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We will use the term “Housebreaking” to mean controlling bowel movements, urination, and destructive chewing by the dog in your home.
Different methods are employed to achieve a housebroken dog. The methods we suggest are easy, direct, and humane for housebreaking your pet.
The first thing to look at is the owner’s responsibility. The dog will not housebreak himself. Make sure your dog is properly exercised. The more your dog is outside, the better the chance he will eliminate outside. The more energy he uses exercising by playing and running, the less chance he will have to ruin your house. Feed your dog a high nutrition dog food. We recommend a premium dog food (puppy food). Dry dog food has more nutrition pound for pound than semi-moist brands, or canned dog foods. The better the nutrition is in his diet, the less he will have to eliminate. Never over-feed your dog. Set up a routine since your dog is a creature of habit. Try to withhold food and water when you know your dog will be alone for any length of time. Feed and exercise him at the same time each day. Discipline yourself to follow a daily routine and this will make it easier on both of you.
Puppies 3 to 6
Very young dogs have limited control of their bowels and bladders. The fact that young puppies eat more often than adults means they have to eliminate more often. Take your puppy outside immediately after eating to a spot where you want him to relieve himself. Don’t play with or distract him until after he eliminates. Keep him out until he goes, praising generously afterwards. If he won’t go in a reasonable amount of time, take him back inside, but don’t let him out of your sight. Don’t let an unhousebroken puppy wander in your house unsupervised. In a little while, take him out again, or if he tries to go inside, say “no” firmly and take him outside. If an accidental mess is made in the house, take the puppy to the spot, hold him close, and with a firm voice admonish the pup. This is enough correction for the very young puppy. The more times he is praised for going outside, and not being allowed to relieve himself inside of the house, the easier it will be to housebreak your dog. Taking him to the same place outside will remind him why he is outside. Make it a convenient place in your yard. If you must leave a very young puppy along, confine him to an area where he cannot destroy things. A utility room or powder room is a good spot to confine him when he is under 3 months. Young dogs who are left alone to wander the house are going to find trouble. Besides damage by chewing or urinating, he could poison himself or be electrocuted from biting wires. When not supervised, confine very young dogs to a safe, easy to clean area!
When you are at home, have the puppy stay with you. Do not allow your puppy to wander unsupervised. Make your house “puppy” proof. Use puppy gates to keep puppies out of rooms you do not want them in. Pick up and put away shoes, clothes, children’s toys, etc., that are enticing to your pet. Provide proper toys, balls, bones, etc. for your dog’s entertainment. We recommend the Nyla-bonde line of toys and bones. They are high quality products that give your puppy plenty of constructive teething and play. When your puppy is doing something you do not approve of, such as chewing on the rug or furniture, tell him “NO” in a stern voice and immediately give him one of his own toys or Nyla-bones. Puppies need a release of their energy. When your puppy is naughty, he may be asking for your attention. To entertain your pet, play retrieve with a tennis ball, take a walk outside, or have a tug-of-war with a piece of rope.
The puppy is introduced to a crate at 3 to 6 months of age. If you have reservation about the crate, you must understand that this is the method of choice by all professional dog trainers and dog breeders. Please study this pamphlet and make an educated decision. The crate or cage should be large enough for the dog to turn around and sit up in. Too large of a crate will not be desirable since the dog can eliminate and still be able to avoid sitting or sleeping in the waste. The proper size crate encourages the dog to be clean so that he does not have to sleep in or near bowel movements or urine. It is natural for a young dog (puppy) to remain in it’s den daily when his parents (you) are gone. We recommend the Vari-Kennel brand of dog cage. They are well built, durable, easy to clean, affordable cages. We have found that because of the way they are built, the dog gets a secure feeling of being in a den. We recommend them over the metal cage for the dog’s comfort, as well as cost and longevity. The den is for the safety of the pup and he feels a sense of security there. The dog crate will become your puppy’s den. It is not punishment’ nor should you pt yourself through the emotional trauma of feeling inhumane. Crate training is the most logical method of housebreaking. This method will work for a dog of any age. After an initial adjustment period, your pup will like his crate! It will become his place for rest, security, and peace. He will retire to it when he needs his space just as you have the need for peace and seclusion.
Why the Crate Works
We feel that for most dogs, a crate is necessary until 12 – 18 months of age. We feel this way because most dogs go through a very destructive period after 6 months. This behavior can become very costly and motivate the owner to get rid of or destroy his pet. The destructive behavior is often a result of the puppy’s feeling anxious because it has been left alone. The puppy roams the house looking for a release from his anxiety. This release is often destruction. A bone or toy can be left inside the crate for entertainment. We do not feed the puppy in the crate. Food and water are given at another time and place. The crate will teach your dogs to be self-controlled and disciplined when left alone at home. Your puppy sleeps the majority of the day so crating will not make your dog more excitable (except to see you when you come home) than a dog left to run free. The dog left to run free feels anxious about being alone. If this anxiety leads to destructive tendencies, he learns he will be punished upon your arrival home. This leads him to be apprehensive of your arrival. The dog in the crate learns that when his owner comes home, he goes out to do his “business” and to play. The dog in the crate knows that being alone is no big problem because his owner will come home eventually and take him out to play. In the beginning, the crate will be part of the dog’s everyday routine but we will wean him away from it.
