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Training your pup

By Saskia Ostermeier August 28, 2017

house training a new pup nzYou have bought your new puppy home and you now face the task of house training him. It is not hard to train a puppy to toilet outside, but you need to establish a good routine around feeding and toileting, and be consistent and patient.

Teach your puppy where his outside toileting place is, by accompanying him whenever he goes outside. When the puppy does sniff the area or display any other pre-toileting behaviours praise him. And when he does eliminate, praise him with enthusiasm. Using the same word such as “go toilet” will teach him to go on command later when it is needed.

Scheduling meal times
A regular routine is the mainstay of good training for any animal, including dogs. Being consistent and following a regular routine around mealtimes helps greatly when house-training your new puppy (and for reinforcing training for an older dog), as most dogs will want to toilet within the first hour after eating. Once the puppy has finished his meal, accompany him outside to the toileting area and encourage him by using the “go toilet” command. If he does toilet, praise him.

For this reason – do not feed him in the last few hours before bedtime.

It is also important to take him outdoors after playing, drinking, or sleeping. By scheduling feeding times, play sessions, confinement periods, and trips outside to the "toilet" area, you will accustom your puppy to a relatively predictable toilet routine.

Preventing mistakes
The most challenging part of the house-training process is preventing the pup from eliminating indoors. Until the puppy is house-trained, constant supervision is needed. When unable to supervise, confine the pup to a relatively small, safe area, such as a crate. Always take the puppy out to eliminate just before confinement. A wire or plastic crate provides an excellent area in which to keep the puppy when you cannot observe it. The crate becomes it safety nest and it will not eliminate there.

If the puppy is home alone each day for long periods, restrict him to a larger area such as a small room. The area should provide enough space for the puppy to toilet if necessary and rest several feet away from a mess. Place paper at the sites where the puppy is likely to toilet. To associate good things with the confinement area, spend time in the area playing with the puppy.

Returning to the scene of the crime
To discourage the puppy from returning to previously soiled areas, remove urine and fecal odour with an effective commercial product. These can be purchased from a local pet supply store or veterinarian. If your puppy begins toileting in certain areas of the home, deny access by closing doors to the rooms, utilising baby gates, or moving furniture over the soiled areas. Most pets prefer to avoid toileting in areas where they eat or play, so feeding or placing water bowls, bedding, and toys in previously soiled areas can discourage elimination.

Remain patient and consistent
No puppy has ever been house-trained without making a mistake or two. Be prepared for the inevitable. Punishment is the least effective and most overused approach to house-training. A correction should involve nothing more than a mild, startling distraction and should be used only if the puppy is caught in the act of eliminating indoors. Immediately take the pup to its elimination area outdoors to finish. Once it is done, praise it for toileting outside.

A correction that occurs more than a few seconds after the puppy toilets is useless because he will not understand why he is being punished. If the punishment is too harsh, the puppy may learn not to toilet in front of the owner, even outdoors, and the owner runs the risk of ruining the bond with the puppy.

Don’t even think about rubbing the pup's nose in a mess. There is absolutely nothing it will learn from this, except to be afraid. Some pets will squat and urinate as they greet family members. Never scold them. This problem is due typically to nervousness or excitement, and scolding will always make the problem worse. Puppies tend to outgrow this from seven to ten months of age.

If patience and consistency is used, a puppy’s house-training need not be stressful. With a little time and patience it will all work out. Sticking like glue to a routine will help speed up the process and make it easier for both owner and pup to know what is expected.

As well as house-training our pup we need to be able to teach the pup to lead.

So in the future taking your dog out for a walk should be a pleasurable and comfortable experience for both you and your dog

Having control of your dog when out in public is essential, and the correct type of harness can help you and your dog return home safely without having to experience an unfortunate incident through losing control of your dog.

