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HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY HOUSETRAIN YOUR PUPPY

by Lysa Seaman

A lot of people believe a hunting dog belongs in the yard, on a chain or in a pen, or even just running around. We have several who live happily outside, but some of our favorites are also well-mannered house dogs.
We have also noticed with our hunting dogs that the indoor dogs have bonded with us better then the dogs that do not live indoors and give us more in the woods, respond better to verbal commands, and understand what we want of the more quickly and easily.
As a dog trainer, it amazes me how few house dogs are truly, reliably house trained. In addition to our Feist and Cur addiction, we also raise and train Dobermans, many going to guard and protect luxury homes, and it would absolutely unacceptable for them to have accidents!
Contrary to popular belief, rubbing their noses in their mess is NOT the answer. It teaches them they CAN mess in the house, but we need to teach them that they can't.
Teaching a dog or pup that messing in the house is "bad" is a step sideways. Teaching them that "outside" is where they must go to relieve themselves allows us to avoid correcting them for something they are going to do regardless as well as to avoid correcting a young pup we are trying to bond with and have learn to respond to us positively.
The key to success is not allowing the accidents to happen, and preventing the start of an unacceptable behavior in the first place. Here is how to do it;

First, go buy a crate! A size "400" should be appropriate for just about any but the very largest of Curs, and a "300" is appropriate for all adult Feists. You may prefer to start with a slightly smaller crate for a pup as they are less likely to soil ion a more confined area.
A crate is not cruel.

The puppies feel safe having a "den" of their own, especially when going to their new homes. (Human babies are put in playpens. This is comparable. No baby can safely have complete access to the entire house.)
Crates double as "indoor doghouses" in many ways, and getting your puppy used to a crate will prove to be a wonderful convenience in the future. And the dogs LIKE having their own private space. Many of ours retreat to their crates voluntarily, especially in the evenings to sleep.

Here are the rules to follow to successfully house train your puppy;

1.) Remember that puppies under 12 weeks are not likely to be able to control themselves even if they don't like to soil their crates!
2.) Lock your puppy in the crate at night and when you are not at home.
3.) When you wake up or come home, take the puppy out of the crate and carry
it outside to an appropriate area. When it "goes", praise it, show it what it did, and praise it some more. Bring it to the same area every time. Once it has the idea you can lead it on a leash, but to start out, pick it up so it has no opportunity to make a mistake.
4.) Assuming it does 'go', bring the puppy in and offer food and water.
5.) Take it back out in 15 minutes. If it "goes" again, you should be safe for about an hour. If not, retry every 15 minutes until it does. Be sure to lock it in the crate if you have to take your eyes off of it even for a minute! A lot of pups prefer to relieve themselves in private and will wonder off to a secluded corner to do so.
6.) The puppy must be taken out every hour if it "goes" and every 15 minutes if it doesn't, AND be crated if you can not watch it closely. The success of this method relies upon the owner not allowing the puppy to make any mistakes.
7.) Always allow your puppy the opportunity to relieve itself before being crated.
8.) Do not give your puppy any water for at least 2 hours before being crated for any length of time or overnight. (We pick up the water at 5:00 P.M. in the winter and at 6 P.M. in the summer.)
8.) Understand that if your puppy soils the crate repeatedly at first, that it probably was unable to wait and is still too young to control itself. (It should be able to by about 10 to 12 weeks.) Do not punish or discipline the puppy if it soils the crate. Act surprised (NOT angry!) that it would do such a thing, and carry it to the appropriate place.
9.) Do not ever leave your puppy in the house unsupervised until it can be trusted!
"Trust it" overnight before trusting it "home alone". Remember, they chew and teeth,
too. It is reasonable to expect your puppy to be house trained acceptably by approximately 6 months. However, I still crate them when I will be gone until they are done teething! Generally, this is prior to one year of age with Feists and Curs (and 18 months or so with Dobermans).
10.) Do not leave your puppy in the crate for very long periods of time. Overnight is
fine, but if you must also leave for work in the morning, make sure the puppy has at
least a full hour of exercise in a fenced in area in between eating and being recrated.
If possible, try to come home at lunch to take the puppy out, or have a friend or
neighbor take the puppy out for you. If you can not arrange that, leave it outside until you come home.
11.)     Let your puppy learn that being in the house is a privilege, not a right, and teach them to appreciate the privilege. Puppies will go potty when they need to, but you can teach them where is appropriate and where is not. This is similar to teaching them not to chew. Puppies WILL chew, but they can easily learn to chew on their toys, not yours!

If you follow these steps, house training your puppy will not be difficult. Do not
allow it to make mistakes, and it won't. I have NEVER had anybody tell me that they had reliably and conscientiously followed this method and not been successful.
Remember, it is much more difficult to correct an improper behavior than to teach a proper one.

Lysa Seaman
Whispering Woods Kennel And Training Center

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