Crate training is one of the most efficient and effective ways to train a dog.
The single most important aspect of dog and puppy training is that you reward and praise your dog or puppy each and every time she does the right thing. For example: praise her when she chews her own toys instead of the couch or eliminates outside instead of in the house. The more time you spend with your puppy or dog, the quicker and easier it will be to train her.
The key to house training is to establish a routine that increases the chances that your dog will eliminate in the right place in your presence, so that she can be praised and rewarded; and decreases the chances that your dog will eliminate in the wrong place so that she will not develop bad habits.
It is important that you make provisions for your dog when you are not home. Until your dog is housetrained, she should not be allowed free run of your house. Otherwise, she will develop a habit of leaving piles and puddles anywhere and everywhere. Confine her to a small area such as a kitchen, bathroom or utility room that has water/stain resistant floors. Confinement is NOT crate training.
What is Crate Training?
Crate training can be an efficient and effective way to house train a dog. Dogs do not like to soil their resting/sleeping quarters if given adequate opportunity to eliminate elsewhere. Temporarily confining your dog to a small area strongly inhibits the tendency to urinate and defecate. However, there is still a far more important aspect of crate training.
If your dog does not eliminate while she is confined, then she will need to eliminate when she is released, i.e., she eliminates when you are present to reward and praise her.
Be sure to understand the difference between temporarily confining your dog to a crate and long-term confinement when you are not home. The major purpose of confinement when you are not home is to restrict mistakes to a small protected area. The purpose of crate training is quite the opposite. Short-term confinement to a crate is intended to inhibit your dog from eliminating when confined, so that she will want to eliminate when released from confinement and taken to an appropriate area. Crate training also helps teach your dog to have bladder and bowel control. Instead of going whenever she feels like it, she learns to hold it and go at convenient scheduled times.
Crate training should not be abused, otherwise the problem will get drastically worse. The crate is not intended as a place to lock up the dog and forget her for extended periods of time. Make her space in the crate small enough for her to get up, turn around and lay down so she can’t potty in one corner of the crate and sleep in the other.
Your dog should only be confined to a crate when you are at home. Except at night, give your dog an opportunity to relieve herself every hour. Each time you let her out, put her on leash and immediately take her outside. Once outside, give her about three to five minutes to produce. If she does not eliminate within the allotted time period, simply return her to her crate. If she does perform, then immediately reward her with praise, food treats, affection, play, an extended walk and permission to run around and play in your house for a couple of hours. For young pups, after 45 minutes to an hour, take her to her toilet area again. Never give your dog free run of your home unless you know without a doubt that her bowels and bladder are empty. KEEP HER LEASHED TO YOU SO YOU KNOW WHEN SHE NEEDS TO GO POTTY! IF YOU CAN’T THEN CRATE HER.
During this crate training procedure, keep a diary of when your dog eliminates. If you have her on a regular feeding schedule (put the food down, give her 15 minutes to eat and then take the bowl up until the next meal…do not free feed the dog…this means letting her eat all day long. What goes in on schedule comes out on schedule), she should soon adopt a corresponding elimination schedule. Once you know what time of day she usually needs to eliminate, you can begin taking her out only at those times instead of every hour. After she has eliminated, she can have free, but supervised, run of your house. About one hour before she needs to eliminate (as calculated by your diary) put her in her crate. This will prevent her from going earlier than you had planned. With your consistency and abundance of rewards and praise for eliminating outside, she will become more reliable about holding it until you take her out. Then the amount of time you confine her before her scheduled outing can be reduced, then eliminated.
Mistakes and Accidents During Training
If you ever find an accident in the house, just clean it up. Do not punish your dog. All this means is that you have given her unsupervised access to your house too soon. Until she can be trusted, don’t give her unsupervised free run of your house. If mistakes and accidents occur, it is best to go back to the crate training. You need to more accurately predict when your dog needs to eliminate and she needs more time to develop bladder and bowel control.
