Training & Crates
      by Barb McNinch



TRAINING: Housetraining myths and factoids

First of all let's look at the myths:
MYTH #1 : Rubbing the dogs nose in the mistake! (yes, people still do this):

FACT: If you rub the dog's nose in the poop, the dog will start hiding his mistakes--he will assume that pooping is wrong not that pooping in the house is wrong! OR, he may decide you want him to eat the poop!

MYTH #2: Drag him over if you find the mistake and yell at him:

FACT: The same thing as in myth #1 will happen! WHY? Dogs learn through TIMING and PAIRING. They cannot relate events that happened minutes to hours ago to the present time! You must catch the puppy in the ACT, clap your hands sharply and then get the puppy outside. If it is after the fact, ignore it, clean it up, and do not punish the puppy -- AFTER the fact mistakes are YOUR fault. You weren't watching your puppy closely enough.

THE best defense is this: DO NOT let your pup run loose in the house unless you are there to watch him closely. Put the puppy in his crate or confined area -- baby gated utility room, for instance -- when you can't be there.

SCHEDULE: Get and keep a good schedule with your puppy -- take him out first thing in the morning -- if he is still small, carry him through the house to his spot outside. Tell him where you are going and how good he is when he gets there. Make sure you praise quietly, make sure he is FINISHED. Many, many puppies will go and then go again in a few minutes. Stay out there a few minutes extra. PRAISE highly when the dog is done. Assign a command to the ACT -- "potty", "hurry up" or the like. USE ONE and stick to it.

Take your puppy out after EACH meal, each NAP, and last thing at night. Watch carefully when your puppy is playing -- activity can make the puppy need to go -- watch for sudden sniffing in circles, back and forth sniffing and whining, etc. Get the puppy out right away. Say "do you want to go out" and help the puppy to the door and out.

Keep the puppy focused when he is out there. Use a leash if you have to. Do not allow play or give attention until he has gone. I barely speak to a pup in the morning as we go out. I do not pet or greet him while he is in the house since most pups get all excited and "leak". I take him out and as soon as he pees, he is petted and praised briefly, then he is told to "go poop" and we wait for that event.

Clean up soiled spots with NON-ammonia based cleaners. Follow up with a light spray or dabbing the area with vinegar.

Limit water in the evenings and give ice cubes if puppy has been playing or seems hot.

Finally, if an older pup that seemed well on it's way to being housebroken suddenly starts breaking training, consider the following: bladder or kidney infection--get the pup to the vet. Has your schedule changed or has there been an upheaval within your household recently? How old is the dog and is it neutered or spayed. Intact, male dogs tend to begin marking territory around 8 or 9 months and will invariably start marking the house. Females have been known to do the same!

CRATES: How and Why to Use Them

Aside from the obvious help in housebreaking the new puppy, crates also provide a safe haven for your puppy and his insatiable desire to chew! No one will ever know how many puppy lives were saved because of crate training!! Countless puppies were protected from chewing electrical cords, getting into poisons or garbage or ingesting something (practically anything) that could choke him or cause an intestinal blockage. In addition, when the crate is used correctly, most dogs enjoy and use their crates regularly. The look at them as a safe place, a quiet place where they can go to get away and sleep peacefully.

Children should know that the crate is the puppy's "room" and that is where he must be left alone.

Start puppies in the crate from the day they come home. All meals are fed in the crate. Wonderful treats are presented here--stuffed bones! When they fall asleep in the middle of the floor, gently pick them up and deposit them in the crate, closing the door and thereby giving them a positive experience. As soon as they wake, they are taken out (with quiet praise) and taken potty. NEVER take the pup out when he is whining or crying!

As we have often seen on this list, crates can be used for injured or sick dogs to keep them quiet and resting. We all know how our rambunctious buddies can leap about, pulling stiches or re-injuring a pulled muscle that you have been trying to nurse back to health for a week. How much better it is for the dog to rest completely allowing for full recovery and saving needless re-xrays, re-stitching, more medication, etc.

The benefits of crating far outweigh any arguments against it that I have ever seen expressed by anyone, anywhere!!!!

Now, this does not mean a puppy, or a dog, should be left for countless hours alone in the crate, outside in the crate, etc. Crate training is an indoor sport -- if you have no AC, fans, Cold damp towels left in the crate, with ice cubes in a water cup will help. Check on the dog often. Pay someone if you have to, to come and check on the dog.

Also, take off all Collars when putting the puppy in the crate!!! These can come off to be chewed and eaten -- or sometimes can get caught on something and choke the puppy.

As for style of crate, I always get the fold-down suitcase style. However, this is a personal choice. I like the fold down because it is easier to move the crate around, take it outside and in the car, etc. (this is my personal preference) I move that crate to the bedroom at night so the pup can sleep beside me, and it comes out in the living room or other "most frequently used" area of the house during the day.

Don't be in too big a rush to allow your dog "freedom" from the crate. This freedom can actually wreak havoc on a dog's mind and psyche (causing destructive behaviors -anxiety, etc) The stimulation and exposure to "everything" is highly disconcerting to a young dog. They suddenly have total responsibility and total freedom. Depending on the temperament of the dog, they react by chewing, soiling, and/or barking at every sight and sound. They simply should not be expected to handle this all at once.

While it is much easier to have your dog view the crate positively if you start right from the first day using it, you can also start an older pup or dog in the crate, too.

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