More Tidbits About Housetraining

If you’re reading this, then I would like to thank you for allowing me to vent about my self-inflicted challenges!  🙂


Some things I’ve been reading about:

* A dog is either housebroken or he isn’t.  He is not “almost housebroken.”  If he’s “almost,” he’s not.

* Crate trained is not the same as house trained.  But, crate training can be used to lead to house training.

* There is definitely two schools of thought regarding crate training.  Some say that crating is cruel, and should be used as little as possible.  Others say that crating is responsible and effective, and can be used as much as necessary.


Based on what I’ve read, I have learned:

* Pal is most definitely crate trained, but not house trained.

* I do not think crate training is cruel.  I think it probably depends on the dog, but I know Pal likes his crate.  He acts much more secure in his crate when we’re in the car.  If he’s just sitting in the backseat, he shakes and whines for the entire trip.  If he’s in his crate, he calms down for the most part.  In the apartment, when I tell him to go to bed, he runs right in his crate.  Sometimes, I find him sitting by his crate waiting for me in the morning!

* However, I found one comparison in several different articles.  “Crate training is not cruel.  Would you call it cruel to keep a child in a playpen?”  Well, yes, I would.  I hope I don’t ignite any fires with this statement, but it is my opinion that a baby needs to scoot and crawl and explore, and a toddler needs to toddle and explore.  You don’t learn anything by staying in a 4×4 square all day long.  I think the adult should baby-proof the home rather than confining the child.  I think the playpen should be used sparingly, if ever, for example, when the parent and child are outside and the parent is working in the garden, or when the family is visiting a non-baby-proofed home.  If those two issues, crates and playpens, go together, then the crate should be used sparingly, if at all.

However, I need to remind myself that dogs are not people!  It would be cruel to stop feeding Pal, or to kick him, or to leave him alone for a few days.  (However, leaving a cat alone for a few days is not cruel…it just depends on what the pet needs!  Dogs need to go outside to go to the bathroom, cats don’t.)  Someday, I would like to be able to leave Pal outside of the crate unsupervised, but I don’t think it’s cruel to use the crate to reach that end.

* Basically, I have been inconsistent.  And I gave up too soon.  When I finally got Pal crate-trained, I assumed he was also house trained, and I got lazy.  The bottom line is, if I can’t trust the dog unsupervised, he must be in the crate.  I think for now I will start again with the crate training, and be super-consistent for a few weeks.  Then, I will start phasing out the crate.

* I need to tell myself the same thing I’ve told my students’ parents who ask for advice about discipline.  (Happens more than you might think…)  I tell them, you have to be confident and make it clear who is the boss!  You are the adult, and they are the kid.  Don’t be afraid of misbehavior, because you are the one who gets to say what behavior is misbehavior.  If you do everything in your power to “make him happy” so he won’t tantrum, you are making him the boss.

So…I have to be confident and make it clear who is the boss!  I am the person, he is the dog.  I get to say when and what he eats, where he sleeps, where he walks when we are walking, and where he pees!  I’ve always said, I don’t care if he can do tricks or where he sleeps, I just want one thing.  Don’t pee in my house!  But it seems that with Pal, if he is the boss of all those other things, he doesn’t recognize my authority about where to pee.  With this particular dog, and his particular personality, I need to make sure I’m the boss, of everything.  If I want him to sleep in my bed, that’s fine, but I need to make sure he knows that he’s sleeping there because that’s where I say he sleeps.


So let me tell you about my plan!  (Or, the beginning of one…)

* Pal will not be unsupervised on the carpet until I can trust him.  For a few weeks, he will be in his crate when I am sleeping or gone.  Then, he will slowly get more privileges. Maybe he will get to be in the kitchen while I’m gone, for example.  He tends to have accidents while I’m sleeping, not while I’m gone, so I think the nighttime freedom might be the last to come.

* Pal will get more walks.  On a typical day, he will get walked at approximately five times: when I wake up, before I leave, when I get home, mid-evening, and before I go to bed.

* Pal will get to see, all day long, that I am the boss.  He will walk beside or behind me outside, he will sit and wait for a command to eat, etc. 

This sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but the status quo isn’t working.  I need to keep in mind the long-term goal: a dog who can be trusted just fine all day and night.  Perseverance!!!


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