Simple Housebreaking

By Mary Ellen Shriver 

Every foster ex-racer that I bring into my home is immediately taken from the car to the back yard with its muzzle in place. Then my greyhound, Dan, is allowed out to greet the new dog. When the new dog relieves himself I say "good pee-pee" in a low voice (and repeatedly) until the dog has finished it's business, then I go over and scratch and pet saying "good pee-pee" once more only. 

After the dogs have met outside, I allow the foster dog in my home with a short lead attached to its collar. For the next two to three hours I watch the dog. Any attempt to squat, etc. is met with a sharp "no," pull of the lead, and an escort outside where I firmly repeat the command "pee-pee" and then, of course, "good pee-pee" if the dog does relieve itself. 

Remember to escort the dog outside after each feeding and watch for it to relieve itself so you can administer the praise. This outside routine should continue for two or three more days but it depends on how much time you can spend with the dog. The procedure followed at night is equally structured. The foster dog is turned outside right before I go to bed at night. The dog is crated or confined with music and a chew toy. I wake up first, greet the dog inside his area, fix his breakfast and turn him outside with his food. I do this because there is no time in the morning to watch and praise, as I am busy getting four children off to school! 

The important aspects of this training are that you remain vigilant the first few hours in order to correct any accidents immediately. Also, that you show the dog the correct place to relieve himself and use a simple command to indicate what you want him to do. Lastly, that you praise the pooch for a job well done. Interestingly enough, being firm with the ex-racer about using a specific place to relieve himself aids the dog in suppressing his instinct to mark the inside of your home a territory, because you have established that you have dominion over that area (which is yours). 

The Shrivers are one of our [GPI] foster homes that houses dogs awaiting adoption. Mary Ellen wrote this article for our January, 1994 newsletter, The Greyhound Bark.