"First, I want you to know that you can housebreak a dog at any age.
Instilling good potty habits from the start in a puppy is much easier than re-training an adult dog, but if your furry friend is older, do not despair.
There are three things that will ensure your success as you take on your housebreaking challenge, and I can’t stress the importance of them enough:
- Positive reinforcement
Housebreaking Principle #1:
Never leave your un-housebroken dog unattended.
Not even for a minute. If you aren’t actively engaged with your dog, having her in the same room doesn’t count.
For example – we put Meredith behind the counter in the reception area, in a confined space, with from one to four people right there with her at all times. But no one was actively focusing on Meredith, and she relieved herself right there behind the counter.
We allowed Meredith to fail. We had her with us. We were trying to watch her. But because we were busy with other things and no one was actively engaged with her, she urinated on the floor. That wasn’t Meredith’s failure, it was ours.
What should we have done, since we couldn’t realistically engage with her every minute she was with us? We should have used a crate.
Some dog parents believe crates are a bad thing. Not true! The fact is a crate is actually a very natural, normal habitat for a dog, as long as your pup doesn’t associate it with punishment.
Dogs are den dwellers by nature. Under normal circumstances, they enjoy and will seek out small, safe, warm “bedrooms” in which to rest. If you provide your pup with his own little den (crate), and there’s nothing forceful or punishing about his association with it, he’ll make it his own.
I’ll discuss more about crate training in part 2 of this series next week.
If you’re dead set against crate-training your un-housebroken dog, then your only other option is to tether your pup to you so that no matter where you go, she’s right there with you.
The way to do this is to put a clip on the leash, put the leash on your dog, and clip it to your clothing or belt. The leash should be no longer than four feet.
Obviously, this arrangement won’t be practical for many of you. It wasn’t for us at Natural Pet while we were housebreaking Meredith, so we opted for crate training.
Housebreaking Principle #2:
Feed your dog on a schedule.
If you leave a bowl of food available at all times for your un-housebroken dog to nibble at, nibble he will. He’ll nibble all day and he’ll poop all day as well, and it will be next to impossible for you to figure out the best time to take him to do his business.
I don’t recommend the all-day-buffet method of feeding pets under any circumstances, but it’s an especially bad idea with a dog that isn’t housebroken.
At Natural Pet we feed Meredith twice a day, in the morning and again in the evening. An hour after her breakfast and an hour after her dinner we know Meredith will need to relieve herself, so someone is always available and prepared to take her outside at those times.
Feeding your dog on a schedule makes elimination more predictable and allows you to exercise more control over the situation. And the more opportunities you give your pup to succeed by relieving himself outside, the faster he’ll be housebroken.
Housebreaking Principle #3:
Reward your dog for good behavior.
In order to successfully potty train your dog it’s crucial that you reward her for good behavior.
Since your pup isn’t fluent in English, it’s important to praise her in ways a canine understands. She can pick up cues from the tone of your voice, for example saying things like “That’s a good girl, that’s really good,” in a quiet but loving tone.
Almost all dogs speak the language of food, so treats are also a good reward during the housebreaking process.
When your dog eliminates in the right spot outside, praise her with words and give her a treat within three seconds of the behavior. Remember that consistency is crucial, so make sure you have treats with you to reward her within three seconds every time she goes in the right spot.
After a short time, she’ll recognize that she makes you happy when she eliminates outdoors, and in return she receives a reward. You want to reinforce that good behavior every time it happens, and there’s no better reward in the beginning than those food treats.
Once your dog is fully housetrained, you can reduce and eventually eliminate the food treats and offer only verbal praise for her good toilet habits.
Housebreaking Principle #4:
Don’t punish your dog for mistakes.
This can be the most difficult principle to follow, but I can’t stress its importance enough.More and the video at: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/05/12/four-proved-principles-of-housebreaking-a-dog-of-any-age.aspx
Yes, it’s frustrating, disappointing and maddening when a four-legged family member just doesn’t seem to want to cooperate with the housetraining program. But in order to successfully housebreak your pup, you must avoid punishment of any kind when he makes a mistake. And he will.
