The Fastest Possible House Training for Puppies and Dogs – Part I – No More Night Time Accidents
By Aidan Bindoff
The fastest possible learning method is to set the dog up for continual success and reinforce this success. This applies to house training (‘house-breaking’ or ‘toilet training’) the same way that it applies to tricks and manners. “Errorless Learning” has been shown time and time again to be the most efficient form of learning. But how do you actually achieve this?
In this two part article you will learn the tricks of the trade for house training your new pet in the fastest possible time! The first trick of the trade is our ‘secret weapon’ for teaching pup to hold on all night:
It is difficult if not impossible to house train a puppy or dog errorlessly without using a crate at night, unless your new pet sleeps outside. Dogs are happiest when they are with their family, and less prone to nuisance barking at night if they are kept inside. What’s more, many of us don’t have the luxury of a secure yard these days.
A crate gives a puppy a ‘safe place’ to hang out and rest. Dogs will generally not soil their sleeping quarters, so a crate of the right size will really help your pet to hang on.
A crate needs to be only just big enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in comfortably. If it is too big it will not help. If it is too small it will be uncomfortable for your pet to sleep in.
Wire crates are improved by covering the top and sides with an old towel or sheet, forming a cosy ‘den’ for your pet.
New puppies can be introduced to the crate fairly easily. Toss a small treat into the crate and have them go in after it. Don’t shut the door just yet, let them explore freely. When they come out of the crate, toss another treat in. When pup seems comfortable with the crate, shut the door but don’t lock it. Toss a treat in while the door is shut. We’re trying to form a positive association with the crate at this stage.
Pretty soon you’ll be able to shut and lock the door. If puppy whines or scratches at the door, do not let her out until the whining has stopped. We do not want to reinforce unwanted behavior this way. Remember – dogs do what works for them.
If you have an older dog, I would recommend you follow the plan laid out by Susan Ailsby in her free e-book, “The Book of Training Levels” available on-line (more information at the end of this article).
Before you go to bed, take puppy outside for a toilet break and make sure puppy has done her business before you come back inside.
Just before lights out, place puppy in the crate with a treat, close the door and lock it. A young puppy will be most comfortable in your bedroom if that suits you.
Set your alarm clock for 2:00am. A puppy should be able to hang on for about 4 or 5 hours at night if sleeping.
When the alarm goes off, let puppy out of the crate and take her straight outside. The walk from the crate to the outside is when you are most likely to have an accident, so don’t dawdle!
The next night, set your alarm for 2:10am. The night after, 2:20am and so on in 10 minute increments until puppy can last all night.
Don’t let puppy drink just before bed. Try to maintain a consistent routine from dinner onwards each night. Changing the routine is inviting accidents and disruptions, puppy may not be able to hang on. Worst case scenario is soiling in the crate, but this is unlikely to become a habit if it only happens once or twice. Having to clean up the mess will teach you the hard way not to mess with pup’s routine!
If pup learns that whining or scratching in the crate leads to being let out, then you will have a little problem on your hands. You need to wait out the whining before letting pup out. If whining is reinforced a couple of times it will take a while to retrain. So it’s better not to put pup in a situation where she may have to whine – maintain a consistent routine of food, drink, play and bed-time. The only variable that should change is that you get up 10 minutes later each night.
This approach should teach pup how to ‘hold on’ all night without any mistakes. By following this simple plan, pup will learn in the shortest possible amount of time how to hold-on all night. In the next part of this two part series we will discuss how to house train pup during the day in the shortest possible time.
Aidan Bindoff is a moderator on the Yahoo Dog Housebreaking list ( http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/doghousbreaking/ ) for free dog house training advice that really works!
Aidan is also Editor of http://www.PositivePetzine.com, an ezine featuring articles like the one you just read.
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