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Archived Message
Housebreaking while at work
by Jay Jungalwala

Housebreaking while at work Hi All, I just got a 4month Maltise (from a mall store) last week and I am wondering what is the best way to train him (Odessa). He seems really smart and has been listening to me and bonding me with a lot. The problem is that I have to be at work at least 7-8 hours a day -- and I am unsure what is the best way to housebreak train him. Here is what I do so far, and I would like anyone opinions on what I should keep on doing on stop doing or start doing. He wakes up around 6:30am (I would prefer 7:30am) and starts to bark. He is in a crate about 2ft long and 1 ft high, that is where he sleeps. The crate is in my bathroom which is accessed through my bedroom. I take him outside to the same spot right away and say "pee, pee, pee" and he goes usually right away. I wait around for about 15 more minutes and than he fights to go back inside because it is really cold out. His poopy area has snow on it. I clear it off, but there is still some snow and it is very cold outside, which he doesn't seem to like much. When he pees I give him lots of hugs and congrats, but no treats. Should I give him a treat? He has made poo outside but more often than not, he goes inside. (If I catch him [every time so far] I usually lay him on his side and say bad boy and look like I am really disapointed in him -- he than give me this really sad look) Than I dry him off (the snow gets him wet), and we go back upstairs to run around in my room. I put out some food and water and he eats it up while playing too.

Should I take away his toys when he is eating? Should I close the door and not distract him when he is eating?

Than we play around for another 30 minutes or so, and than I take him outside again -- but he does not prompt me to, I just take him outside. I say pee and poo and he usually goes and pees. But he has a lot of trouble pooing. Now I go and get ready for work -- what do I do? I usually try and feed him around 8:00pm at night and soon after take him outside to pee and poo.

Here are some more questions:

Do I leave him in the crate while at work?
Do I leave water in the crate while at work?
Do I leave food in the crate while at work?
Should I just close the bathroom door and let him only run around the bathroom and his crate while at work?
Should I take away his food after he stops eating it for a while?

Basically I need to train the dog to work on my schedule -- not the other way around. My business partner has done it with his dog (pee and poos on command -- or dog barks when he wants to go out, but can hold it for many hours). I am unsure if he can hold it in for 7-8 hours. He has never pood or peed in his crate, so I am unsure what he will do if he is left alone for long periods of time. I have been home with him every day this last week, so tomorrow is the first day, and I am very nervous about what to do. I don't want to make him suffer. HELP!

He likes his crate. I can say, "Go home" and he will run into the crate. He will cry a little when I walk out of the room, but soon stops when he realizes that I am in the next room. I am weary about paper training, since my vet says that it will only teach him it is ok to pee on paper. Someone please help me! Jay Jungalwala (and Odessa)

Jay, here is what I have done so far with my 5 1/2 mo old Buster for what it's worth. When we first got him was at night put him in our small bathroom with his bed and newspapers. I still can't do the Crate thing. Everyone says it works but that's just me. I put him to bed at 10 p.m. and he would wake me up at 4:00 a.m. In a few weeks he started sleeping all night and holding his bladder. I get up at 5am and take him out several times before I leave for work at 6am. I put him in our big master bathroom during the day with newspapers and he used he newspapers. The past 2 weeks he has held it from 6am until 5pm when I get home. He has learned fast. I feed him 1 cup of IAMS Dry Puppy food. 1/2 in the morning and 1/2 when I get home. At night I don't give him water. During the day I do leave water. Just take your Maltese out after he eats, after play. On he weekends I try to do it every hour or so. It's working great. Good Luck!
Libby & Buster
First of all Congrats!! I think everyone should have a Maltese.. and what a pretty name too!

Ok, mostly you have the right idea... and its obvious that you truly want to do the right thing so you and your new baby can live together in harmony and joy. My first suggestion is to look down the directory at the left-hand side of the page and read the section on housebreaking. Secondly, get a good book on dog training (I'm sure there will be a million different recommendations, but I kind of like Brian Kilcomons). There are video's too. Libraries, bookstores and petshops will have them.

For now, being that you have an immediate problem, I'll give you some general tips: 1) If its that cold out and there is snow, don't force him to stay outside. Maltese don't have the heavy undercoat that some other breeds have, and aren't as tolerant of the cold. The training them to go on command is a good idea.. keep that up.

