Being a Shop Dog and Housebreaking

The Dogtor is in

Housebreaking any dog, whether a puppy or an adult dog can be a trying phase of dog ownership. Housebreaking is more than just teaching them not to urinate or defecate in the house: there are also rules concerning destruction of household items and acceptable indoor behavior. Rules will vary from family to family and may depend on the size of the dog. A pair of four pound chihuahuas running up and down the hallway is not as hazardous as a pair of 90 pound bull dogs. Some will not allow the dogs on the furniture; or only on specific pieces, others don’t care or even encourage it. Learning proper behavior at meal time, and learning to share toys and treats are all important lessons to master before getting their Really Good Dog diploma.

For us, housebreaking begins with becoming a shop dog. My workshop will withstand the occasional accident better than our home will. Or at least it’s easier to live with the aftermath here than it is at home. The workshop is also adjacent to the dog pens and play yard, our home is not. I can allow a dog to start by coming in for short periods of close supervision. Often this starts with the dog lounging on a dog bed in my office while I work there.

It also teaches them to be near me without being under my feet or jumping up on me for attention. There are petting sessions and there are work sessions.

Those that learn to go outside to do their business and refrain from chewing on things not meant for them graduate to House Dog for the final phase of housebreaking. They will be invited to visit for an evening. Then for a day. Then get to stay overnight in a crate. Finally the are invited to sleep in a snuggle bed and be 24 hour live-in dogs like our own; Cochise and Blondie. They get walks, of course and time in the play yard. But “home” is home.

Smokey has learned to go out if he needs to relieve himself, he’s still working on the behavioral stuff.

My favorite dog or puppy training rule is to keep a loosely rolled newspaper at hand. When your dog chews up a shoe or pees on something, take the rolled paper and whack yourself on the head while repeating, “I should have been watching my dog, I should have been watching my dog, I should have been watching my dog…”

Dogs don’t train themselves, we have to work with them, diligently and consistently to reinforce good behavior and discourage bad behavior. While potty training, take the dog out for walks frequently and offer praise and reward for taking care of it in a proper spot. If you notice the animal “seeking” a spot indoors, stop what you’re doing and immediately, gently lead them outside. Punishing a dog for “going” inside does nothing but confuse it, especially if you find the mess after the fact.

A lot of destructive chewing behavior is due to boredom. Provide proper chew toys and personal attention to keep the dog from seeking out it’s own amusement.

Dogs tend to learn best in a structured routine. Keeping to a schedule of feeding times, walking times, and play times helps them to achieve good housebreaking behavior. A chaotic lifestyle is not good for you or your pet.

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