Category Archives: House Training

Most of what is natural for a dog clashes with our human way of life. The greater population would not accept someone chewing on the leg of the dining room table or through an electrical cord. We would not be too pleased if someone pooped in our living room or ran wildly over the furniture. We would be horrified and distressed if one of our family members was doing this. Yet these are all natural behaviors of a dog.

With approximately 40 percent of all young canines being given up during their first year in a new home, we owe it to our dog friends to put more energy into helping them adjust to our way of life.
So, what we want from dogs and the behaviors that are normal for them can often be in stark contrast.
With approximately 40 percent of all young canines being given up during their first year in a new home, we owe it to our dog friends to put more energy into helping them adjust to our way of life. We need to ensure that they survive the experience of living with us.

There should be a balance between maintaining control of the dog and allowing him to remain as natural as possible.

3 Reasons To Train Your Puppy

A dynamic view from below of a young woman jumps over a ditch with her sheepdog.

See Me, Hear Me

pull quote reads: Adored, coddled or handled without care, frequently misunderstood and uneducated.We all want to be heard and understood. I remember being at a workshop many years ago, can’t remember when or where, listening to Ian Dunbar (one of my heroes) tell a moving story about the sad fate of many dogs. In brief, I will recount it in my words. It’s the tale of many a puppy. Adored, coddled or handled without care, frequently misunderstood and uneducated. Moving into adolescence they become problematic, annoying and unmanageable. Perhaps from here delegated to the backyard. Problems gaining momentum until eventually the dog is surrendered to a shelter and who knows their fate from there. The odds are not looking good for this dog’s future. What if this dog had been educated early on and his folks knew how to help prepare, ‘prevent’ and/or deal with particular adolescent dog behavior?

An Early Education Helps

pull quote reads: a big part of my motivation is to help the new puppy folks work to prevent specific problematic, yet predictable behaviors.As a dog trainer who specializes in early education for puppies a big part of my motivation is to help the new puppy folks work to prevent specific problematic, yet predictable behaviors. Things like guarding behavior or not being comfortable having their nails trimmed. I teach my students what to pay attention to, how to set the dog up for success and how to do fun, simple exercises that may help prevent the behavior from developing. Another essential part of the process is that I help prepare people emotionally and theoretically that the adolescence stage is coming and with it particular behaviors. Adolescence begins when the dog reaches puberty and ends with social maturity. Different for all dogs, size matters, roughly talking 6 months through to about 3 years.

Growing Up Is Hard

pull quote reads: Top 3 reasons to train a puppy... the adolescent dog, the adolescent dog, the adolescent dog.It is normal that your adolescent dog jumps, bites, and seems to have lost some of the behaviors you had previously thought were well established. There are lots of changes going on during this stage of development. Some you can measure, Such as adult teeth, others are not visible, hormones and brain development to name two. There are fear periods that the dog goes through as well, one or more coinciding with the adolescent stage of development. All of this combined can make for a trying time for your pup and for you.

Adolescent Lab stealing a cookie from the kitchen counter top

4 Tips To Help You Navigate Adolescence With Your Pup

Structure. Even though bathroom training might seem perfected don’t rush ahead of yourself and give your puppy too much freedom too soon. Structure in the form of crates and gates remains a helpful strategy for the adolescent dog.

Light Hearted Approach. Avoid showdowns. Keep training moving forward with a playful, fun tempo. Concentrate on moves your dog enjoys. Targeting behaviors – such as ‘go to your mat’, targeting your hand with their nose or using a paw to target different objects, eye contact, tug and short recalls on leash are all good bets.

Work-to-eat-toys and lots of games. Enriching opportunities for your dog to get his ‘dogginess on’ should be a priority. Experiment with dog puzzles, snuffle mats, hide and seek games and food-stuffed toys.

Calming massage and gentle handling. Calm voice, calm environment. While your dog is stretched out and relaxed try gently running your hand from nose to tail. There are lots of examples of dog massage you can explore on the Internet. Interacting with your dog this way will promote calm, comfort and bonding.

The top three reasons to train your puppy… the adolescent dog, the adolescent dog, the adolescent dog. This piece is dedicated to all the dogs that got the short end of the stick.

 

Minding Your Pees and Poos

wire haired dachshund puppy lies facing the camera while chewing on a roll of toilet paper

When you learn to toss a ball in the air you also learn to catch it. They go together the same way confinement training and bathroom training go hand in hand. You teach them simultaneously.

Hmmm, What came first, the chicken or the egg?

The first thing most new puppy parents face is teaching the pup where to go to pee and poo. Yes there is some sleep deprivation and countless trips outside, but teaching your puppy this habit should not be a complicated task. It does however require that you have a plan. You also must realize that it takes time and attention to detail.

To ensure success of your pup’s pee and poo habits a method of confinement is needed.

Confinement is a crate, an exercise pen or a gate, something that prevents the puppy from having total freedom in your house. My preference for bathroom training purposes is a crate.

