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1. House Training

The best way to housetrain your new puppy/dog is to have a good plan and to stick to it. A good plan includes supervision, confinement, scheduling, proper clean up after accidents, and positive reinforcement. With all these elements in place, housebreaking should go well.

1) Supervision: Do not let your new puppy out of your sight for too long. Make sure you watch closely for elimination signals. A leash is a handy tool to keep your puppy nearby when you are preoccupied. Your puppy should not be considered housetrained until he/she has gone for at least 6-8 weeks without eliminating in the house.

2) Confinement: When you are unable to provide adequate supervision because you're busy sleeping, or away from the home, confine your puppy to a relatively small safe area. Always take your puppy out to eliminate just before confinement. A wire or plastic dog crate is an excellent way to confine your puppy, but it does need to be used carefully. Do not use the crate for longer than your puppy can physically control elimination. Also, be sure the crate is not placed where your puppy would be at risk. It may also help to leave a couple of toys in the crate to occupy the puppy in your absence. If you will be gone for longer periods of time, confine your puppy to a larger confined area, such as a small room which should provide enough space for it to eliminate several feet away from where it is resting.

3) Positive Reinforcement: Remember that dogs in general respond very well to positive reinforcement. Choose a specific area outside that you want your puppy to eliminate on. It will become a familiar spot as the puppy recognizes the odor from previous excursions. Mildly praise any sniffing or other pre-elimination behaviors and consider associating a unique training command such as "potty time" or "hurry up" with the act of eliminating. When your puppy does eliminate, praise heartily, offer a reward, or begin playing. Initially try to take your puppy outdoors every two hours or so. As it grows older and gets the hang of things, you can wait longer between outings.

4) Scheduling: Controlling your puppy's feeding schedule can significantly help with housetraining. Most will eliminate within a predictable time after eating, usually within the first hour. Because of this, it is best to avoid feeding a large meal just before confinement. Offer food two or three times each day at the SAME TIMES, and make it available for no longer than 30 minutes. The last meal should be finished three to five hours before bedtime.

5) Other Helpful Tips: If your puppy does eliminate indoors, make sure you remove the fecal and urine odor to prevent your puppy from eliminating there again. Use an odor-neutralizing product and follow the directions specifically. When dealing with soiled carpets, you may have to saturate the carpet well. If your puppy continues to use the area, deny the puppy access to the area. The most important thing to remember is KEEP YOUR COOL. It is inevitable that accidents will happen. It will not help to become overly frustrated and harshly discipline your puppy. Punishment is the least effective and most overused approach to housetraining. A correction should involve nothing more than a mild startling distraction and should only be used if you catch the puppy in the act of eliminating. A stomp of the foot, loud clap, or a tug on the leash followed by a stern "NO" is all that is necessary. Immediately take your puppy to its elimination area outside to finish. Remember, if the punishment is too harsh with your puppy, you run the risk of ruining the bond with him/her, and simply teach the puppy not to eliminate in front of you. Also, do not rub the puppy's nose in a mess.

6) Submissive urination: Some pets will squat and urinate as they are greeted by friends and family. Never scold them for this. The problem is typically due to nervousness or excitement, and scolding will make the problem worse. If your puppy does this, instruct people not to be overly excited and not to pet the puppy when greeted. Also, do not bend over the puppy as this triggers the puppy to signal submission to you by urinating.

2. Destructive Chewing

Destructive chewing is a common problem in all dogs, especially puppies and young dogs. In very young puppies, chewing can signify teething. Chewing can not only be destructive, but it can be deadly to your dog. Many dogs have died due to swallowing objects that cause fatal internal injuries. Nylons and clothing are good examples of objects that can prove fatal if swallowed.

In older puppies and adults chewing is generally attributed to boredom and/or anxiety. To train a dog out of any chewing behaviors, you should first make sure you have plenty of chew toys available. Make sure the toys are safe and made for dogs. The toys should vary in texture, size, shape, and flavoring to give your dog variety. Also, do not give your chewer an old object you do not want anymore such as an old sneaker. Your dog does not have the ability to know the difference between a shoe you will allow her to chew, and any of your others. To put her in this situation is unfair and begins an uphill climb in your training.

If you know your dog is a chewer, make sure you keep a close eye on her. When you see her begin to chew on something she should not, in a deep serious tone say NO. Then replace the object she is chewing on with one of her toys. When she begins to chew her toy, praise her. In time you will not need to keep a close eye on her as she learns what she can or cannot chew. The more difficult type of destructive behaviors to contend with is destructive behaviors that occur when you are gone. If your dog engages in destructive behaviors when you are away, you may need to crate your dog while you are gone, leaving her with several of her favorite toys to chew in the crate. When you are home with her, you should train her around what she can or cannot chew as discussed above. When she is able to learn this, you may then begin to leave her out of the crate in your absence. Initially you should only leave for brief periods of time, gradually working up to longer periods of time. Destruction while you are away can also be attributed to separation anxiety.

