Grooming and Housebreaking


By: Martin R. Smith D.V.M.

Here are some suggestions make this important training period a success.

Buy a crate and during the first few weeks, keep your puppy in it whenever you are not playing, holding, or watching him explore his new surroundings. Spend as much time as you can with your pet, but when you can’t watch him, crating him can prevent mistakes from occurring. In addition to providing the safe, secure refuge your dog needs and wants, crates are critical to house training because as den animals, dogs are naturally inclined to not soil their bed. The most important thing house training dogs learn in a crate is that they can control their urge to eliminate until the proper time and situation.

Establish a schedule and don’t deviate from it. The “when” and “how” you house train needs to be consistent so make sure all family members follow the same guidelines. Pick a soiling spot in your yard and take your pup there on a lead when it is time to eliminate. The odor from previous visits to this spot will stimulate the urge to defecate and/or urinate.

Many new owners confuse their pup by using different words for the same command. In the housebreaking process, it is a good idea to use the same word like “outside” every time you take the puppy out to eliminate. Consistent use of the word with an activity will help to build a level of communication between you and your pup. Later, while you are watching television and notice you pup staring at you, you can say the word “outside” and your pup will go to the door.

Be patient. Dogs may urinate or defecate more than once in one outing, and not always right away. Don’t distract your pup from the job at hand. Praise him for his success when the job is done but don’t overdo it. Just patting them across their shoulders a few times will do the trick. In a dog’s language, that means more than constant rubbing across the head or repeating “Good Dog!” Some people prefer to use a consistent phrase when the pup eliminates such as “Do your stuff!” The pup soon learns this is a signal to eliminate, which is very useful when traveling or when time is short.

Don’t mix business with pleasure. When your pup has finished, take him back inside, even just for a minute or two.

When you come back inside, spend some time with your pup. You know there is little chance the pup will have to eliminate for a while so play with him and have a good time. The more time you spend with the pup, the better it is.

Remember they are still young and need to act like a pup, developing and learning about their new situation and environment. When you’re finished, take one more trip outside and place the pup back in its cage or crate. After every meal and playtime, remember to take them outside before placing them back in the cage.

The key to house training is you. Spend as much time you’re your puppy as possible during the first two to three weeks your puppy is home. Be consistent, patient, praise when appropriate, and be willing-for however long it takes-to invest the time and energy necessary to make this important training time a success. The effort you put forth now will be well worth it for the lifetime of your pet.

Establishing a schedule is important. Dogs are creatures of habit; they like to eat, sleep and relieve themselves on a regular schedule. Establishing and maintaining a schedule is easy to do and gets easier as your puppy grows.

Pay attention to your dog’s behavior so you can develop a schedule that works for both of you. First, learn when your dog naturally defecates-in the morning, at night, 30 minutes after eating, etc. Look at your schedule and determine what compromises need to be made to make this workable for everyone.

If you catch your puppy in the act of having an accident, tell him “No” forceful. Pick him up and take him outside. If you don’t catch him, simply clean up the mess and scold yourself for not being available. Do not scold the puppy.

Until your pup is 14 weeks old, take him outside frequently and watch him very closely when he is in-or out of-his crate. As soon as you see him pacing, sniffing around, turning around in circles, or trying to sneak away (if he’s out of the crate), take him outside. These are telltale signs that he needs to relieve himself. Say “Outside” each time you take your puppy out, so you can develop communication and understanding between you and your pet.


Any wild canine will secure a small, snugly fitting space to call its own. This space represents security to the dog. In its den it cannot be attacked or bothered, so it is able to relax fully. This instinctive desire for a secure den is the basis of the psychology behind using a crate as a training aid. Once the pet owner has overcome his own prejudice against “caging a pet and accepted the sound reasoning behind crate-training, he and his dog can begin to enjoy the benefits of the marvelous crate.

To accustom your dog to its new crate, prop open the door and allow the dog to explore the confines of the crate. Placing food or a favorite object inside will encourage it to step in. When the dog is comfortable, close the door and keep it confined for about 5 or 10 minutes. When you let the dog out, do it unceremoniously. Releasing the dog should not be a major production.

Each time you put the dog in the crate, increase the time it is confined. Eventually the dog can be confined for up to four hours at a time. If the crate also serves as the dog’s bed, it can be left crated throughout the night. Don’t overuse the crate, though. Both you and your dog should think of it as a safe haven, not as a prison.
Use the soothing effect of the crate to convey to your dog that it is bedtime. Many dogs will learn to go directly to their crates when they are ready to call it a day. Often the use of the crate will convince a restless dog to stop howling at the moon or barking at every little sound, allowing their owners to sleep through the night undisturbed.

Many dogs receive their meals in their crates. Finicky eaters are made to concentrate on the food that is offered and, as a result, overcome their eating problems. For the owners of more than one dog, the crate serves as a way to regulate the food intake of each dog. If dogs in the same household have different diets, crate feeding is almost essential. It can also make mealtimes less stressful if you have a dominant dog that tries to keep the others in the household away from the food bowls.

Housebreaking is made easier when the wise owner relies on the help of the crate. Until the dog is dependably housetrained, it should not be given the opportunity to make a mistake. A healthy dog will not soil its den-the place where it sleeps. If the crate is the right size for your dog-allowing just enough room to stand up and turn around, it will not soil its crate. If you purchase a crate for a puppy based on the size of the mature dog, you may need to block off one end to keep the puppy from sleeping in one corner and using the other for elimination.
Any time you cannot keep a close watch on the puppy, kindly place it in its crate. When the dog eliminates at the proper time, reward it. With the assistance of a crate;, house training can be almost painless for you and your puppy.

The crate is a safety seat for a traveling dog. You may know that shipping a dog requires a crate, but do you realize that the crate in your car serves as a seatbelt would protect your dog in the event of an accident? A dog thrown out of the car or through a windshield has little chance of surviving. In the event you or a passenger need medical care during an accident, a crate will keep the dog from “guarding” you from paramedics.
If you need to ship your dog by air, the task will be much easier if the dog is already used to its crate. A crate-trained dog is relaxed and less likely to need sedation for traveling. Avoiding sedatives removes one of the major risks of air travel for dogs, and your dog will be alert and happy when it lands.

When you travel and have to leave your dog behind, the caretaker will have a much easier time caring for a crate-trained dog or she will appreciate being able to confine the dog for rest periods and when the dog is dangerously underfoot. Your dog will also enjoy being able to take its crate (and a little bit of home) with it if it must spend time in a strange place.

No untrained dog should be given the run of the house while its owner is away. This is not only foolhardy from the standpoint of protecting your belongings but also from the standpoint of protecting the dog. An untrained dog could chew through an electrical cord, get trapped under a piece of furniture it has upset or be poisoned or choked by a piece of trash. Use a crate to protect the untrained dog from itself. Of course, this means you will have to limit your time away from home. A puppy must be taken out at regular intervals to exercise and take care of business.

If your dog becomes ill or needs surgery, confinement in a crate means better care for your dog. It reinforces consistency in training. It helps the dog feel more secure. It makes having strangers in the house less hectic. It makes travel safer and more comfortable. It makes bringing up a puppy as easy as it can be. Once you have experienced the benefits of crate-training your dog, you will question how you ever lived without the wonderful crate.

Schnauzer Grooming Chart

Grooming Chart 001