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Watching for the signs!

All dogs will telegraph a need to urinate or move their bowels. The owner must be able to watch for the signs. They all have their individual signals that they have to go. You will have to watch your puppy to learn what his is going to be. They may walk around in a circle, pant, run around nervously, look worried, go into another room, some sort of out of the ordinary behaviour. You must learn to spot his sign and then respond to it and put him out. You will make mistakes and so will he until you learn what his signal to you is going to be.

What do you do when you see his signal? You must immediately respond. Take him out on a leash or into your fenced yard and stay with him so that as soon as he has urinated or moved his bowel you should praise him.

He will eventually learn to deliberately give you a signal that he needs to go out if you do two things, always respond to his particular "I have to go out" signal promptly, and always praise him.

Specific Stages in Training

UNDER 3 MONTHS - A puppy under 3 months is like a human infant; they just don't have much sphincter control, so don't expect much. Keeping a puppy in a confined area at this stage is important. He should have enough room to get away from his "mess", though. Put newspapers down at one end of his area. Keep the other end clean by cleaning up when he makes a mistake. If you see him going on the area without the newspaper gently lift him on to it and if he happens to hit the correct spot, praise him for it.

OVER 3 MONTHS - When the puppy is about 3 months old, he is capable of a little (not a lot) more control. Now you must really spend time paying attention. This is the time when you watch his behaviour, learn what the signal is, and respond to it.

A 3 month old puppy needs to urinate about 9 times a day; the first thing in the morning; just before he goes to sleep for the night, after every meal - 3 or 4 meals are usual at this age - and whenever he wakes up from a nap. It is your job to get him to the place where you want him to relieve himself, and when he does, you must be there to praise him. Don't stay out forever. "Bathroom time" is not "exercise time" or "play time". Give him 10 - 15 minutes. If he has not relieved himself, go indoors and keep him on a long lead (6 feet). Keep him in the same room you are in. If you see him looking frantic or acting "funny" take him out again for 10 minutes. Sometimes it helps to take him back to a spot he has used before. DO NOT LET YOUR NON-HOUSEBROKEN PUPPY HAVE THE FREE RUN OF YOUR HOUSE.

At this age, 3 months or older, crating a puppy for the night is very helpful to prevent accidents. Contrary to certain beliefs crating a dog (particularly a puppy) is not cruel. A crate is a place of safety for many dogs. Besides being an invaluable housebreaking tool it also give the puppy a place to "get away from it all". As well later in life if you like to travel with your pet he will be happy in his crate and so travelling will be less stressful on him. Most pet suppy places sell them. Put an old washable towel or blanket in the crate (not newspaper), and a toy, and maybe a biscuit. Leave the door to it open during the day so that he learns it is a nice place that belongs to him, not a punishment. The first night or two he may have an accident and mess in the crate. He won't like that, and he'll quickly learn to hold on until he hears you waking up.

The very first thing you do in the morning with a puppy or a new adult is: TAKE HIM OUTDOORS. He cannot wait while you get dressed, or even have a cup of coffee. So be fair and help him to be good. Throw on a coat, put your feet into some shoes, and get the the puppy outdoors. Yes, it may be raining or snowing. But just like you, the dog needs to relieve himself regardless of the weather.

When mistakes do happen, and he will make some (mostly due to you) scolding and disapproval must be consistent. A firm "No, shame, bad" is enough. If you are really angry, he'll know it. But preventing accidents, keeping to a regular schedule, and giving lots of praise are better and more effective than scolding.

6 MONTHS - As the puppy gets older his sphincter control improves. He has learned that you will take him out at regular times, and he learns to hold on and wait. When you take your puppy visiting other people's houses, keep him on a lead. This is a good idea even with an adult, for the first few minutes. Excitement can cause "mistakes".

Restrict intake of water in the evening to prevent accidents through the night.

If your puppy does not housetrain, chances are you are not meeting his needs. Dogs are clean creatures of habit but can be spoiled in the wrong environment.

These instructions can be used with an older dog who may be housebroken challenged for some reason such as one who has been rescued and not learned proper skills. Start them all over as if they are baby puppies. It should be quicker than with a puppy because they will have better control, but the principles are the same.

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