Housetraining 101 for dogs,
copyright (c) 2021 Frania Shelley-Grielen. All rights reserved.
How do you house train your dog? And what happens when house training is
not working? Recently, I heard 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 New York
City 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 hat going potty in front of you or even when you are near by is a
“no - no.”
For help with house training, 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. (And no
matter how upset that little face looks at you in response, it is not because
they understand they have done something wrong, more they would like
you so much not to be mad at them, please.) 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 with the act. 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". Think training for what you want the dog to do rather than
punishing for what you do not want them to do. In this scenario you
want the dog to indicate to you the desire to go outside for relief and
to perform that behavior there and not in the house.
Since Sammy is under the impression that he will get in trouble for elim-
inating while in proximity to you or in locations you have caught him at it,
in the past, you want to turn this around. You can do this by, again removing
all punishment, next 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 with a cue for this, "good out
Sammy," 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 realistic-
ally 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 (squirming, fidgeting, etc.)
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, you have with you at all times the
greatest reinforcer; praise from you to him. Tell him the very second he
begins to void what a fabulous little man he is. “What a good wee outside
Sammy!!!!” The great thing with all that loving praise is the timing can be
instantaneous, no fumbling for treats. And when you start with the praise
and a treat follows, that’s an added party favor. Whatever he likes best that
you can do outside together, 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 (and in the "secret"
spots he is now using). 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' urine and will "overmark,"
inspired by their past "performances." Make sure your walk is long enough
for several pees, even female dogs will urinate more than once if given the
opportunity. A voided bladder is a good thing especially when house training.
A good sniff around the block is a good distance for exercise, smells and the
distraction or two for excitement. And because 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 a big hug and kiss from me.
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|"Think training for what
you want the dog to do
rather than punishing for
what you do not want
them to do. In this
scenario you want the
dog to indicate to you
the desire to go outside
for relief and to perform
that behavior there.
Reward that when it
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
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