Puppy Housebreaking Resources: Are you Punishing too Much?
We humans are pretty good at detecting when a certain behavior results in negative consequences, and understand we can avoid those consequences by changing the behavior. Puppies are somewhat capable of the same, but they live and think in the present moment. They do not associate a negative consequence with an action unless the consequence occurs while they are performing the action. When you are housebreaking a puppy, punishing the puppy for accidents in the house is a good example. If you punish your puppy after an accident has occurred, the pup will most likely not associate the act with the punishment you inflicted. If you show him a puddle on the floor and scold him, he is probably just going to be confused and think that’s a bad puddle. So how do you communicate what you expect from your puppy during the critical housebreaking stage? For the most part, it is best to communicate through positive reinforcement rather than imposing too much punishment.
The problem is, we often punish out of emotion rather than the need for discipline in times of puppy housebreaking angst. We are frustrated that the accident happened, because we are putting so much energy into teaching the puppy otherwise, on top of the fact that now we have to clean up the mess. It also doesn't help that the puppy seems perfectly obliviously happy. The most immediate instinct is often to scold the puppy, who is, after all, the source of the frustration. But, what alleviates our anger is not necessarily the same as what teaches the puppy to do better next time.
Puppies learn best through positive reinforcement for desirable behavior. Praising your puppy when he eliminates in the correct place is more effective for training than punishing him for an accident. A firm "no" may be effective in teaching the puppy what not to do, but only if you catch him and say the word during the act. It is important to look for signs that the puppy needs to go, and take him immediately outdoors or to his puppy pad. As soon as he demonstrates the desirable behavior, praise him heavily. Do this every single time he goes in the acceptable place, and he will soon be delighted to go there and please his owner. Pleasing the leader of his pack, after all, is what the puppy is naturally wired to do.
If you have found yourself taking out anger on your puppy during housebreaking, you are not alone. Housebreaking can be quite frustrating, but developing habits that help your puppy understand what to do will be far more beneficial than punishing him after he has had an accident indoors. Housebreaking your puppy without excessive punishment will take plenty of time and patience, but will all pay off in the end!
About the Author: Kerry Perissi is the Founder & Vice President of MEDNET Direct, a leading provider of disposable medical supplies as well as quality puppy pads. For more information and to shop medical supplies wholesale, please visit MEDNET Direct.