This week’s dog training tip is use confinement when training your puppy. Many people feel guilty for confining their dog to a crate while they are out for the day, but your dog doesn’t necessarily see it this way. Confinement does not always have to mean a crate. It can be a room or a small area set up just for him when you are not able to supervise your dog. This will prevent your dog from getting in to mischief around the house. It will confine potty accidents to one area, and it also teaches your dog that he’s okay when he’s left alone for a little while.
Giving your dog a confinement area when you first bring him home is important. Too often, people want to give their dog the run of the house right away. Then, one day they come home to find that the dog has chewed the baseboards, their favourite pair of shoes or the leather couch. Then that is when they decide that they have to confine the dog. The problem with this is that now the dog will see confinement as a punishment rather than his area where he can go to relax. The confined area is supposed to be a place where he feels is safe, or just a place to have some alone time. Confining your dog, especially a puppy, after he has already caused some destruction, will send a negative message as opposed to a positive one.
What is the ideal confinement area? Preferably an area that is easy to clean such as a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. If none of these areas in your house are desirable, you can create an area with a doggie play pen anywhere in your house that you feel is suitable. Just make sure it is close enough to where most of the activity takes place in your house.
You also want to ensure that your dog is comfortable and well entertained in this area. Furnish it with a dog bed, his favourite toys, water, something to chew on and pee pads, if you feel it is safe. When my Sophie was a puppy we knew when it was time to remove the pee pads from her confinement area because she would rip the unused pee pads to pieces. This can be a hazard as pee pads are meant to expand and can be fatal as the small pieces try to make it through their digestive system.
To help your dog get used to using the confinement area, when he returns from a walk or from playtime out in the backyard, take him to the confinement area, give him his favourite treat and leave him alone there with the area secured for about five minutes while you remain in the house. Repeat this a few times throughout the day. As you gradually increase his time in his confinement area you can start leaving the house for short periods of time to run errands, for example. This will help to prepare him for the longer absences such as going to appointments or work.
If being confined is something that your dog is not used to, he may protest a bit by crying, but DO NOT cave! Remember, be strong and confident! Most of all be patient. He will eventually understand that his confinement space is his happy place.
Stay tuned next week for tip #8- Learning from other dogs
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