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BEFORE you read the rest of this page, please download and carefully read the following article and keep it for reference.  I have found that timing and treating the dog as a human child are the two biggest problems people have when training their puppy.  This article addresses this problem the best way I have found to date.

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by Gail Tamasses Fisher
Taken from the 5/87 AKC Gazette

As mentioned under "Bringing Home Your Puppy" a crate approximately 18 X 24 inches is about the right size.  If you already have one that is larger, try to cut it down in size for the time being until the puppy is reliably housebroken.  The trick to housebreaking is to NOT let the puppy go "potty" inside your house!  Remember, this puppy went potty in MY house, not yours.  At your house it is starting with a clean slate.  If you can get through the first week or two without the puppy going potty in your house or in its crate, whatever effort it takes to do this, your puppy will be well on its way to being housebroken to the limits of its muscular control at that time.  At 3 months of age, 4 hours is maximum during the day, 6-7 hours for the night (when the puppy is not eating every 4 or 5 hours).  I suggest you get a few washable beds for the bottom of the crate, a couple of towels will do the trick.  Please leave a clean bed in the crate at all times unless you must be away for an extended period of time.  In this case I do suggest lining the crate with newspaper as you cannot expect your puppy to hold it that long.  If the puppy manages to stay clean, praise him/her effusively.  It is goes on the paper don't mention it.  For those of you who work, you will have to do this every time you leave for work and will not be able to expect the puppy to hold it for 8 daytime hours consistently until it is at least 6 months old.  But you CAN still housebreak the puppy completely for when you are home.  I HAVE done it myself!

At first, keep that puppy in its crate or in your arms at ALL times unless you can give it your COMPLETE attention.  Just remember that EVERY time it accidentally goes potty in the house, it is one step backwards.  You must watch the puppy very, very carefully.   Cavalier puppies make VERY small puddles.  If you have carpeting and do not see the puddle within the first 30 seconds it will have soaked deep enough into the carpeting to be missed completely.  Puppies are notorious for playing and peeing at almost the same time.  A puppy running after a toy may pause the slightest instant before grabbing the toy and running with it, and pee in that instant of time, especially if it has done it before and gotten away with it.  Puppies that are not going in the house will almost always go potty immediately upon being taken outside (within 30 seconds).  If your puppy seems to play around outside for 5 minutes or longer without going potty, chances are very high that your puppy is peeing in the house quite often.  If the puppy then goes potty in your house after you take the puppy back inside, then I can guarantee your puppy has been going potty in your house consistently and has learned that that IS the place to do it--time to start all over if so.  This may seem to be a lot of work, but if you watch very carefully and do what I mentioned above, after just 2-4 weeks you will probably be able to loosen up a tremendous amount.  It is a good idea to keep your puppy's crate within sight of the door it is to go in and out of to go outside to potty, although as the article below mentions you may want to bring your puppy and crate into your bedroom or the hall near the bedroom at night.  Please see the article on Crate Training below.

Always take your puppy out the same door every time so it learns that this is the door to go to.  Another suggestion that seems to work well for 'busy' people is to buy a bell that has a loud ring and tie it to the door knob of the door the puppy goes through to go outside.  Tie it low enough so that the puppy 'hits' it when it goes near the door, even accidentally while playing.  EVERY time the puppy 'rings the bell' you drop everything, come running instantly and take the puppy outside.  It if goes potty, praise the puppy enthusiastically, if it does not within a minute or two, bring the puppy back in and go about your business.  If the bell rings again--run.  In a very short period of time your puppy will understand the ring of the bell brings it instant attention, and soon will understand how to 'ring' the bell when it wants to go potty outside.  If your puppy goes potty in the house, do not punish it unless you catch it totally 'in the act' (NOT when finishing up but right WHILE peeing or pooping).  If you do catch it in the act, grab the puppy and RUN--DO NOT WAIT until it is done going potty.  Say 'no, no, no, potty OUTSIDE' several times while running the puppy outside.  Once outside, put the puppy down and keep saying "Go Potty" (or whatever words you want to use--some like "hurry up").  If you get lucky and there is any potty left and the puppy goes--praise, praise, praise!  If you have any problems with housebreaking, please do call me.  I have housebroken many puppies, I should be able to help you too.

There are other articles included below that will help you with housebreaking, but the following are the three biggest reasons for failure:

The NUMBER ONE biggest mistake is letting your puppy have too much unsupervised freedom in the house.  All canines have a natural desire to avoid soiling their den area.  Since you are using a crate for your puppy's initial 'den', your Cavalier will naturally try to avoid soiling it; however, it will take some training before your pup can extend the notion of 'den' to your entire house--a house is a huge area to call a den to a young puppy!

The NUMBER TWO biggest mistake is overuse of punishment.  Even if you catch your dog in the act, overly enthusiastic correction tends only to teach the dog not to relieve itself in your presence, EVEN when outside.  This is why you should reward with words and possibly a treat as well when the puppy does relieve itself outside.  Punishment doesn't make clear what is desired behavior, but reward makes it clear very quickly.  Punishing a dog for a mess it made earlier is totally fruitless; it only succeeds in convincing the dog that every once in a while, for no apparent reason, you are apt to go insane and attack it.  It is a perfect recipe for ruining a trusting relationship.  That 'guilty' look you may think your dog is exhibiting is really fear that you have once again lost your mind.

The NUMBER THREE biggest mistake is pushing the puppy outside by itself and closing the door.  After five minutes the puppy is let back in and promptly relieves itself on the rug.  Bad dog?  No--bad owner.  The solution?  You must go outside with the puppy every time until it definitely understands what is expected.  Don't take it for a walk, don't play with it, simply go with it to the relief area, say "go potty" (or use whatever words you have decided to use) and be ready to praise and perhaps give a treat when the puppy does its deed.  Then you can play with the puppy or go back inside.

