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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Labrador Retriever Basic Training - Housebreaking


The most basic training that you must provide your handsome Labrador Retriever with is definitely housebreaking. Bathroom manners rank very high on the list of required training. This is one very important guarantee of your puppy finding a warm and welcome place in your household.

Housebreaking teaches your Lab to trot outdoors to answer Nature’s calls. But if you have identified a place indoors for him to do his job, you can teach him to go there. But do remember that your pup must be at least 16 weeks old before he can be housebroken. He needs to reach a certain age before he can exercise control over his bladder and bowel movements.

There are numerous methods of training your dog. Your doggie will develop whatever housebreaking habit you provide him with. If he is trained to go outside, then that is what he will do. If he is given an indoor spot to pee or potty in then that is the habit that he will develop.

If you are teaching him to go outside to do his business, you can have a little bell rigged up near your exit door to the yard. Provide this bell with a long bell pull that your dog can also tug at. Whenever you take him out, just tug at the bell and then go out. Soon he will learn that whenever he wants to go out, he must tug at the bell. This way whenever he feels the urge and wants to go out, he will go and ring the bell. This will be an indication for you to let him out.

3 Please provide me with a checklist of things I need for housebreaking my dog.

It certainly is a good idea to be armed with all the things that you will need to housebreak your dog. So here goes the list.

Get a comfortable, well-fitting collar. Make sure it is not too tight. It should not be too loose either or your pup will slip it right off his head.

A leash to attach to your pup’s collar.
  • A crate. Buy one of a size that will accommodate even a fully-grown Lab.
  • Organic cleansers to clean up when your pup messes up where he should not. (You do not want repeat accident do you?)
  • Food – preferably of the same brand as that used by the breeder you got him from.
  • A baby play pen and gate.

Crate training

What is a crate? It is a well-ventilated box with a lockable door. The advantage of using a crate is that you can take it along with you in your car if you have to take your dog out with you. It provides your Lab with a comfortable little den to call his own.

When you go to buy a crate, ensure you get a crate of a size that will accommodate your Lab even when he is a fully-grown adult. You have to help your pup initially get used to using a crate. For this, leave the door to the crate open so that your pup can explore the insides whenever he feels like it. His naturally curious nature will definitely take him there soon. You can entice him to stay inside by leaving a little treat or one of his favorite toys for him inside.

Once he settles down inside, close the door of the crate for a short period of time say 5 – 10 minutes. This way he will not object to your locking him in if the need arises. Also when you open the door, try to do so without attracting his attention. Though you can gradually keep increasing the time for which he is kept locked in his crate, make sure this period does not exceed 4 hours. The crate is a multi-purpose facility. It acts as your Lab’s bedroom too. Soon he will be going to the crate on his own without any prompting from you. Another advantage of using is a crate is if you have more than one dog. You can serve the dogs their food in their crates. This way they will all get their fair share of food without the dominant ones wolfing it all down.

Another major advantage of a crate is that it if you were to go out of town, you could leave your dog along with his crate with a caretaker. The familiarity of the crate will provide your dog with a lot of solace. You will find that dogs are naturally clean animals. They do not like to soil or dirty the area in which they sleep. So if your dog has to pee and potty inside, you can have another crate for this purpose. Line the bottom of this crate with leak proof material. On top of this you can place a few old newspapers. The newspapers will absorb the mess and can be easily disposed off.

Access to the right place

In this approach to bathroom management, you provide your dog with a means of letting himself out through a doggy door to the yard outside where he can freely go. Otherwise he should have access to an indoor litter box or a corner well padded with newspapers. In other words you are providing him access to relieve himself at a scheduled spot.

4 How does crate training help in housebreaking my Labrador Retriever?

Dogs, being clean creatures, do not like to mess up the place where they have to rest or sleep. So if your dog is kept locked in his crate he will not like to dirty it. He will wait for you to come and take him out. This waiting will teach him to exercise control over both his bladder and bowel movements.

He will relieve himself only when you take him out of the crate. Then he will rush to the spot where you have taught him to relieve himself and do his business there. It will really teach him that he cannot relieve himself just anywhere and at any time.

5 Will there be any negative impact on my Lab if he is kept locked in his crate for too long?

Any dog kept locked up for more than 4 hours will not react favorably under any circumstances. So as a responsible owner you must take care to see that your pet is not driven to his absolute limits.

A crate serves the purpose of confining accidents to a restricted space if your dog is kept locked up in it for too long. But do bear in mind that such accidents will only set your training back quite a bit.

Try to avoid using the crate as a means of punishing your dog for any misdemeanor. Also never forget that he is locked up in the crate. Such slip-ups will have negative implications on your dog.

6 Tell me just how often a little pup needs to relieve himself.

A pup has to relieve himself very often. Listed below are a number of factors that influence this necessity.

If your puppy is a tiny tot then his intake capacity is also small so he has to be fed small quantities many times a day. And you must take him out so that he can relieve himself every time he finishes eating or drinking. Take him to the spot that you have identified he can use to relieve himself. The smells prevailing in that area will instigate him to relieve himself.

Taking him out is the first thing you have to do after you get out of bed. The moment he hears you stirring he will eagerly be waiting to be taken outdoors. So be considerate about this matter. After all, the little guy has held it all night long.

It is also your duty to take him outdoors every night just before the entire household retires to bed.

Through the day it is good to take him out at intervals of 45 - 60 minutes even if he has not been fed. This is because his tiny bladder and bowels get full rather fast and must be emptied regularly. Isn’t it better to go out at regular pre-defined intervals, instead of cleaning up doggie mess indoors?

Once you have taken him out give him the time to do his job. When he does do his job, praise him generously. Leave him in no doubt that you are really pleased with what he has done.

If you find your pup with his nose down and busily sniffing around, just pick him up and rush him out. He is looking for a place to relieve himself!

You have to be on a constant alert until your pup has been properly housebroken.

My dog has been house broken. However he still has a number of “accidents”. He lifts his leg and pees in certain areas. Why does he do this? Please help!

A dog has an instinctive trait of wanting to mark his territory. This is what instigates him to lift his leg and squirt urine in areas that he considers to be his territory. In order to prevent him from repeating this rather disgusting habit is to clean up the area he has messed up with an organic cleanser that leaves absolutely no remnants of smell. If even a little bit of smell remains, he is likely to be tempted to urinate there again.

Do not use ammonia or bleach to clean the area, as they both smell strongly of dog urine. An old school of thought recommends the use of garlic paste in such areas as the smell of garlic over powers any other smells. You must continue to take him out to do his business at regular intervals. Praise him when he does his business. You can reward him with treats too. Whenever he has misbehaved you can express your displeasure by shutting him up in his crate for some time.

Of course if you catch him urinating inside, be very firm in letting him know that you are not at all happy with his behavior. If you have prevented him from urinating indoors be sure to put him on his leash and take him out immediately.

Your firm attitude in handling his misdemeanors will soon put an end to his untoward behavior. Your Lab is a family dog and he wants to be an integral part of your family!

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