A loose puppy needs 100% supervision; this alone makes a crate an indispensable tool. In addition to bathroom training, confinement provides the important structure and boundaries a puppy needs. It prevents the puppy from developing inappropriate chewing preferences, it provides a quiet respite for a puppy resulting in a calmer more focused pup and it provides you with down time.

A loose pup with no supervision will wreak havoc on your life. They will chew, poo, bite, destroy and maybe make you cry. I get calls all the time from stressed out puppy parents. The household has been disrupted and a feeling of defeat is setting in. Please don’t be discouraged. Success is around the corner.

The key to proper crate training is that you have to crate the pup while you are at home and awake, not just when you leave or go to sleep. The latter can lead to a pup hating the crate because it predicts you are going to disappear.

The Slippery Slope of Crate Guilt

If you are suffering from crate guilt please try to get over it. Spend that energy on teaching the pup that the crate is a great place to be. The half-hearted approach to using a crate may result in more resistance and unnecessary stress that can be avoided if you stick to a game plan. Early in the crate training you may experience crying and barking from your puppy, this is natural, the majority of puppies get over this quickly. If the first time the puppy is crated is when you bring him home, there is going to be some stress.

Play Games

Play games multiple times per day that help make the crate more attractive to the puppy.

Toss The Treat
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes.
  • Toss a treat in the crate and say ‘go in‘.
  • Ask the puppy to ‘come out’.
  • Repeat.
  • Do this until your timer goes off.
Jackpot
  • Hide a jackpot such as a raw frozen bone or a delicious stuffed toy in the back of the crate.
  • Toss a treat in.
  • When the pup finds the jackpot let him gnaw at it for the count of 10.
  • Gently bring him out and close the door to the crate preventing him access to the jackpot..
  • Count to 10 again.
  • Open the door and allow access.
  • Repeat.

You Need A Strategy

Create a plan for bathroom training your puppy. Your success depends on you and your actions not the puppy.

The simple version goes like this; the puppy has every opportunity to ‘go’ outside and no opportunity to ‘go’ inside. You reinforce the behavior you want with a tiny tasty treat and a bit of free time. You stay the course. The pup’s bathroom habit will start to become reliable after about 3 to 4 months of your continued good work. This is a ballpark figure based on how long it takes for the good habit to form.

People and puppies need not go through unnecessary turmoil and strife when it comes to confinement and bathroom training. With consistency and attention to the process you and your puppy will quickly fall into a rhythm. Soon you will be sleeping through the night again. You will have a calm, crate-trained dog with excellent bathroom habits.

Use This Tip List to Help You Devise and Stick To A Plan

  1. Make a plan and stick to the plan.
  2. Confinement of some sort is key.
  3. Go outside or to the spot of choice, on leash.
  4. Stand relatively still.
  5. Use a ‘key phrase, such as ‘show me’ or ‘go pee’.
  6. Stay outside for approximately 3 – 5 minutes.
  7. Reward the puppy for ‘going’ with food and a bit of free time.
  8. If he doesn’t ‘go’, he should go back in the crate to avoid any accident.
  9. Offer another opportunity a short time later
  10. Remember it will take 3-4 months for a habit to form.
  11. Sleep interruption is a real thing. Expect to get up in the middle of the night to take your puppy outside for the first few weeks.
  12. Go outside with pup every time he comes out of the crate
  13. Go outside with pup before he goes back inside the crate.
  14. If it feels like you are going outside all the time, you are doing it right.
  15. Use an enzymatic cleaner inside the house to clean up accidents.

Puppy Myth Buster #7

Puppy-Myth-Busters_07

House Training

My puppy peed on the carpet while I was out because he is trying to punish me.

True or False

Answer: False

Your puppy peed on the floor because he doesn’t know any better. To him, your carpet is as good a place as any if he needs to go.  Puppies don’t know the appropriate place to eliminate until you gently and kindly teach them. House Training your puppy should be a cinch if you stick to some simple rules. All to often people have unrealistic time lines, thinking their pup is house trained in too short a time for the behavior to be reliable. Thus, newly developing bathroom habits go south and poor pup takes the blame. Oh, and then there is the one about every time I come home my dog runs and hides because “he knows” he has done something wrong. Guess What? All he knows is that every time you come home you holler and are angry so it isn’t safe when you come home. You are predictably angry about something of which he has no idea, even if the “bathroom faux pas” happened 2 minutes prior.
Reliable bathroom habits can take some time to develop.  Be patient and keep your puppy safe and successful – outside often (every time he comes out of the crate) on leash, so pup stays focused on what he needs to do. Back in the crate if he doesn’t go after a few minutes. Give him another opportunity in a short while. Be sure and lay on lots of praise when he does goes. Aim for no opportunities to have an accident in the house. How? Because you are watching like a hawk and ensuring that prior to romping around the house, he has emptied himself. If an accident occurs use a solution specifically made to clean the soiled area .

House Training, You Control Everything

House Training, Bathroom Frequency

A good article on the topic by Scientific American