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The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette is
published by
Pet Media, Inc.
11 Market Street, #549
P.O. Box 549
Mashpee, MA 02649

Telephone: 508-419-6356
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Housebreaking: Key for a happy home

Is that puppy or older dog STILL not housebroken? If you are serious about housebreaking, you need to take some consistent actions and relatively easy steps to resolve the problem.

 Puppies and older dogs that are not housebroken should be confined or closely watched. You need to create situations that are either self-correcting (sitting in a messy crate) or that enable you to give the dog an immediate, verbal correction.

As den animals, dogs have a natural instinct to keep their crate clean. When a puppy has an accident in her crate, she is distressed by having to sit in the mess. Leaving her in the messy crate is a pretty strong correction by itself, so no additional corrections are necessary. In very rare cases, a dog may become used to a messy crate, but this problem is a different one.

When you are watching your puppy and she voids in front of you, say “NO, NO!” very loudly. You are helping the dog understand that “Uh, oh. I am doing a very bad thing.” At the same time, pick up the puppy and take her to the established relief area, where you will tell her that she is a good dog. When you take her outside to the same relief area every time, using the same door, steps, and route, you are helping her to establish a pattern and reinforcing her understanding that “This is where I go when I have to piddle.” If you use lots of praise when your dog goes in this relief area, you are reinforcing that “Oh, they really like (me) a lot when I go here.”

If your puppy sneaks in your dining room to piddle and can do so without being corrected, she learns that it’s OK. The more mistakes your dog makes without a correction, the harder it will be for her to learn to go where you want her to go. Until the housebreaking problem is resolved, you must keep a close eye on your dog so she cannot make a mistake without an immediate correction.

Remember, also, that puppies and dogs don’t understand corrections after an event. If you don’t catch her in the act outside the crate, don’t bother with a correction. When an accident happens, either in or out of the crate, clean the area well with any of several special products you can find at your pet store.

As long as the dog is not left for too long a period of time and it is not too hot, limit the animal’s water intake at least an hour before the last trip to the relief area. Ice chips are great thirst quenchers that do not put a lot of liquid into the puppy’s system.  Young puppies, however, will still need to go out once or twice during the night, so be patient!

The keys to successful housebreaking are taking the necessary steps to ensure that you can make timely corrections and limiting the dog’s options as to where she can go. These approaches will solve most housebreaking problems. If your dog seems to be having a very difficult time with housebreaking or is an older dog that was housebroken and seems to have regressed, it is always wise to have your veterinarian examine her. Some physical problems may cause dogs to urinate more frequently.