Fact: The average pooch can sniff out one part urine to 1 million parts water. Move that fact to the forefront of your mind when deciding whether to paper train or housebreak your pup.

Paper training teaches your dog to go on pads or paper placed in a designated area — inside your house. When you paper train, you send a clear message to your pup: Come on in, pee on my floor, make yourself right at home. So when you find puddles and piles around the house, don't get angry. It's not fair to confuse the little guy with a lot of agitated hoopla over something you trained him to do.

Housebreaking, on the other hand, teaches your dog to go outside and only outside. Believe it or not, a dog can be fully house trained within a week.

This requires no magic potion and no otherworldly powers. The key is consistency.

First, let's agree to let go of all the absurdities that have been passed down as legitimate teaching methods over the years.

What-not-to-dos:

• Rub his nose in his mess.

• Show him his mess and say no until he thinks you've renamed him.

• "Bonk" him on the nose with your hand or a rolled-up newspaper.

• Show him his mess and lock him in a room where he can think about what he's done.

None of those "methods" works because none teaches the dog anything. You're punishing the dog without teaching him the proper behavior, without showing him what you want. Oh, the injustice. ...

There are six elements to a successful housebreaking campaign:

• Proper diet

• Confinement to one area

• A good outdoor location

• Correction

• A feed-water-walk schedule

• An effective odor neutralizer

A proper diet for your dog's age and digestive system will keep things regular and predictable. This makes life easier for you in the training stage. This is also what the feed-water-walk schedule refers to. No buffets. He eats, he drinks, he goes outside. Then he, and you, do it again in that order later.

By no means should puppy have the run of the house. If he is confined when you aren't home, so are his accidents. Confinement should be appropriate: a plastic or wire puppy gate to close off the kitchen or bathroom, or a wire crate. He should be able to see out, and he should have enough space to be comfortable.

A good outdoor spot simply means a clean backyard area or patch of grass in the neighborhood — clean, of course, because we pick up after our pups.

The effective response to an accident caught in the act is a firm "no" coupled with a startling noise, such as a shake can. This surprises the dog midstream. The correction: Take him outside immediately and allow him to finish there. Follow up with ridiculously lavish praise for your good little guy. He'll catch on fast and love the lesson.

If you don't catch your pooch in the act, all you can do is clean it up. This is when that odor neutralizer comes into play. No yelling, no punishment. He won't understand what you're all worked up about, so there's no point in getting all worked up.

Housebreaking shouldn't become your life's focus or your bank's drain.

I knew a very wealthy man who couldn't for the life of him figure out why his wife constantly rearranged their living room furniture. Every day he came home to a more unusual seating arrangement. Finally, he mentioned this peccadillo to his best friend, who clued him in that something was rotten in Denmark.

Turns out, his wife had been playing musical furniture to cover up their Pomeranian's many accidents all over the Persian rugs. The result? A whopping $35,000 cleaning bill.

Housebreaking doesn't have to be that hard, or pricey.

Woof!


Dog trainer Matthew "Uncle Matty" Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series "WOOF! It's a Dog's Life!" Read all of Uncle Matty's columns at the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com, and visit him at www.unclematty.com.Send your questions to dearuncle.gazette

@unclematty.com or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.


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