Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Strategies for Housebreaking Your Puppy

Housebreaking your puppy can make or break the relationship you have with your dog. I have known many people who just never get past the housebreaking training. They get so frustrated after a few months of cleaning up dog poop, or steam cleaning their carpeting after accidents that they look for a new home for their puppy.

Take a look at Craig's List or the classified ads in the newspaper and you will see so many dogs from 6 months to 1 ½ years old that are being given away. The dog owners are fed up with the aggravation of a dog that cannot be housebroken. The fact is that all puppies can be housebroken if given the time and the patience.

There are many different housebreaking methods; most of them will do the trick. Go to the library, browsing the pet section. You will find a wide variety of dog training books which contain chapters on housebreaking your puppy.

The keys to housebreaking are to be consistent, and patient. You can't expect a puppy to be housebroken in a week. You have to consistently apply the training method you have chosen. Don't try to switch methods every few days, figuring another training method be more effective. This will only confuse your puppy while he is only trying to please you.

Physically, a puppy cannot be completely free of accidents in the house. His brain is not fully developed enough to control his bodily functions. This does not mean that the puppy is not learning, just that he cannot help himself at the moment. If you are persistent with the puppy's training, and follow through with your training method, your puppy will be completely trained between the ages of 3 to 5 months.

Female dogs are usually easier to train than males because they will urinate or defecate only once when brought outside. Male dogs, on the other hand, will urinate and defecate several times, marking their territory as a sign of dominance. A neutered male dog will also be easier to train because the urge to dominate is diminished. Keep this in mind when housebreaking your puppy.

Here are a few tips and strategies to housebreaking your puppy:

  • Decide the housebreaking method that you feel will work out for your situation.
  • Make a schedule to follow during the first few weeks of training: feeding, watering, and walking your puppy.
  • Control the amount of food and treats you give your puppy. Irregular feeding can make housebreaking much harder.
  • Make sure your pet has all the water he needs during the day, but limit water intake at night to avoid accidents. This is only temporary, until your puppy gets a little older, and can control himself. If your puppy appears thirst, certainly give him more water, but a limited amount during the night should be okay.
  • Don't let your puppy wander around the house while being housebroken. Dogs don't like to mess in their sleeping area, so limiting your puppy's space will make housebreaking easier.
  • If you see your puppy sniffing the floor, it probably means he has to go out. Distract him immediately and bring him outside.
  • Take your puppy to the same spot every day to relieve himself. The scent of previous visits will urge him to go quickly.
  • In the beginning, your puppy will need many trips outside. Gradually spread out the times that you bring him outside, making a regular schedule that fits your lifestyle.
  • Catching the puppy in the act is one of the quickest ways for him to realize he is doing something wrong. Be firm with him, keep him with you while you are cleaning up the accident, and let him know you are displeased. The puppy will feel completely guilty, associating your displeasure with his actions.

These are methods I have used through the years to train my puppies. They are traditional ways to housebreak a puppy. Depending upon your circumstances, whether you are in the city, working all day, at home, or in the country will determine the housebreaking method that is best for you and your pup. Do your research and begin the training. Good luck with your new puppy!

If anyone has any housebreaking ideas or methods that have worked, please leave a comment to help others housebreak their puppies.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Puppy Training Begins before You Bring Your Pup Home

I've met a lot of pet owners through the years, and many of them feel that any type of training will break the spirit of their dog. Usually, these dogs have the run of the house and the owners under their control. They have no boundaries, sleep on furniture, eat from the table, intimidate guests, and basically, take over the household.

If you have a small dog, this may be seen as cute, but if your dog is medium sized or large, this type of situation can be a struggle. The lack of training and discipline leads to unhappy animals, and unhappy owners. Oftentimes, the dog has to be given to a shelter or rescue organization if the owner cannot regain control of the pet. No one wins in this situation.

Many times, a lot of the problems can be prevented before they even begin. Choosing the right puppy is the first step when thinking about training. This may seem strange, but not all dog types are suited for certain people. For instance, if you are a shy, quiet person, it is unlikely that an aggressive dog would be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you are an active, outgoing person, you wouldn't want a small, nervous dog. So, it all begins with choosing the right match of puppy to human.

Do your research and keep training in mind. Compare all the different breeds and their qualities, to determine the best pup for you. If you are going to a shelter to find a puppy, take the time to become familiar with the personality of the dogs. Don't judge a book by its cover, look beyond the cuteness of the puppy. For instance, if you want a dog that will fetch (particularly hunting dogs), throw a ball and see if the dog will go after it automatically. My beagle will not chase a ball or a stick, no matter what I do, yet my collie will play fetch all day long. So be sure to look for the qualities you want in a dog right from the start. Also, try to determine if a dog is too aggressive by playing a little rough with him. It's okay if the puppy growls and tugs, but he should stop when you tell him "no" in a firm tone. If the pup won't stop, but gets progressively more excited, then he might be too aggressive to handle as he gets older.

These are just a few ideas to keep in mind when choosing a puppy. Training is very important. Keep it in mind even when choosing your puppy and you will both get off to a positive start. Remember, you will have your dog for years to come, and you want him to be your best friend.

Once you have brought your puppy home, the next step of training is housebreaking. I'll give some ideas that worked when I was housebreaking my dogs in my next blog.

Take a look at this video from YouTube. It pulls at the heart-strings,but the puppies here have been rescued.