Commandment #4

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THOU SHALT PRAISE YOUR DOG WHEN HE GETS IT RIGHT

In the early phases of housebreaking, don’t just open the door, send your dog outside and hope he does something while he’s out there. Go out with him so you know whether he’s gone or not, and don’t forget to make a fuss over him when he does the right thing in the right place. Verbal praise, petting and play are great rewards that will convince your puppy that pottying outside is definitely the way to go.

Sometimes owners believe that dogs should “just know” that going outside is the right thing. It doesn’t work that way, folks! It’s your job to teach your dog where to go and not go, so you’ll need to catch him doing the right thing as well as the wrong thing so you can teach him which is which.

Remember, one of our primary goals in housebreaking your dog is to teach him that it feels way better to potty in the right place than in the wrong place. If you don’t tell him what a good dog he is, doing the right thing feels about the same as doing the wrong thing, and that makes it hard to get results. Worse yet, your dog might learn that he only gets attention from you when he goes in the wrong place, and he’ll figure negative attention is better than no attention – which can make him even more inclined to go in the house.

Also, if you never praise your dog for pottying outside and you correct your dog when he potties inside, he may draw completely the wrong conclusion – he may think he isn’t allowed to potty in front of you. This will make housebreaking more difficult and may create other problems later on when you need him to go potty while he’s on a leash.

Your dog should be rewarded handsomely for doing his thing outside. Verbal praise, petting and play are your best bets. Although treats are a very valuable training tool, I generally don’t recommend them for housebreaking. Some people do have success using treats as part of their housetraining programs, but it can be risky. In many cases, the dog will be so excited and anxious to get the treat, he’ll squat, squeeze out a few drops and say GIMME! Then he’ll go back into the house, realize he didn’t finish, and have an accident. You should use lots of rewards in your housebreaking program, but no treats!

So treat your dog like he’s won the Nobel Prize when he goes potty in the right place… sweet-talk him, pet him and play with him… he deserves it!

Go to Commandment #5.