Thursday, May 08, 2008
How I House Broke My Dog in Two Days...
So many people have asked me about this that I thought I'd post on the blog about it. You all know my dog Sophie :-) (and noticing I have no new pics on my computer, I realize I need to take some! my goodness!). She's a Havanese, which is a kind of a Bichon, and I've heard that small dogs are notoriously difficult to housebreak.
And she was, at first. Horrible to housebreak. I'm used to big dogs, which are a lot easier. And a lot easier, it seemed, to tell when they had to go. They bark, for one. They make a big production out of going to the door. This little girl would nose around, but because she's so little, she noses around everything all the time, LOL, so it was tough to tell what was a nosing around for needing to go out and what was nosing around for curiosity.
So we had a lot of accidents those first few days. I started researching housebreaking small dogs and came across Tamar Geller's book, THE LOVED DOG and had also started getting addicted to Victoria Stillwell's It's Me or the Dog on Animal Planet.
I trained her to go out by following Tamar's advice in the book. I bought a bell (actually a parrot bell from Wal-Mart) and taught her to ring it in about 15 minutes. I held a treat in front of hte bell and every time she hit the bell, she got a treat (FYI, my vet suggested Cheerio's as a treat because they are fat free, sugar free and won't make her gain weight when she eats a lot). Then I raised the stakes. She rang the bell, I opened the door. She had to go out the door to get the treat. Like I said, all that took about 15 minutes for her to make the connection: ring-the-bell-door-opens, I-get-a-treat.
Final step, to get her to potty outside. Once I had her outside, I used the command I had been using to get her to go out. In my house it's pretty simple: "go out." LOL. And this time, I upped the ante to a "jackpot" treat, as Tamar calls it -- cooked chicken. When she pottied, she got LOTS AND LOTS of praise and some cooked chicken. We did this over and over for the next two days, and by the end of the two days, she was trained.
In the meantime, I got a black light and some Nature's Miracle and made sure I had EVERY SINGLE potty stain saturated with the enzyme stuff. This is ESSENTIAL. If the dog can still smell the urine, they will still mess in the house.
It's been months since then and we've done FABULOUS. We had one day of constant accidents and I realized something was wrong. Turns out she had a urinary tract infection. A few days of meds and she was fine. I repeated the black light and Nature's Miracle (and really, she was only messing in the house for a very short time, and it was clear, something was wrong and she knew it). Other than that, accidents have been minimal, if at all. She's five and a half months old and totally potty trained -- and has been since she was just under four months :-). The bell is THE BEST THING we ever did. Every time I hear it ring, it's like a little melody :-)
And the funny thing, is the big dog rings it sometimes now instead of barking!