When You Command You Should Mean It

Kids were playing in the park, when I overheard two friends of my four year old grand child talk. They were planning some mischief and one said, ‘But your grand pa is always sitting there!’ His friend promptly replied, ‘don’t bother he will just keep shouting No, but won’t stop us’.
If your four month old pup could express in English he would have said the same thing to his friend, ‘Don’t bother, the master keeps shouting No but does not mean it.’ If you introspect the days you spent training your pup you will realize that most of the time you were trying to stop him with No, he continued with his mischief. Puppies have teething troubles and their gums itch a lot. They try to chew whatever comes in their way. While you are reading a newspaper the pup begins to chew the leg of the chair you are sitting. You frown at him as you turn the pages and bark a No, but you do not bother to get up and stop him. Soon the pup knows that you just bark and do not really mean it.
Dog does not know the meaning of all these words like No or Come. But soon he knows that you often utter something you don’t mean it, so he learns to disobey. Most owners tell me that their dog understands each and every word they speak, but does not obey as he is very playful. Well puppies are playful and frisky, but they can be programmed at a tender age to learn the basics of discipline before they develop the ‘bolt complex’. At this age they are quick learners too. Therefore an ideal age to initiate training is around three months. Though training of a pup in my opinion starts from the moment you hold him first time in your lap.
The first lesson a pup has to learn-which is most difficult for some of them-is not to soil your house. It is not only difficult for some of the pups to learn it is equally annoying for the owners to teach them. There are some easy methods to teach the pup, but before that let me site you some examples from the animal world about their peeing habits, so that you can understand why it is difficult for puppies to learn the correct habit. Amongst domestic animals we have mainly the cattle, horses, cats and dogs. The cattle and the horses are grazers and in nature they do not have a home. Living under the stars they traverse miles as they graze and go on pooping all the way. Housetraining them is impossible. But yes one can confine them to prevent them soiling the entire farm. Cats and dogs on the other hand live in packs in confined spaces or lairs in the nature. Instinct has taught them to keep their lair clean, else the young ones will die of infections. I have seen lairs of wild dogs in the foot hills of Punjab where bones were strewn all over, but there was not a speck of poop.
So conscious is a dog about not soiling his lair that even while he is blind just after birth and is assisted by dam to defecate he wriggles away from her and littermates. As he grows and learns to walk, he walks away with a wobbling gate for 10 to 20 feet away from where they all live to do his job.  
The key to house training a dog lies in your understanding this instinct. The day you are able to teach your dog that your house is his lair he stops soiling the place. Majority of dogs learn this very soon and some of them never ever commit a mistake, but alas few of them learn with great difficulty. This blog is dedicated to the owners of those few troublesome puppies and adults. The owners of such dogs are a harried lot and feel embarrassed when their loveable pooch lifts his leg on the sofa on which the guest is sitting. If we can get in to the minds of such dogs we can easily understand why they do so and also find a cure for the ‘sickness’.
Urination for dogs is not just excretion. It is a multipurpose act. Dogs are territorial animals and as you have already read they have an extra powerful nose. Therefore instead of erecting boundaries around their territories they mark it with drops of their urine. Their sensitive nose tells them if there has been an intrusion. The urine of dogs is acidic. When they mark a pole, the acid in the urine corrodes the pole to create a micro-niche and the odor of his urine stays in that groove for long time. The other dog when he sniffs it, overlays it with his urine. Like that dog after dog keep marking that spot. It is amazing to know that all dogs who visit the place to lift their leg know the physical condition and sex of the predecessor who used that spot. In short an electric pole is like a virtual social networking place (read site) for dogs.
Thus a body function like urination has lot of impact on dog’s personality. It is impossible for a dog to understand that peeing anywhere and everywhere in your house is socially unacceptable amongst humans. In his society such taboos do not exist. As long as a dog does not encroach upon other’s territory and mark it he is free to do it anywhere he wishes to. The most common mistake we make while trying to house train a dog is to presume that he is aware of our social norms and if he does it on the carpet in the sitting room he deliberately tries to breaks the rule. It is not so. A dog is solely guided by smell and instinct. He does not know that your carpet costs a fortune. For him the fur is akin to a nice patch of grass and he loves to do on that and later try to cover his ‘deed’ by scratching the spot with his hind legs.
