Friday, October 27, 2006

Housetraining Your Chow Chow

There are many ways in life to achieve the same desired results. Of them, there are hard ways and easy ways, right ways and wrong ways. The best course is to combine the easy way with the right way and get the best results. This requires a lot of supervision and positive reinforcement. Let’s see how best to achieve what we want in order to housetrain our Chow Chow.

Where to begin: To get the kind of behavior you desire, you must:

  • Allocate an area for elimination outside the house
  • Show him the way to this spot
  • Praise him generously after he finishes


If you praise and reward him immediately after he finishes his job, it encourages him to eliminate in that area alone. The odor of his urine that he leaves behind this time will linger till his next visit and he will soon mark that area as his sole place to do his business.

Time it right: At age six to eight weeks, your Chow Chow should go out to eliminate every couple of hours, though as he grows older, he can go out fewer times. In puppyhood, take him out at the following times of the day:

  • Upon waking in the morning
  • After naps
  • After each meal
  • After playing or a training session
  • After being left alone for a while
  • Just before bedtime

“Hurry up” or “Potty”—the power of your command: To hasten the dog’s potty time, teach him to eliminate when you give the command for it. So, say “hurry up" or "potty" in an encouraging tone just when he gets the urge to “go”. He will soon learn that when you say the command, he will begin to sniff, circle and then get down to business. Once he’s done, praise him lavishly.
Crate training: To give your pet a safe confinement during housetraining, he needs to be crate trained. If you introduce the crate to him in a fun way, your pup will take to crate confinement quickly and without fuss. And there’s more you can do too, such as:
To make this experience pleasurable, play with him there or spend time watching TV there or reading as he gets busy with chewing a toy. If he is there all by himself, he begins to associate the area with isolation and may resist being there at all.
Begin crate training at dinnertime. Give him his feed, one piece at a time, by throwing bits of kibble in to the crate and making him search for it. This is one way of making a game of his training.
If you pick up his toys, replace them in the crate, so that when he returns he can play with them. To surprise him, hide a biscuit in the crate—even that’s fun!
Don’t crate him for longer than he can hold the urge to eliminate or defecate. If you are gone for long periods each day, why not consider a larger confinement area such as an exercise pen or small room?
If you give him a large area to eliminate in your absence, he can do it away from his crate space, say about 15-30 square feet. If he finds a particular spot eliminate, cover it with paper for easier cleaning.

Excuse him his mistakes: If you leave him to himself, he’s bound to make mistakes. He needs to be supervised, so be with him at this time. Until he goes through four weeks of not eliminating in the house, don’t consider him housetrained. If he’s older, this should be a longer period. Until then:

  • Keep a constant vigil over him
  • Set up baby gates to control his movements in the house
  • When unsupervised, confine him to his crate

Does he wet himself? If he squats and urinates when he greets you in puppyhood, he may probably suffer from submissive urination. Such dogs are hypersensitive and should not be scolded for this behavior, since punishment only worsens the problem. However, as he grows older, he will no longer do this if you are calm and quiet. Or you could ask him to sit down for a tasty treat till someone greets him.

Once he has made a mess:
Remove all urine and fecal odor so that your Chow Chow does not return to the same spot in your house where he made a mess.
Use a good deodorizer for doggy odors.
If he’s urinated on a carpet, saturate it with a cleaning agent.
Shut off all those rooms in your house where your Chow Chow has made frequent mistakes. Let him enter here only when accompanied by a family member.

Correcting his “mistakes”: It’s quite natural for a dog to make a mess during the housetraining period. This is why you need t be ready to handle these problems. Here’s how:

Don’t punish him sternly when he makes a mistake as this only delays training.
In order to correct his behavior, make a startling sound, a sharp noise or say “No” loudly. Do this when you catch him red-handed, but be sure not to be too loud or he will eliminate in front of you or perhaps even outdoors.
Be patient.
Don’t scold him after he has stopped soiling the area. Once he finishes, take him into the yard where he can finish in the area he has marked and when he finishes, praise him.
Don’t rub his nose into his mess. This will not teach him not to repeat it and will only end up making him frightened of you.

Training your pup: Your pup’s socialization process begins when he is still in the litter. When he is seven to eight weeks old, he gains in independence and is adventurous about his environment. Now’s the best time to bring home your pup.
In the next fortnight, he will begin to be easily frightened and will cling to you for support and reassurance. Don’t make loud noises or surprises at this time and have new experiences that don’t shock him or threaten his peace of mind.

At 10 weeks, he is well over this phase and will now enter the juvenile phase. Watch him nose around and be more exploratory—a phase that will go on till he’s an adult. Now, introduce him to more new things He will be more inquisitive and wider ranging in his explorations. But watch him closely now as he may enter a second phase of fear in the fourth or fifth month.

While you socialize your pup, take his health needs into consideration. Vaccinate him completely or he will catch the deadly disease Parvovirus. Don’t take him out in public if his shots are still incomplete.

Obedience training for your pup: Even at age seven weeks, when you begin socializing your pup, you can make the whole process fun for him by injecting some gentle play. Use motivational methods and reward-based behaviors by offering treats, toys and food, apart from praise so that he wants to obey you.
Try to set up situations where he cannot go wrong. And don’t use physical punishment while he’s still a pup as this may harm him both mentally and physically.
As with all the very young of all species, pups too have very short attention spans. This means that you repeat exercises several times a day. All you need to do is to spend a few minutes a day and watch the difference in his attitude. For best results, start the process a few days after he comes home to you.


Trick training: Here are some commonly taught tricks for all dogs:

Sit:
Take a piece of food or a toy and from in front of him, move it to over his head and simultaneously say "Sit".
He will raise his head and follow the direction of the food or toy, and without knowing it, lower his rear end to the process, lower his rear end to the floor in a sitting position.
Help him into this position by tucking his bottom under with your free hand.
Now, praise him lavishly and give him the toy or treat as a reward.

Down:
Try to tease him by showing him a piece of food or toy.
Now, say "Down" and lower the toy to the floor.
If he needs help, lower his rear body with a slight pressure on his shoulders.
When he lies down, as per your commands, give him the toy, even if only for a second and reward him profusely.
Now, increase the time period for him to stay on the floor before you give him the toy.

Stand:
While your pup is still in the Down position, say "Stand" and raise a treat or toy high above his head. Help him get into position if he needs it.
Let him remain in this position for a couple of seconds, then release, reward and praise him generously.

Wait:
Get your pup into sitting position.
Say "Wait" and move back from him, by a couple of steps. Praise him for staying.
Now, reward him, praise him and then release. Remember to reward him while he’s still waiting so that he makes the association between his action and your reward.

If he gets up too soon, repeat the exercise and slowly increase the time he waits.

Strut (Heel):
Dangle a tasty treat at his head level on your left-hand side.
Say "Strut" or "Heel" and walk forward briskly.
Allow him to much a bit as you walk.
First, just take a few steps, then increase the range. Now, release the pup and praise him. As he gets better at this, raise the level of the treat higher, but don’t reward him for jumping.

By training your pup, you will develop a close bond of love and loyalty with him, besides also being a whole lot of fun. As you know, an untrained dog can be a nuisance, and a danger to the family and the neighborhood. But a well-trained dog is a friend for life and an asset to your family.

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