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Three key tips for house training dogs

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POSTED January 6, 2013 11:19 p.m.

DEAR DIDI:     I have an 8 month old in-tact male pom mix. He continues to mark on the rugs even though I have potty pads out. He mostly goes on the pads, but still continues to also pee on the rugs near his crate and in the hall.  I let him outside several times a day. I don’t know what else to do, please help.

I.P. Freely in Manteca, CA

DEAR I.P. Freely:  There are a lot of issues that need to be assessed before putting an effective house training plan together. If this is a relatively new behavior the pooch should be evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out bladder or urinary tract infections. Once we are sure there are no medical reasons for the activity then we can begin to alter the behavior.

I must first mention that I am 100% in favor of neutering dogs. The hormones that are rushing through an 8 month old male puppy are driving him to learn bad behaviors (ie marking) and attitudes about his surroundings. Once those attitudes are learned it can be difficult to take them away or change them.  Another HUGE reason for neutering your male dog is to reduce his chances of getting prostate cancer by 70%! He is at the prime age to be neutered right now.

Here are the three things I usually recommend for house training.

First, a puppy should not have the freedom to run about the house. It is too difficult to keep track of what they are getting into and when the ‘urge’ strikes, many will ‘go’ right where they are. Potty pads sometimes backfire because the dog is still technically urinating in the house.

Second, control their access to the water bowl. Many puppies will drink merely because they can. The urge to urinate often comes about 20 minutes after drinking. So if the puppy is stopping at the water bowl every half hour it can seem like he needs to go nonstop.  Puppies need access to water while eating, after exercise and after long periods of sleep.  If you know when he drank last it can help you know when to take him outside. Put the baby on a leash and step outside with him to a pre-designated spot. Don’t distract him by talking to him. Let him get super bored and when he begins to sniff the ground or circle that is a sign he is about to do his business. Praise him afterwards and bring him in the house so the backyard is seen as a place to go potty instead of a playground of leaves, birds, and bugs. Third, I always recommend crate training. Many people instinctively question putting their dog in a ‘cage’ but yet never questioned putting a human baby in a playpen.  If trained properly, dogs learn to love their crates as their own personal bedrooms with a view. Canines are denning animals so it works with their base psychological needs. Don’t provide the biggest crate possible. Instead choose one that is just big enough for him to stand up completely, turn around and lay down. Puppies have pretty good instincts about not peeing where they have to sleep so it can help promote learning to ‘hold it’ longer. Obviously, don’t put him in his crate for three hours after he drinks a big bowl of water!

Never punish a dog verbally or physically for accidents in the home.  Patience, consistency and prevention is the absolute key to instilling good toilet habits in your pooch.

e-mail your questions to trainer@mycaliforniacanine.com

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