House Training Your Puppy or Rescue Dog
Sammie Here: I've been inspired to write a post about house training due to recent conversations I've had including the new Natural Dog Training Study Group that has started via online. I hope this helps you and your dog's journey together.
Puppies are born perfect. They are fresh, pure, and un-jaded from this domesticated world we live and raise our puppies in. Unless you plan on having your dog be an outdoor dog working on the farm, I think most of us can agree we want to house train our new dog to save us from the mess. This also stands for our precious rescue dogs. While you've done an amazing deed by rescuing a dog, please understand that most shelters are not informed of every way they are raised. Most rescue dogs have gone through some type of trauma, which can result in undesirable behaviors. It can be a scary experience for both you and new rescue with beginning a life together. Treat your new rescue dog as a puppy and follow these steps.
To begin house training your puppy, here are 5 starter steps you can take and why:
1. Get a crate. When introducing your puppy into your home, prepare with a crate that is cavernous and cozy. We recommend a crate that is cavernous because it is a primal canine instinct to build a "den" where it can rest. Wire crates tend to expose our dog to a lot of stimulation and they can be unsafe (especially for dogs who chew). Try a plastic crate, a Gunner Kennel, or an Impact Crate.
2. Place the crate in a quiet, peaceful place in your home. We do this so our puppy can stay calm in the crate and not be overstimulated. The crate is a sacred place (think of meditation time or your specific time set aside for self care). If you have a rescue dog, the crate can be a place for the dog to not only soak in the calmness of peace and quiet, but also a place of detox. If your dog cries or barks in the crate, let it settle and wait for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow them to work through it. When they get calm in the crate, they will give the crate credit for becoming calm - think of how much this will help both you and the dog throughout its life.
3. For the first few weeks, keep puppy in the crate indoors at all times. This may be hard, but it will pay off in the long run. It gives you the opportunity to plan adventure times where you and puppy can go for walks in the woods, play outside, and do dog things. Every time you go outside, puppy will ultimately go to the bathroom. If they go to the bathroom in the crate, don't panic. Bring puppy outside and clean the crate. Dogs don't like to soil themselves and they will realize that they don't like to go to the bathroom where they are resting/detoxing/chillin' in their den. Hold yourself accountable to keeping your dog calm indoors and enjoying the outdoors together. Let the dog be a dog outdoors. If it picks up something in its mouth like a stick or toy - that is AWESOME! Cheer it on, and call it towards you with the stick in its mouth. You are beginning the process of being the most attractive thing to your puppy. This is good.
4. If you have a busy day where you won't be home for a very long time, stay calm. If you can, have a trusted person come over and take them outdoors for a bathroom break. If a person does come over, tell them not to stimulate the dog indoors and fill them in on your house training plan. If not, no worries... they'll be okay!
5. After a few weeks of this routine, you can start introducing your dog to the house. Keep an eye on your dog and if it looks like it may use the bathroom, run outside quickly... CAUTION you may get in really great shape while doing this). Remember: indoors is a place of resting, relaxation, and decompression from the outside world. Keep that in mind for your canine companion as much as that's the truth for you, too.
Below are a few things NOT to do while you are house training your puppy or rescue dog:
1. DO NOT hit your puppy. This is creating a distrust between the human and the canine. Hitting the puppy creates a physical memory of trauma. Behavioral problems may develop in the dog.
2. DO NOT pin the dog to the ground and rub its face in urine or feces. The dog will not understand. Dogs have zero context to humans and go by feel. Pinning and shaming your dog is a way to break trust, not build it.
3. DO NOT point at your dog and say "No!". Dogs don't know what that word means and they won't understand why we are pointing at them. This will add to frustration and confusion, so best to just move on and go back to step 1 of the house training protocol.
Keep in mind, a relationship between canine and man should be one of trust, teamwork, and group mind.
*Gratitude to the Natural Dog Training Method developed by Kevin Behan and the NDT Community for sparking the flames of passion and always being a supportive tribe in me and my dog's lives.*