McNeil Labradors

House Breaking 

Housebreaking may be the most important lesson your puppy learns.  This can be accomplished more easily and faster if you will apply a little patience and persistence.  Normally two or three weeks of concentrated effort will really pay off.  It can take longer, especially if you are not consistent with his schedule.  Remember, your puppy does not know it is wrong to soil your new carpet.  Plus, it is wrong to punish your puppy from doing what comes naturally.  Instead teach him what you want him to do. 

As a general rule, a puppy can hold his bladder approximately one hour for each month of age.  Actually, most can go longer than that, but it is a good rule to follow.  Take the puppy out anytime there is a change in activity such as eating, drinking, playing, waking, etc.   

Puppies fall into patterns very easily.  If you feed at the same time every day, the puppy will be ready to eliminate at the same time every day.  Start a schedule immediately and take the puppy outside first thing in the morning, upon awakening from his nap, after any playtime, long periods of wakefulness or excitement, and 10 minutes following his meal.  Learn to watch your puppy and if he starts sniffing around or going in circles, take him outside immediately.  Just to be on the safe side, take the puppy outside every hour to relieve himself. 

When you are taking the puppy out at regular intervals, make a big deal about going out.  For example:  “Want to go outside?”, “Let’s go outside!”, “Ready to go outside?”.  Run to the door and take the puppy out on a leash even if the yard is fenced so you can be there to praise him for doing his job.  

Take the puppy to an appropriate place where you want him to eliminate.    A good place is where he has gone before.  Stay with him until he has done his job.  It is helpful to use a command for elimination such as “business”, “hurry, hurry”, "busy, busy" etc.  Sometimes it will take a while.  If the puppy just sits, walk him back and forth to stimulate him.  Once you get the desired result, praise him enthusiastically and give him a treat. 

Scold him when you catch him making a mistake in the house.  (But only when you catch him in the act.  He won’t understand a scolding after the fact.)  SCOLD MEANS A VERBAL “NO”.  Quickly take him outdoors, even though he just went.  Simply stand there for a minute using the key word to let him know he must to “THAT” outside and not in the house.  Timing is very important so try to catch the puppy as soon as possible.  If you find a mess on the floor but didn’t actually see the puppy do it, simply clean it up and be more observant the next time.  Dogs and puppies alike have little recognition of time so correcting for something that happened minutes ago will be meaningless to the puppy. 

DO NOT yell at the puppy or any other equally ridiculous methods used to punish him.  The concept of rubbing the puppy’s nose in his mess is as unreasonable, as is striking a dog.  Instead of physically reprimanding the puppy, a verbal “NO” or rattling a can with a few pennies inside is sufficient scolding.  The noise will get the puppy’s attention and slightly startle him from doing what he was doing.  If you yell and otherwise scold the puppy for doing something that is natural and necessary, the puppy will learn to sneak and go out of sight when he has to eliminate.  Then, you have a puppy that has learned to avoid being scolded and finds it is better to go down the hall or upstairs to do his business.  Eventually you will find the mess but depending on the location, you may not go into that room for days. 

If you can’t watch your puppy 100% of the time, put him in his crate.  (See Crate Training Article).  A puppy is less likely to soil an area where he sleeps or eats, or a small area he cannot leave.  If your puppy has an accident, either in the crate or in your home, be sure to clean the area thoroughly and deodorize so that the puppy won’t be inclined to use the same spot again. 

CLEANING TIP:  Use straight vinegar on accident places after you have gotten it cleaned up.  Vinegar breaks down the odor of urine and feces. 

It is not a good idea to leave food down all the time for the puppy.  If the puppy has access to his food all day, he will need to go out at different times depending upon when he ate most of the food.  It also teaches them to be picky eaters.  Give the puppy no more than 15 minutes to eat and then take the food away no matter how much or how little the puppy has eaten.  He will soon learn to eat when you place the food in front of him.  Then, you will know when the puppy needs to go outside.  Schedule and consistency will pay off!! 

McNeil Labradors
Statesville, NC 28677

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Last Updated:  January 29, 2008

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Page Created By:  Margo Carter, McNeil Labradors

  Thought For The Day:

"We give dogs time we can spare, space we can
spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's
the best deal man has ever made." - M. Facklam