If you’ve just brought home a new puppy for the family, you have a number of wonderful things to look forward to: long walks with your furry companion, rolling around with him on the floor, and teaching him all of those wonderful tricks that seem to delight most pets. Of course, you also have some big decisions to make – important decisions that will set the course for your dog’s behaviors and habits for the rest of its life. One of those decisions is how to housebreak your dog. The purpose of this article is not to suggest which of the many available methods you should use to housetrain your pet – it is merely to suggest that when you decide how to housebreak your dog, you also make the decision to do it with love.
Dogs are unique among all of the animals with which man interacts, and have been both his companion and his helpmeet for thousands of years. They have shared our tents and lodges, guarded both our persons and belongings, and even joined us in the hunt for food. Some have speculated that the partnership of man and dog has been as important as the opposable thumb in ensuring mankind’s dominance over other species. Because of that long and storied relationship, the importance of trust between man and dog cannot be overstated.
How you interact with your dog is therefore critical to his success in learning that which you would teach him. Research – and the experience of many owners – has taught us that yelling at your dog to scold him, or physically punishing him when he misbehaves, has no discernible positive impact on future behavior. In fact, most studies confirm that dogs do not appear to learn from negative reinforcement. When confronted with negative emotional responses, their natural instinct is to get away from the situation.
To figure out how to housebreak your dog with love and affection, however, you need only understand the importance of praise. Since dogs learn by associating certain behaviors with praise, your housebreaking efforts can be as easy as deciding which method to use and heaping praise on your dog when he follows the program correctly. Learning how to housebreak your dog in this manner can be far more rewarding to both of you than any method that is more concerned with control than the best interests of the dog.
The simplest way to learn how to housebreak your dog with love and affection is to begin to focus on ways in which you can place your dog in situations where he warrants praise. Set small goals for each step of the training process, and reward him with praise as he succeeds. Since every dog wants to please his owner so that he can get along within the pack, using a system of positive reinforcement utilizes your dog’s own natural social instincts as a means for training. The real advantage lies in the foundation of trust that you will be building with your dog – trust that will help to facilitate additional training efforts in the future.
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