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By Monica Maxwell

Tips for house-training a dog

The two most important ingredients needed to introduce a new four-legged family member into the house are patience and praise. With a little time and love, almost any dog can be house trained. Following are a few simple tips to help you get started.

Crates play an important role in housebreaking a dog. A crate placed in a quiet spot in the home where the dog can see its family but still have privacy serves as an area for the dog to feel safe and comfortable. It is not a place to house the dog for punishment; it is a “chill out zone.” The size of the crate should match the size of the dog-too much space and the dog might rest in one corner and soil in another. Given the opportunity to become appropriately accustomed with the crate and the ability to come to know it as their own little piece of the world, dogs rarely will soil in the crate.

Timing plays an important role in the training process. Dogs should be taken outside to have a bathroom break shortly after receiving a meal, after exercise or play, after baths and before bedtime. Praise is also critical in the training process. When the dog eliminates outside in the desired area, it is imperative that the owner makes a show of showering the dog with praise and affection as soon as the desired behavior is demonstrated. It might feel embarrassing if the neighbors are watching, but the moment of shame is worth the effort.

Praise, and lots of it, will help to make it easier for the dog to understand that this is a behavior that he should repeat to get even more praise. Praise, praise again and if in doubt, praise some more every single time the dog eliminates outside in those first weeks. Punishment should not be considered. If the dog begins to go inside the house, a firm “No” followed by immediately removing the dog to the proper area should suffice. At that point, if the dog does its business outside, follow up with praise.

Housebreaking encompasses much more than just eliminating outside. Using a similar process of patience and praise, dogs should be taught how to choose appropriate items to play with and chew on, and how to behave appropriately in the house. If the dog is not allowed on the furniture, it is best to get those boundaries established early on.

Patience will take a new dog owner a long way in their house-training journey, and consistency is a key factor in the process of bringing a dog into the home environment. The dog may not “get it” right away and will require multiple reminders, nearly constant supervision and loads of encouragement and support in their quest to become a new member of the family. While it will be exhausting and will require focus on the part of both owner and dog, the efforts will prove to be well worth it in the end.

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