Housetraining 101 for dogs, (c) 2009-2016 Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved
Recently, I received an email from a client who lives on the Upper West Side. Taking advantage of a holiday, my client and her 9-month-old puppy were at the parents for the long weekend. However things were not going as planned and whatever success in housebreaking had occurred in NYC was slipping away in suburbia, the dog had taken to hiding when eliminating and everybody was unhappy. My advice on how to address the situation follows (I have changed names to protect the innocent):
How frustrating for everyone! You are right in thinking that what Sammy is learning is that going potty in front of you or even when you are near by is a no no.
As to housebreaking. First breathe (in, out, repeat often). Your pet is amazingly skilled in reading you and your body language, if you are upset, uptight, angry or frustrated this will come through loud and clear. Do not, no matter what, ever, ever scold Sammy in the act. Ever. You can pick him up (and should) if you see him doing his business, be matter of fact and go directly outside with him. Even if he is done. Go outside place him on the ground and allow him to sniff and or finish, praise and treat. Let "ignore the bad behavior reward the good behavior" become your mantra followed by "direct and redirect."
Since Sammy is under the impression that he will get in trouble for eliminating you want to turn this around. You can do this by keeping Sammy in his halter and leash at all times and attached to you. This way you will know when he needs to go because you will be aware of his every movement. No reaction only a positive one if he indicates needing to go out. Praise, "good boy," etc. You can tie his leash to your belt or loop it around your wrist. When I was housebreaking my dog I used to sleep with the leash attached to my wrist. It works (this and more on housebreaking and other help are in Ian Dunbar's How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks. If there is one dog owners' guide you need, this is the one).
Continue to walk Sammy frequently and on as close to a schedule as realistically possible. If you walk Sammy and nothing happens do not put him down when you get home. Keep him either attached to you on the leash or on your lap. Pay attention to the signals that he has to go and proceed directly outside. Use this weekend and your proximity to being able to get outside quickly as remedial housebreaking 101.
When he does go, have a party for him, whatever he likes best that you can do outside, do.
You can continue to leave wee-wee pads in the house but place them as close to the exit doors as possible, front and yard doors. Remember wee-wee pads are a training aid because they are grass scented, find as much grass as possible along the sidewalks or street or yard. When you are doing your frequent walks (and always, always right after a meal) try and find locations where other dogs may have frequented -- the street in front of your parents' home will work better than the backyard. Dogs are the most interested in the smells of other dogs and inspired by the past "performances." Also Sammy is quite distracted by squirrels, which you can use to your advantage, get him focused on a few so he expends a ton of energy (another "motivator") and then pick him up and walk where there are less squirrel distractions and he can focus on business.
Start now re-educating him, the more you work this the more it will work.
Give Sammy big hug and kiss from me,
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Copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
"When I was housebreaking my dog I used to sleep with the leash attached to my wrist. It works (this and more on housebreaking and other help are in Ian Dunbar's "How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks." If there is one dog owners' guide you need, this is the one)".
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