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House Training

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Look out, Look out There’s a puppy about


Ok, so you've got your precious new canine family member home, and he has settled in quite nicely, is eating well, and playing havoc with everything you should have tidied away, Now for those 'little accidents' ,

Housetraining is probably the very first training exercise undertaken by a puppy and his new owner, and despite what some people say, it is not hard, and success does not have to take an age to achieve. With luck, your puppy’s breeder may have begun the process. The important thing to remember is that your puppy will not learn by himself, there are 'rules', and you will have to have more than a casual input.


The 'Rules'

1 If you don't catch your puppy doing it - DO NOT punish him.

2 Always use praise when things go right.

There is method in the madness

There are several methods you can choose to use when housetraining a puppy.


Hot off the press

The first involves newspaper - lots of it! This needs to be placed on the floor where you want the puppy to go to the bathroom. Whenever you see your puppy begin to do his 'sniff and seek pattern' - walking around and sniffing the floor - gently pick him up, and without talking, carry him over to the papers, and then praise him when he performs. When your puppy is consistently using the paper, the papers can be moved closer to the door, and/or another set placed outside. This helps the puppy in his transition from going to the bathroom indoors on paper, to outdoors on paper. Finally the papers can be dispensed with. The only drawback with this tried and trusted method is that for a while it actively encourages your puppy to perform indoors, and therefore can take a little longer than other methods.

Boxing clever

Another popular method of housetraining involves placing your puppy in a crate or cage. The idea behind this is that the crate or cage becomes your puppy's den - it's cosy and safe - and no dog likes to soil his bed.

The idea is to place the puppy in the crate whenever he is in the house, but cannot be supervised. This might be while you are cooking, reading to the kids or even when you have to be out of the house for a short space or time. The last thing you do before putting the puppy in his crate is to take him outside to his favourite spot in the garden to relieve himself - with heaps of praise. And the first thing you do on your return is to do exactly the same thing. Don't put food or water in the crate. Just a blanket and maybe a chewy toy to help keep puppy occupied during your absence. Your puppy can sleep in the crate at night, as long as you run through the leaving and returning procedure prior to going to bed, Gradually you will begin to trust your puppy enough to have him out of the crate for longer periods, all the while being aware of the 'sniff and seek' action.

If you are going to embark on the crate method of housetraining, make sure that you buy a crate that is just large enough to provide a comfy sleeping area for your puppy, as using a crate that is too large will leave a free area which the puppy could use to relieve himself. There is no need. However, to buy a new crate each week. To keep up with a rapidly growing dog Rather buy a crate that will be large enough for the full-grown dog, but ensure that it has a divider panel as an accessory. With this divider you can adjust the space available within the crate.

The crate is an extremely useful tool in housetraining, as it not only stops the puppy from messing where he pleases, but also helps to teach him that he can actually hold on. This is thought to be the reason why puppies who have undergone crate training have fewer mistakes later on.

Under supervision

The third method involves no papers, no crates, but lots of patience, and time. This method is perhaps best employed by people who work from home, or are retired, or in situations where the owner is with the puppy all the time, as it involves constant vigilance. Constant vigilance means just that.

Every time you see your puppy 'sniff and seek' pop him outside, followed by heaps of praise when he performs. It is vital, if this method is to succeed without too much hair tearing, that the puppy is watched at all times and that no mistakes are allowed to happen. This method has far less room for error, as without a crate there is nothing to restrict the puppy's urges, nor is there a convenient area all neatly papered ready waiting.

The puppy needs to be taken outside to relieve himself as soon as he wakes up, within 30 or 40 minutes of him finishing eating, when he stops playing, and many times in-between. When a puppy is taken outside to go to the bathroom, he must be watched until he has done the necessary, and be rewarded with lots of praise, and then taken back inside. In this way the puppy will learn that the purpose for going outside was to go to the bathroom. Do not start playing - make it a trip for a reason. Voice commands are also important here.

By word of mouth

Voice commands will also help both you and your puppy understand what is required. Choose a word such as 'outside' to indicate when your puppy needs to go to the bathroom, and remember that it is important that everyone else in the family uses the same word.

Once outside, try to encourage the puppy to get on with the business in hand by using words such as 'hurry up' (or similar). As soon as he has eliminated, it is vital to praise and then come back inside.

Accidents will happen

The most important thing to remember is rule number one - if you do not, catch your puppy doing it, do not punish him. Quite simply, discipline will not help unless you catch your puppy in the act. He will have no idea why you are going off the deep end. Puppies, like children, have short attention spans, and do not think of what they did in the past, unless it was fun, and let's face it - going to the bathroom is only essential, not fun!

Besides, it was your fault, so if you do find a mess that was left when you were not there, clean it up and forget it.

If you should happen to catch your puppy performing, don't get mad. Rather, quickly but calmly pick him up and, without raising your voice, firmly say 'no', and carry him outside or to the papers. Once the puppy gets there it is highly likely that he will be excited, but stay there for a while and if he finishes the job, reward him with simple praise. Punishment rarely speeds up housetraining. Often it makes the puppy nervous or afraid every time he needs to relieve himself.

If you want housetraining to go quickly, regardless of which method you choose to use, spend as much time as possible with your puppy. And the watchwords are 'be patient and stay calm’.

Clean up!

If accidents do happen, don't panic, as there are a mass of different products readily available from supermarkets, veterinarians and pet shops that you can use safely. These products will not only clean up the mess but deodorise the house as well.

There are also, vacuum cleaners available that are not only robust enough to withstand more than regular use, but also specially adapted to deal with pet hair.

(Tracy Cox)


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