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Paper Training and Housebreaking Your Dog

Paper training or housebreaking your dog (teaching your dog where you want it to go to the bathroom) may not be as important as teaching it to stay out of the street, but it is a vital part of it's overall training. If your dog is not paper trained or housebroken it will more than likely end up living in the backyard, be given away, re-homed or yes, even sent to an animal shelter.

We do not really suggest that you go through the efforts of paper training your dog unless you are not planning on house breaking it eventually. 

Paper training your dog is an option, but if you are planning to eventually go through with house breaking you dog, paper training may actually confuse the dog or puppy by making it think that it is always OK to relieve itself on the paper or in the area where the paper used to be even after you have trained it to go outside. (Especially when you are not at home). Another good reason why we do not recommend "paper training" before teaching the puppy or dog to relieve itself outside, is because you are actually doubling the amount of time you need to achieve your final goal. 

The hardest part of paper training or housebreaking is not so much about training the dog, it's about training the humans. A dog will tell you when it needs to relieve itself. You just need to know how to read the signs. If you are unsure of how to read the signs, it is best to provide your dog with a lot of opportunities to relieve itself in the correct place ... and after it does, be sure to reward this behavior immediately afterward.

These Paper training or housebreaking opportunities should be given at regular intervals until a pattern becomes visible. With a puppy, these intervals should be right after feeding, drinking, playing or sleeping and with dogs over the age of one year, about every 2-4 hours should be fine. You should also consider walking your dog after feeding or drinking to encourage it to use this time to relieve itself. (Don't forget to take your pooper-scooper or a plastic bag along).

Any paper training or housebreaking method you choose will require you to be nearby and to be watching your dog for the signs that he/she needs to relieve itself. If your dog learns good habits right from the start it will be a more positive experience and you will be cleaning up a lot fewer messes.

With puppies, we suggest that you feed at scheduled mealtimes ONLY, and then remove any food the puppy does not eat during that feeding time. Do not allow the puppy to "snack" on the rest of the food between feeding times as this will make your paper or house training job much more difficult. To prevent "accidents" in the house, take your puppy out before an accident occurs. Get them used to going out, and they will be less likely to "go" in.

When you take the puppy or dog out to do his/her business, take him/her out to the same spot each time. If your puppy is too young to walk on a leash or if your area is not enclosed, take them to a safe area and remain there until it has relieved itself. When it does, remember to reward the behavior immediately.

Reading the Signs:
Learning to read your dog's signs is a must, because that is the only way you will really know when it's "time to go". Your dog is not a little kid who can walk around with it's knees together, pushing down on it's crotch area, and look desperate. But the signs are almost as obvious!

The common signs your dog will use are:

1). Sniffing the Floor or Ground
2). Circling
3). Whining
4). Tail Raised in the Air
5). Hunched or Arched Back to Point the Butt Area Down
    (To the un-trained eye, this also will look like the dog is struggling to try to sit down)
6). Enlarged Anus

In older dogs (dogs who were previously housebroken) you may also notice that they become quickly excited and pace the floor or becoming hyper to go outside.

If you notice any of the above behaviors while you playing with the your dog, stop playing and take it outside (or to the paper). If you don't, you're going to be cleaning up a mess very soon.

Final Step in Paper Training / Housebreaking:
Once you have recognized the sign or signs that your dog gives you, you can now teach your dog to go to the door (or to the paper) when it needs to "do it's business".

When the dog starts to give you a sign, you walk it to the door or paper, (on or off leash which ever suits your situation), and as you cross the threshold of the door or reach the paper, say the word you want to use as the command. (Example:  "Outside" "Paper"  "Potty" etc...) After a short time (up to a few weeks), your dog will probably go right to the door or paper for you.

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