2) A treat isn't necessary. There are so many occaisions to give treats that it can get out of hand, you don't want him to have a weight problem as it can medical problems later in life. Your praise and attention are enough.. they really love that.

3) Normally I'd say that keeping them in a crate all day is fine, but you are out for a very long time, so if its O.K. with you, keeping the crate open and keeping him in the bathroom is probably better.. it will give him some space. Give him some toys and maybe put a radio or tv or clock down for some nice comforting sounds.

4) Eight hours is a very long time for a young pup, but many of us who work can understand. If there is any way you can arrange it, try to come home at least once a day in the afternoon.. or maybe hire a pet sitter, or have a friend or neighbor come to give him some attention in the afternoon. If this is not possible, might I suggest getting a second dog, or a cat even so that he has something to socialize with (after you finish housebreaking this one of course). The only thing better than a Maltese is two Malteses of course!

5) I wouldn't close the door when he's eating, he'll feel more like part of the family if you eat with him. You don't need to take the toys away, but don't play with him before or after eating (half-hour at least). Picking the food up after 20 minutes is a good idea... it teaches them to eat at regular intervals. Definitely make sure he has access to clean water all day long. You can a few kibbles of dry food for our dogs during the day if you want... but make sure to include that when figuring the total feeding so you aren't overfeeding him.

6) I understand what your vet is saying about paper training, but in your situation it may be necessary. 7-8 hours is a long time for a 4 month old pup (its a long time for many adult people even!). One solution may be the Puppy John (others have mentioned it in prior posts), or something similar that you can rig up yourself. You get some of those housebreaking "Wee Wee" pads, and it is like a little box that holds them. Maltese are very smart.. they can distinguish (given time) between this and your regular newspaper. Always put it in the same place (in this case the bathroom), so he knows to go there, and you train him its O.K. to use that the same way you train him its O.K. to go outside. Eventually you can probably do away with it.. but in bad weather I must say I am never sorry we paper trained all our dogs!

Good luck. Read through other people's posts and the archives when you have time so you can know what to do when similar problems come up. And do keep us posted on Odessa's progress (will it be Odie for short? I love that name!)

Jay, On crates: I hate to see Odessa left in a crate for 8 hrs a day. Please leave him in your bathroom with a baby gate across the door, papers on the floor, his food, water, and bed at one end, so he can get away from those to potty if he has to. I couldn't go for 8 hrs without a bathroom and yet many expect their dogs to. If he's in the bathroom he can get a little exercise during the day. Get a good book on dogs. You won't be sorry and you'll learn a lot. Sounds like you're new at this. Hope you'll reconsider leaving him in a crate all day. Good luck and enjoy.
Oh, Jay! You sound a nervous wreck - so did I when I first got my Otto. It will get better; promise. Please don't make Odessa wait around outside to poo. It is too cold and wet. Please don't crate Odessa if you have the alternative of a nice spacious bathroom where your puppy can have papers down, room to play and a den.(crate)

Maltese are not real chow-hounds, but believe me, when they are hungry,toys don't distract them. If Odessa is a sociable eater don't close the door. My Otto eats all his food while I am at work - maybe you would consider leaving Odessa's food and water down while you're away. My vet says it is ok for little dogs and especially puppies.

Making these decisions and setting up a routine with my new puppy was a very stressful time. You will be much happier when you decide on the routine that makes you and Odessa happy. My best wishes for you both!

Am I the only one who noticed this is a pet shop puppy? Sorry Jay, but I really just can't ignore it. Perhaps our Jay Bianco should move the topic of Petshop Pups/puppy mills higher up in the rank of topics on his home page...

The training advice you are getting here is very good.
Leslie R

No Leslie, you weren't the only one who noticed.. I chose not to mention it as he has already purchased the puppy and seems so concerned and anxious. But I agree that maybe they should consider moving that article to a more prominent place.. It took me like 3 days to get to the bottom of that directory.. and it is important information in my opinion.
Hi All, It is me Jay. A small update. Odessa now is peeing in his cage -- first time last night, and this morning he peed right next to it. In addition, he is starting to ignore me when I punish him ... for instance he keeps on trying to bite me all the time. I have doggy toys for him that are soft, but he plays with them for 2 minutes, comes over to me and wants to start biting my leg, or if he can my hands or face. It doesn't hurt, but I can see this being a bad pattern. What can I do to stop this? I tell him "no", and than lay him on his side saying no until he calms down. Than I let him go, and he does it again. We do this back and forth for hours. Is he getting it? Should I be more forceful?

