I have raised and trained enough puppies to know that housebreaking takes time, but I believe new owners will have less trouble if they make more effort in the beginning to let the pup know exactly what is wanted of him.
In housebreaking you must follow a simple, clear routine. Its details depend on whether you wish to train your puppy to go outside, or whether you want him to go to a box or to newspapers indoors.
INDOOR TRAINING: Place a box of sand or sawdust, or a newspaper, in a secluded and permanent place. I prefer sawdust. You will hear a great deal about how owners “paper break” their pups, but it is my experience that a pup will learn his manners more quickly if he is given a small box of sawdust and is taught its purpose. Sawdust training is rapid if you bring a pup from a kennel that uses a floor covering of sawdust or fine cedar shavings (a common custom). The pup is accustomed to use the sawdust as he pleases. Now he is surrounded by strange odors in your home, BUT in a corner is a shallow box filled with familiar smelling sawdust. He will be attracted to the box. I know of several cases where puppies did not respond to paper training but understood when sawdust was provided.
ROUTINE: Take the pup to the pan or newspapers often. Stay with him if you can. As soon as he has done what he should, praise him and reward him. The idea is to teach him what you want him to do, and to show him the advantage of pleasing you.
If the pup makes a mistake take him by the scruff and place him close to the soiled spot. Now assume a tone of voice indicating that you are very much hurt. Point to the spot and say, “No, no; shame on you,” in a low, distinct voice. Then take him to the approved place.
OUTDOOR TRAINING: A dog that is trained to go outdoors when necessary must learn: that all the outdoors is free to him; that the house or apartment is forbidden; that he must give some signal, such as standing by a door, when he wishes to be let out.
In housebreaking a puppy to go outdoors you must take him out frequently. Stay with him if you can. Watch him carefully. Just as soon as he has done what he should, praise him. Make a real fuss over him. Then hustle him back into the house and give him a tidbit. The idea behind this routine is to teach the pup what to do, and to make him understand that by correct behavior he may come back into the house and receive a reward.
After a training trip, forget about the pup for an hour, then take him out again. If at any time you see him sniffing or showing other signs of discomfort, pick him up and give him a special trip outside. The hope is to make this move before disaster. Sometimes you succeed; often you don’t.
If you have acted too late, follow the same correction routine as used for indoor training. Take him to the soiled spot, place his nose near it so he will know what you are talking about, then say, “No, no; shame on you,” in a firm voice. Finally, take him outside.
DON’T WHIP A SLOW PUPPY: Whipping or slapping won’t help your pup learn his house manners; your voice and manner can punish him severely enough. Remember he wants to please you, and he really does not want to make a mistake. You must be patient until he gets the idea behind the lesson. Some puppies understand quickly; others require a number of months of training.
The owner who attempts to force the understanding of housebreaking lessons by whipping may develop a cowed dog, one that is ruined for life.
Start early to train your pup to walk with a leash. Many young, inexperienced dogs will fight a collar and leash if they run free too long before the training is started. For dogs that live in cities the leash is a valuable safety aid in traffic, and a necessity in stores and offices. ‘
If your pup makes a big fuss about his first collar, put it on him for just a short time and then remove it. Later have him wear it for another short period. Gradually the pup will become accustomed to it.
Do not put a harness on the pup. A harness damages a dog’s coat by rubbing away hair, and it also interferes with the natural use of his shoulders and legs. I’ve seen pups that turned out their elbows because of harness pressure. A harness may look smart, but it is neither necessary nor safe for your pup.
When your dog is accustomed to a collar and runs about unconscious of it, snap on a light leash and let him go. Don’t touch the leash for some time. If he is not frightened by it, pick up the leash and hold it lightly in your hand as you walk about with him. Then begin to guide him with the leash, talking to him all the time.
The next step is more difficult. The pup will naturally pull and tug at the leash when you walk with him. This must be stopped. When he runs ahead give him a sharp jerk and bring him back to your side, saying, “Heel, heel,” in a crisp tone. Walk with a short lead for a time, keeping the pup close to your knee. If he tries to go ahead pull him back, each time repeating the word “heel.” A smart dog soon learns to stop foolish tugging, and walks easily and freely.
Of course, don’t forget the pup has an old established right to stop at trees and other places!
Your puppy will enjoy being educated. You owe it to him to teach him pleasant manners and the meanings of a number of useful words. The more you train him, the more alert his brain will be.
