Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pet Health Tip #1- Housebreaking Your Puppy

Housebreaking your puppy can be a frustrating event.  However, remembering a few simple rules could save you and your puppy some heartache.

First, there are specific times when your puppy will need to eliminate. These are:

1) Immediately after waking

2) Approximately five minutes after eating

3) Immediately after playing

Additionally, puppies under six months of age need to eliminate approximately every four hours.

You can use this knowledge to your advantage.  If you know that these events will trigger your puppy’s need to eliminate, then you can time when to take your puppy outside.  Once he is outside, tell him what you want him to do.  For instance, use a phrase like "Go potty."  Don't play with the puppy until he potties.  Then, once he is successful, give him lavish attention and praise.  Eventually, he will learn to go on demand.

Another thing that you can do to greatly decrease the amount of time it takes to potty train your puppy is a method called "crate training."  It is a simple concept that really works.  The idea is that you have a crate your puppy considers his den.  The crate should be big enough for the puppy to lie in comfortably, but not so big that he can use one end of it for a bathroom.  Dogs are pretty clean animals and don't like to eliminate where they sleep.  They are also den animals and feel safe and comfortable sleeping in a small dark place.

Here is how “crate training” works:  The puppy should be inside the crate whenever you are not giving him direct attention.  So, let's start at night.  You place the puppy in the crate.  You will need to give him a potty break in the middle of the night.  Take the puppy directly outside and give him the command to "Go Potty".  Once he obeys, give him praise and attention.  Remember, do not play with him until after he potties.  Then place him back into the crate.  Repeat this process first thing in the morning.  He may only urinate at this time.  Feed him and then take him back outside.  Most puppies will need to defecate about five minutes after eating.  Then place him back into the crate.  He needs to stay in the crate until you are ready to give him attention again.  Make sure to take him directly outside, give him the command, and wait until he potties before playing with him.

Remember he will need to go outside approximately every four hours.  It usually only takes a few days until your puppy will catch on to this routine.  Just like kids, puppies feel most comfortable and confident when they have a routine.  They will be much better behaved in the long run.  So, with “crate training” you get two benefits, a housebroken puppy and a puppy that doesn't have separation anxiety.

If you don't want your puppy to be in a crate while you are home, then you can place him on a leash.  That way he stays within your line of vision.  If you see him sniffing the ground and circling, then he is about to go and you need to get him outside immediately.  This method doesn't work as quickly as crate training, because of the increased likelihood of having accidents.  However, it can also be effective.

“Crate training” is also a great method to use if you are housebreaking an older dog.  In my experience, this method can work within a few days.  Many times, the dog will prefer to spend their time in the crate, even if you leave the door open.

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