Also, what are people doing for a "timeout" kind of thing. He knows when I am mad at him, but than he just goes away and does his own thing. Parents give kids timeouts (go to your room for 1 hour). What can do you with a dog? I don't want to put him in the crate, because he will learn to think that is a bad place.

If you have not noticed I am new to this ... this is really my first pet EVER. He started out great, but now is starting to act I expected him to act like when I first got him. It is very hard to filter through all this information. My vet says that it is ok to leave the dog in the crate for 8 hours -- he will get used to it. It is just a matter of bladder control and he will learn that. I sort of believe that too, since I have seen it done with my best friends dog. But he is still a pup, and I am unsure if this is the best time for him to be learning this task or not. But most of the owners believe this to be bad/cruel. It is really a tough call ... the dog has got to learn ... and I am willing to be patient for him to learn, but I want to make it easy as I can for him ... and me. I love that little guy ... (-: Jay and Odessa

I would have to agree with the majority and say that 8 hours in a crate is too long. A small puppy cannot hold it that long and will eventually HAVE to go in the crate. I would suggest that you leave it in the washroom but also leave the crate there too. You'll soon find out that he'll go into the crate on it's own. Maltese are very small and do not handle the cold very well. Paper training will save you the trouble of going outside, and will keep it warm, dry, and healthy. I have had my Maltese for about a week now and the wee wee pads are really working well. I plan on training him to go outside when he gets older since he will be able to hold it for longer periods of time (especially at night). Hope this helps.
Well Jay, look at it this way, human children go through different stages of growth and development, and puppies are no different (all animals for that fact). You cannot expect him to behave the same way as when you first bought him. You need to teach him how to act properly, just like you'd need to teach a human child. I go back to my original suggestion, get a good book on training, and maybe a videotape so you will know what to expect at different stages in his development. Also, enroll in obedience classes now. If this is your first pet, then you need to learn how to teach him properly, gently, and you need to learn how to understand what he is trying to tell you. Ideally you should have done all this before bringing the dog home, but its never too late to learn. As far as a "time-out" goes, I've never done it.. but if you want to try.. choose a different room, not his crate. You need to learn the basic theory behind positive and negative reinforcement, to help mold his behavior.. note I don't use the word "punishment"... I prefer correction. Holding the puppy down is something I remember from a friend who trains large agressive dogs, with the idea being that you are establishing your 'Alpha" status. I've never tried this either.. but his dogs are exceptionally well trained, so who am I to doubt it.

One last note, I do hate to disagree with a vet, but maybe you didn't describe your crate to the vet as you did to us. You said it was only about 2' long by 1' high.. that is an awfully small place to expect a little puppy to stay for 8 hours (sounds more like a carrier than a crate to me). He will be bored stiff!. There is nothing cruel about keeping him in a crate IMHO, but a larger area is needed.. tahts why I suggested keeping the crate open during the day and letting him have the run of one (easy to clean) room. The bathroom is probably good. You must remember that it takes time to train a dog.. months.. don't be impaient with him.. in a few years you will look back on this time fondly and laugh.

Dear Jay and Odessa (the pup) It's me again. Just to tell you about this magical combination for communicating your displeasure with Odessa's biting behavior. You can't really "time out" to his crate (that is his safe personal space). Try this, maybe it will work: When Odessa is biting, firmly grasp him by the scruff of the neck and shake him a little, telling him "No biting!" Put him down and make a big deal about ignoring him by turning your back and shutting your eyes and folding your arms. Shut him out. Go about your normal actions for a couple minutes, not looking at him. Then ask him to come and when he does tell him he is good. For Otto, this "mama-dog shake" and "shunning" recalls the discipline he got while still in the litter. It works for Otto; maybe it will work for you. Good Luck.
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