View Full Version : House-training a half-grown Lab
09-12-2008, 12:14 PM
Inspired by the "dumb pet advice" thread in MPSIMS:
We gotta' house train our juvenile yellow Lab this fall, and I'm not looking forward to it, so if anybody has an idea how to house train a half-grown Lab, I'm open to suggestions. In the past, we've always caged the dog when it was inside at night, letting it out first thing in the morning with instructions to "go potty" and rewarding it when it completed the task. Since this is primarily an outdoor dog, he'll be inside only at night when it gets really cold this winter; otherwise, he'll stay out because we have a "dog run" the size of a city block and he can get exercise and play with our older Lab.
The cage part is the problem -- it's big enough for him to be comfortable, but he practically tears it apart after about 30 seconds (I used it to take him to the vet a few weeks ago.) If we just keep him in the utility room, he chews, claws and otherwise ruins stuff.
09-12-2008, 12:30 PM
1) You need to get him comfortable in the cage first. Google "crate training" for some tips. First, drape a blanket over the top of cage, and put a large towel or dog bed inside. You want him to think of the crate as his "den." Generally dogs will not mess where they sleep. When he comes back tired from a long walk/busy play, put him in the crate with a bone while you stay in the room doing something calm. DO NOT shut the door of the crate. You want him to see the crate as a place to be quiet and calm, and a place to sleep. Eventually you can start closing the door for longer and longer. The trick is to make sure he is tired when he goes to bed. If he's tearing the place up at night, he hasn't had enough exercise/stimulation during the day. Just because the dog spends the day outside doesn't mean he is doing enough to go to bed tired.
2) In terms of house-breaking, pick an area where you want him to eliminate/pee, and always take him to that area first thing in the morning. Dogs set up "scent-posts" that they will continue to return to again and again. Don't pick up all the stools from that area - leave some there, so he knows that this is his elimination area. Once he is trained, you won't have to leave anything there - this is just for training purposes.
3) I would recommend reading any books from The Monks of New Skete that you can get your hands on (The Art of Raising a Puppy, How to be Your Dog's Best Friend).
09-12-2008, 12:59 PM
Hmm, may have some challenges with the "don't shut the cage door" part at first -- he really resented the hell out of being in the cage enroute to the vet's, but I had to use my pickup, so that was a must. Maybe he won't be too spoiled on the cage, though. My father tells me a combination of patience and persistence is the key to dog training.
09-12-2008, 03:02 PM
Yeah, I understand. Some people suggest putting some kibble in there to lure him in (still don't close the door), and then giving him a bone, or something that he would normally play with quietly. Repeat repeat repeat until he realizes the cage is a 'safe' space.
One way to do it is to "towel train" him. Get a large towel that is specifically for his use. Practice having him down/stay (i know this is a whole different level of training, but while your teaching him to stay, the towel may as well be involved), on the towel in various locations in the house or outside. Once he gets that the towel is a place for him to lie quietly, you can move the towel into the crate.
On a side note, towel-training is also useful in the future if you have to take the dog anywhere. With our dog, we can actually bring her to any house, put the towel down, give her a bone on the towel, and tell her to stay. She'll stay there happy and comfortable basically indefinitely - because she knows the towel is "her space" where she can be calm and relaxed.
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