My father learned how to train dogs when in the military service during WWII. His method of housebreaking is the one I learned, and today I look back on it with horror and repulsion. I still remember vividly seeing the poor dog having his or her face rubbed in pee or poo while being beat and reprimanded with a loud, agitated voice. I can remember the dogs running from my father, fecal matter still clinging to their noses, and then running to safety or cowering in a corner. In those days that's how people trained their dogs, and shamefully that's how I trained my first dogs.
Over the years I've developed a better appreciation and keener insight into our canine companions. I can appreciate that they too have dignity, intelligence, memory, feelings and unique personalities. Their feelings are intense and should be taken into consideration when interacting with them and especially during training. Cruelty, abuse, and physical punishment can have lifetime implications and leave hard-wired imprints.
In the Super Simple Guide to Housetraining Teoti Anderson's modern methods of housetraining dogs are kinder, gentler, and probably more effective. They're certainly much more pleasant for dog and owner than the older, medieval ways. In this easy to read book, the pet owner learns about crate training, outdoor training, preventing accidents and also picks up some information about healthy habits and nutrition.
The book has five parts followed by an index and a list of still relevant resources for additional information.
Part 1 - What is housetraining and why it is important. After one "accident" you'll understand why housetraining is vital.
Part 2 - Getting Ready - This chapter talks about choosing your dog and the personalities and needs of dogs of various sizes and breeds. One must take into consideration age, gender, and previous training. Also you'll find in this section advice about training equipment and cleaning up of "mistakes". You'll read about crate options, belly bands (something I'd never heard called that name) , leashes, collars, cleansers, and even canine litter boxes.
Part 3 - Healthy Dog, Healthy Habits - If you own or have owned a dog, you know well the connection between diet, nutrition, and potty habits. In this part of the book you'll find information on feeding, diseases, incontinence, and mental health of your pet.
Part 4 - Housetraining - This section is the book's bread and butter. Here you'll get the nitty gritty about crate training, supervision, outdoor training, recognizing your dog's signals, and advanced training.
Part 5 - Solutions to Common Problems - The information here is presented in question answer format, similar to an advice column in the newspaper. The format works well here and adds a little variety to the book's presentation.
There is a newer edition to this book that seems to have been fine-tuned and tweaked a little bit. The information in both books is very similar however.
On the side of the pages you'll notice colored index tabs to make finding the various parts of the book faster and easier.
I like the friendly tone of the book and that the author is never condescending or preachy. She's matter of fact and focuses on sharing her expertise learned from her years of experience training dogs.
The author doesn't like retractable leashes for training. We used them, but I can understand the author's rationale for using a leash of fixed length when doing outdoor training.
Her advice to feed your dog on a schedule is a good one. In on schedule and out on schedule is the mantra. Our pooches are on a regular feeding and pooping schedule, which works out nicely for dogs and owner.
I had to smile when the author writes about keeping your dog's attention on task with frequent reminders. Even at six-years-of age, Piper the shih tzu is easily distracted by any sound, motion or smell. She has to be reminded constantly of her dooty purpose or she'll take an agonizing amount of time to finally get down to business even though I know she has to go.
I think this is a good housetraining book, especially for someone who is new to housetraining. Even an experienced dog owner will pick up a few pointers from the master dot trainer too. Those looking for more detail on the subject will still find this book to be a good starting point.
printed and bound in China
Cover photography by Isabelle Francais