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by Doreen Malone
Taken from the 12/88 AKC Gazette


This is one of the best books on Housebreaking a Dog I've found.  I highly recommend it.  It can be
found on many book sites
including Amazon.



I strongly advise all Cavalier owners to take their puppies to obedience class, more to train the owners than the dogs!  By 3 to 4 months of age you should get your puppy into a puppy or kindergarten class.  Later, after about one year of age, a formal obedience class should be taken.  Cavaliers are very easy to train so long as the owner knows what to do.  Always use only one or two words to teach an activity and always use the same ones Every Single Time.  One of the strongest suggestions I can make is to use the command phrase ONLY once, give your puppy a very short time to respond and gently get the puppy into the position you want.  Do this again and again and you will find the puppy doing what it is asked the first time you ask--and quickly.  Saying the command a second time just reinforces the puppy to wait even longer to do what it is asked.  If you really want the puppy to respond immediately, make it a game!  Don't just train your puppy during a training session.  If you are walking through a room and the puppy is following you, very suddenly say "sit" or "down" or whatever ONCE and make the puppy do it immediately if it doesn't respond immediately.  Then praise like crazy releasing the puppy from the commanded position immediately. Very quickly your puppy will learn to respond almost instantaneously, almost as if it is a game to outthink you.  Formal training sessions are necessary and good but these quickie lessons really put the zip into the response and the excitement.  Not only that, but they also reinforce that the dog must obey at ALL times, not just during a training session.

If you desire a puppy that will WANT to learn and will respond with excitement, clicker training is the way to go.  Clicker training is done with a little clicker and treats.  I have never seen puppies learn so quickly and with such enthusiasm as I have with clicker-trained puppies.  It is all positive reinforcement training which is exactly what works best for puppies.  If you have a desire to teach your puppy using this method, please contact me and I will help you.  There are also many wonderful websites on the internet on clicker training, all with books and videos that will teach you how to clicker train.  I believe some PetsMarts have a clicker training class as well so you might want to check into that.

The recall should be done separately from the other training.  This is an absolute necessity for your puppy to learn and may sometime be a lifesaver.  The first rule of the recall is to NEVER EVER call your puppy to you unless you can say "Fido Come" one time and then MAKE SURE the puppy comes to you immediately (unless your puppy is completely trained and ALWAYS comes when called).  This means, do not teach your puppy the recall unless it is completely leash broken and on a leash during the training sessions.   I suggest buying a short leash--without a choke collar to keep on the puppy most of the time when it is loose in the house while you are training the recall and just let the puppy drag it around.  No choke collar so if the puppy gets stuck on something it won't panic and choke itself, a short leash so the puppy will hopefully not get the leash caught on something. A good leash for this is something called a
show lead.  They are the perfect length for recall training.  At various times during the day WHEN THE PUPPY'S LEASH IS WITHIN REACH, suddenly say "Fido Come" while grabbing the leash and start to run backwards so the puppy runs toward you.  The moment the puppy is next to you, praise effusively and release.  Do this for several weeks.  Do not attempt a recall without the leash unless your puppy is coming quickly and EVERY single time you call it.

If you do happen to call the puppy and it does not respond, say nothing further.  Go get the leash immediately, or get close enough to the puppy so you can grab the leash if it is on the puppy, and do a quickie training session on the recall right then and there.  DO NOT WAIT or your puppy will have learned it can get away with not responding.  Puppies are just like children, if they can get away with it once, they think they can get away with it again and WILL try.

Please note that the use of the word COME should be limited to either training times when you are positive you can reinforce the command or at other times when you are positive your dog will come on the first command.  If there is EVER a question of whether or not the dog will respond (such as when the dog is playing outside and you are getting ready to leave and want to call the dog in), use the dog's name only to get his/her attention.  Just don't use the word COME and you should be okay.  Leaving off the COME word during times like this does not seem to reinforce a lack of response to your commands because technically you didn't give a command!

Dog's temperaments do vary but so long as your dog is very happy in responding to your commands you will know you are praising enough and giving the right amount of correction.  If the dog cowers, there is something wrong, either too much correction, not enough praise, or just plain old confusion.  Figure out what the problem is and fix it.  Your puppy will learn what it can and cannot do eventually and will grow up to be a well behaved dog, one that can literally be free in the house 100% of the time.  As the article on Crate Training says, DO leave the crate open for easy access.  You are sure to find your Cavalier cherishes its "place" as her/her very own "home" -- much like a teenager cherishes his/her own bedroom.  While you are training please remember to put your Cavalier on a table from time to time--even if it is a pet.  Remember your Cavalier will go on a table every time it goes to the vet and/or groomer (if you choose to have one groom your Cavalier) so it will help to have your Cavalier used to being on a table.  Again, call me if you have ANY questions whatsoever.

PLEASE READ and download for reference all the articles on this page.  These are some of the best I've ever seen on training, timing, and how a dog thinks.  You must realize that you are ALWAYS training your dog--every moment of every day that you are with your dog and that the dog IS doing what you have trained it to do whether consciously or subconsciously.  If you don't like how your dog is behaving--remember this because you DID train the dog to behave that way!  You need to change how you are training your dog so that it behaves the way you want it to.   Without understanding how important timing is with dogs because of the way they think so strongly in the present, you are going to have a much harder time getting your dog to behave just the way you want it to.


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by Ian Dunbar, Ph.D., MRCVS
Taken from the AKC Gazette


A few more good books to read:

"The Culture Clash" by Jean Donaldson.  1996.

"Mother Knows Best" by Carol Lea Benjamin. 1985.



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