House Training

By Dr Laurie Green

Is House Training That Difficult?
Written by Adam Katz

Believe it or not, is not that difficult to house train a dog. (yeah, sure you say.. you don't know my dog) If you follow our Canines of America House Training program, you are sure to succeed in training your new best friend. Come on. You can do this. Don't be a quitter. Your dog just doesn't understand what you want. ... At least, not yet.

Some Basic Concepts for You to Understand

Dogs develop elimination habits during their first few months of life.
Dogs do not want to eliminate where they rest.
Being creatures of habit, dogs will return to their "usual spot" whenever it is convenient.
Dogs can be conditioned (trained) to react to a conditioned stimulus in a certain  
way. (they can be taught to eliminate when you say a word over and over).
A behavior is likely to be repeated if it is positively reinforced. (You will therefore be
using food treats and praise to reinforce elimination at the proper time, in the
proper place

Training Your Dog to Eliminate Outdoors

The Equipment You'll Need

A Crate

Also known as a kennel or carrier (you see them at airports because they are approved for flight) They are plastic with wire windows and doors and come in various sizes to fit all dogs (even Great Danes). I prefer them to wire cages because they are safer, more relaxing, easier to transport and usually cost less.

Yes, you need one. No, they are not cruel. If your dog lived in the woods he would seek out a small den where he could rest comfortably, away from predators. Think of a crate as a portable den. Your dog will if its presented correctly. My dogs all love them. They have always been a safe and comnfortable place to rest. They have never been a "jail"!

Food Treats
Something your dog can consume quickly. Not a biscuit, which he must chew and then look for crumbs. I use dried liver or beef jerky available at most pet stores.

A Leash and Collar

An Odor Eliminator
You can buy a commercial one or mix one part white vinegar to four parts water.

The Crate
Doesn't mom keep baby in a crib or playpen when he can't be supervised? Dogs are den animals. They will seek out a den to feel protected when in the wild. It will be small and cozy. A crate becomes your dogs portable den. I prefer the plastic carriers you see at airports. They are safer, quieter, cheaper and more portable than wire cages.

Here is your first rule. When your puppy or untrained dog is not supervised, he or she is in the crate. Teach your dog to enter on command. Begin by saying "Kennel" or any word you prefer. Place the dog in the crate, give a food reinforcement (a treat) and lock it. Wait 15 seconds and then release the dog and praise him. In this way the dog will associate the crate with the food and feel it is a good thing. Work the dog up to an overnight stay. Keep the crate in your bedroom next to the bed. If the dog is noisy, rap on the top and say "Quiet". And never, ever let the dog out if he is noisy. You'd be reinforcing his behavior. When I say "Kennel", my dogs will run into their crates and wait for that treat. Sometimes I have one and sometimes I do not. Variable reinforcements worked better than fixed ones. When you go out, leave a talk radio station on in another room. Hearing voices will help your dog not to feel so alone.

The "Bye-Bye Bone"
Pet stores and pet catalogs sell sterilized bones that are hollow in the middle. These bones make excellent devices for taking a dogs mind off of his aloneness when stuffed with his favorite foods such as cheese, liver treats, salami and alike. Many trainers say that a dog is most upset during the first hour after an owner leaves. The bone stuffed with goodies becomes the center of the dog's attention for an hour or so while he tries his hardest to extract the food from the bone's hollow middle. This allows the owner to slip out without a fuss. When you return home, remove the bone from the dog's crate, let him out, put him into a sit and poke the remaining food out onto the floor for the dog's consumption with a chopstick or other device. Jackpot! Now the bone gets put away until next time. Believe me, after a few days of this the dog will not worry about "Where's my owner going?" but instead will worry about "Where's my bone?"

What to Feed
I feed my dogs a premium kibble (dry dog food) mixed with warm water to form a graver and fresh water. Canned dog food is usually around 80% water and has one-third the nutrient as dry food. Not to mention , it is messy and smelly. Since most dry foods are provide well-balanced diets, table scraps are not recommended very often. Remember, chocolate can be toxic to a dog.

