den

If you can use a crate to replicate the ‘den’ environment that dogs need in order to feel safe and secure, it will shorten the training process. If the puppy is given the opportunity to get out of her crate when necessary, it will aid your house training efforts enormously. As the pup is let out of the crate, take her out on a leash to the spot where you want her to eliminate.  If she goes, praise her. If not, put her back in her crate and try again in about 15 minutes. Continue this cycle until you and your dog have a routine going. Success earns the pup freedom for about 20 minutes or so. Gradually extend the time as she grows older and more reliable. Remember, a seven-week-old puppy doesn’t have a great deal of bladder control so don’t expect her to go more than a few hours without having to eliminate. Also, don’t expect her to be able to wait once she’s out of the crate.

Use an Elimination Word

Begin the first time you take your puppy out by giving her a word to associate with eliminating. In the beginning, the puppy won’t understand the meaning of the word, but each time you take her out use the word (or phrase), “hurry up”, “go potty” or “go make” and continue to repeat the phrase until she goes; praise her when she does and your puppy will eventually learn to associate the phrase with the action. Later, when traveling or out in public, it can be a cue to get your dog to relieve herself quickly, so that you won’t have to wait for her in the scorching sun or freezing rain.

All-in-One Management System

An even easier system for house training is using a crate with a dog door and an enclosed dog run on the other side of the dog door. The dog crate goes up against the dog door. In the beginning, the dog door may need to be taped or otherwise rigged so the puppy can comfortably go through the door. Outside of the door, the dog must be enclosed to prevent the puppy from getting into any harm, or from trouble finding your puppy!

Supervise Your Pup or New Dog

When the pup isn’t in her crate, you have to use constant supervision to keep her from making mistakes. The easiest way to do this is to literally tie or tether her to your waist with a leash or line, or to tether her to a piece of furniture where she has no more than three feet of freedom in any direction. Remember that a pup tethered to furniture should be watched carefully or she may chew her way out! Crating, supervising and tethering are examples of a management system used to support the dog until she is trained. With the crate set up to the dog door system, your puppy learns quickly to let herself out of her containment area to relieve herself. It also helps her develop some independence from always having you to hold her hand, thus increasing the need for the puppy to feel that she needs someone to take her out, that she can’t possibly go out herself.

Preventing Separation Anxiety

Because dogs are inherently pack animals, they prefer to be with us rather than be alone. Most cases of adult ‘separation anxiety’ would never have developed i,f when the dog was a puppy, she had been trained in the crate/dog-door/dog run management system.  At an early stage, the puppy would learn to deal with being alone without the opportunity to dig, chew or destroy things left out. One important thing to consider with this system is that when you first let your puppy out of the crate you would still want to take your her immediately to the outside area where you want her to reliever herself. Even though your crate has access to the outside, puppy may have been resting and no had a chance to empty herself. It won’t take much movement on the dog’s part to feel the strong urge or need to go and we don’t want her to make mistakes that could have been prevented.

These are some of the first essentials for a good start with your new puppy. Enjoy her and give her a good start with safe and secure boundaries in your home!

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