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Housebreaking

From puppy age onwards, dogs display a natural tendency to select and repeatedly use particular locations for elimination. Essentially, all owners have to do is steer the development of this location.

Effective housebreaking involves arranging conditions so that the animal only eliminates outside in places acceptable to the owner. If this is achieved, the dog’s preference for relieving at these sites, and its related tendency to inhibit elimination at others, develops without having to train the dog to do anything in the normal sense of the term.

To do this the following rules should be applied with young dogs:
1st: Schedule
The dog should be taken outside to the place the owner wishes it to eliminate at times when it’s likely that it will soon need to relieve itself. These are:
-As soon as the dog wakes up.
-Shortly after eating/drinking.
-As soon as the owner returns after being away from home for some time. -Whenever the owner notices that the dog is engaging in pre-eliminating behaviors such as circling, sniffing, becoming restless, etc.
-After a certain period of time has passed since it last eliminated. This varies from dog to dog, and owners must therefore adjust to their dog’s particular rhythm.
- Right before going to bed

2nd: Supervision
The dog should be closely supervised when the owner is home particularly when considerable time has passed since the last elimination or when the dog goes to the room or the corner where it has eliminated previously.

3rd: Punishment
Mild punishment like startling the dog with a handclap or other loud noise is appropriate, but only if it’s actually caught in the act of eliminating or squatting. This will interrupt the elimination so that the dog can be taken immediately outside to eliminate at the desired place instead. Be aware that harsh punishment in this case will cause your dog to hide from you while eliminating and this isn’t the goal of housebreaking.

If you discover that your dog has already eliminated anywhere in the house - there’s nothing you can or should do to the dog! DO NOT punish the dog if you don’t catch it in the act. The dog would not understand why it’s being punished, even when you show it the spot.

4th: Confinement
When left in the house alone, the dog should be kept under conditions which are likely to inhibit elimination until the owner returns. For example, it can be confined in a room where it has never eliminated before, or use a baby gate to confine it to a small area (close to its bed or blanket). Dogs don’t like to soil their den.

5th: Paper Training
When the owner is going to be gone too long for the puppy to inhibit its elimination, newspapers can be laid down over the area where the dog is likely to relieve. This prevents the formation of other surface preferences (e.g. on the carpets) and the size and location of areas covered by newspapers can be easily manipulated later to help in the housebreaking process if a strong preference for eliminating on them does indeed develop.

6th: Cleaning
In case of an accident we recommend to cleaning the spot as soon as you discover it, with “Nature’s miracle” which is found in most pet stores. DO NOT clean with general cleaner products that contain Ammonia. Ammonia is also found in the urine and basically you are not really removing the scent, but replacing it.

7th: Eliminating in the Right Place
Praise quietly as the puppy goes on the desired place, and give a food reward immediately after it eliminates. Praise and reward will really speed up the process of housetraining.

The same basic housebreaking techniques are used to housetrain adult dogs. When should you consult a dog behaviorist?

1). Marking is a behavior problem almost exclusively involving male dogs. If your dog keeps urinating inside the house, never really empties itself, but leaves a few drops on specific places in the house (leg of the table, chair etc.) some different approaches should be taken on an individual basis.

2). Submissive Urination is a behavior related to a social status/ranking. It is seen mostly with puppies and younger dogs. It occurs when the dog feels confronted by someone that it perceives to be socially dominant or threatening. Submissive urination may also occur when the dog is over-excited. NEVER use punishment to correct this problem.

In both situations you should consult with a dog behaviorist for correcting the problem an individual basis.

Written by Ivan Balabanov, K9 Holiday House, 813.707.1293

**Dog Training Tip:**
Never resolve to use harsh punishment or abuse in your training. Remember that the opposite of reward is not physical correction but withholding the reward. Keep the dog training fun for you and your dog!


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