The most immediate concern of new dog
owners is that of housebreaking the pet. In order to accomplish this
task, the essential principle that the owner must recognize is that it
is always the desire of the dog to please its master. Nothing can give
the dog greater pleasure than to know that its actions have met with
approval; nothing can cause the dog greater displeasure than to know
that its behavior has called forth disapproval.
When the dog performs its functions properly, it should be rewarded by
a profusion of endearing words, by petting, or even with a tidbit. When
the dog performs its functions improperly, it should be grasped by the
scruff of the neck, told briskly and in no uncertain terms that it has
done the wrong thing, shown what it has done, and then put back on its
paper. The animal also may be slapped over the haunches with a piece
of folded newspaper; this will cause the animal no pain, but will make
a loud and impressive noise. Since, however, some trainers feel that
the newspaper routine may tend to cow the animal or somehow break its
spirit, it should be used only as a last resort. It must also be
remembered that these expressions of approval or disapproval must be
made immediately after the animal performs or is about to perform. If
there is a delay of even a moment, the animal simply will not associate
the praise or punishment with its natural functions, and will be at a
complete loss to understand the favorable or unfavorable outbursts on
the part of the owner. In any case, the owner must be rigidly
consistent in his rewards and punishments in the housebreaking routine.
For the speed with which housebreaking will be accomplished depends on
diligence in maintaining that consistency. It must further be borne in
mind that a dog does not have a human mentality; so a reasonable amount
of patience in training will be required.
In a variable amount of time—anywhere from a week to three weeks—the
dog will become conditioned to the fact that when it does not perform
its functions properly, it is punished. When it does perform its
functions properly, it is praised. Soon the dog will always perform its
duty as required, not because it recognizes a sanitary code, but simply
because of the desire to meet with approval and avoid displeasure.
Very young puppies, say between the ages of six weeks to two months,
are usually first broken to paper indoors. This is commonly
accomplished by lifting the animal and placing it on paper as soon as
any "danger signals" are noticed. This is combined with punishment for
mistakes and reward for correct conduct. After any mistake the dog
should be put back on its paper. The paper should be placed in one
specific area. Usually, after a few days, the animal will be noted to
make a beeline for the paper whenever it has to "go."
When the animal becomes strong enough and if the weather is agreeable,
the animal is broken to the outside. With older pups, or with pups
acquired during the warm seasons, it will save time to break the animal
directly to the outside.
It has often been suggested that the most effective way to housebreak a
dog is to rub the animal's face in the excretory matter whenever it has
made a mistake. While the effectiveness of this procedure can hardly
be denied, it is at best a barbarous, unclean, and unnecessary
practice. Consistently good results will be obtained by the painless
method described above.
For the proper maintenance of a dog's health it is most advisable to
walk the dog four times a day: morning, noon, early evening, and
bedtime, though many dogs will get along very well when walked three
times—or even, on occasion, twice—a day. The dog that is not yet
housebroken should be walked somewhat oftener until housebreaking is