I don’t know where a “technique” such as rubbing a dog’s nose in his excrement originated, but it’s inappropriate, unhealthy, and not helpful in the least.
If I miss a cue from Meredith, or she doesn’t give me one and I haven’t been proactive in attending to her and she makes a mess on the floor, it’s my fault, not hers. If I yell at her or use a reprimanding tone, all I’m teaching her is to fear me. She knows I’m upset at her. She doesn’t know why. She’s confused, but mostly she’s scared.
From your dog’s perspective, you’re the center of the universe – his loving and kind pack leader. Except every once in awhile, unpredictably, you turn into a scary, screaming lunatic.
He may realize the “scary you” comes out coincidentally with a mess on the floor, but he does not connect his elimination behavior to your anger, especially if he made the mess several minutes or hours ago.
Even if you catch your pup in the act of relieving himself indoors, anger or force are inappropriate reactions. What can happen in that case is your pup will connect you seeing him eliminate with your anger, and he may just get sneaky about it.
In short, you cannot punish or frighten a dog into appropriate behavior.
The important thing to remember is by the time your dog is relieving himself on your floor, your opportunity for a successful toileting adventure outside has passed. All you can do is clean the mess, review what you could have done differently to avoid it, and rededicate yourself to the housebreaking process. You will succeed!
Stay consistent.And stay tuned next week for the second half of this two part series. I’ll be talking more about the finer points of crate training and I’ll also offer some special tips and tricks to help with difficult or unusual housebreaking challenges."
"Up to 25 percent of dogs relinquished to animal shelters by their owners end up there due to housebreaking problems. The same statistic applies to dogs seen by veterinarians -- 25 percent of behavior-related visits to vets concern toileting.Today:
It’s clear from these numbers that:
I think one of the main reasons attempts to potty train fail is because pet owners tend to look at their dogs as four-legged humans, and if a human in your household were to use the floor instead of a bathroom to relieve himself, it would be quite upsetting.
- Housebreaking is a hot issue for dog parents.
- Successful house training could save the lives of millions of dogs each year.
But dogs are not people, and when you get very upset with a dog that has done her outside business indoors, your tone and the actions you take to show your disapproval often have the opposite outcome of the one you intended.
Your pup has done something natural for her by relieving herself when the urge struck. You have reacted in a way that’s natural for you, which is to be offended that a furry family member has just made a stinky mess on your carpet, tile or hardwood floor.
So what’s the solution? Read above."
Thank goodness, I do not have to worry about Paco or Misty soiling my house, when I am here, or when I leave.
When I first got them I would go out with them and tell them "Good Boy Paco, Paco go peepee", or "Good girl Misty, Misty go poopy" when they obliged. They knew they were pleasing me, and that is what doggies want to do. They were told how wonderful they were to do it outside. Neither of them has ever had an accident.
When I take Misty out last thing at night I have to remind her "Misty, go poopy", or she will forget and want to go out again later! She trots over to the poopy area, goes, and comes back to me for praise. That way I don't have to take her out again! Poor 15 year old Misty, she forgets things!
Jay and I headed for the next town. He had something to return to Kohl's, I had never been there before. Seemed similar to Sears store to me, except I didn't see a tool dept.
We went to several thrift shops, unloaded the paper at the recycling bin, and then on to Home Depot to get the plywood for the cargo trailer floor. I made sure their saw was working and manned, first, as it had to be cut to the size we need, to be able to put it in the van.
At the thrift shops Jay bought a couple of shirts. I bought a coffee maker ($2), a shop vac ($12.50), a couple of blouses, a pair of shorts, and a melon baller. I will use that for the tip I posted about cutting an apple in half and using a melon baller to core it.
I am running vinegar through the 'new' coffee maker right now. I put a filter in the basket, as I like to see how much 'calcium' comes out, it gives me an idea of how well the last owner took care of it. There is nothing wrong with my old 4-cup one, but it is only 600 watts. The new one is 1000 watts, and faster, I hope.
When I got home, Misty and Paco were so happy to see me, and greeted me so nicely, while Jay unloaded the plywood. They were more interested in seeing me than going to the back yard, but they both like to eat, and they know who feeds them!
Still no rain, but a good, but warmer, day today.