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Housebreaking Tips

Introduction
There are many ways to housebreak your dog, every owners have different opinion on what housebreaking means and how to define a housebroken dog. To us, a housebroken dog should be able to pee and poop on the spot chosen, the dog should also be able to pee and poop on command. If you have plans to housebreak your dog, be prepared to work with your family to train your dog for about 3 weeks before you see any result, and at least 3-6 months to housebreak your dog completely.

Why teamwork is important
Getting a dog should always be a family commitment, there should not be anyone in your family that doesn't like dogs. Because dogs are pack animals, they treat every single one in the family as a pack, anyone who hates the dog, or distance from the dog is considered breaking away from the pack, the dog might then feel stressed and start to show fear or aggression towards that person. There shouldn't be any miscommunication within the family either, always discuss methods as a family and work towards that single goal before moving on to others, methods should also be tried and given at least 3 weeks before deeming it "unsuitable".

Different owners, different method
Every individual dog has it's own character and habit, sure enough some methods might work certain dogs and fail on others, but we still find that it is usually the owners that have issues, not the dog. For example, an owner want his dog to be able to do business on grasses and asked why the dog always pee and poop all over the house instead, when asked, "how many times had you brought your dog downstairs per day?", he said twice a day because he is busy with work. You see, it is the owner that didn't have the time to bring the dog down frequently, it is not the dog's fault to be unable to hold it's urge. And yet when suggested about changing to a crate, the owner complained it is ugly, once again it is not the dog's fault that the crate is ugly. You need to understand your personal needs and the willingness to commit your time to your dog, it is not a vase to decorate your home, it is a living thing, an animal, a friend.

Types of housebreaking method
There are many housebreaking tutorials and methods out there that you can easily find online and in books, these are usually methods that work "generally", meaning it works on most dogs, but sometimes it just won't work on others. Because all dogs are different, the authors are different, their set ups are different, owners are different and even everyone's definition of housebreaking are also different which is why it can be confusing for you to absorb especially if you have no prior experience to training a dog.

We will list down a list of housebreaking methods below, the pros and cons of each individual method, it will then be up to you to find out your dog's character and decide with your family on the type of housebreaking method you think is best for you and your dog. The standard section

Grass

In the past, there were no such thing as a pee tray or pee pads, people had not even thought of using newspaper to housebreak a dog yet. And since most lived in houses instead of flats, all owners hoped for is to let their dogs pee and poop on grasses outside.

Training a dog to pee and poop on grasses is the easiest and most hassle free method compared to others, dogs are naturally attached to grasses, they love the texture and smell of it and will not hesitate to pee, mark and poop on grasses even without any training. Why we categorize this as a type of housebreaking method is because once you get your dog used to doing business on grasses, it will most likely be doing this for the rest of it's life, housebreaking commands can also be incorporated if you like.

With walking your dog on grasses, you will risk bringing unwanted pest and germs like fleas, ticks and poops of other dogs, so yearly vaccination and frontline plus (or similar) is a must. Dogs that are used to doing business on grasses will also have a lot of trouble doing it elsewhere, if you want to use this method, be sure that you are very free to bring your dog out at least 3 times a day.

The Pros
• It's free
• Easy to train even for beginners
• Won't dirty your home
• Save your time on housebreaking training

The Cons
• Risk ticks & fleas (frontline plus or similar is a must)
• Dog may bark and/or whine if it can't hold it's urine/poop
• Risk picking up bacteria from stepping on other animal's poop

• Needs to be consistent in bringing dog out for walks at least 3 times daily


Newspaper
A very traditional method especially towards Asia, whereby housebreaking a dog on newspapers have proven to be very effective and cheap. The smell of newspapers (recycled papers) are so strong and unique that once you get your dog to doing it on the newspaper, you can probably bring a piece of newspaper wherever you go and your dog will be able to do business whenever it needs to. Training a dog to do pee and poop on newspapers is much easier than training it to do on pee trays, because in nature dogs learn to pee/poop on the same area by tracking with their nose, they would be trying look for a spot where they had pee/poop previously and will then attempt to do it on the same spot again. By training a dog to do business on newspapers, you are simply telling it to track for newspapers instead of their pee/poop, and knowing that newspapers are very common objects, placing them around the place can accelerate the training process much faster that pee trays. Also, pee trays have literally no smell/odor at first and it can be quite hard for your dog to locate compared to newspapers.

