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German Shepherd Housebreaking
Few German shepherd housebreaking problems are worse and more frequent than accidents in the house. In fact, one of the top five reasons owners give for relinquishing their shepherd to a shelter is that the dog is impossible to housebreak. Unfortunately, many people simply give up when the dog does not learn right away. Housebreaking does not have to be difficult. As with any other learned skill, its mastery simply requires practice and patience.
Puppies develop their elimination patterns during the first few months of their lives and will seldom eliminate where they sleep. Once a puppy finds a spot to eliminate that she likes, she will return to it.
First get a crate. You can call it a kennel, cage, or carrier, but get one. When used properly, crates are not cruel, and they provide a safe area for your dog. When housebreaking your German shepherd puppy, she should be in the crate anytime she is not supervised by you. She will learn that the crate is a good place if you start feeding her in it. After she begins to associate food with the kennel, only treat her randomly and increase your praise for good behavior. This is refered to as variable reinforcement. This is a general principle that you should apply to other types of training. Start with consistent rewards, and then switch to variable ones.
What do you do if you have expanded your dogs boundaries in the house and she has an accident? First, take a look at the situation to see if it is your fault. Were you gone too long? Did you feed her and immediately put her back in the crate? If everything other than the increased boundaries has remained the same, go back to limiting her to the smaller area. When she proves reliable again, you can increase your space and try again.
A young puppy will need to relieve himself roughly every two hours, as well as after eating, after playing hard, during and after walks, when he is excited, and upon awakening. But it gets better. A four month-old puppy should be able to wait roughly 4 hours during the day. A five-month-old puppy could go as long as five hours, and a six month old puppy may be able to go as long as six hours, if necessary.
An adult dog, barring any physical problems or disease, does have complete control his bodily functions. But you should not put him in a position where he has to have an accident. This will make him feel ashamed and guilty. Ideally, you should never force your shepherd to wait more than eight hours between potty breaks, even as an adult
There are some dogs that are well housetrained but they get so excited they urinate when a favorite family member comes home. This is not an accident, instead, this behavior is called submissive urination. Do not yell at the dog if this happen as it will only make matters worse. Instead, be patient. Usually, this behavior will fade as the dog matures.
For crate training to work; however, the crate must be the correct size for the shepherd. If the crate is too big, she can soil one corner and retreat to another. This is particularly true for a puppy that is being housed in an adult crate. This defeats the purpose of using a crate as a training tool.
Ideally, the crate should be just big enough for the shepherd to stand up without crouching, turn around without getting stuck, and lied down comfortably. If you do not want to buy a new crate every few months, you can either look into purchasing a wire crate that has dividers, or you can borrow a crate from other dog owners. If you have to buy three different sizes of crates, it is still going to be a lot cheaper than replacing a precious Oriental rug or buying new wall-to-wall carpeting for your entire first floor.
When you are more confident that your German shepherd can keep his space clean, you can add some soft but easily washable towels to his thick newspaper bedding. Once he has really got the hang of things, you can buy him a nice, comfortable crate pad nestle down in.
Place the puppy playpen on a hard floor that is easy to clean.
Put a few toys in the playpen to occupy your puppy.
Keep your puppy's water bowl in the playpen area. This prevents spills in the crate and wet bedding.
Use the playpen only when you are around to supervise.
Do not use the playpen with an adult German shepherd.
While a dog sleeps, his body produces a hormone that slows the production of urine. However, if he takes a long drink right before he retires for the night, he will need to relieve himself. One way to help young puppies and learning adults make it through the night is to remove the water bowl one hour prior to bedtime. Then, right before he retires to his crate, send him out one more time to relieve himself.
Of course, removing the dogs water only works if your shepherd is calm and relaxed and nearly ready for sleep. If, on the other hand, he is out with the kids playing an endless game of fetch, he will need water. Try to limit his evening activities during the last hour before bedtime, if you can not, allow him to drink water, but the prepaired to wake up later in the night to let him out.
Puppies require the most work. In general, they need to be let out every three hours and fed two to three times a day. The untrained adult dog can hold out longer; however, he, too, needs a midday break because he is confined to a crate during the day. If your trained adult dog has a dog door, he can go in and out at will. Otherwise, he will require a midday break as well. If you work outside the home, you are probably a bit worried. You can not take off of work whenever your German shepherd needs you. If this is your scenario, you will need to consider several options.
One possibility is doggy day care. Your dog will have a blast, as long as the day care is run well. Check references thoroughly. These facilities can cost as much as a week of childcare and could be as much as $1000 per month. Option two is to hire a pet walker or pet sitter to come into your home as often as necessary. Going rates for these services vary and could cost between $8 and $15 per visit. Another option is to ask for the help of a trusted neighbor, friend, or relative. Note that you must trust this person to come every day and do all the right things with your dog.
You can make almost any situation work with patience and persistence. Just remember that your German shepherd needs consistent, reliable scheduling and care to trust you and feel secure. As long as you have the dog's best interests at heart, a plausible solution will present itself.