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Dog Training: Housebreaking
( Originally Published 1943 )
The dog is native to the fields and woods, and being one of the lower animals, not always mindful of the fine points of etiquet in human society. In these as in other matters, he is to be judged as a dog; he should not be punished for failure to do something which he is incapable of understanding. The dog in our day often lives in the house of his master. It is therefore necessary that he be housebroken, that is, that he be taught to be a "gentleman" in respect to affairs of the wash room. The dog must attend to the wants of nature; so the like experiences of humans in this regard should create a bit of sympathy for the dog, who cannot speak his wants in word language.
Older dogs cause little trouble. Contrary to popular belief, grown dogs are clean in regard to urine and excrement. They are loathe to soil their own beds. Dogs may be housebroken outdoors on this account; if a dog is kept for the night in a small box or house just large enough for himself, he will not soil it; he should be let out early in the morning to relieve himself. The box may be kept in the house instead of outdoors.
It is the puppy that offends mostly; and as most dogs are purchased when puppies, the housebreaking problem confronts almost all new dog owners.
The puppy does not know the difference between a Persian carpet and a ragrug; he may even laugh in your face while he is drumming up trade for the rug cleaner or the mop maker. The cat is a gentleman from birth but the dog must be taught that the house has no bathroom for him. The puppy is to be instructed rather than condemned, borne with rather than punished. The "human" puppy requires about ten times as many months to learn to be a gentleman.
Housebreaking should begin at an early age, as early as ten weeks. Have a big heart, plenty o f mops and much patience. Allow four to eight weeks for completing the course in manners, with provision for occasional lapses.
The first aid to housebreaking is to establish and follow a set schedule for feeding the puppy, inasmuch as usually a puppy relieves himself soon after eating. Maintain the hours of the feeding schedule to the minute; soon he learns to anticipate these times as peculiarly dogs are accurate clocks for marking appointed hours.
Each time after feeding, about ten minutes thereafter, take him for a walk outside the house. Take him along the same route each time. An ash pile here or a plat of grass there are allurement for doing his duty. Take him to the same spot where he has done his duty previously or to some spot where another dog has relieved himself.
Few things are as offensive to the public and to true dog lovers as the soiling of a pavement by dogs. Their owners rather than they are to be blamed. A dog prefers to do his duty on the ground or in covering. Owners of coddled, spoiled dogs permit their dogs to soil the pavement once and in time it becomes habit.
Let him loose on these housebreaking walks. He will travel ten blocks on the lead without doing his duty as a gentleman; but running free, likely take care of the matter promptly. And keep some distance from him on the walk. If you must keep him on the leash, keep it loose, look away from the dog and appear nonchalant.
Here the psychology of the dog's mind is concerned; he connects the offense in the house with the master's punishment. A dog may be taken outside for an hour but the instant after he returns inside the house, relieve himself. When he is outside, the fear of punishment still is connected with the offense. Hence, let him run loose, away from you, and unmindful of you, so that the association between relieving himself and punishment will not be in his mind. The whole basis of canine psychology in this good manners course is to have the dog realize that the offense consists not of relieving himself but of relieving himself indoors.
Take him out with older dogs, for dogs acquire most of their information by imitation of other dogs. For instance, complaint is made that the male puppy does not hoist the leg. He has been looking at his mother and sisters too long. Let him roust about with a male rounder.
The student, after a time, begins to realize the general significance of the instruction; then, instead of the walk, he may be put outside the house about ten minutes after feeding and later called back.
As puppies grow older, they need to be taken out fewer times; to the age of five or six months, five times a day; six to nine months, four times a day; thereafter, three times a day. These are minimum figures. Do not have water always available for a puppy; it overdrinks and then wets excessively.
We come now to another consideration. He has committed the crime and perhaps upon your best rug. There is no remorse in his soul; in fact, he grins at you brazenly. He even pretends that so far as he is concerned, he already has forgotten the matter and that you should do likewise.
If the evidence of the deed is not fresh, save your temper, for a puppy has a memory about thirty seconds long in most things. It is for you to do some sleuthing. Catch him at the scene of the crime, while the evidence against him is still "strong," or-and if you watch carefully, you can anticipate the fatal event by a fraction of a second-catch him in the very act of beginning the crime.