The pet product market has hundreds of harnesses available with varying styles and functions to choose from. From standard collars, to body harnesses and tightening harnesses – there are harnesses to reduce pulling and body harnesses designed to help protect smaller dogs. Which one is right for you and your dog?

harness on chihuahua dog

Back-Clip Harness

With these harnesses the ring that the leash clips onto is placed on the top of the dog’s back. They are easy and comfortable for the dog to wear, especially for smaller dogs with delicate throats as it removes the problem of a collar pulling and choking them, or even causing more permanent damage.

There is an endless range of designs, colours, sizes and fabrics available for back-clip harnesses; an owner can choose a harness to suit their dog and their own particular preference.

For larger dogs, or dogs with behaviour issues, the back-clip harness may not be a good choice, as it affords limited control for an owner with a strong powerful breed, and they could end up being dragged along like a sled.

A common behaviour problem with dogs when out walking is pulling on the leash – your dog strains against your hold on the leash and this maybe the way your dog always walks on lead. It is a natural reaction for a dog to pull against pressure, rather than give into it, as he has already learnt when he pulls he is more likely to get where he wants to go. This behaviour stems from not being emotionally connected with the human on the other end of the leash, and instead is totally focused on what’s in front of him.

Training tips to teach your dog not to pull on leash: Training your dog is hard work, and requires constant repetition to establish new behaviour, consistency, and not allowing your dog to slip back into unwanted behaviours. Gain control by only allowing your dog to move forward when the leash is loose. As soon as your dog pulls hard enough to make the leash tight, stop in place and wait for a loose leash before continuing forward.

To help manage pulling and gain more control on walks, use a front-clip harness that crosses the front of your dog's chest and gently prevents pulling. For dogs who are powerful and out of control, head halters are another good choice for hindering pulling.

front clip harness on labrador

Front-Clip Harness

The front-clip harneshas the leash attachment at the center of the dog’s chest, and this gives the owner or trainer more control over the direction the dog is moving. It also provides the ability to turn the dog to face the trainer quickly if needed.

The front-clip harness provides more control with dogs who pull, or who jump up at adults, children or other dogs, but it does have the disadvantage of sometimes tangling under the chest and with the dogs front legs if too much slack is given, and may not give enough control with a larger stronger breed. If this is the case, a head halter may offer additional control over the dog.

Mouthing or chewing on the leash: Some dogs want to grab the leash and play tug-of-war with you, while others like to nibble or bite on the leash. Some dogs may only exhibit this behaviour when they are anxious or highly excited, and others may enjoy the game and the attention they receive. Retrieving breeds, like Labradors, like to carry objects in their mouths, and some dogs find it calming to hold something in their mouth.

Whatever the reason, you may want to swap a fabric leash for a chain leash as a chain is nowhere near as much fun to play with. If your dog just loves to have something in his mouth while walking give him something to carry, like his favourite stuffed toy, small ball or chew toy.

Training tip to change your dogs mouthing behaviour: Distract your dog by teaching him an alternate behaviour. For some dogs, merely asking for a heel while walking or rewarding a quiet behavior while waiting, such as a down, replaces the leash chewing. You can also take the fun out of unwanted mouthing by downplaying the behavior. Try using two leashes, one on a harness and the other on the collar. When your dog grabs one leash to mouth or chew, drop the leash to take away the resistance that is naturally created when you’re holding on to the leash. Switch between leashes as needed so that there is no fun tug available with the leash game.

Tightening Harness

These harnesses are a variation on the back-clip and front-clip varieties – with the added feature that when the dog pulls against the owner, the harness will tighten and add pressure. This tightening can be uncomfortable and result in the dog walking on a loose leash to relieve the pressure.

The essential thing with these harnesses is to ensure the pressure is not so great as to cause pain or injury to the dog. It would be wise to avoid the tightening harness on smaller more fragile breeds of dog as the risk of injury is far greater than with larger more robust breeds.

With larger breed dogs it is still important to check where the pressure points will be on each individual dog while fitting the harness, and if there is any doubt, it is advisable to get experienced help in fitting and training. Most harnesses that add slight pressure to a dog when it pulls don’t cause pain, which makes this harness a valuable tool for dogs that are habitual pullers.

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