The word “NO” is one of the first sounds that a puppy has to learn. When you are correcting him in housebreaking or teaching him not to chew things use the word “No.” With my dogs the word is quickly associated with anything that is forbidden.
Puppies like to chew and will chew valuable articles unless taught not to. It is only natural, because teeth are to a puppy what hands are to a child. Then, too, there will be times when a puppy’s teeth hurt him, and he chews for relief. When you find your pup with a new slipper in his mouth take it away from him, saying, “no-o-o-o-no” in a low voice. Then hand him a hard rubber ball, a rubber bone, or other object that is his. If the pup offends again you must repeat this routine with possibly a light slap on his flank, using just enough force to emphasize the lesson. A folded newspaper that will make a loud noise but does not hurt is a wise way to drive this point home if the pup is a lively, stubborn, perky youngster that needs firm handling.
Start this lesson early. You will be surprised at the ease with which a pup learns his name. Short, distinctive names are best. Crisp sounds like Spot, Jack or Joe catch at a dog’s ear. Don’t shout the name of your pup when you are teaching him. Loud speaking won’t aid his memory, and may confuse him. First attract his attention, then lean over, speak his future name, extend your hand and repeat the name. When the pup comes to you, reward him with a tidbit. This is a double lesson: the pup learns his name and also to respond to the command to come.
If the puppy does not come when you call him you must use “pull persuasion.” Tie a long cord to his collar, then, when he has wandered a few feet, extend your hand and say, “Spot, come here.” When he hesitates, pull him to you, repeating his name. When he is close, praise him and reward him. Soon he will come without the cord.
When a pup knows his name and comes at a call or whistle, he is ready to sit upon command. With his first lesson he also learned the necessity of obedience, so following lessons are simpler.
To teach a dog to sit, first call him to you. Lean over, take him by the underside of his collar with your left hand, place your right hand on his back, and as you say, “Sit, sit,” or “Hupp, hupp,” press on his flanks until he is sitting down. Hold him there for a few seconds, then take your hand away and reward him.
Follow this routine every time you call the dog to you. Keep him down a little longer each time, always repeating the same command, “Sit” or “Hupp: ” These commands are used commonly, but actually any sound will serve. Your dog will sit when you say “bingo,” if you always use the word with the lesson routine!
When the pup begins to sit at command, try taking your right hand from his back while he is sitting, always talking to him in a low, FIRM voice. Gradually bring the right hand in front of him, palm toward him. This is the hand signal your dog ought to know. If you repeat the lesson often enough, your dog will sit down when you lift your hand and hold it palm toward him.
The owner of a new pup usually wants to bathe him be- dims fore the little fellow should have a bath. Very young dogs rarely need baths. Many breeders and veterinarians advise against bathing small pups at all. This is especially true in winter, when a scrubbing may result in a chill.
You can keep a puppy clean by the use of a brush and comb. If it is a doggy odor that is objectionable, simply add a few drops of pine oil disinfectant to the brush and work the fragrant liquid into the puppy’s coat. In winter I may not bathe my dogs for months at a time. Constant brushing, plus cedar shavings for the dogs’ beds, plus a little pine oil, will keep dogs clean and devoid of odor.
A white puppy (such as a Sealyham) can be given a successful dry cleaning. Buy a package of dog dry cleaner, or a bar of dog cleaning chalk. Rub the powder freely into the dog’s coat. Follow with a vigorous brushing to bring out chalk and dirt.
The first bath in a pup’s life is a major event for him and for his owner. Approach the first bath carefully. If you seize your pup, plop him into a tub of suds and get soap into his eyes, you will frighten him and never again get him to bathe willingly.
If you wish, you can train the puppy to his first bath just as you would train him for any other trick. Several times before the all-important first bath, place the youngster in an empty basin. Let him get used to the landscape. Then try washing his face and feet with a little clear water, drying him carefully afterward.
How hot should the bath be?
Never hot. Just comfortably warm. Start the pup off in a dry tub, dampen his face and feet a little at first, then pour enough water into the tub to reach his stomach. Pour the water gradually-not all at once. A simple way is to dip it out of the washbowl into the bath tub (unless you are an unusual owner, the bathroom is where the pup will be bathed). Scoop the water up in your hand and moisten his coat thoroughly before you start with the soap. During the bath talk encouragingly to the puppy.
