One of the most annoying things about pet dogs is their habit of answering to calls of nature almost anywhere they feel like it. Your bedroom rug, the drawing room sofa, your Persian carpet; everything seems as good a place as any for your little pup to go cool his bladders on.
If you have just brought your pup home therefore, buckle up and get ready to save your upholstery and carpets by means of a simple method we call “housebreaking”.
Now, here’s what housebreaking is all about. We humans tend to visit the bathroom when we feel like we must relieve ourselves, in one way or the other. However, our pooches don’t have mother potty training them at the age of 1, telling them to do their business at some fixed time on a shiny blue potty, and hence they tend to treat everything like a big ol’ lavatory. So what we have to do is potty train our doggies ourselves. And this training, to cut a long story short, is what we call ‘housebreaking’.
Now, facts first. Remember,
• No pup is able to keep himself from wetting or …well…relieving himself in some other form, till about 12 weeks of age. Your attempts at training your dog therefore must begin before this.
• Most puppies need to engage in bathroom related activities approximately 6-7 times a day
• Every time your dog seems to be following its tail rather slowly, and doing giddy rounds around a non-descriptive area put your shoes on to take it out cause it’s getting ready to relieve itself
• Take your dog out every time it has a meal because food immediately puts pressure on its colon and bladder.
The first lesson in housebreaking, ‘communicate with your dog’. Make sure you let your dog know that you don’t like him wetting all over the drawing room loud and clear. No there isn’t any need to use violence; just a loud “NO’ should do the trick. For best results catch him in the act so that he has no problem in associating the rebuke with the exact action.
Keep a keen eye on your pooch. As soon as he looks like he could do with a visit to the good old lavatory take him out. Once he relieves himself at the right place pat him to show how much you appreciate the fact that he didn’t wet all over your favorite rug. Give him a biscuit, and an appreciative nod and he’ll know.
See, dogs are like politicians, always eager to please. They will do anything to get cuddled and petted by their masters, thus it’s always easy to make them do things as per your requirements. You want him to go outside? Show him how happy you are when he does so and he’ll do it always. Give him a friendly pet and he’ll bound off to be at it everyday. For your part make sure you know your dog’s habits, build your routine round his, try and find out what his usual urinating or defecating times are, is it after dinner? Before going to bed? Or right in the morning? Take him out accordingly.
Proper communication will ensure your pooch’s proper health and your peace, and of course a clean bedroom rug.
Despite what it seems to be from a distance, dog training doesn’t need you to be a fearless Hercules, all it asks of you is to keep a few basics in mind. First, establish who the boss is, remind your dog again and again that you are the one on two feet while he is still on all fours, and thus what you say is Gospel and what he barks is not. Second, speak in a tone which oozes superiority, something on the lines of your first grade math teacher. Third, routine is everything so keep your training tactics consistent. Once you master these three techniques you will be the master of every single dog around!
Your heart might melt into a mush every time your cute little pup cocks his head, but don’t let that get in the way of your establishing who the master is. Go gooey eyed too frequently and you are likely to pay with your carpets and sandals, which it will most merrily chew through. Treat your pup the way you would treat a little kid, setting it strict boundaries and letting it know what goes and what most definitely doesn’t. Establish gestures like pointing etc. which will give the dog a cue to act in a certain way.
You might not think it possible but dogs, like your kids, can tell when you mean business, slacken up a bit with them and they’ll know you can be taken for a ride. Interestingly enough they also have this instinct for intonation; be strict when you want him to stay put at the yard, but be enthusiastic when you are asking him if he would like to go for a walk. It’s funny how you’ll see your own mood reflected in his responses. This is the primary step for you to establish the kind of communication with your dog which will allow you to calm him or set him up for work with a single word.
One of the main methods of training your dog is to keep a certain consistency in your approach towards him. Keep your intonations, gestures and words for expressing dissatisfaction the same every time, so that he gets used to the idea easily. A young pup who grows up with a certain set of commands will respond to them more promptly than one who is frequently confused by conflicting orders. The more consistent your commands are, the better trained your dog is, the better trained your dog is the greater your confidence in him regarding his obedience to you. A few other ways of establishing consistency are to use the same door when taking your doggie out for a walk, give him the same kind of pat every night before retiring for the day, so that he knows exactly what time it is.
Little things like these will help you predict your dog’s behavior more accurately.