Exercise your dog before putting him in the crate so he can relieve himself and run off some energy. In a very short time, your dog will develop the ability to not urinate or move his bowels while in the cage. Dogs we have trained with this method have been known to hold their bowels and bladder for up to and over 12 hours at a time in the crate. Work out the use of the crate to fit your routine. When you are home, have the puppy with you.
Up to this point, we have concentrated on (1) setting up a routine of exercise and feeding, (2) taught the dog wheat to chew on, what not to chew on, and corrected him for urinating or moving his bowels inside, and (3) familiarized and trained the dog to be calm when you are gone by using the crate.
Weaning From The Crate
The next step is to wean the pup from the crate. When your pup is calm, clean, and quiet in the crate for 8 hours periods, and this has been part of your routine for 4 to 8 weeks or longer, start giving him short periods of freedom alone in the house. For example, after you have had your pup outside for relief and exercise, leave him in the house alone for 5 minutes. Do not make a big deal when leaving the dog or when you return to the dog. It should be “normal” routine. If he has not been good, you caught him “red-handed”. Confront him if he was chewing, urinating, or defecating by going to the pup and taking him to the problem, put him very close to the problem and give a few strong “NO” command. Many short periods alone in the home assures your dog he has not been abandoned and reminds him you will be right back to confront and correct him for any misbehavior. You have taken the time to establish what is right or wrong while you are home with the dog. Now you will teach him the same rules apply when you are gone for short durations. When your dog has proven to you he will be responsible after many short periods alone, increase the period of being alone to 10 to 15 minutes. For the weaning from the crate to work, the time must be increased slowly and freedom repeated often. Rushing the weaning can lead to set-back in the housebreaking training. Progressively add 15 and 30 minute time increases to your dog’s freedom. This can be done in the evening or weekends, and you can still rely on the crate for the long periods, such as when you are at work. At some point, the dog will misbehave; you then will have to back up in the training to shorter periods of freedom. Intermittently return home after only a short time (10 minutes) to show the dog you are unpredictable and he must be calm and clean in your absence. Returning home after a short time is important especially if your dog reverts to misbehaving in your absence. When you return home and your dog has done something wrong, confront the problem directly. For example, if your dog has chewed up the trash in the waste basket, take the dog to the trash and hold him there and give him a strong verbal reprimand Never call the dog to punish him as this will teach him to avoid you. Go to the dog, take him by his collar, or put him on a leash, and take him to the problem and confront him with it. We put the dog’s nose right at the problem without smearing his nose in it. This goes for chewing as well as other “indiscretions.” We have found that another strong correction for urinating, bowel movements and chewing is to tie the dog by its collar to the place of the “accident.” For example. If he has urinated in the middle of the floor, we will move a chair and tie his collar to the leg of the chair next to the urine. We then use a very strong tone of voice to reprimand the dog as we clean up. The dog remains tied for 15 minutes to 2 hours. Return to him frequently and give verbal admonishments to reinforce that you are disturbed with what he has done. Your brow-beating and the confinement are a convincing correction that with repetition and proper use will persuade the dog not to continue this destructive behavior. For chewing, place the item back in his mouth and hold it there. If the dog resists the item in his mouth, or if it is too large, hold it against his gums and verbally admonish him strongly. Do not stop the correction until the dog shows submission. If the dog is trying to get away from you, hold the collar or lease firm until he submits. Do not let the dog escape.
To avoid confusing your dog, take your time in weaning him from the crate. The time spent in the crate will make your dog a calmer and better adjusted pet in your home. There is no rush to finish the crate training as this impatience could lead to costly mistakes by your dog. Use the crate if your dog reverts to soiling or being destructive, or when you can’t supervise because you are busy or asleep.
To prevent puppies from soiling the same place, proper clean up is necessary. Clean up bowel movement stains thoroughly. Urine can best be removed with a product called Dog Tex. Dog Tex will remove the stain and odor of urine from most surfaces. We recommend products called Dog Away, No Chew and Bitter Apple to curb destructive chewing. Dogs will return to the same spot to relieve themselves so thorough clean up is essential to the housebreaking of any age dog.
Over-energetic and unresponsive dogs require obedience training. Ben-Jee Kennels offers classes for puppies and older dogs. Obedience training will directly affect the housebreaking process by making the dg more aware of his master. Many times the unhousebroken dog has the opinion that he is the boss. Your corrections do not affect the dog since he does not look to you for leadership. Training in obedience will reflect on his attitude towards housebreaking.
In summary, you first take time to establish a place outside where you want the dog to move his bowels and urinate. You will provide you pet with exercise and the proper toys and bones to occupy himself in the house. Supervision is given to correct the pup when undesirable behavior surfaces, such as urination inside or chewing on furniture. Exercise is given a couple of times each day to play with the puppy and help him to release energy. The crate is introduced to teach the dog to be clean and responsible when left alone. After sufficient time in crate training, we start the weaning process. Make certain the dog comprehends what is expected of him before advancing. Take time in the weaning process to assure your pet’s understanding of your expectations.
Please feel free to stop in at Ben-Jee Kennels for advice. We also carry, at reasonable prices, the many things you need to raise your puppy mentioned in this article.
We have high quality dog crates for sale which we will buy back from you upon completion of housebreaking. Our services at Ben-Jee Kennels include dog and cat boarding, grooming, pet supplies and dog training.
How to Housebreak Your Dog