Because it is impossible to really train a puppy, I have
purposely entitled this chapter education. For a puppy is
educated rather than trained. Practically every owner purchases a
puppy with the intention of raising it to a full grown dog that
will afford him pleasure later on. If, however, the youngster is
not brought up in the right way, he will prove a disappointment
in many particulars. And so, in order to avoid trouble, and
because a good education may be said to constitute one half of
training, it is advisable to begin systematic education as early
as possible. There are just a few sacrifices required of the
owner and the dog but these the true dog lover will gladly make.
The housebreaking of the puppy will prove the initial test as to
whether the dog owner is to develop into a dog lover. This is a
comparatively simple job, but if it is deemed too onerous or too
annoying, then let me recommend that the puppy be given up
immediately. True, it is not pleasant to clean up every morning.
It is not so nice to keep a cloth or a mop forever at hand to do
away with those disagreeable little souvenirs the puppy leaves in
his path while traveling the road to junior dog, but this is one
of the obstacles that must be surmounted. And while I myself have
had puppies absolutely housebroken at the age of ten weeks, I
know that this is unusual unless early bad habits are quickly
overcome in the right manner.
There are too, unfortunately, grown dogs which are not clean,
but the fault lies with the owner rather than with the dog. As an
example of how correction can be made, it may interest puppy
owners to learn of an experience of mine some thirty years ago. I
had what I considered to be a "problem child" . . . not actually
a problem child at all, merely a case rendered difficult through
my own lack of sufficient housebreaking experience. I tried
slipping a newspaper under this youngster whenever he started to
misbehave, with the result that when he felt the urge, he
straightway began to search for a floor covering approximating a
newspaper. Thus my daily newspaper, delivered each morning
through a slot in the door, became his favorite depository!
I saw I was on the wrong track so I endeavored to make him use
the balcony. I was unfamiliar with the regular feeding schedule,
and naturally, due to late feeding, I had to let him out often
during the night. The most convenient thing for me was to open
the balcony door. In an amazingly short time, the puppy grew so
accustomed to this spot that even during the day, when I had
had him outside for hours, he became so absolutely "street
clean," that he would run to the balcony immediately upon reaching
This goes to show how easily a puppy can be induced to accept
routine which develops into a habit. I broke him, however, of
this habit by washing the balcony with a solution of creolin
whose unpleasant odor prompted him to shun the place thereafter.
Observation of a puppy's natural habits will prove of the
greatest assistance in housebreaking. He will of course require
relief immediately upon awakening, and shortly after each meal.
Also, the excitement of playing will cause him frequently to
forget his manners. But if you watch closely you will notice the
signs he gives. Ordinarily, he will run around and around, as if
seeking a place. That is the time to pick him up by the back of
the neck and carry him outdoors. The experience of being held in
this manner, and of being carried outdoors, will enable him to
catch on quickly to what is wanted.
The average puppy never soils the place where he sleeps,
consequently when he is a bit older, he can be fastened close to
his sleeping quarters, when he will very shortly learn to
restrain himself and seek a place other than that in his
immediate vicinity. It is hardly fair to feed and water a dog
late at night and then expect him to be clean until late next
And now, just one thing more about doors. If there are several
doors to the room, when it is necessary to carry the puppy out or
to open the door so he may go out by himself, use the same door
each time to avoid confusion in his mind. Don't above all push
the puppy's nose in his filth as a corrective measure.
Accomplishing nothing insofar as the puppy is concerned, this
type of "education" generally shows ill temper on the part of the
owner, and as we have previously remarked, ill temper has no
place in conscientious training.
Regularity in the entire regimen will be found of marked
assistance in housebreaking the puppy, that is, institute a
definite feeding schedule and permit nothing to interfere with
previously planned meal-times. Then, take the puppy out at stated
intervals, at least every three hours or so, in order to
encourage regular habits. Take him if possible to spots in the
yard that have been visited by other dogs for this is one of the
best methods of explaining to the little fellow what he is taken
He will not be long in recognizing the chief purpose of that
particular place. Females especially will prefer certain chosen
places even in later years, though males, if not taught
otherwise, will develop the bad habit of stopping at every tree.
When handling dogs in training, I have found this a very
difficult habit to break but it is one of the first things I make
it a point to do.
Should it so happen that the puppy forgets himself, don't strike
him or punish him. It will only make him hand-shy and afraid of
his owner; furthermore, it will be hard to regain his confidence.
Should he select dark places--underneath the bed, closets and
dim corners--to hide his misdemeanors, clean them up with a
strong solution of disinfectant to eliminate the unpleasant odor
and to make the puppy shun the same place again.
Jane Simpson is a freelance writer and
regularly writes on matters related to pets. She writes
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Dog and Puppy Training