The most important thing to do when housebreaking your dog is to reward him for doing what you want, relieving himself outside. This reward can take the form of praise, but housebreaking will go faster if you use food rewards in addition to praise. It's simple to do. Every time your dog relieves himself outside, give him a treat. What you want is for your dog to rush to relieve himself when you take him outside, then run to you for his treat.
In order to reward your dog for relieving himself outside, you must always go outside with him, even if you have a fenced yard. Keep the treats right by the door so you can grab some as you go out. If you want to teach your dog to relieve himself in one particular place in the yard, take him to that place and stay with him until he does. You may want to keep the treats outside by this area in a plastic container. Don't let your dog play until he has relieved himself. You want to establish a habit of him relieving himself before you play, go for walks, or get into the car. You can encourage your dog to use a particular area by placing his feces or the paper towels that you have used to clean up his urine there.
If your dog has been punished and will not relieve himself outside when you are there, you will need to be more patient and do some extra things to get your dog to go outside so you can reward him and communicate what it is you want. Patience may mean staying outside with your dog and waiting for an hour until you can finally reward him. Once he understands what you want, he will get faster and faster at relieving himself.
Some dogs who have had a severe reaction to being punished absolutely refuse to relieve themselves outside on leash. Sometimes they will urinate but not defecate. Dogs have more control over their bowel movements, and often the dog has been caught more frequently in the act of defecating and has consequently been punished for that more often. One easy thing to change is to get a longer leash if the one you are using is only four or six feet in length. Your dog may feel more comfortable if he can get farther away from you. You can make a long leash (20 to 40 feet) out of a piece of rope tied to a bolt snap. This is also a good tool for teaching a dog to come when called and is further described in chapter 6. If you still cannot get your dog to defecate outside, talk to your veterinarian about using a baby suppository.
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Fundamentals of Dog and Puppy Training. Although dogs shouldn't be attributed with having human characteristics, they are intelligent enough to be able to understand the concept of, and execute, certain actions that their owners require of them - if these actions are asked in a way that dogs find rewarding.