Housebreaking and Crating


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Basic Manners

Socialize Your Dog

Before you can have a mannerly dog, he needs to be a social dog. Dogs that have been properly socialized early in life usually grow up to be friendly, confident, happy dogs. If your dog isn’t socialized properly he can become nervous, aggressive and untrustworthy in social situations. That does not make for a happy dog or a happy owner.

Think about it. Do you want to have to lock your dog up every time someone comes to visit you? Do you want to be afraid to take your dog out in public for fear of him snapping at someone? Dogs are social creatures, they don’t like to be isolated or excluded from family activities.

So, what do you do? You socialize him. How?

Take your puppy or dog out in public as soon as your vet says he has been adequately immunized against diseases.

Enroll him in a puppy kindergarten class or a beginning obedience class.

Take him to stores like PetsMart or other large chain pet supermarkets. These places encourage pet owners to bring their pets into the store on leash. Ask everyone you meet in these stores (especially employees) to pet your dog. Always have your dog sit to be petted. Never allow your dog to jump up on people.

Take him for walks in heavy people-traffic areas like grocery store entries or mall entries. The more people you are around the more comfortable your pup will become in these situations. If someone wants to pet your dog, always have your dog sit for the encounter.

The In’s and Out’s Of It.

When you’re getting ready to go outside with your dog, you send certain signals that the dog has learned to pick up on. Signals like putting on your shoes, or your jacket, etc. As soon as the dog sees these signals he begins to get very excited about the prospect of going out with you to have fun. He might run back and forth barking or run circles around you, or any other excited, out-of-control behavior. IT’S TRAINING TIME.

Teach your dog to lie quietly while you get ready to go outside. When you get ready to put his collar and leash on, be sure he is sitting quietly for you. If not, put the leash and collar away and wait until he settles down again. It may take awhile to train him to be patient, but it’s worth the effort. Imagine being able to put his collar and leash on without a wrestling match.

When you’re ready to exit the house have your dog sit and wait for you to go through the door first. Praise him for waiting and invite your dog to come out and again have him sit while you close the door and lock it. This sure beats being pulled out the door and down the walk - assuming you are still on your feet. This exercise also teaches the dog not to bolt through an open door. Be sure to praise him lavishly for a good job.

Going back into the house is similar only in reverse. Don’t let the dog drag you or race to the door and jump up on it. Have him walk nicely with you and sit when you reach the door. He should remain sitting while you unlock the door and open it. Praise him again for waiting and this time you can walk in together or let him preceed you if you want, but have him sit as soon as he gets inside so you can remove the leash. After the leash is off you can release him. Remember to praise lavishly both verbally and physically for a job well done.

Getting into and out of a car is a similar exercise. Never allow the dog to drag you to the car. Have him walk nicely with you. If he drags you, stop and walk away from the car with him. He’ll be looking back at the car and wondering what’s going on. After you’ve walked a distance, turn and begin walking toward the car again, commanding him to either "walk nice" or "heel." Again, if he begins to drag you, repeat the process above. Do this until he walks nicely with you to the car. (Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to the car with the dog - don’t do it if you’re in a hurry, it might take all day. I once had a student tell me that it took her 30 minutes to get to the car without the dog dragging her. She stuck with it and refused to give in and she was thrilled with the final results. "It worked just like you said," she told me.)

Once you’re at the car, have the dog sit while you open his door. Make him wait until you command him "in". Praise him for being good. Getting him out of the car is the same only in reverse. Open the door and command him to sit and wait. When you have him sitting, gather up the leash and invite him out of the car with a command like "let’s go" or whatever command you want to use. Always praise profusely, both verbally and physically, for a job well done.

The above two exercises not only make going in and out of doors and cars much easier with your dog, they also reinforce in the dog’s mind just who is in charge. You must always be the one in charge. You are ALPHA. You make the rules. It is because of your great benevolence that the dog is allowed to do anything.

The Up’s and Down’s of It

This is a VERY IMPORTANT topic.

Dogs shouldn’t be allowed on furniture-especially beds. "Why", you ask? In a dog pack, the alpha, or "boss" dog always gets the prime resting places. Usually these places are up high so he can look over his domain. Are you getting the picture yet?

If you allow your dog to have the best places on the furniture, he just might get the idea that he’s "Top Dog" in the house, and you might find yourself without a place to sit or sleep.

Does that mean that you can’t let your dog sit in your lap or get in bed with you. No, not at all. Just be sure that your are there first and that you invite him to join you.

A Word About Praise

Praise! Praise! Praise! I can’t say it enough. Always remember to praise your dog both verbally and physically when he does what you want, no matter how long it takes or how much struggling you go through. They need to know when they finally get it right. EXAMPLE: If you finally get through the front door after ten attempts and you manage to get your dog to sit while you’re practically sitting on top of him, still praise him for being in the position you want (sitting), even if your holding him there. This is VERY IMPORTANT. How else will he know that it’s the sitting that you’re happy with.

Perfect timing of your praise and reward is crucial to successful training. ☺

For more Dog Behavior Problem Solving and Dog Training tips visit my website at