Housetraining Tips for Your New Puppy
Establishing good habits early on in housetraining your puppy is critical. If you allow your puppy to eliminate every where and any where he wants in your home, you will end up with an adult dog who will always have a tendency to want to eliminate in your home. You will have to live with it forever, or go through some time-consuming, tedious retraining later on. A dog is either housetrained or not. There is no such thing as weekly ‘accidents.’ A truly housetrained dog will NEVER eliminate in your house unless forced to do so or because of illness or excessively long confinement. Don’t expect your puppy to be reliably housetrained until it is at least 6 months old.
Puppy Housetraining Do’s
-Provide constant access to the toilet area. If you are home, take your puppy there every 45 minutes or less.
If you are not home or cannot tend to the puppy, then you must make sure he cannot make a mistake. It’s actually not really a mistake because he doesn’t know any better. With young puppies, when the urge comes, they go – it usually doesn’t matter where they are or what they are doing. If we didn’t put diapers on human babies, they too would soil our carpets and floors. Confine your puppy to a dog-proofed area and line the entire floor with papers. If the weather is nice, the area safe, etc, you can confine the pup to a small pen outside. Don’t leave your pup out in the sun, wind, heat or cold. Be sure to provide shelter and water in the confinement area. It’s ideal if the pen is set up on dirt, grass, gravel or concrete. The idea is that no matter where the puppy eliminates while confined, it is on something that resembles his toilet area. Your goal is to never allow your puppy to eliminate on carpet, tile, hardwood, or anything that resembles the flooring in your home. Once a habit is established, it is difficult to break, therefore, do not let your pup form bad habits in the first place.
-Praise and reward your puppy each and every time possible for eliminating in his toilet area.
-Feed your puppy at regular times. What goes in on schedule will come out on schedule.
-Use a crate to help your puppy develop self control. Confine him for gradually increasing periods of time when you are home to monitor him.
-Be patient. It can take until the dog is 6 months old for him to be housetrained.
Puppy Housetraining Don’ts
-Do not reprimand your puppy for mistakes. Reprimand has no place in housetraining.
-Do not leave food and water out all day and night for your puppy to eat and drink at whim. Use some common sense here. Obviously if the weather is hot, it is appropriate to give the pup access to water, but if this is the case, then you need to be more alert to the possibility of the pup needing to urinate more frequently.
-Do not allow your pup to eliminate anywhere other than his toilet area.
-Do not give your puppy free unattended run of your house.
Many people try to win their new puppy’s love by letting the puppy always have its way. The pup is showered with affection and attention because he is so cute and cuddly. Buckets of affection is a wonderful thing for most puppies, but it must be tempered with respect. If you give in to your puppy’s every whim, your pup will never learn self control and self discipline. Your puppy will never learn to respect you. If your puppy does not respect you, it will have no reason to do anything for you. Your relationship will be like two 5 year olds bossing each other around. Just as a child needs a caring parent; an athletic team needs a coach; your puppy needs a leader and a clear social hierarchy. If you do not take up the role of leader, your dog will; and you will end up with an unruly, disobedient, out of control, often aggressive monster of a dog. Most of these dogs end up living a life of isolation in the back yard because no one can deal with it; or they end up dead – euthanized at the local animal shelter. They end up at the shelter because either the owner can’t live with the dog anymore, or a member of the public has filed a complaint against the dog and government officials have taken the dog away from the owner. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU AND YOUR DOG!
Other people have an equally erroneous misconception of this issue. Instead of showering the dog with love and affection, they think that to earn the dog’s respect they must bully, dominate and terrorize the dog into being submissive. A dog treated this way will eventually bite their owner. This is not respect. Respect is not something that is forced. It is won. A dog will not respect someone it does not trust. The old fashioned method of dominance via the alpha roll over does not win respect.
Some final tips before reviewing the hit-list: don’t modify this program, and keep it up until the behavior problem stops. Obviously, act on the behavior problem itself and use a sensible and humane command obedience method, but add the following program if you are experiencing any of the following:
fighting with other dogs
Not coming when called
These are all major behavioral problems and they call for a radical approach. Besides specific corrections for the problem, apply the following program for the dog which is exhibiting any of the above problems and apply it today.