However, training housebreaking commands is no easy task, as the dog is too dependable on the smell of newspapers instead of listening to commands, it is not impossible though. One also need to understand that newspapers are made from recycled papers, they are very thin and can get torn easily. Newspapers together with inks can be very poisonous to dogs, when newspapers are torn, the small particles that is not noticeable to human eyes will get into the dog's lung when breathed in, this can cause breathing problem especially with weaker dogs. The ink, when mixed with liquid like pee and saliva, will dissolve and stain dog's feet, and worst, it can be life threatening if dogs chew and digest the ink.

The Pros
• Cheap
• Relatively easy to train
• Newspapers are convenient to bring along

The Cons
• Unhygienic - low quality, dirty
• Dangerous when inks are swallowed
• Makes a mess - doesn't absorb pee well, gets torn off easily, dog's feet gets dirty when stepped on
• Housebreaking commands are harder to train
• Doesn't look presentable


Pee Tray
There are more and more owners switching to pee trays when teaching their dogs housebreaking and there are a lot of good reasons. Pee trays are usually made of durable plastic that should be easy to clean compared to other housebreaking tools out there, most pee trays come in 2 parts, one which is the base for you to insert pee pads and the other is the top cover, which is usually made of plastic and has holes for urine to drip through. Pee trays are very useful and hygienic even if you don't wash them every day, though changing of pee pads is a must. Because the pee tray is designed in such a way that urine go through the top cover and gets absorbed by the pee pads, your dog will probably have clean feet even after urinating. Pee trays are the hardest object to housebreak a dog in the beginning, that's because the plastic smell is neutral and some dogs can't get used to stepping on it initially. Even so, once you manage to fully housebreak your dog on a pee tray, teaching housebreaking commands will be a piece of cake. You can bring your dog to any places with a pee tray and it will probably just do it there, and from time to come, just say the housebreaking command and your dog will do it on any spot you like even without the pee tray present.

Good pee trays does not come cheap, be prepared to fork out about $40 for a Yogi Pee Tray. Pee pads are also needed to absorb pee properly, which cost about 20 cents per piece. If you have decided to train your dog on a pee tray, be prepared to encounter a lot of mistakes initially, it will be good to have someone around to monitor your dog for at least 2 weeks.

The Pros
• Hygienic
• Easy to clean
• Housebreaking commands are easy to teach
• Looks presentable

The Cons
• Hard to train
• Costly - pee tray, pee pads


Pee Pad
Training a dog to do business on pee pad is for people who don't want to get a pee tray due to certain reasons like saving space, money and finding them ugly. Using pee pads are also hygienic as it won't wet your dog's feet when it is stepped on, and you have the option to combine as many pee pads as you like.

Training a dog to do business on pee pads more or less depends on the strength of the dog's housebreaking command, unless owners rarely change the pee pad so that the dog can track the scent, it is almost impossible to fully housebreak a dog on it. Some people may think that their dog is already housebroken on pee pads when the fact is that they actually lie pee pads all over the place and the dog has no choice but to do it on one of them.

The Pros
• Hygienic
• Relatively cheap
• Looks presentable

The Cons
• Hard to train
• Dependable on housebreaking commands


Crate
Housebreaking a dog using a crate is easy, hygienic and good for owners who are busy most of the time. Instead of using the crate as a room, it is used as a large 'pee tray' instead, therefore it is very easy for dogs to locate it. Having to get a dog used to go inside the crate will need some practice, owners will need to introduce the crate well and be prepared to let their dog stay inside the crate for the first few days, just like how you want a dog to love its cage/crate/play pen (read here to learn how).

The smallest crate is about 2x1 feet, these crates are usually made of metal grills so that pee can pass through. Whenever a poop gets stuck in-between the grills, it will hard to pick and clean as most grills are built in together with the crate, thus having to bring the whole crate for washing is a fuss. These crates also look bulky for a pee tray and may not look presentable in the living room of your home, it cost about $40 for cheap ones. We also noticed that certain dogs have phobia trying to step onto the grills due to pet farms/shops where dogs are cramped into small space that might've hurt their feet in the past.