Soaping should be thorough. Work the lather as deeply as you can, always being careful to protect the pup’s eyes. Do a good rinsing job so that skin and hair are entirely free from soap. I recommend pine oil for the rinse.
Thorough drying after a bath is essential to the health of your pup. A partly dried dog is in danger of chill. If the weather is cold, keep a freshly washed dog in the house for several hours before you let him go outside.
Be lavish with towels when you dry your pup. Be vigorous when you rub. Get right down to the skin. When the towels won’t take up any more moisture finish the job by rubbing the dog’s coat and skin with your fingers. Then, if you have a long-haired dog, start on the hair with a comb and brush. At this stage your dog will feel very lively, and want to run about and roll to speed up drying. Letting you in on a secret, I know one family that uses sheets from the laundry hamper to spread on the floor of the drying room. The sheets absorb moisture and protect the rugs.
In summer time, dogs may be allowed to run about in the sunshine to dry themselves, but remember you risk having Towser use the nearest flower bed for a towel.
Some owners use a dog-bag for drying. This is simply an envelope of heavy toweling with a draw string at the open end. The wet dog is placed in the bag and the string drawn. Kick as he will, the dog can’t get out, and his activity just helps to dry him.
The common mistake in dog care is too many baths. Owners who are proud of their pets always want them freshly washed before they take them anywhere. BUT house dogs must not be bathed oftener than once every month. If you are worried about keeping a dog’s coat clean, remember that a brisk daily brushing will do the job. Try giving your dog a fifteen-minute brushing a day; he’ll shine.
Frequent washing takes needed oil from a dog’s hair. Too many baths may cause skin irritation and damage his coat. If you wash your dog weekly and he scratches continually, you know the answer.
Remember most dogs have sensitive skins, so use a bland soap for general washing. Stay away from laundry soap. I want to stress again the value of cleaning chalk as a dry-cleaner for white dogs, or dogs with considerable white in their coats. The chalk is particularly helpful in keeping up a dog’s appearance in winter time.
The harried scratching, frantic biting, and surprising calisthenics which your dog goes through, particularly in hot weather, probably mean that he has fleas. Of course, a dog will scratch with a dry skin, unkempt coat, or a skin trouble, so make certain that he has fleas before you resort to antiflea powder or liquids.
FLEA TREATMENT: I. Find where the fleas breed. If your dog sleeps in a kennel, scour it with hot water and a strong disinfectant.
2. When dry, sprinkle the kennel with a flea-repellent powder.
3. Scatter cedar shavings over the kennel floor. Fleas do not like cedar, and the shavings give your dog a clean, fragrant odor.
4. If your dog sleeps in a blanket, clean it thoroughly with disinfectants.
5. Now treat the dog. Dust him completely with a flea powder. Work it down to the skin.
6. After the powder treatment, give the dog a bath with flea soap. Work up a thick lather and don’t be in a hurry to rinse him. When you do rinse him be certain to free his skin and hair of the flea soap.
Some dogs need “haircuts.” Short-coated breeds like the Boston Terrier, Doberman, Smooth-haired Fox Terrier, and others do not require much attention to their coats. They do not need to have their coats “taken down” with a stripping knife. But long-haired dogs and breeds with dense coats must be brushed and “barbered,” so owners of a Wirehaired Terrier, Scottie, Sealyham, Schnauzer, Kerry Blue Terrier, Collie, and similar breeds have an extra duty.
Correct grooming improves your dog’s health. Brushing, combing, and reducing the coat with a stripping knife takes out dead hair, stimulates the skin and coat, and so keeps the skin healthy. Unfortunately not enough owners give attention to grooming. That is why you see so many woolly, ragged terriers on the streets. Some of them look like overstuffed, animated cushions!
You can learn to groom your own dog. For equipment you need a stripping knife or dog dresser, a small pair of scissors, and a brush and comb. At the pet store where you buy your equipment you can find a chart which will show you how to take down a dog’s coat. Better yet, have a professional handler show you how to groom your pet, then follow the instruction at regular intervals.
House dogs need to have their nails clipped and filed regularly. This attention improves a dog’s appearance and makes certain that his feet are comfortable. Dogs that range and dig outside wear down their own nails, but house dogs walk on surfaces too soft to keep their nails in condition.
Long nails have a tendency to cramp a dog’s walk and make his feet sore. Clip your dog’s nails with a regular clipper, then file them. This foot treatment is very easy and takes just a few minutes.