Give your dog two obedience sessions a day practicing whatever exercises the dog knows (puppy push-ups). These sessions should be 10-20 minutes long. Do not praise physically during this session. Use only verbal praise and keep the session moving. Give the commands quickly–dazzle the dog.
Have two formal eye contact sessions with your dogs each day. Problem dogs look at their owners only when they feel like it. Up the eye contact. Practice formally. Put a leash on. Sit the dog. Step around in front and animate the dog saying, “Watch me”………Do not yell. You want three to five seconds, (not minutes) of locked, sealed eye contact. Once you get this moment, end with light verbal praise.
Have your dog hold one hour long down each day. This is very important. These downs can be done during TV shows, dinner, reading, etc. Enforce it! If your dog doesn’t know the down, teach it immediately, as well as the stay command. During this time no petting, no toys, no soothing, no nothing. Long downs make you look Alpha.
Move your dog into the bedroom for overnight sleeping. This simple exercise has tremendous bonding effects. Remember–in the bedroom, problem dogs do not belong on beds. You’ll look like littermates–you want to be Alpha, remember? If the dog jumps up on the bed, tie the dog to the foot of the bed or crate it. It’s YOUR bed and bedroom, not his.
Exercise is very important. Problem dogs usually don’t get enough aerobic, sustained exercise, which is what they need to calm them down. Putting the dog out in the backyard for three hours is no solution–he isn’t exercising, he’s exercising and resting, or just resting–period. Use a leash and jog or run with your dog. Sometimes a bike can be used. Keep moving. A good guide: for a little dog 1/4 mile with no stopping, four times a week; for a medium-size dog 1/2 mile with no stopping, four times a week; and for a large dog 1 mile with no stopping, four times a week. I’m not even asking you to run with your dog every day. And a mile can go by quite quickly. Obviously, if your veterinarian advises against exercise for your particular dog, you’ll have to skip this step.
Whenever you leave home, leave the radio on–easy listening music, not rock or talk shows. Stressed tones of voice usually keep dogs on edge–and talk shows feature people who call in with problems and stresses.
Feed two times a day, if possible in the early morning and the early afternoon. Place the food down and leave it 10-15 minutes. Leave the dog and the food alone in a quiet room. Then, return and pick up the food even if the dog hasn’t finished. Do not make a “thing” out of the dog’s not eating–you may be engaging in faulty paralanguage and encouraging the dog not to eat even as you try to get it to eat. This method of feeding keeps food in the dog’s stomach during its waking hours, eliminating hunger tension and giving you more of a chance for a calmer dog. Always have him work for his meal..a Sit or a Down or a trick and a Wait until YOU tell him it is time to eat with O.K.
Re-evaluate the diet–in my opinion high-quality meat meal-based rations surpass soy-based rations. Drop all “people” food from the dog’s diet. The dogs know and it doesn’t make you look Alpha. When your dog doesn’t have problems, you can slip in some people food but not now. Remember, little things add up — usually to big problems. And never, ever add anything to the food after you’ve placed it down–not because you forgot an ingredient, not because you want to encourage the dog to eat. The dog will simply learn to wait until something yummy is added, and again, you won’t look Alpha. Save those lovely scraps for his boot camp obedience program work.
Give absolutely no food treats for one month. Yes, that’s right, zero treats. Zilch. None. Cold turkey. Owners often place themselves in a subordinate position vis- a-vis the dog by giving too many treats or by giving them in the wrong way. Stop for one month. If your dog’s problems clear up and the month has passed, give one treat a day only if the dog sits. Never give a free treat carte blanche–make the dog do something for the treat. But nothing for one month.
Stop petting, stroking or fondling your problem dog for minutes, not to mention hours, at a time. Get your hands off the dog and pet for only seven to ten seconds and only if you’ve told the dog to “sit” or “down.” I know you love your dog, but love isn’t enough. If it were, you wouldn’t be having the behavior problem you’re having. What your dog needs from you now to help him out of his behavioral jam is scratch-type petting, quick and light, not seductive stroking. It would shock most owners, but problem dogs are often pooped from petting–yet they oblige and stay for it because they’re addicted to it.
