Next in importance to bed and food is to teach Beans to be clean in the house. So let’s discuss the ways and means of this right now, before he ruins your best rug!
As you probably know, housebreaking is the training of a dog to urinate and move his bowels out of doors. If you live in the country, or if you are lucky enough to have a small city garden, it will be easy to housebreak your pet. If you live in an apartment, it will be harder. But wherever you live, housebreaking is a job that must be done if you want to keep a dog at all. Since you may be in school some of the time when your puppy must be trained, you might have to ask your parents to help you with this problem. Here is the simplest way to housebreak your dog:
Three to Five Months Old
If you live in the country, or have a city garden, you may be able to skip this next section and begin to train your pup to go outdoors. But only if
(1) the weather is warm;
(2) there are no other dogs using the same grounds; (3) the grounds are safely fenced off from roads or streets.
If any of these three things are lacking, you would be wise to follow these next suggestions for the city dogowner.
Suppose you live in an apartment and Beans is about three months old when you get him. He is still too young to go outdoors. He should be kept in his pen in the house until he is about five months old. Don’t worry about exercise. At this age, he will get enough just in running around his pen or in playing with you.
“But why can’t he go out?” There are several good reasons.
(1) Like a human baby, a dog baby can catch a disease very easily, until he has built up what is called an “immunity.” Beans should not go outdoors until after he has had his three permanent inoculations against distemper. Distemper is the name of one of the most serious dog diseases. You will take Beans to a veterinarian when he is about four months old. There he will get his first “shot.” Then you’ll take him back for other shots a few weeks apart, as will be explained in the Medical Section of this book. So he’ll be at least five months old before he can safely go out.
(2) If you put a small puppy on a leash and collar too early, he will pull against them and may spoil the shape of his young bones. Five months is the safe age to train Beans to a leash. And of course he can’t go out without a leash, except in a securely fenced yard, because of the danger of being run over by a car.
(3) Again like a human baby, a puppy has to urinate very often. So if you did try to housebreak Beans much before he was five months old, you would have to take him outdoors about fifteen times a day, unless you have a safe yard. No one wants to do that!
“But Beans is only three months old and I haven’t any yard for him,” you protest. “If I can’t take him outdoors, how can I housebreak him now?”
The answer to that is, “You don’t housebreak him. You paper-train him:”
Remember it was suggested that, if possible, you fence off one whole corner of a room for Beans while he’s a pup? Now you’ll see why this is a good idea.
The first thing to do in paper-training a puppy is to spread newspapers on the floor between his bed and the gate or door or fence of his little pen. A dog is naturally clean. He does not like to sleep near the wet spots he has made. You may be surprised to see that even at three months Beans has already learned in the kennels to go to paper when he has to urinate or move his bowels. But if he hasn’t yet learned this, you can help him learn very quickly.
After Beans has finished a meal, put him right in his pen on the newspapers. Since pups usually go to the toilet soon after eating, keep him on the paper until he urinates and has a bowel movement. As soon as he does this, say “Good Beans!” and pat his head. Give him a little tidbit of food as a reward. Then throw away the used papers and put down fresh ones. When Beans gets the habit of using the papers after eating, you can stop rewarding him. Just pat and praise him.
Now you will begin to notice that more and more often Beans uses one particular spot on the papers. This is the time to pick up a newspaper that he doesn’t use and leave that part of the floor bare. The next day, pick up another unused paper. Keep doing this until only the spot that he prefers to use is still covered with newspapers. As you continue to praise him and pet him whenever he goes to this special spot, he will soon get the idea that this particular newspaper is the only proper toilet for him to use.
Of course he won’t learn this without making any mistakes. Sometimes, he is sure to use the bare floor. When you see him do this, wait until he is finished. Then take him immediately to the spot and say “No! No! Bad Beans!” in a firm voice. Then place him on the newspapers. Wipe up the spot on the floor with water to which you have added a tablespoon of vinegar, to remove the odor. Then cover it with a fresh newspaper.
Do not rub Beans’s nose into his urine or movement. This is an old-fashioned punishment that will teach him nothing. It is a very cruel thing to do.
Do not whip or beat him when he makes a mistake. A dog learns nothing from being beaten. When Beans is old enough to know exactly what he should do and what he shouldn’t, his best punishment will be your cross voice. If he persists in being naughty, then you may take a rolled newspaper and slap it on the floor directly behind him, saying “Bad Beans! No!” Or you may even slap his hind legs with the roll of paper. This will not hurt him, but the noise will make an impression. Never hit a dog with your hand. And never hit him on the head with anything.
Little by little, you will have only one place in Beans’s pen that is covered by newspaper. It is a very exciting day when he uses that place every single time he has to go to the toilet! Until that day, it is much easier on your rugs and on your mother’s temper to keep him in his pen. But after that day, you can let him out IF you watch him carefully while he is in your living room or your bedroom. He may remember that newspaper-toilet in his pen and run to it if he has to. But the chances are he’ll forget at first.
If you see him start to circle and sniff around, pick him up and place him quickly on a newspaper. Any newspaper. Don’t run all the way to his pen. Be gentle with him, so you won’t make him nervous. He is trying his best to do what you want him to do. Sometimes, he doesn’t understand what that is. And at other times, he understands but just can’t do it. So be patient. Don’t be too cross if he makes a mistake while he’s in a strange part of the house, far from his familiar pen and paper.
If he should urinate on the floor or on a rug, be sure to wipe up the spot thoroughly. The best way to do this is to use blotters. Then scrub the spot lightly with a soft brush or cloth dipped in vinegar and water. It is important to remove as much of the odor as possible. Otherwise Beans may think it’s all right to go back to the same spot later and use it again.