The Pros
• Relatively easy to train
• Hygienic
• Housebreaking commands are easy to teach

The Cons
• Costly
• Doesn't look presentable
• Needs monitoring initially
• The metal grills are uncomfortable to step on
• Hard to clean



Toilet
Training a dog to go to the toilet can be very helpful for owners, they can save a lot of money from buying things like pee trays, pee pads and crates. This is good for owners who like to let their dogs free roam around the house 24/7, cleaning is also easy as toilets have drains and durable flooring.

The initial training can be challenging especially if the toilet is further away from the dog's sleeping area. When dogs are allowed to free roam, they tend to try peeing and pooping on areas that is not desired, this can be eliminated if the owners are able to monitor their dog closely at least for the first few weeks. When dogs are housebroken in the toilet they can also wet their feet, either by water or by their own pee. Do be careful of things like tub, toilet bowls and pipes that can hurt your dog, you might want to consider covering and blocking these objects for safety.

The Pros
• Free
• Easy to clean

The Cons
• Can be dangerous
• Unhygienic for your dog
• Initial training can be challenging


Mix Section
When you mix certain standard housebreaking methods together, you will find that training becomes much easier, however you need to have some understand about dog behaviors and housebreaking experience to know what to mix and what not to, else it could actually become worst.

Below we will list down the popular methods we've used and have proven to be effective on certain dogs.

Pee spray + Pee pad/Pee tray/Crate
Pee sprays are something that acts like the pee of dogs, these fake pees can attract dogs into peeing and pooping on the spot you spray on. Most owners that chooses this method will spray a little bit on the housebreaking object they choose, and then re-spray after each change/wash. Just to take note that based on our experience, 50% of the dogs don't respond well to pee sprays, they sometimes even regard the smell as a territory of another dog and will distance from it. Remember to wash your hands after using as these fake pee really smells!

Pee tray + Newspaper
Instead of inserting pee pads underneath the pee tray, newspapers are used instead. This is good for owners who prefers newspaper to pee pads, and also for dogs that had already been too used to newspapers but the owner wants to switch to a pee tray. This combination helps to eliminate the most annoying part of newspapers - dirtying of feet and causing health issues to your dog when swallowed/breathed in. Though poor absorption is still present, this combination is cheaper than pee trays and much better than the standard newspaper method.

Pee Tray + Crate
This is what we used to train Amber, by placing a pee tray inside the crate (3ft x 2ft). This is called crate training but directing the pee and poop onto the pee tray instead of the crate. This is one of the best combination out there and will definitely work when given time. Why it is so effective is because of the crate - when given limited space, dogs will have no choice but to do business there, and because a pee tray is inside, it is just a 50-50 chance whether the dog will do business on the pee tray or the crate. Given proper directions and patience any dog will come to understand that the owners expect the business to be done on the pee tray, the crate is just a precaution to prevent dogs from doing elsewhere in the house.


We have come to an end to this guide, have you got an idea how you want to housebreak your dog?


Sometimes you might try a method and it seems to be failing, think through again, how long have you tried, are you consistent enough? If you have tried for months and things still doesn't go well then we will recommend you to find help as there are some things that you have already done wrong without knowing. We always hear owners saying that certain methods doesn't work but when we go over and demonstrate, they then understood that what they were doing before was actually wrong. This is the importance of 1 to 1 training, most of the times what you read and watch on videos can actually differ from what you are doing, that's because no one is there to explain to you what you have done wrong and how to improve on it.

Always remember the 6 criteria to training a dog well:
• Time
• Patience
• Discipline
• Consistency
• Exercise
• Love

Feel free to email us amberwonderland@gmail.com if you still have any questions!

Comments

  1. This post is Great! Provided good information for me. (^.^)
    But i wanted to look at the link about teaching a dog to love its crate, but there is no link.?
    Naomi doesn't seem to like the crate very much. =.=
    headache everytime i tried to get her to go back.

    Regards,
    Kai Ting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kaiting, it belongs to the separation anxiety section here:

      http://ambertoypoodle.blogspot.sg/2013/01/how-to-reduce-separation-anxiety.html

      Delete
  2. Really nice information you had provided here. And i wanna appreciate within this. Thank you for providing this information and please keep update like this.

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