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ala Murdo and Geordie Daye

As told by

Beth Ann Daye

You can visit Murdo & Geordie at their own web site

I just have to add my 2 cents on how to housebreak a puppy and work full time at the same time. Here's a little thing I wrote up describing what we did.

* * *

 First off, David and I both worked full time and the same shift so they had to spend long hours home alone.

Murdo was first, he was 9 weeks old when we brought him home. He was crate and paper-trained.

  1. Crate trained - Pup knows crate is his safe place. His cuddly toys are in it, plus a soft bed of some sort--blanket, towels, etc. NO water and NO food. He is happy to stay there for SHORT periods with crate door shut. I prefer wire crates to the heavily enclosed airplane type.

  3. Restricted area - Find an area in your house close to where the family activity is that has a linoleum floor (or one that is easily washable. Build a pen in this area or gate off a section of the kitchen to include at least 36 sq. ft. of area.

In this restricted area, put the crate/cage with toys and soft bed inside and a nice touch is to add a large towel or small blanket over the top of the cage so it is more like a den and is quiet and private for the pup. The ENTIRE floor area outside the cage should be covered with several layers of newspaper. The water and food dishes should be kept near the cage but outside it.

The door to the cage should be kept open at all times. Pup is restricted to this safe area so he won't get into trouble in the house, but he can come and go from his den to eat, to drink, and to do his duty. It's important to have him near the family activity area so he can get used to family coming and going and to the sounds and smells of family. A corner of the kitchen is ideal.

Since he has the option of leaving his den (cage) whenever he wants to, (but stay inside the restricted area) he will quickly learn to keep his den clean and make his messes elsewhere.

Almost right away, you will notice that Pup will pee and poop as far away as possible from his den and his food. It may not be all in one location in the area but it will not be close to food or water or den.

This is VERY IMPORTANT. When you allow him to be outside the restricted area, you MUST truly give him 100% of your attention.

If you cannot observe him this completely, then keep him in his restricted area. Select several times per day when you will be able (even for a short period) to watch him like an eagle. Use this time to play with him, to cuddle, to bond, to begin teaching him, all the fun stuff. But DO NOT LET HIM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT even for a second. You don't want him to have the opportunity to make a mistake in the open house. Don't count on him to remember that the newspaper is in the restricted area of the kitchen and to return there. It won't happen.

When you are unable to give this CONSTANT attention, put him back into the restricted area. You're happy, he's happy, no mistakes can happen because it's okay for him to go on the newspaper. And he can't not go on newspaper because the entire floor of his restricted area is covered with it.

Now, time passes, you notice that he's doing his business more and more in one area of the restricted space. Start picking up some of the unused paper. Remove it from anywhere near his den and food and water dishes. Remove only a little at a time. Keep removing the papers slowly until the area covered is the size of one sheet of newspaper.

 If he makes mistakes and messes other than on the papers, add back some of the papered area. When he's is safely using papers only on this small area, start slowly moving the papers over beside the back door and ultimately outside the door.

During this entire procedure, you should be taking him out often to do his business. When you're outside and you can see he is about to "do it" say a cue word such as "hurry up" or "business". He will soon associate that word with the action of "doing it". This then will act as a command to him to "hurry up" and go. This is especially handy when it's raining like crazy and you don't want to be standing out in it for hours waiting for him.

Each time he goes outside, praise him and/or give him a treat as soon as he's done.

 This combination:

  • praise for going outside,
  • no punishment for going inside. (If he makes a mistake inside, it's your fault, not his)
  • the use of restricted area as described above.
  • the closely guarded free house time will produce wonderful results.

Chances are if you are religious about this method, he will finish the process himself and will not use papers when moved to the backdoor but will wait to go out to do it.

As to knowing WHEN he wants to go can either be a detective, try to figure it out and hope he gives you a signal. OR you can teach him a signal to give you.

We use a sleigh bell hung by the back door. We taught him to nudge the bell when he wanted out. About halfway through the above training, we started taking him to the door to go out, sit him down, nudge the bell, then open the door and let him out. Soon we'd take his little paw and use it to nudge the bell. then quickly open the door. He got the idea.

This is what worked for us for both of our pups nine months apart. We got them both at 9 weeks of age.

Murdo, the first, was completely safely housebroken by 4.5 months of age. Geordie was safe by age 5.5 months.

 Another hint. To avoid nighttime anxiety of separation, we at first carried the cage, but soon bought a second cage, to our bedroom. The second cage stayed in the bedroom. That became the nighttime den. They were completely quiet throughout the night. Everyone slept wonderfully.

Your puppy is a new family member. Just like with human babies, consideration and adjustment of routine must be made for them. They will learn very fast, but you must teach in a clear and consistent and POSITIVE manner. And besides, all this teaching and adjustment of routine is part of the bonding process whether the baby is human or canine.


Comments/opinions are welcome.

Hope you like it,

 Beth Ann

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