Housebreaking Your Puppy and Other Basic Training

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Housebreaking Your Puppy and Other Basic Training

Brought to you by: Purina Dog Food

The happy experiences your puppy experiences during his first few days in his new home will have a lasting effect on his personality. Let the "three p's" - patience, persistence and a positive approach to training - guide you as you help your newcomer become a well-behaved family member.

Successful training of your new puppy requires understanding, correction and praise. Puppies have a desire to please and respond to praise. It is also important for all family members to cooperate in training the new puppy; otherwise the puppy may become confused.

As you welcome your puppy into his new home, remember that before dogs were domesticated, they lived and hunted in packs. Each pack had a leader. Although your puppy is domesticated, he still instinctively follows his pack heritage. Consequently, a puppy will try to test family members as he attempts to establish dominance as leader of the pack. His pack instinct must be tempered to help him interact appropriately with people and with other animals. If your puppy learns to recognize you as leader of the pack, he will be easier to train, more obedient and a happier, more content dog.

A code of conduct for your puppy should be established and enforced by all family members. To help him understand that he must obey this code of conduct, be consistent in reprimanding him. Eye contact and a firm "no" usually deter an undesirable activity.

In addition to eye contact, tone of voice is important. Do not laugh at a misdeed as you say "no" or add with an amused tone of voice comments like "such a naughty boy." The puppy will sense a friendly, rather than firm tone of voice and probably ignore the "no" command.

As the puppy is trained to follow the code of conduct you establish for him, he will learn to recognize you as pack leader and settle into the routine you establish for him.

Choosing A Name
Choosing a name for the new puppy can be fun for family members. Perhaps the puppy's appearance or personality suggest a name. Or the children may choose the name of a character from a favorite story. Once a name is chosen, use it consistently and soon your puppy will understand and respond to it.

Housebreaking the New Puppy
Establishing a housebreaking routine for your puppy should begin the day you bring the puppy home. An effective house- breaking method is the use of a dog crate or sleeping box. Crates are available at most pet supply stores, our Pro Shop or you can make a sleeping box at very little cost. (See illustration on following page)

The success of the crate method is based on the den-dwelling instinct of dogs. Puppies consider a crate their den and will not relieve themselves in it unless it is absolutely necessary.

The dog crate soon becomes the puppy's "room of his own" or retreat. He enjoys its security when he wants to nap undisturbed. It is handy for travel, to confine the puppy if he is ill, or just for general control.

An out-of-the-way spot in the kitchen is a good location for the crate. Choose an area that is free from drafts and not too close to a heat source. It is a good idea to confine your puppy to a restricted area in the house until he is trustworthy. The kitchen is usually recommended because it is the center of activity and the floor is generally tile or linoleum so it is easy to clean if there are accidents.

For bedding, use a towel or a piece of blanket which can be washed. A puppy should not be fed in the crate and will only upset a bowl of water.

The puppy may cry the first night or two as he adjusts to being alone in a new environment. This is normal. However, the crying may indicate his need to eliminate. Take him outside. If he does not eliminate return him to his crate, and do not provide attention.

To establish a dog crate routine for your puppy, close him in the crate at regular one to two hour intervals during the day (the times he chooses to nap will guide you).

Close him in his crate whenever he must be left alone for a longer period of time. Give him a chew toy for distraction and remove collar and tags which might become caught in an opening. Take your puppy outside before play, when he awakens from a nap, after eating or drinking, before bedtime and before visitors arrive and before any activity which is likely to excite the puppy.

During the first week, your new puppy will be unable to go all night without eliminating. For this reason, do not feed him or give him water three to four hours before his bedtime. Set the alarm to take him out during the night. When he eliminates praise him and reward him with a small amount of drinking water. Work toward a morning feeding and watering schedule. After a week or so your puppy should be able to sleep through the night and make his first trip outside early in the morning. The goal in setting the alarm and in frequent trips outside is to help the puppy avoid making a mistake in his crate or in the house.

When you take the puppy outside to relieve himself, take him to a pre-selected area and issue a command for that purpose, such as "business." Wait a few minutes for him to eliminate. Do not play with him or take him for a walk; there are other times for these activities. If he eliminates, praise him immediately and reward him by letting him roam freely in the house for a while.

If your puppy does not eliminate the first time, do not punish him. Simply return him to his cage. Wait 15 or 20 minutes and try again. Eventually your puppy will learn what is expected of him.

If you consistently take him out through the same door, once he is trained he will go to the designated door to "ask to go outside." Sniffing the floor, turning in circles and squatting indicate that he is about to eliminate - take him outdoors immediately.

Puppies that are calm and secure are easier to housebreak. Anxiety and fear can lead to bad behavior. This is why you should never shout at the new puppy, hit him or "rub his nose in it "If you punish the puppy, housebreaking may take longer or not work. A puppy will probably make some mistakes in the house. When you catch him having an accident, say "no" firmly and take him outside where he should have gone. After a mistake, if possible wait until the puppy relieves himself before returning him to the house to reinforce the training procedure.

Do not scold the puppy after he has made the mistake and left the area. He will not associate your firm words with the mistake. Mop up the puddle with a rag, and then use the rag as a housebreaking aid. Place the rag in the pre-selected outside area to help the puppy learn that this is where he should eliminate.

Wash the soiled area with soap and water followed by a deodorizing solution or, in the case of a carpet, use a carpet shampoo and deodorizer. If the area is not deodorized, the puppy may return to the same area the next time he wants to relieve himself. Many deodorizing solutions are available. Make certain the label instructions indicate that the solution is safe to use on the surface or carpet you are cleaning.

Even if housebreaking does not go smoothly at first, don't weaken. Be persistent, patient and lavish the puppy with praise when he eliminates properly.

Some people who have problems housebreaking puppies are not consistent. They may decide the weather is too inclement to take the puppy outside and provide a paper for indoor elimination. This confuses the puppy. If the weather is cold or it is raining, the puppy will be in a hurry to relieve himself and get inside. The puppy will learn that he has to go outside in all kinds of weather.
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