Act quickly! Act with decision! Shout fearfully at him so that he knows there is trouble ahead. Seize him by the neck and not gently. Place his nose in close contact with the exact spot where the crime was committed, give him some sharp spanks with a folded newspaper or open hand, shame him with your talk, tell him frankly your opinion of him; and then hurry him outside the house.
The ejectment proceedings will not housebreak him; they only aid in accomplishing the result; they do, however, impress upon his mind that he must have a care in the future as to time and place.
The basic idea in housebreaking is not to wait until the puppy 'sins" and then punish him; it is to call nature to your aid and thus make it easy for him to do his duty o f his own account. The regular feedings and regular walks at regular times after the feedings, take advantage of nature's workings. They are necessary parts of the instruction. Nature, regularity, and your watchfulness are the three teachers.
In a short time, in accordance with the dog's own psychology, he associates the walk outdoors with doing his duty; he considers them cause and effect; he thinks he can not do one without doing the other.
There is homework or paper work to be done in connection with this canine college course. The very young puppy and particularly of the smaller breeds, can be "paper-broken" readily. Place a piece of paper, a newspaper for instance, in a corner; let the dog do his duty on that paper. Psychologically the softness of it suggests the primal instinct of the dog to relieve himself in a place where enemies cannot trace.
Do not remove the entire paper but leave some of it there and soiled so that the smell and the location will remind him that the next time he can go over there and do his duty without violating all the ten command ments. From this paper course he can be promoted to the outdoors course. But sharply discontinue the paper course; otherwise, the dog may even go outdoors, do nothing, come in and make use of the papera logical act.
Also as soon as a puppy is acquired, keep him mostly in one room; let him know that the entire house is not his. After he has acquired company manners, he can have the full freedom of the house. And let the room be the kitchen or like linoleum-floored places, for there will be a few crimes committed.
Surely sympathy, seasoned with a sense of humor, are well in order in behalf of the puppy. All this fuss and Hurry about relieving himself are so utterly foreign to him and his instincts that his mind can not comprehend the situation, and in his bewilderment, he can only run for dear life when the human god discovers the deposit and raises a rumpus. He learns soon that he can only remain in his corner under the sofa a brief moment before he is dragged out and punished. What to do! What to do! His mental reactions almost chase him out of his wits. How can he love, worship and adore a master so strange and unfair? If a cow, an elephant or a bird were brot into the very house and home and confined there, surely, so the poor puppy reasons in his young mind, the master would not expect them to be "gentlemen!" Then, why does he discriminate by insisting that the puppy suddenly take on the sanitary habits of the humans?
I said that all dogs in time become gentlemen; this includes male and female alike. In training, the female is more disposed to obey quickly and less inclined to scatter her attention. In all lines of activity, whether doing tricks, guarding a home, or saving a life, the female is as capable as the male and if there be any advantage, it is with her. She relieves herself more promptly and modestly and waters less shrubbery.
To make a summary, in the matter of housebreaking, bear in mind that the dog is a dog, have plenty of patience and mops; do your daily duty to your dog and he will do his. Never despair, for every dog eventually becomes a gentleman, which cannot be said of all members of the human race.
The affection and love your dog gives you later in return, will more than compensate for your much worry about rugs and smells, and the seeming mysteries of the workings of the canine mind.
There is the poverbial instance of busy-ness as shown by the cat on the tin roof. But we believe that out of the many stories we have heard of how gentlemanly certain dogs have been, we must award the accolade to a friend of ours and a pound of the choicest hamburger to his dog.
It appears (so the story goes, and we record here only what our friend told us) that on a very early hour in the morning, the family dog, that was wont to sleep in the bedroom, began to whine. Altho he persisted in his whining, the good wife of the house dozily remarked that the dog was merely creating a disturbance at this early hour-and so she returned to her slumbers.
But the good husband of the house, the friend who related the incident to us, saw out of the tail of his eye the dog disappear thru the open window of the bedroom. As this was on the fourth floor, the husband leaped out of bed and rushed to the window, thinking to behold the faithful old dog lying dead, horribly smashed, on the ground below. Imagine his astonishment however, upon beholding the dog standing on the narrow ledge just to the side of the window, his body crouched against the wall, and one hind leg carefully hoisted!