House Breaking 101
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Remember that dog who just knew you didn’t want her piddling in the house? Some dogs just need a slight sense of disapproval from you, and they virtually housebreak themselves.
But you don’t have one of those dogs…or you wouldn’t be reading this!
So how do we house train the dog who just doesn’t seem to get it? Believe it or not, it’s simple.
I have two key words for you:
Confine and Observe.
While there is a great deal to know about food and water scheduling, timing can vary from dog to dog. So we’ll just concentrate here on the main concept which is to confine your dog to an appropriately sized crate when you cannot observe her.
A properly sized crate is large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around, but hardly bigger than that. If you have a puppy in a large crate, she’ll think she’s got a bedroom with a bathroom built in. She’ll wee in one corner and sleep in the other.
The correctly sized crate consists of bedroom only with no “bathroom.” So if your crate is too large, go to the pet store and purchase a crate divider so you can temporarily reduce the accessible area.
Fido should be in her crate unless you can observe her 100%. This means that when the dog is loose, she has your undivided attention. Consider attaching a 6 foot light cord to the collar so you can more easily locate the dog, and prevent her from leaving the room without you. Simply step on the cord to stop her.
At the first sign your dog needs to go, whisk her outside. Those signs include circling, sniffing, anxiousness, whining among other symptoms.
When you’re not observing your dog with full attention, you confine her to the crate. That being said, you do need to ensure your dog has liberty periodically so she’s not all day in the crate. By being diligent now, you’ll be able to give Fido years of liberty with no worries. So it’s well worth the investment in time at this stage.
Be sure you spend time playing with your dog, and also let her wander outside the crate. Avoid tossing her in the crate as punishment. Alleviate your guilt feelings by placing bones smeared with peanut butter in with her.
This method makes it impossible for your dog to have an accident. You’re either right there to take her out, or she’s in the crate where she won’t want to go. When you’ve had a month with no accidents, you can begin to let the dog earn a little more liberty, five or ten minutes at a time.
That means she can be out of your sight for a few moments at a time. But only a few. You want to build slowly on a record of success until your dog literally forgets that the house ever contained a bathroom.
For each week with no accident, you can give Fido a few more moments of liberty at a time. However, if there is an accident, go back a step, and reduce that liberty. One accident in the house erases progress made for the several previous days.
Confine and Observe your way to house breaking success. In the course of just two or three months, you’ll have a dog you can trust in the home. It’s going to be worth the effort!