Saturday, November 8, 2014

Break Time

This post has nothing to do with resting, but everything to do with relieving.  One of the  basic functions of dogs, and one of the most frustrating issues of the owner of the untrained dog, is eliminating.  We call this "taking a break."  However, with consistency and attention, you can equip your dog with the skills to eliminate on command.

Meal Time:  By keeping meal times consistent, you establish routine and predictability in your dog.  We feed our dogs every morning after their initial "break".  We feed them the same amount every meal.  Normally, they wolf their food down in minutes; any uneaten kibble is removed from the crate and not offered again until dinner (or for training purposes).

"Good break, puppy!"
Break Time:  After we've finished our breakfast, we have someone on duty to take the dogs out for another "break".  Generally, this is about an hour after feeding. This has allowed the dogs to consume and digest their meal.  The person on duty leads the pups over to the "Break Area" and says, "Take a break."  Because we have done this every single time since we moved here three months ago, the dogs know that this is where they eliminate and they are ready to perform.  We just count seven "poops" until we know that everyone is finished, and then we take them up to the kennel for their morning session.

Every time we transition the dogs from crate to kennel, kennel to crate, or take them for a training session, we visit the "Break Area" for them to do their business.  This establishes routine and quickly forms a habit for them.

This week I took a young pup to town to be my shopping buddy.  At this point our pups are just over four months old.  He looked so handsome with his black coat gleaming under his red "Service Dog in Training" vest.  Between stores I told him to "break" in a designated place.  I was so proud of him when he immediately began doing his thing.  Confidently, I entered the store, assured that he wouldn't be doing anything naughty once inside.

Dogs instinctively like to keep their "den" clean.  We rarely have messy crates (I can only remember cleaning two since we've been here), and when they do have an accident it's either because of a sick dog or a handler that waited too long.

Training in public
Canines are creatures of habit and will eliminate in the same area, even without being trained.  Their sensitive snouts can smell things that we can't, and will find the odors associated with elimination.  That's why it's imperative to clean any messes in the house immediately and thoroughly, because they will return to that spot and do it again.

And finally, when you do take your dog into public, be prepared.  We always have little doggie bags tucked away in our service vests for public breaks.  This is just being responsible and respectful of others.

Well, it's been an hour since the dogs were fed, so it's time to go "take a break"!
Socializing at a Family Fun Day