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House-training dogs process of elimination

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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I love the subject of housetraining. Potty-training continues to baffle new puppy and pet owners and yet it's one of the easier problems to solve. The task continues to be steeped in mythology and old methods that make little sense.

We've all heard or been instructed to scold a dog for eliminating in the wrong place and even to rub its nose in it. It simply doesn't make sense. The last thing you want is a dog that is afraid to eliminate. Hello, constipation and urinary-tract disorders.

With holiday puppy season coming up, lots of households are considering puppies or adding an adult adopted dog to the family. Even fully house-trained dogs can get confused about where to potty when they move to a new home.

First off, if you're looking for a puppy, scour your nearby shelters and local animal rescue websites. More puppies and kittens are born every day than there are homes to accommodate.

If you're purchasing a pet, please seek out a reputable breeder rather than a bargain price.

Breeder dogs from questionable sources are seldom cared for properly.

They don't get the expensive prenatal care that helps insure pups are properly nourished inside the womb.

Newborn pups need to be socialized and educated from the time they are born. Gentle handling by humans helps make an immediate association between people and good things and helps a pup or kitten on its way to being loving and friendly. Many things need to happen between birth and eight weeks old when most pups leave their litter.

Easy house-training starts with a puppy that already trusts and looks up to its human companion.

Old punitive training methods have been tossed out the window by contemporary trainers and behaviorists who have found better ways.

We've come to place value on the human-animal bond and training a best friend through punitive measures doesn't create that.

House-training at any age should be focused on preventing accidents rather than scolding or punishing for accidents that have already happened.

The goal is simply to make it easy for them to do the right thing and be aware and reliable enough to intercept when they're about to do the wrong thing.

Puppies are usually easy to house-train. At about eight or nine weeks old, they instinctively begin seeking out a habitual place to eliminate.

At that age, it's easy to pick them up and place them where you want them to "go." Puppies have fast-acting digestive systems.

Food passes through quickly so typically, they'll eliminate soon after they eat or drink or soon after they wake from a snooze. Keeping food on a regular schedule helps keep their potty habits on a regular schedule. The hardest dogs to house-train are those that are free fed.

Pay attention to signals. Some puppies whine or get excited and playful just before they have to eliminate. Some sniff around in a distinctive manner and others just march off to where they think they're supposed to go. It may or may not be where you think they should go-Pay attention and when you see the signals, gently move them to the appropriate place and wait.

When the puppy does its business, celebrate.

Lots of praise makes them realize they've done a good thing.

Don't use treats as a reward. Dogs are smart and if you treat train for potty time, you'll soon have your dog fooling you into thinking it has to go outside when all it really wants is a treat.

If you miss a signal and your pup has an accident, don't blame the dog.

If you have more than one dog, they'll usually follow each other's lead. Take advantage of natural instincts if you have multiple dogs. Your pup will quickly learn the ropes with just a bit of encouragement.

Crate-training can be helpful but remember that there's a limit to how long a dog or puppy can control bodily functions. Animal instinct keeps them from eliminating where they sleep or rest so if your dog has an accident in the crate or bed, the poor thing really had little choice.

Successful house-training depends on providing a place for the dog to go when you can't be there to let it out.

Make sure your pet knows where it is allowed to potty, not just where it isn't allowed.

It may take a bit longer if a dog has already developed the habit of going wherever and whenever, but unless there are medical problems, any dog can be potty-trained.

Submission urination and incontinence can't be controlled with house-training methods, nor can inappropriate defecation caused by stress, fear or separation anxiety.

A dog should never be punished for bodily functions that it can't control.

If you have an unaltered male dog that you can't seem to house-train, consider neutering. Intact male dogs instinctively mark territory, some with more determination than others.

Paws Around Town was written this week by Nadia Caillou, an animal care specialist and co-owner of a pet store in Sedona. She is the founder of Golden Bone Rescue and Rehab and has over 30 years experience helping distressed animals and helping pet owners, shelters and pounds overcome problem behavior in animals.

Copyright 2015 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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