How to Housebreak Your Dog or Puppy
Dogs are creatures of habit; and once they develop a habit, breaking it can be a
long, frustrating process. Your dog needs guidance and encouragement from you to
develop a toilet habit you can live with. Animal behaviorists have learned a lot
about dogs over the last couple of decades, and there are many tips available
that will make housebreaking your dog or puppy a less frustrating task.
When you consider some of the things your dog or puppy is willing to roll in, or
put in their mouth, it's a bit hard to believe they're picky and specific about
their toilet areas. Dogs will go to great lengths to avoid soiling near where
they eat and/or sleep. That means any accidents an un-housebroken dog has will
be far from its food dish and bed. To a dog, however, "far" can mean about 6-10
feet. This leaves lots of "fair game" space in your home, unless you guide the
dog to suitable spots.
Whether your dog is a puppy, or an adult dog new to your home, the process is
- Every few hours, take the dog outside to a place you designate as a "bathroom"
- 30 minutes after the dog or puppy eats, do the same.
- Stay in this bathroom area, and praise the dog lavishly when they relieve
- If the dog doesn't use the bathroom when you've taken them outside to the
appropriate spot, try again 15 minutes later. Continue doing this until they've
actually used the bathroom spot.
- When the dog is inside, watch closely for any signs of needing to "go". A dog
will circle and sniff areas when they're about to relieve themselves.
How quickly your dog becomes housebroken depends partly on their personality,
but mostly on your diligence in taking them outside at the right time. If your
puppy is less than four months old, you should plan on getting up during the
night to take it outside. Puppies over four months of age can usually "hold it"
through the night, but if your dog cries to be let out, it is best to get up and
let them tend to the urge. It is vital that you give your dog every chance to
succeed during this time. Positive reinforcement of the proper behavior is the
fastest way to teach your dog anything.
Accidents happen, and when they do, your response will affect how quickly your
dog learns to "go" outside. If you catch your dog in mid-squat, clap your hands
or call their name loudly to distract them. Once you have their attention,
quietly and calmly take them outside. Be sure to praise your dog or puppy well
when they finish relieving themselves outside properly.
If you find a wet spot or droppings on the floor when your dog is not around,
simply clean it up. If your dog approaches to investigate what you are doing,
ignore them. Don't talk to or pet the dog at this moment, because it could be
interpreted as praise. Above all else, avoid yelling or physically punishing the
dog, because they won't make the connection between their mess, and your anger.
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Kathy Burns-Millyard This article is provided courtesy of The My Pet Animals