Saturday, December 18, 2010

Housebreaking the Easy Way

Once you get your new dog home, the steps you take in the first couple of days can set your dog up to succeed or fail at house training. Please check out the article below (written by Sarah Ruckelshaus, ED MABCR). This article takes concepts we've talked about before and puts them in a nice, easy-to-use schedule. This will help you set your dog up for success from Day 1.

The easiest way to housebreak an un-housebroken dog is to get him onto a schedule he can keep and work upward. This works for every dog, from puppies to adopted older dogs that never learned to keep the house clean. Always make sure there is not a medical reason for your dog's "accidents", such as parasites or bladder infections. I fact, I would highly recommend prophylactic worming of any dog prior to using this technique, just to be safe!

To be successful you will need three things: a crate, time and consistency! Armed with those three things, you cannot fail! One of the MABCR volunteers housebroke a 9 year old, un-neutered male in 24 hours using this technique!

Note the use of a potty spot. The use of a single potty spot in your yard or on your walking route, along with a command word can be a tremendous help, both to training and to clean up! If the spot is in your yard, consider using sand or mulch as a ground cover, it will be easier to clean and to disinfect periodically. Your command word should be a word(s) that you are comfortable saying in a public place and that others will learn easily. A command word(s) suggestion: 'go be good', 'go potty', 'hurry now', 'go find your spot', then of course you could be more obvious and ask the dog to just 'go pee'. Always praise immediately after the dog 'goes', it will quickly learn that this is a good thing and will make the connection with the command and the praise!

Thanks to my friend Rebecca for her sample schedule.

A sample-housebreaking schedule:

7:00AM--Take him out of crate, potty him immediately (no play until finished) try and establish a potty spot and command word. Do not return to house or play until dog has pottied.

8:00AM--potty him
Feed and water him (10 minutes, then remove food)
Potty him again (should defecate now if not before)
Walk or play with him (only in house if he has peed and pooped)
Potty again
Crate him

12:00PM--Take him out of crate, potty

1:00PM--potty him
Offer him water
Feed and water him (10 minutes, then remove food)
Potty him again (should defecate now if not before)
Walk or play with him for 45 minutes or so (relieve him again if he looks distracted)
Potty him
Crate him

5:00PM--Take him out of crate, potty

6:00PM--Potty him
Feed and water him
Walk or play with him for an hour or so (relieve him again if he looks distracted.
Potty him
Crate him
--He can play inside while you eat, etc., only if he has been fully relieved or he can play outside (try to document whether he relieves out there) if attended.

7:00PM--Offer him water for the last time
Potty him

9:00PM--Potty him
Give him a treat for going in his crate.
He should sleep quietly through the night.

Please remember that this schedule can be flexible, but also remember that you new dog needs plenty of 'out' time! Also remember that a well-exercised pup will behave and sleep better in the crate than one that is restless and not receiving enough attention and exercise.

Crated dogs and pups should be offered plenty of good, solid chew toys....but no edibles in the crate until training is fully established!

Puppies and young dogs being raised in the company of other dogs should have time alone with people and will develop better and have a stronger people bond if some training time each day is with the pup, alone.

One big mistake that new dog owners make is allowing young dogs too much free time alone in the home, too soon. Remember that you wouldn't allow a 3 year old child to play alone when you aren't at home, don't let your dog get into trouble the same way!! Let him know that his crate is his den and he will be happy there until you return.

©Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue 2009

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