Don’t allow the dog to go before you in or out of a door. Make the dog wait by giving the “stay” command, or at least go together. If you allow the dog to barge in or out of the door before you, you’re telling him something pretty powerful about who controls the territory. The dog will say, “I do–after all, I always go first and that wimp goes second.” If this happens three or four times a day, the dog really gets to stake a claim to the territory he enters first, with ensuing problems. Quick examples: dog is allowed to barge out onto the street and has a problem fighting other dogs. Aren’t you setting the stage for the fighting by allowing the barge? Another: dog chews destructively when owner is not home. If you routinely let the dog crash into the house before you, aren’t you telegraphing to him that the home is his territory–to chew up, to trash, to “rearrange” at whim? Don’t allow the dog to go before you in or out of territory! Again–little things add up, usually to big problems. If that phrase is beginning to sound like a mantra in this article, I’m getting through.
Pick up all the dog’s toys and leave one, perhaps his favorite, down. That’s all he gets for one month. When a month passes and the problems clear up, add one toy a week.
Stop playing any and all tug-o-war games. When you let go you look subordinate, and you’re teaching the dog to bite down hard while in your presence. You’re okaying serious mouth play. A no-no for a problem dog. Play only fetch and if the dog doesn’t bring the object back to you and release it, get up and walk away.
If you have to have the dog get up and move because he is in the way, make the dog move. Don’t refrain from doing something or stepping over the dog because you don’t want to bother him. If you’re Alpha, you can go where you want when you want. Even if you have to change the channel and your dog is in front of the TV–make him move. Believe me, if you don’t, dogs notice. Little things add up.
Resolve to stop yelling at your dog and instead speak in a low tone of voice. If you yell, the dog will learn to wait for you to yell. Change your tonality, not your volume. Most problem dogs are yelled and screamed at. Most have tuned their owners out and learn to wait for louder and louder yelling until they finally don’t hear their owners at all. So stop yelling and make him hear you whisper…..because if he isn’t hearing you whisper he sure isn’t hearing you yell!
If your dog knows the “down” command–really knows it–pull a “surprise down” on this problem dog once a week. For instance, you’re in the kitchen doing dishes and you hear Rover waltz in. Wheel on him, give both the hand and vocal signal and command for “Down!” Recalcitrant Rover will probably look shocked, and then do it. If not, you’ll have to enforce it. The surprise element is the key. Remember, just once a week. Each down is a notch on your Alpha-belt, and combined with your daily long downs you’ll look like Eva Peron–which is how your dog needs to see you right now.
If your dog is aggressive, immediately employ these techniques. Please don’t wait. One session can work wonders. The situation could get out of control. It certainly won’t get better without training. Your dog is just growling, you say? You’re in trouble–big trouble. A growl is a bite that just hasn’t connected yet. Don’t delude yourself. Institute the rules immediately.
If you have a shy or aggressive dog, neuter the dog right away. Male or female. Right away. Don’t breed the dog. The problem could be partially genetic. The spay or neuter operation could help calm the dog and is a card you should play, in my experience, regardless of the age of the dog. The only exception is a very old dog which cannot risk the surgery. Otherwise, in my opinion, this step is merited and could be of great help.
I’ve had many clients who did nothing about specific problems such as chewing or aggression (usually because they were too busy, too tired, or too scared to act on the problem itself) but did begin the rules program–and the problem lessened and in some cases disappeared. I won’t promise you that, but you will find the rules will greatly aid your specific corrections for whatever problem plagues your dog. Add your command obedience program and your are on a complete program of training.
Finally, to balance the harshness of the boot camp program, create a little jingle for your dog. The jingle can be based on a popular television ad, and should be light, lilting and friendly — sometimes just substituting your dog’s name where the product name was in the jingle will achieve the desired effect. Sing the jingle to your dog once a day–even from afar. I’ve used jingles from McDonald’s ads and toothpaste ads. Just sing it out to your dog once a day–and make eye contact–and don’t go over 10 seconds .