Mar 12, 2010

Housebreaking: Are you expecting too much?

Its not uncommon to get frustrated dog owners on forum and q/a communities asking what is wrong with their 3 month old pup that continues to have accidents in the house. The answer is always the same: your dog is still too young. I can say from experience that housebreaking is one of the most tedious and frustrating problems one comes across in dog-ownership. However we should try to avoid expecting so much in so little time.

Most pups may not develop full bladder and bowel control till about 6 to 8 months. Take this and add to it that most pups haven't yet learned a way to let us know that they need to go to the bathroom and you can easily see why a pup has frequent accidents at first.

So what can you do? Well its true that in time the pooch will eventually be able to hold it in, but you can't simply stand back and watch. There are plenty of things you can do to speed along the process. The first thing is never to set up your dog for failure, if you know the pup can't hold it in for long don't allow long periods of time to go by without having had taken out the pup. I usually recommend after meals, after play time, after exercise, before bed, when you wake up and maybe even once during the night.

If you use something called the "umbilical cord method" you will always be able to catch the puppy on the act or even better; anticipate when the pup needs to go out. This method simply has you have a leash attached to you at all times with the pup on the other end. This way the young dog doesn't leave your sight and doesn't get the chance to go off into some corner and do his business.

In time the pup will begin to get the idea that going potty in the house is not correct. This will eventually lead the pup to do something to let you know it needs to go outside, this can range from a whine to scratching at the door (my dog licks the door when he needs to go out). When this happens you've had a breakthrough! Make sure you give lots of praise and let the dog out immediately.

Well that's about it on that topic, if you need more tips feel free to check out an article I wrote on K9domain about potty and crate training. If you need some one on one assistance stop by the K9academy message boards and tell us about your problem.

Till next time!

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