And how to “ring the bell”
by Dr. Becky Marks
Everybody loves a new puppy. They are cute and full of loves and licks. There is some work to having a puppy. Most people find housebreaking the biggest challenge.
Most people get their puppy at 6-8 weeks of age. Prior to this most puppies have had no discipline on where or when to have a bowel movement. Now in a new home with a new owner the rules have changed. It is important to remember that most puppies will not be housebroken until 5 months old. Patience is a necessity with this new family member.
Your new puppy needs help. If your puppy eats all day long he will have to eliminate all day long. I recommend feeding 2 or 3 times a day; this will get the bowel movements on a regular schedule (Always leave fresh water available.) Shortly after a meal take your puppy outside to urinate and have a bowel movement. Every animal is different but most are ready to do this 15-30 minutes after a meal. Use words such as “go potty. This will create an association. Eventually your pet will “go” on command. As your pet relaxes and does his “job” make sure there are no distractions. This will create an association. Eventually your pet will “go” on command.
After completion then you may give words of praise, pet or even give a special treat. This is called Positive Reinforcement. Do not be overzealous as you may scare your puppy. Scare him and he will be afraid to eliminate in front of you.
Naturally, your pet will have accidents in the house. You must not punish by rubbing his nose in it or hitting him with a newspaper. This is called Negative Reinforcement. If you punish him you will scare him and your pet won’t eliminate in front of you. Instead he will use a back bedroom for defecating. Give your new pet every opportunity to go outside. Take him out (don’t just open the door and push him out) every 2 hours during the day. Take him out first thing in the morning and last thing every night. If he wines, circles or starts to seem restless then rush him outside. A puppy that gives you any clues he has to go out is making it easy for you.
The most effective way to keep your pet from messing in the house is by crate training. It is important to know that dogs are den dwellers. They like to be in cool, dark places. A crate provides this security. When you are not home or while you are sleeping this is where your puppy should stay. Before placing your puppy in the crate at night make sure you take him outside to eliminate. First thing in the morning take your puppy outside to eliminate. Do the same before you leave and when you return for the day. Frequent visits outside will reduce these accidents.
Try being creative by teaching your puppy to ring a jingle bell on the door. He can alert you and be heard from anywhere in the house. Have special treats available for the successful visits outside. Food is a great motivator. The jingle bell method is in 3 phases. Buy a big jingle such as you would get from a craft store. Attach it with a sturdy string and hang it from the door knob at nose level where you will be taking your puppy out for housebreaking. Place some special treats on a nearby shelf that are only for housebreaking. Let your puppy know the treats are there. Phase 1 (week 1) when your pup is restless or has eaten a recent meal then head to the door. Gently ring the bell and say “let’s go out” at the same time . This is word association. Grab the treats, head out the door. Stay with your pup until he/she urinates or has a bowel movement and continue as described above. Phase 2 (week 2) when your pup is restless or has recently eaten go to the door and gently touch the bell to the pup’s nose and say “let’s go out” at the same time. Grabs treats and go outside…Phase 3 (week 3) as you approach the door with the bell “test the waters”. Say “let’s go out” but don’t ring the bell. See if your pup is looking at the bell. A little red light will eventually go off in his/her head and pup will think ” why aren’t you ringing the bell? well I will ring it ” and then YOU DID IT! Tips, if your pup tries to play with the bell at other times then take it way for a little while and replace it when the pup is not around. Don’ t let it be a toy. When you approach housebreaking in this manner it is no longer such a challenge.
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