Often in our attempt to welcome our new loved one we end up doing them a disservice by giving them free range of our shared living spaces instead of immediately ushering them into an environment of structure and stability through confinement training.

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Such carelessness is often rooted in goodwill. As new pet parents we want our four-legged family members to feel comfortable in their new home. What we often fail to realize is that new luxuries need to be treated with appreciation and respect.

In his informative booklet “Before You Get Your Puppy,” longtime Berkeley local and renowned animal researcher, Dr. Ian Dunbar outlines a simple process known as Errorless Housetraining which helps build one of the key elements in the relationship between a dog and her human: harmony.


Errorless housetraining begins with adopting the idea of confinement and understanding just how essential it is during your pup’s first few weeks at home. Long-term confinement is appropriate for times in which you must leave your pup to her own devices. Once you’ve gotten your puppy comfortable with a crate (it must be viewed as a “bedroom,” otherwise discomfort will impede your progress) you can place the crate in a fenced-off section of your home, thus creating a “playpen.” Be sure to include a bowl of clean water, a chewtoy, and a designated spot for elimination. Your pup’s needs are basic, yet essential.

A chew toy allows your new friend to exercise her most dominant physical trait: her teeth! The confined space reduces the options for playthings (better her toy than your shoes, yes?), and most importantly, it instills the idea that her designated toy is the only object appropriate for releasing her newfound destructive tendencies. “During her first few weeks at home, regular confinement teaches the puppy to teach herself to chew chewtoys, to settle down quietly, and not to become a recreational barker. Moreover, short term confinement allows you to predict when your puppy needs to relieve herself, so that you may take her to the right spot and reward her for eliminating.”

Sadly, most new owners fail to provide the structure needed to maintain a dog’s mental and emotional well-being. Because of this failure many new dogs don’t make it past their second birthday’s with their adopted parents. Help reduce the trend of irresponsible thinking by rearing your new friend in a thoughtful and loving home. For more information and a FREE PDF version of Dr. Dunbar’s booklet please visit our website: campusveterinary.com.