3. Separation Anxiety

Many dogs become destructive, vocal, and agitated when their owner leaves. This can be a problem for your neighbors who have to listen to the barking in your absence, and can be difficult to you when you come home to a mess. Often this is caused or reinforced when people flood their dog with attention before they leave and when they come home. One thing to do is to crate your pet, leaving her with plenty of chew toys. Over a period of time, you should leave her in the crate for shorter periods of time until she does not need the crate anymore.

It is also important to be unemotional 15 minutes before leaving the house and 15 minutes after returning. Many people give their pets more attention before they leave and when they arrive. This causes your pet to feel your absence to a greater degree, making your absence more difficult. Before you leave and upon your return, your attitude with your pet should be very matter-of-fact an indifferent. This will decrease the emotional contrast your pet feels from when you are gone to when you are there.

4. Digging There are many reasons a dog may dig. They may be digging for rodents, to cool off, to bury and retrieve bones, escape confinement, or just for fun. Digging generally happens when pets are left alone without enough stimulation. Provide your dog with plenty of safe, stimulating chew toys, increased play and exercise, or perhaps a second pet. You should, however, give some extra thought to an additional pet since you could end up with two pets that have digging problems.

When you are around, digging can be discouraged with negative consequences such as remote punishment (turning on a sprinkler), pulling on an extended leash, tossing a tin can filled with coins or pebbles, or changing the ground surface i.e.: placing chicken wire over the ground or covering the area with concrete. You may also take a proactive approach and provide your dog with a digging area. Build an eight inch deep wood frame and sink it into the ground. Mix sand and soil together and partially bury toys, smearing the ends with a small amount of cheese or meat juices. When you see your dog digging in this area, give reinforcement.

5. Excessive Barking or Howling

Many dogs become vocal when anything suspicious, new, or stimulating occurs. They also become more vocal when bored. When dogs are alone they will often howl or bark. This is instinctive and occurs when they feel they are separated from the mother or the family (also known as the pack). It is a strategy to have pack members find them. Remember that dogs are a pack species and depend heavily on the company of others, dogs or people. Dogs will also bark when something threatening or new occurs such as a new sound, scent, animals approaching their territory and a variety of other stimulation. Excessive barking may also be attributed to a medical condition such as senility. Barking can be exacerbated when the dog experiences animals or people moving away from it after barking. The dog interprets the person or animal as leaving due to the warning barks, which in turn increases the frequency and intensity of barking.

To correct the problem you must first understand what is causing your dog to bark. You also should have already done some basic training so that your dog understands basic training principles such as receiving a reward for desirable behaviors. Three basic approaches can be used; distraction techniques, training collars (including bark collars), or rewards. In using rewards, the dog would have to engage in the behavior with you there. Pick a command you will use such as no-bark. When the dog begins to bark, use the no-bark command. When the dog stops barking you can reward it. Gradually increase the time your dog is quiet by delaying the reward more and more until the dog is able to focus on you and the reward to the point where it forgets about whatever the stimulation was. If you are using food as a reward instead of praise, you should gradually replace the food with praise.

When using a training collar you must give your dog a correction when it barks, accompanying the correction with a no-bark command. When your dog stops barking, give praise to reinforce following your command. Do not praise the dog unless it has stopped barking as you do not want to inadvertently praise the dog for barking. Remember that when you give the no-bark command, your voice should be stern and loud enough to distract the dog from whatever it is barking at.

Distraction techniques generally involve the use of water sprayers, audible alarms, citronella spraying collars, bark activated collars and electronic shock collars. These products generally work to provide a distraction that is concerning enough to the dog to draw attention away from the object they are barking at. Please note that bark collars and electronic shock collars need to be used in consultation with a trainer as they can cause significant physical and emotional stress on your dog when used incorrectly.

Being proactive can avoid barking/howling problems when you leave the house. Often times dogs experience separation anxiety when their owners leave. Make sure your dog has plenty of toys to keep occupied with. Try to provide toys that will occupy your dog for a considerable amount of time. Also, 15 or 20 minutes before you leave and after you come home, do not give your dog a lot of attention. Providing your dog with a lot of attention before you leave and when you come home make your absence more difficult. Try to be emotionally bland with your dog during these time periods in order to not accentuate your absence.

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