Most importantly, however, remember to shower your love and affection on the little one, continue your training through little games which he might enjoy, and remember to treat him every time he does a task well, after all like a child it too needs to be appreciated and given its bit of fun.
If you are looking to train your dog you might consider using the ‘clicker training’ method, which has recently become popular amongst dog trainers all over the country. In this method the trainer has to make use of a clicker, a tiny plastic box with a metal button which makes a distinctive click sound once the button has been pressed. The training method is simple and is in many ways parallel to the positive training method. Here is what you have to do. Decide on a certain behavior which you want to teach or reinforce your dog to do. A number of behaviors/actions come naturally to the dog like sitting, eating, standing, barking etc. and these need just to be reinforced so that your dog knows when you want him to do what. Various other actions like acting dead, shaking hands, rolling over etc. do not come naturally to the dog and need to be taught. Clicker training can be used to do both.
Clicker training works according to the basic principles of operant conditioning, by associating the sound of the clicker with a food item which the dog particularly likes. Now all you have to do is use the clicker to command the dog to do something, the dog, given that he associates the sound of the clicker with the food, immediately obliges and the training is complete.
Let us take an example to illustrate the method better, suppose you want to teach your dog to sit, you put a cookie on your dog’s nose playfully and then move it upwards, the dog will obviously follow the movement of the biscuit with its nose and will then naturally rest its posterior on the floor, thereby putting himself in a sitting position. Now time your clicking to be so accurate as to occur right as the dog seats himself, now give him the biscuit and praise him. Continue doing this for sometime till the dog begins to associate the clicking with the food until the click makes him sit without you luring him with treats. Now teach him another behavior, but remember to attach the clicking cue only once the animal himself offers you the behavior otherwise the clicking will not be connected to anything in the dog’s head and he will be confused regarding what it means.
Your dog is one smart little animal and it’s time you gave him due credit for that. A number of trainers have been known to use negative reinforcement techniques alongside the clicker method but this simply doesn’t work because punishment at all times creates a number of unwanted behavior even if it serves the primary purpose of teaching the dog to not do something temporarily.
Any kind of training is a strenuous and rigorous process and needs time and patience. Although clicker training method has a high success rate it might not work for certain types of dogs, if you see that it’s not working for your pet you would be well advised to use some other technique to teach it tricks.
Every dog owner must take up dog training to know and handle a dog better. Appreciating a well-mannered dog is something that all can do, training is what makes things difficult. Now, there are many kinds of dog training available but not all will suit your dog.
While some dogs have never been trained, some others have already undertaken training before. Therefore, it becomes all the more essential to analyze and know what type of dog training your dog needs.
The first level of dog training is the basic dog training. The basic training is meant for beginners — either a puppy or a grown-up dog that is being trained for the first time. This level includes only the rudiments — how to make a dog sit, stay and come when called. Some part of it also aims at teaching the dog to socialize with other dogs and people in a proper way. This is particularly given to puppies. And if your dog had never taken training before, this basic level is where to start with.
The next level is the intermediate level. This level of dog training is not for puppies, but for those adult dogs that have undertaken the basics either formally or at home by their own owners. This intermediate type of training trains a dog to heel, walk properly on a leash, fetch something and return. It also revises the basics of sitting, staying and coming etc.
The third and final type of dog training is the advanced course. This level is only meant for those dogs which have been through a minimum of one training course before and have passed it too. Here, in the advanced level, the different elements of the basic and intermediate courses are revised in details right at the start of the course. Then it goes to train the dog to act according to various commands and hand signals like “come”, “stay”, “sit”, “heel”, “fetch”, “lie down”, etc.
When the dog gets accustomed to hand signals, the advanced course takes care of teaching the dog how to walk and stay beside the master at all times even without a leash. It also teaches the dog to have focus in its master, that is, to pay attention and stop getting distracted. The advanced level of dog training is usually suited to very obedient and well-mannered dogs.
Like all good trainings, dog trainings should also have motivators like prizes and rewards to yield better and more positive results. Hitting and yelling at the dog to make it pick up one action is not a wise technique while training. Instead of being a success, chances are that it will give negative output. So you must make sure that the dog training you assign your dog is a positive one, which indulges in positive strategies.
You must also be careful about choosing the right course for your dog—the course best-suited to it. That way, you may soon be able to boast of owning a dog that is obedient, well-mannered, well adjusted and the perfect pet one can have!
Here you can find information on dog training, dog breeds, and dog fun.