To cut short house breaking a dog is quite easy. One needs a Playpen, a Dog box of appropriate size and patience. If you observe a dam she feeds the dog at two hours interval. All puppies do their jobs after meals. They also sometimes need to ease after they get up from sleep and also after bout of play. Puppies are like water bags which keep on bursting frequently. Inside the playpen the layer of newspapers spread on the floor is bound to get soiled. Remove the soiled part and place it outside at a spot where you wish him to do his job. Wipe clean the moist floor of the pen with few drops of vinegar. Keep that rag separately for future use. The wiped spot can be further cleaned with any floor cleaner. As already said dog’s urine is acidic. The smell of vinegar makes them feel that some stronger animal had come and marked the spot. They avoid marking over it.
After meal lock the pup in the box and watch discreetly from a distance. Once the pup gets fidgety take him out and carry him to the spot where you have placed the soiled newspaper. Put him on the ground, let him sniff and go around. He will surely mark the newspaper again. When he does, praise him with all the honey in your voice. Next time when you carry him to the spot keep repeating a command like Job preceded by his name. For example, a command in a hushed tone like Bozo-Job will make him associate that when he does his job thereafter you get exceptionally happy. Soon with experience he will make out what you mean. Gradually instead of carrying the pup you can walk him to the spot, but start using the command only after reaching the spot. Over a period of time you will notice that your command triggers urination.
While the pup is being house broken he needs to be leash broken and also taught not to chew your things. It is very easy to teach a pup to accept a collar and leash willingly. I must add here that personally I do not believe in tying the dogs but they must be trained so that if required they do not resent being tied. In my last blog I have already explained how dogs compare with a computer. Thus whatever you wish your dog to learn/perform he must be taught to do it. Take a collar made of lightest material. If you can’t get it you can make one at home. The circumference of his head between his ears and chin is the size of the collar. Make it a shade larger so that it can be easily slipped on his neck. Stitch a small metal ring in this collar to hold the hook of the leash, which again should be of the thinnest and lightest variety. Initially slip on the collar on his neck five seconds before his meal. Again use a command like Bozo-leash. Count up to five and then let him have his meal. After meal remove the collar and keep it out of his reach. At next meal increase the count to ten. Likewise go on increasing the count by five with every meal. Soon he will be sticking his neck out for the collar.
Once your pup is collar broken follow the same routine to teach him to accept the leash with the collar. Initially let the leash drag on the floor. Remove it just before you order him to have his food. After a few days tie him before meal and untie him before he starts eating. In no time your pup will accept the leash happily. The command of Bozo-leash will galvanize him and he will start looking for the leash. Most owners make this experience most unpleasant for the dog by tying him as a punishment.
I know reading the narrative makes it sound simple and easy, whereas in reality it is quite tough. But if you have the patience and will power you can make your dog do wonders. I will take you through the mind of the dog through these blogs so that you can understand him and make him understand you. Thereafter instead of barking like the grandpa whom the kids ignore, you can just sweetly ask your dog whatever you want him to do and he will do it willingly. Because he knows when you command you mean it.

More By  :  V. K. Joshi (Bijji)

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Comments on this Blog

Comment Thanks Shalaka

01-Mar-2014 10:47 AM

Comment Thank you Sir for such a lovely and simple article.

16-Feb-2014 12:04 PM

Comment Thanks Ankush.

21-Sep-2012 12:20 PM

Comment very helpful for new/aspiring dog owners!

ankush b
11-Sep-2012 13:09 PM

Comment Haha, Neeraj-an electric pole is their Twitter. Just brief msgs.

17-Jul-2010 07:28 AM

Comment """In short an electric pole is like a virtual social networking place (read site) for dogs.""" What an Idea Sir ji !!!!!!!!!

Neeraj Trehan
17-Jul-2010 06:58 AM

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