Establish Meal Periods
If you feed and water your dog on a schedule, your dog will eliminate on a schedule. FREE FEEDING AND FREE WATERING YOUR DOG WILL MAKE THE JOB OF HOUSE TRAINING MUCH MORE DIFFICULT...First, establish meal periods. Two to three meal periods very young puppies and a single meal period (usually in the evening) for adult dogs. The meal period will last for 20 minutes. During that time give the required amount of food and as much water as the dog wants. At the end of the meal period, remove the food and water whether or not the dog has eaten unless instructed otherwise by your veterinarian. If the dog plays and does not eat, he will learn that the food will be taken away in time. This also helps to discourage picky eating habits.

Place Your Dog on Elimination Commands
Many dog owners inadvertently teach their dogs to eliminate indoors. Each time they take their dog outside they wait for him to eliminate. As soon as he does, they bring him in. Most dogs, especially young ones, like the sights and smells of the outdoors. So they quickly learn that as soon as they eliminate, they are taken inside. They learn to hold it until they come inside to prolong the experience.

It makes better sense to train your dog to eliminate on command, especially if you must leash walk him. Take your dog to "his spot" each time. As your dog begins to urinate, choose a word and say it over and over as the behavior is occurring (I say the work "Park") Do this each time your dog urinates. After several weeks of hearing "Park... Park... Park" as he urinates, it will eventually act as a trigger of the behavior. I use a different phrase ("Hurry Up") for defecating. Each time your dog finishes, praise him while offering a food reinforcement (a treat). I use dried liver available at most pet stores because I can leave it in my pocket without going bad. When he has eliminated, take him for a walk as a reward! If your dog fails to eliminate in 5 minutes, take him inside and crate him for a half-hour or so and then try again.

The Instructive Reprimand
Each time you take your dog outside say, "Outside". Soon he will learn what outside means Then, if the dog inappropriately urinates inside in your presence, say "Outside" and take him to "his spot". "Outside" becomes an instructive reprimand because it is instructive (directs the dog to the appropriate elimination place) and it is a reprimand because of the tone of voice you use as the behavior is occurring thus acting as a negative reinforcement.


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A tip about crate Training a puppy:

Heads Last ...When introducing a puppy to a crate or exercise pen, pick the dog up and put him in backwards. Offer a treat and lots of praise. Place the puppy only halfway in at first, and repeat three times.
You'll find that crate introduction is easier if the puppy is looking out instead of in!

How To Teach Your Dog To Eliminate On Command!

Teaching your dog to defecate or urinate on command is actually just a process of creating an association.

The command I use is, "Get Busy." But you can use any word or phrase that you please.

You're probably wondering why anyone would want to teach their dog an elimination command. And probably the best answer to this question is that it enables you to establish both a time and a place for your dog to eliminate.

For example, if you decide to go to bed early, and you don't want your dog to be uncomfortable for the next 7 or 8 hours, you can very easily take him outside and tell him to "do it now," because, "You won't have a chance to do it later since I'm going to bed."

Having an elimination command also allows you to tell your dog WHERE he should urinate or defecate. For example, if you're taking your pup for a stoll and he indicates that he needs to eliminate... you don't want him to merely stop and do his business in the middle of the sidewalk.

What an elimination command allows you to do is to walk the dog over to some bushes, or behind a building and tell him, "Here! Here is where you can 'get busy.'"

How to teach the "Get Busy" command .

Just like with any other command, your goal is to associate the phrase, "Get busy," with the action of either defecating or urinating.

Here's what you need to do in 5 easy steps:

1.) Take note of the usual times your dog needs to defecate or urinate.

2.) Take him to the usual spot where he likes to eliminate and walk him back and forth, repeating the phrase, "Get busy, get busy, get busy."

3.) When he begins to eliminate, continue saying, "Get busy." After five or six different occasions, your command will start to link with the behavior.

4.) A half second after he finishes, praise him.

5.) Repeat this process every time your dog needs to eliminate, and you'll soon find that he will begin to understand and at least make an attempt to evacuate the contents of his bladder on command.


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