Commandment #3

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THOU SHALT KEEP IT CLEAN

When it comes to your housebreaking program, cleanliness is definitely next to godliness! One reason that dogs can be housebroken is that they have a natural tendency to avoid soiling their living areas. A big part of housebreaking is simply preserving your dog’s natural cleanliness. If your puppy is forced to be near his own waste, he can lose his natural tendency toward cleanliness, which will make his housebreaking much more difficult. This often occurs if he spent his puppyhood in a small cage at a pet store or in a dirty kennel. It can also happen later in life if he’s left in his confinement area for too long and is forced to relieve himself there, or if you aren’t diligent about cleaning up after him with the proper cleaning supplies.

You’ll need to buy an odor-neutralizing product specifically designed to eliminate pet odors. You can find these supplies at any pet store or online pet supply site. Avoid using regular household cleaners, especially those containing ammonia, when cleaning up accidents. These supplies will not sufficiently eliminate the odor, since your dog’s sense of smell is much stronger than yours. Even if you can’t smell it, he can! Supplies that contain ammonia can actually draw him back to the same spot, since one of the compounds excreted in urine is… guess what?… AMMONIA! So of course, if he smells ammonia there, he may just think it’s the perfect place to potty!

Your dog’s confinement area and crate must be kept very clean. If your puppy has any accidents, clean the area thoroughly with odor neutralizer according to the manufacturer’s directions. The cleaner his living area is, the less likely he is to soil there – so even if your dog isn’t having accidents, his crate or confinement area floor should be cleaned at least once a week using odor neutralizer.

If you suspect your dog or another dog has had accidents in your home recently or in the distant past, those areas must also be thoroughly cleaned to remove all odors, so that your puppy isn’t drawn to them. If you’re not sure where the accidents occurred, you can find out the high-tech way or the low-tech way.

The high-tech solution is to buy a blacklight from the pet store and use it to examine your carpets, furniture, etc. at night with all the lights off. This can be quite a horrifying experience, so be prepared – especially if you watch crime dramas on TV that use similar technology to find blood at crime scenes, your house might look like there’s been a massacre! But don’t worry, it’s just a bit of pee (we hope!). Just clean, clean, clean once you find it.

The low-tech method is the good ol’ sniff test. Just get on your hands and knees and start sniffing around for suspiciously stinky areas. If you have a friend with a sensitive nose who owes you a favor, you might want to ask him or her to do it, since you may be desensitized to the smells in your house.

You’ll also need to keep your dog himself clean. If he’s stinky and surrounded by the smell of pee and poo, he’s more likely to have accidents. If you keep him fresh and clean, he’s more likely to try to stay that way. Whether he’s having accidents or not, bathe and brush him regularly, and – if necessary – trim any excess hair around his backside and genitals that may tend to hold urine or feces after he relieves himself. He must be bathed after any accidents that cause him to come into contact with his urine or feces. You’ll need to do this EVERY TIME. If you find that you’re having to bathe him frequently, be sure to use a mild conditioning shampoo.

Your dog’s potty area should also be kept clean. Although a trace of his scent is helpful to draw him back to the area, 30 piles of poo in his corner of the backyard or potty pads that are soaked through with urine aren’t very appealing to your dog. If his potty area is so icky that he doesn’t want to go there, he may begin to seek greener pastures… like your nice clean carpet. Scoop the poop and hose down the urine outside; for indoor dogs, change the potty pads, papers or litter tray regularly.

Most owners have good intentions, of course, and intend to keep your dog and his surroundings clean. However, many owners get frustrated and stop cleaning thoroughly after their puppy’s made a mess, since they figure he’s just going to have another accident and get everything dirty again. Please don’t fall victim to this kind of thinking! It’ll only make matters worse, creating more discomfort for your dog and for you. Remember, if you don’t seem concerned about keeping your house clean, your puppy certainly won’t be!

One other important thing to remember… never let your dog watch you clean up his accidents. This comes as a surprise to most owners, who think they’re teaching their dogs a lesson when they make them watch them clean. Even if you give him a lecture the whole time you’re cleaning, this method will not effectively minimize accidents. On the contrary, cleaning up in front of your puppy can actually encourage him to have accidents. If he realizes that a misplaced tinkle can get you down on the floor to talk to him, having an accident starts to seem like a good way to get your attention. The situation gets worse if your dog is one of those spunky characters who’ll steal the paper towels while you’re down there and lure you into a chase game. If he thinks accidents lead to all that fun, why would he ever stop? To prevent your dog from learning that accidents create action, just put him outside, in another room, or in his crate before cleaning up.

Purchase Supplies Related to This Article

Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover

Nature’s Miracle is everyone’s favorite stain and odor neutralizer. Be sure to use this product to clean up all accidents; regular floor cleaner won’t fully eliminate the odor!

Yard Odor Eliminator

This yard odor neutralizer eliminates outdoor pet odors. It attaches to your hose and can be used on all your outdoor surfaces, including grass and plants!

Blacklight Urine Finder

Are you worried your stealthy pup may have left some hidden tinkles around the house? This blacklight will help you find them so you can eliminate hidden odors!

One-Handed Scoop

This lightweight, sturdy one-handed scoop is a practical choice if you carry a scoop on your walks or if you have physical issues that make using a two-handed scoop difficult.

Fresh’n Clean Shampoo

This shampoo has a pleasant, surprisingly long-lasting scent. It’s the only shampoo I’ve used on my dogs for the past 25 years… because it’s the BEST!!

Spade Poop Scoop

This poop scoop with a spade does an excellent job of picking up on both grass and hard surfaces. Go with the large size if you have a big dog or multiple dogs!

Go to Commandment #4.