Archive for April, 2012

What to Do When Your First Attempt at Housebreaking Your Dog Fails

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Dogs are wonderful, playful creatures with big personalities. They are known for being loyal, which is where training usually comes into play. Housetraining is a big step in a young dog’s life and a great bonding experience between owner and animal.

Unfortunately, your first attempts at housebreaking your dog hasn’t turned out how you hoped.  There could be all sorts of reasons, and no one, dog or human, is really at fault. Where do you go from here?

Reconsidering Expectations

Starting young is always a good idea when it comes to training your pup. “Too young” is not necessarily an issue, but at the same time, you might have to rearrange your expectations. A young dog is not mature, not especially graceful, and prone to mistakes.

In other words, your puppy is a child and, like a human child, requires supervision. Until that dog matures, you absolutely cannot let her out of your sight. Keep her on a leash, or make sure she is always within your immediate vision. If you cannot keep a constant vigilant eye on her, consider crate training.

The reason to start training young is to keep your dog from picking up any bad habits, which can be hard to break given older age. A young puppy still needs your supervision and support. The most common problem with housetraining is owners expecting too much from their pups.

Puppy Portrait

Working Out a Schedule

When you first have your puppy, it is a good idea to work out a schedule for when to take her out to relieve herself.

·         Remember that at such a young age, puppies will need to go to the bathroom almost immediately after waking up in the morning and after naps. Make sure to take her out almost as soon as you wake up.

·         The schedule should also include feeding times. Twenty minutes to a half hour after she has finished eating, take her out on a leash or take her to her designated bathroom area.

·         Your dog will also need to be taken out at least every three hours.

·         You should also take her out during/after playtime.

·         Exercise some common sense: if your dog is sniffing and pacing, she probably needs to relieve herself, regardless of the schedule.

In the end, it seems like you are taking her out constantly, which is sort of true. Your pup needs to learn to get used to relieving herself in her designated area. While it may seem unusually frequent or repetitive, that’s what is going to make the process successful.

Plenty of Rewards

Many things in life are based around a sense of reward. The pay raise, a free sundae, and a sense of well-being are just a few of the carrots dangled in front of us throughout our lives. Dogs aren’t much different.

First, there is praise. Praise, praise, praise. Even for the smallest successes, praise your puppy. When she properly relieves herself outside, you should do everything short of throwing her a huge party. Use a bright, positive voice, pet her, and tell her she’s the best dog either side of the Mississippi.

Then, of course, there are the treats. Try not to give her anything too big or too rich. Considering how often she’ll be relieving herself during her training, your dog will probably consume a lot of treats. You don’t want her to put on a lot of weight in the process. You can break down large treats into smaller pieces or give her small chunks of cooked chicken.

Treats and praise should be dispensed immediately after your dog goes potty. This helps her know what she’s actually getting rewarded for.

Dog Reward

What About Punishments?

For humans, punishments set the boundaries, but it’s not necessarily the same with dogs. Your puppy has a pretty simple mind. She can very easily misinterpret your punishments, which makes things confusing for her and difficult for the both of you. Never rub your dog’s nose in its own mess as it is inhumane and can make your dog sick.

Many trainers and dog owners swear by punishments, but positive reinforcement is how your dog really thrives. Your dog is liable to make mistakes though. If you find your dog relieving herself where she shouldn’t, do not yell at her. Immediately pick her up and move her to her designated potty area.

As it turns out, your potty training failure wasn’t a failure at all. It’s vital that you understand this is a process, and is not something that can happen overnight or even within a week or month. Be patient with your pup and dedicate yourself to her potty training. You’ll create not only a well-trained dog, but a loving relationship—and that’s priceless.

“Portrait of a Puppy” Photo Credit: Tambako The Jaguar

“favorite toy” Photo Credit: purplebutrfly 

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