Old Trainer

How to housebreak a puppy

DEAR OLD TRAINER: We adopted Champ, a 10-month old Chocolate Lab. We love him, but he cannot pass any water without jumping in. That’s fine, but bathing him to get the mud and silt off is wearing me out and even after he’s clean it takes another half hour to clean the bathroom. Will he lose his desire to jump in the water as he matures?

Faye, Topeka, Kansas

A: When Champ is an old-timer, swapping war stories with other old dogs at the park, he might, but don’t count on it. Love of water is in his DNA and he can’t resist doing what he was bred to do.

But there is a way to solve your problem. I write about it every year or so (and get more thank-you emails than I do for any other subject).

Let Champ play in the water all he wants, just bathe him outside instead of in the bathroom.

Call him over to the hose, use a leash—stand on the end of it to make sure he stays in place—and run cool water over his entire body, including feet and tail. Move your hand through his fur to ensure the water is getting down to the skin.

Talk to him and pet him to keep him calm. If he starts to shake, grab the fur on his neck and say, “don’t shake.” When you finish, say “shake,” and let him shake all he wants—no breed does it better than Labs— and cheer him on while he does.

Dry him with a towel or let him roll in the grass. Labs dry so fast you don’t have to worry. His coat will be clean and fluffy, he’ll have a good time, and the next time you pick up the hose he’ll come running and you won’t need the leash.

Anyone who tries this method will never bathe their dog indoors again.

DEAR OLD TRAINER: We are getting a puppy from the shelter in two weeks. I haven’t trained a dog for a long time so need advice. Do you housebreak a pup by rubbing their nose in it and putting them outside?

Alan, Reno, Nevada

A: No, that went out with panty raids and tail fins. As soon as you get the pup home take her out and walk around the yard. Leave her off the leash and let her explore. If she goes while outside pet her and love on her. Take her out every 20 minutes.

Even trained pups forget. If she does, say “no” in a loud voice the instant you see her start to squat, pick her up and take her outside.

You can also put papers down in the corner of the room and after you say, “no” put her on the papers. It’s easier for a pup to learn the connection with going on papers since she can see the papers, and it makes an easy transition to going outside.

Every time she goes on the papers or while outside, pet her and brag on her.

If she does it in the house while you are out of the room don’t scold her, just pick her up and stand by the mess and explain she has to do it outside, then take her out.

Dog prefer doing their business outside the nest, so this method works fast

A trainer for more than 30 years, Jack Haskins has rescued, trained and placed more than 2,500 dogs. Send questions to theoldtrainer@gmail.com.