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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Housebreaking Problem


Jan,
My puppy is doing great with potty training; however she goes to the door wanting to be let out but doesn't say anything. If we're in the area, we know. If we're in a different room, we have no way of knowing that she needs to be let out. I can't seem to get her to tell me.

Hi, Chihuahua owner!
My dogs seldom go to the door when they need to potty, and they seldom tell me they need to go. Yet, they don't potty in the house. That's because I've raised them to keep their legs crossed until I decide to let them out. As pack leader, it's my job to make all the decisions about who comes and goes, and when. They have been programmed (taught) since Day One that I will always ANTICIPATE their needs and get them outside to potty BEFORE they have to ask me.

Remember how your mom always told you to go to the bathroom at home, right before you left on that long car trip? And if you didn't go, you regretted it later because you had to hold it a long time? Same thing with our dogs. YOU must tell your dog that she must go potty when YOU say and when YOU provide the opportunity. And if she doesn't go then, she will have to hold it until she has another chance.

Do this by returning to "Housebreaking 101." That is, get out the drag leash and the small crate again and use them faithfully as follows:

Crate the dog when you can't be watching her. Allow her no unsupervised free access to the inside of the house. This will prohibit her from going potty in the house where you can't see her.

When you CAN supervise her, she should be on a 4-foot leash within sight of you at all times. Do NOT let her wander off and away from you.

As often as you feel appropriate, take her outside on the leash, stand with her, and tell her to do her business. Wait, watch, praise when it happens, and bring her back inside. YOU MUST observe her relieving herself. If you wait and watch and NOTHING happens, bring her back inside and RE-CRATE her for a few minutes...then try again.

Over a period of three weeks, the following things will change:

1. Your dog won't have the opportunity to mess in the house.
2. Your dog will form a habit of waiting for you to take her outside.
3. YOU will spend much more time observing your dog and learning to read her "signals." She WILL be telling you she has to relieve herself, but she'll be doing it in dog language, which you can only learn through close observation.

The dog that goes to the door and barks (or rings a bill) to go outside often becomes manipulative and demanding. You become the dog's slave, and the dog learns it's a great game. That's why I never advocate teaching a dog to do these things. Make your dog wait for YOU, and TRUST that you will be there to let her out BEFORE she has to have an "accident."

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