Collar and Leash
The next step in housebreaking is to train Beans to go outdoors. But before you can take this step, you must first teach him to wear a collar and walk on a leash. Even a country dog should learn this. He should never be let out alone, unless in a yard that is fenced, until he has been trained to stay off the road. Even when walking with you, he should be on a leash except when in open country away from automobiles. And, of course, every city dog must always . . . and this means always . . . be on a leash whenever you take him out on the street. This is the law in most cities. You may have to pay a fine if you break this law. This is also common sense, for even the best trained dog may start to chase a cat across a busy street and get hit by a car, if he’s not on a leash.
Before you can put Beans on a leash, he must first wear a collar. Now a collar is a strange thing to a pup. He will be puzzled and perhaps a little frightened the first time you put it around his neck. So when he is about four months old and pretty well paper-trained, you must begin to get him used to wearing a collar.
Yes, a collar. Not a harness. A dog will pull against a harness and may spoil his natural shape. Also, you can control your dog better by collar than by harness. Both the collar and the leash should be made of leather and as narrow and light as possible for the size of your dog. No spikes, please. No wide, heavy, brass-studded choker to tire the poor dog and wear off the hair around his throat. Most ten-cent stores have simple collars and leashes that are suitable and not too expensive.
When you bring home the right collar for Beans, first let him smell it. Then put it on him. Take it off after a while. You may have to try this several times. But finally you can put it on and keep it on. He should be used to it by then.
Next, tie a string about three or four feet long to this collar. Let Beans run around the house, trailing the string behind him. Watch to see that he doesn’t get it tangled around a chair leg or around his neck. But don’t laugh at his antics. He will be bewildered by this odd thing that follows wherever he goes. Don’t make him more bewildered by hurting his feelings.
When Beans seems to be used to the string, take it off and attach the light leash to his collar. Hold the other end in your hand, and you follow Beans wherever he goes. Don’t try to guide him yet. Talk to him gently, if he seems upset. Follow him around the house. Then, little by little, you can begin to lead him where you want him to go. Don’t pull him if he sits down like a balky mule. Don’t force him to follow you. Make a game of it. Play with him. Talk him into going with you. Offer him a tidbit to come along with you. As he begins to follow more willingly, walk with him in a straight line. Then gradually start to walk around chairs and tables, until he gets completely used to going wherever you lead him. Now he will be ready to go outdoors, and you can start his real housebreaking.
Outdoors for the First Time
This is a big event in both your lives! Beans has had all his inoculations, and the day is not too cold or rainy. If you live in the country, you will take the leash firmly in your hand and let Beans smell all around the yard. If you live in the city, you should lead him right to the curb. He won’t yet know that he shouldn’t have a bowel movement in the middle of the sidewalk. It is up to you to make sure this doesn’t happen by putting him in the street near the curb. This is called “Curbing your Dog,” and is another law that all city dog-owners should obey.
Beans will be very excited by all the strange sights he sees, the smells he smells, and the noises he hears. He may sit down and shiver with terror. Or he may pull wildly in all directions, trying to investigate everything at once. You must be extra gentle with him. Don’t drag him on the leash. Keep talking to him, petting him. And keep him out for just a short while, until he gets used to the outdoor world.
The best way to make him understand he is being taken out for a purpose is to take him out right after he has eaten a meal. As you will know by now, this is the time he usually goes to the toilet. And since he is used to going on a newspaper, you should take a paper with you when you first take him out. Spread it on the ground, or in the gutter. When Beans uses it, make a big fuss over him. This is an event that’s worth celebrating. For he has just taken the first step to becoming truly housebroken.
After Beans gets used to going outdoors, you can stop taking the newspaper with you. Instead, take him immediately to the same places which he has used before. He will smell those places, or the places where other dogs have been, and this will encourage him to use the street or the ground, instead of the paper. But be sure to make a big fuss over him when he does this. It is your praise, as much as anything else, that will make him understand what it is you want him to do.
Once Beans has the outdoor idea, the secret of preventing indoor mistakes is regularity. Beans will be regular right after eating, after sleeping, after drinking water . . . probably six or seven times a day until he’s about eight months old. It’s up to you to be just as regular in taking him out at these times.
Dogs are creatures of habit. If you feed Beans at regular hours, take him out right after each meal, take him out the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night, you will be surprised to see him stop making mistakes in the house. Eventually, he will even forget his newspaperl But how quickly he learns to do this depends on you more than it does on Beans.
Correcting a Mistake
“What do I do if Beans does have a bowel movement, or urinate, in the house?”
First, you try to prevent him from making this mistake. When you see him begin to sniff and circle around, pick him up at once and rush him out of doors as fast as you can. If you can’t get him out fast enough, then take him to his newspaper in his pen. This is one good thing about paper-training. Beans can always use the newspaper if for any reason he cannot go out.
Second, if you’re too late and the mistake has already been made, you treat Beans as you did while you were paper-training him. But now you can be firmer. Pick him up roughly and point his nose toward (not into) his bowel movement or urine. Scold him in a very cross, disgusted voice. Say “Bad, bad! Don’t ever do that. Go outl” Then take him out at once to his regular place. If he makes too many mistakes, spank him with a roll of newspaper while you scold him, then take him out. When he does the right thing out of doors, praise him a lot.
If you are regular with your outings, Beans should be housebroken within three or four weeks. He may even learn to remind you to take him out, if you should forget, by going to the door and whining or barking. Once he’s housebroken, you can safely wait as long as four or five hours between the times you take him out.