I used the crate method for both boys. I hadn't had a puppy in many, many years and both Wolf and Taylor came into the house already housebroken.
Until they could be trusted, the boys were crated overnight and at anytime they were unsupervised.
This meant that they didn't like to poop or pee where they slept and learned self control. I use inexpensive bathmats as crate bedding which is easily washable. I also had a supply of these bathmats which meant they could be changed 3 or more times a day before a load of laundry was necessary. (I also use a bathmat under the waterjug in the kitchen as both dogs are water dogs and occasionally as pups splash in the water).
Sebastian is fastidious and early on did not pee or poop in his crate. Cinnabar is not as fastidious and stopped pooping in the crate before he stopped peeing in the crate, but I did puppy laundry for Cinnabar longer than I did for Sebastian.
I took Sebastian out for frequent pee breaks when he was little. However, I made a mistake early on and used puppy pads near the back door. Because Sebastian was silent about his need and didn't sniff around giving me a hint, he just went to the back door and peed or pooped. Because of my mistake, it took almost 7 months for full potty training to be completed.
With Cinnabar, he had the example of Sebastian to see and major potty training was complete around 4 months.
Cinnabar gives the classic signs of sniffing and circling, so when I see that I call "outside" and he runs to the door to go out.
Sometimes he's already gotten into poop pose and I've called "outside" and he's waddled to the door, bless his heart.
When there are accidents that I haven't witnessed, I just clean them up and say nothing. Correction must be instant to the offense or it's meaningless. When I see an accident in progress, I call "outside" in a happy voice, clapping my hands and opening the door.
I praise outdoor pooping and peeing
I have bells hung on the back door doorknob. Sebastian rings these to go out. As of this writing, sometimes Cinnabar does as well. When I want the boys to come in, often just hearing the bells brings them on the run, other times I ring the bells and then they're on the run to the door. I started with the bells because Sebastian is silent about needing to go out, and I could never hear him looking out the door earnestly waiting for me to open it. The downside of the bells, is that Sebastian uses them to get Cinnabar's attention and presence. Once he's accomplished that, he runs and gets the toy or bone that Cinnabar had been working on. It's not a foolproof system for me at this point.
I can't recommend this highly enough for puppy socialization with other dogs, other people and human learning. Not only that, you get group sympathy for the trials of puppyhood.
Sebastian's Puppy Kindergarten Journal
Cinnabar's Puppy Kindergarten Journal
Daily Sit/Stay Down/Stay
We do Sit/Stays and Down/Stays daily, only a few minutes each day. For Sebastian it is completely old hat at this point. I can put him in a Sit/Stay and walk 60 feet away from him holding a treat, offered to him in my outstretched hand. He will not break it until I say "ok". I correct him from any "popping up" attempts by saying "eh,eh" sharply. The same with Down/Stay for him. Sometimes instead of "ok" to release him from the command, I call "Place" (he runs to my right, circles behind me and sits at my left side), a command he loves.
I started Sit/Stay early with Cinnabar and he's very good at it, eyes on the proffered treat. However, because both boys are there, I cannot at this point walk away from Cinnabar. He scoots towards me eyes on the treat afraid he will miss out because Sebastian will grab it. Once we start Basic Obedience, and the blasted humidty breaks for good this season for daily walking, I can work on that with him without Sebastian's presence. Getting Cinnabar all the way down for a Down/Stay is still a challenge at this point, but he's getting it, and sometimes imitates Sebastian's 'dive' on the Down/Stay command. He will stay in a Down, but again only with me right next to him.
When play gets too rough between them, I often call "Time Out" and get the can of liver treats and call Sit/Stay. I keep them in that for a minute. Then the same with Down/Stay. Then I alternate for various times, ending in a "Place" for Sebastian. Their rough play concentration is then totally broken, and they go back to jaw wrestling with a fun attitude.
I use the "settle" command when jaw wrestling and other play gets out of hand for in the house. I reinforce it with vinegar spray. Sometimes it seems to be worth it to be sprayed in the face a few times before complying.
"Excuse Me", "Eh, eh"
I can't emphasize how important basic obedience is for a 125lb Alaskan Malamute. I can take Sebastian into pet stores and have only good behavior the whole way, including Sit/Stay at the checkout. I can take him into the bank and have him well behaved. I can take him into the UPS store, where there are lots of people, copiers going and other machine noises and have him well behaved. Only working with him daily has made that possible, and it doesn't mean he's perfect, he's still learning and still a handful, but we have a base of good behavior.
I realized how much progress we made one day at the pet store. A teenage boy pointed to Sebastian and said to his father, "that's an obedience trained dog, I want one like that". Wow! They approached gently and asked to pet Sebastian and when I agreed, Sebastian was perfectly behaved. (Not like the seemingly swarms of kids that see him and run at us screaming "can I pet your dog?", when the answer is always no with me holding up my hand in a "talk to the hand" gesture to stop their forward movement, which seems like an attack to a dog). But, that young man's voice will always be in my head, "that's an obedience trained dog, I want one like that". He saw a 31+" dog (who I think happens to be gorgeous), walking at my side listening to me and wanted one like that. The hard work is worth it. Sebastian and Cinnabar are becoming ambassadors for the Alaskan Malamute breed.
They both go with me on errands to the pet store, and other places, where they must be well-mannered. This gets them used to strange noises, strange people and strange dogs, with only good behavior acceptable as a response to all. It sure doesn't hurt that they get lots of lovin' from strangers :)
We're going to the pet store and other places at least twice a week. Although initially scared of the pet store, Cinnabar is over that. He's completely gregarious with meeting people, which is wonderful. Sebastian is gregarious with women, but takes quite awhile to warm up to some men. I've discerned no pattern with his selection. Since I want to get Canine Good Citizenship certification for both of them, they need to be gregarious with everyone when we're out in public. That's why we go out and about at least twice a week.
Sebastian jump from a Sit/Wait August 2005
Weight Pull Training
MALAMUTE MEMORIES by Dr. Ian Dunbar. This article was based on Dr. Dunbar's monthly Behavior column in the November 1988 issue of The American Kennel Gazette. Excellent article!
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