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House Training Your Dog or Puppy
By Lynne Hand

House training

The key to house training your dog is to understand natural dog behaviour. In the wild, all dogs or wolves in a pack urinate and defecate in a designated area, away from the den. Of course your dog isn't living outside, so you have to reinforce the natural behaviour by being extra attentive. It takes time, and patience, there's no set formula for how long it will take your dog to learn what you want it to do.

To ensure success, you must allow your pet to get outside whenever the urge is approaching that means keeping your dog close to you, if you leave your dog or puppy unattended accidents will happen. But if you catch your dog in the process of urinating or defecating indoors, you should make a sharp, loud noise, not to punish or frighten, but to startle it into stopping, judge the sharpness to your dog's temperament. Then get them outside as quickly as possible, always using the same door and preferably to the same area. Select the area of your garden that you want your dog to go in and take them to that spot every time they need to go. It is important that you take them there as this will help him learn that when he needs to go, he needs to go there. Please don't just chuck them out in the garden, your dog is a social animal, you are their pack.

Another reason for accompanying your dog is that It is very important that after it has relieved itself in the appropriate area, it should be warmly praised, to make going outside a positive thing. This way, your dog comes to understand that the designated area is outside. Eventually your dog will go to the door when it feels the urge to go. Watch for this behaviour and, when you see it, praise and immediately let it outside. If the door is not opened quickly, most dogs will spontaneously whine, bark or scratch at it to get your attention.

When house training a puppy as it grows, it gains the ability to control its bowels and bladder for longer periods of time. That said, during the day no dog should have to go more than six hours without the opportunity to relieve themselves. Some people say 8 hours, and that's fine overnight for a fully grown dog, but a puppy will need to go during the night.

There are certain triggers that will make a dog want to go, food is one. Your dog should have unrestricted access to water, but don't allow unrestricted access to food, put it down at a designated time (preferably twice a day) and allow them to eat for 15 to 30 minutes, then remove the bowl, give them 15 minutes and then take them out. For this reason you should never feed before bedtime. In addition try to take your dog out after playtime or indoor exercise and right before bedtime, especially if you like a bit of a lie in.

Another trigger is simply waking up, so, first thing in the morning, take your dog out and during training preferably after its had a nap. I'm afraid that if you have a puppy a few sleep disturbed nights will be necessary, but it's worth it in the end. And rember that just the smell of urine can trigger a dog to go, another reason for having a designated loo area (it's what makes public dog toilets so successful - see picture). It also means that you must thoroughly clean any accidents in the house and neutralise any odours. If you watch your dog you'll see that it will generally spend some time sniffing the ground before it relieves itself, that's because dogs can smell urine even when you can't, dogs in general have a nose approximately a hundred thousand to a million times more sensitive than a human's, so even if your floor looks spotless it may still be attracting your pet to do his business there.

Dogs - especially puppies - also urinate to show extreme submission to a more dominant pack member. This is an instinct, and cannot be trained away, sort of bed wetting for dogs. Punishing a dog for submissive urination only causes it to urinate more in a desperate attempt to appease you and if goes on forlong enough, the confused and frightened dog may eventually begin to display fear-induced aggression. The solution must involve training the dog to feel more secure, so that it no longer feels the need to perform extreme submission displays.

Health problems can spark incontinence in a previously house trained dog. If your dog starts to have little accidents take them to the vet to be checked for any bladder or urinary infections.

Puppies, may urinate when extremely excited, such as when an owner comes home after being gone all day. It can also happen in older dogs, in these cases, your dog really cannot control the urination. Rather than attempting to teach the dog not to urinate, you should focus on training your dog to stay calm and not get excited enough to lose control.

House Training Yourself

Once you have won the war, don't forget that in your garden and on your walks you must scoop the poop. If you can't stand the thought of using poop bags or a pooper scooper, don't get a dog. Apart from the general nastiness of ending up with dog crap on your shoes or even worse the hands of your children, dog droppings are one of the leading sources of E. Coli bacteria pollution (Escherichia coli). Each gram of dog faeces contains over 20,000,000 E. Coli colonies. While an individual animal's desposit of faeces will not measurably affect the environment, the compounded effect of thousands of dogs and cats in a built up areas creates problems due to microbe contamination of soil and water supplies. The runoff from neglected pet waste contaminates ground and river water, creating a public health hazard. The nutrients can also promote excessive algae growth in lakes and streams.

Even more serious health hazards are the eggs and adult worms of the Toxocaridae Canis, which often live in the small intestine of dogs. They range from 4-12 cm in length. Almost all puppies are infected at or soon after birth. During the summer, Toxocara infective eggs are shed. They survive for years in the environment, and humans typically ingest the eggs orally by eating with contaminated hands. Once introduced into the human intestine, the eggs develop into larvae. The larval form is less than 0.5 mm in length and 0.02 mm wide. The larvae penetrate the bowel wall and migrate through blood vessels to reach the liver, muscles, and lungs. Sometimes the parasite penetrates into the eye and brain, the larvae, can form granulomas in the eye, leading to a false diagnosis of retinoblastoma and subsequent eye removal.

So, imagine it's the same as changing nappies, and no matter how yucky you think it is hold your breath and do it. Just one quick scoop can make a difference and give a dog a good name.

About the Author: I have owned dogs on and off for over 20 years. What has worked for me, may work for you.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License