07/31/2008 05:00PM ● Published by Super Admin
Q. I’m having trouble housebreaking my puppy. What do I do?
This issue will likely be of chief concern when you’re getting a new puppy used to your house. According to Kristin, the key is to set strict boundaries early – without the guidance of a firm hand, your dog will not be able to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate spots to relieve himself.
A. “Most errors in housebreaking are due to allowing puppies too much freedom within the home. Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their den clean. In this case, your home is your puppy’s den. During the learning stages of housebreaking, if the puppy’s den is too big, that instinct is interrupted. I recommend restricting your puppy’s freedom by setting up baby gates to create a smaller space. It is best to set this area up on tile or hardwood, so mistakes are easy to clean up. You can also use an exercise pen sold at local pet stores. If the problem is serious, avoid using towels or blankets in this space, as puppies are more likely to relieve themselves on soft, absorptive surfaces. The goal is to not have your puppy soil in this area, but rather view it as his “den” in which to keep clean. If you are unable to tend to your puppy, you should put him in the den area only after he has successfully relieved himself outside. It is perfectly fine to have your puppy out with you in the house as long as you are willing and able to supervise him. I recommend keeping the puppy on a leash. If it seems as though he has the urge to potty, grab the leash and lead him out the door. Most puppies give subtle signals when they are looking for the right place to relieve themselves, such as sniffing the floor and circling around. If you see this behavior, quickly lead him out the door, while saying, ‘Let’s go potty!’ If he successfully makes it outside for his duties, make sure to immediately lavish him with love and affection.
Although this process can be time consuming and draining, staying vigilant during this learning phase is critical to long-term success and pays off in the end! If, however, after a few weeks on this program, you don’t see any improvements in your puppy’s housebreaking habits, it may be time to contact a professional. This is certainly one behavior that only gets more difficult to fix as the dog ages.”...
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