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House Training a Basset Hound

When I first got home with my new Basset Hound puppy, I let him roam around the house so he could explore his new environment. I watched as he sniffed around my kitchen and worked his way into my family room. As he was sniffing the carpet, he started to turn in circles (a signal that a puppy is about to go). I suddenly realized (too late) that he needed to eliminate. As I ran over to pick him up, he pooped on my carpet!

I knew it was my own fault and that I shouldn't scold him. Of course with puppies, accidents will happen. But, I learned pretty quickly that I needed to take this house training thing more seriously.

So, when should house training a Basset Hound puppy start?
Immediately... as my experience (or lack of it) demonstrates.

House Training Methods

If you're house training a Basset Hound, then the first step is to select a training method. I highly recommend crate training. But, I also realize that there are a few reasons why one may want to start with paper training.

Crate Training a Basset Hound
According to Joan Urban, author of A New Owner's Guide to Basset Hounds and owner and breeder for over 40 years, crate training is the best way to housebreak a Basset Hound.

When crate training a Basset Hound, you confine your dog or puppy to a crate for short periods of time when you're unable to watch him. Dogs are den animals and the crate becomes your dog's den. It's where he eats, sleeps, and spends down time. By instinct, a dog does not want to eliminate in his den. Therefore, you can use the crate to get into a routine while providing frequent opportunities for your dog to relieve himself as well as plenty of play breaks outside of his crate.

I crate trained my Basset Hound, Hunter. It was a very effective and efficient method. Additionally, it was the best way to keep him safe and sound when I wasn't able to keep a watchful eye on him.

Of course, a puppy or adult dog should not be confined to a crate for long periods of time and the crate should not be used for punishment. But, when done properly, crate training is the fastest method to housebreak a Basset Hound.

Paper Training a Basset Hound
With paper training, you confine your dog or puppy to an area in your home and put paper down where he can eliminate. The area should be large enough so that he doesn't have to eliminate right next to the spot where he sleeps and eats. Take your dog to the paper whenever he signals that he's about to go. If you do this consistently, then the he'll learn to go to the paper to eliminate.

But keep in mind, paper training is temporary. You'll eventually need to train your Basset Hound to go outside.

Paper training is useful if you can't get outside quickly. For example, you may want to start with this method if you live in an apartment and it takes a while to get outside, i.e. long flights of stairs or a long elevator ride.

Accidents

If you're house training a Basset Hound, then you'll most likely experience a few or more accidents.

To Punish or Not?
Should you punish your dog when an accident happens? No!!! If you don't catch him in the act, then he won't know why he's being punished. Therefore, there's no reason for punishment. And please, never rub his nose in it!

If you do catch him in the act, then sharply shout "No!" to get his attention and stop him, not to punish him. Then, pick him up quickly and take him outside or to the paper. Put a leash on an older dog and take him outside. The idea is to quickly get your dog to the spot where he's suppose to go and then, let him finish. When he's done, immediately praise him, give him a treat, or play with him to let him know that you're pleased because he went in the right spot.

Praise for good behavior is better than punishment for accidents. Always provide immediate praise after your dog goes in the right spot. Never punish.

Minimizing Accidents When Training a Basset Hound
Here are some helpful tips to minimize accidents while housebreaking your dog:

- Crate or confine your dog or puppy when you're not actively watching him.

- Don't let your dog or puppy roam around the house unsupervised. Restrict him to uncarpeted rooms that are easy to clean. For example when I was house training my Basset Hound, he was only allowed in the kitchen, laundry room, and eating area when not in his crate. These areas do not have carpet so it was easy to clean up after an accident. I used gates (the same ones you use for babies) to close off open walkways. Keep in mind, too much unsupervised freedom can lead to accidents all over the house.

- Learn the signs that indicate that your dog is about to go. If he starts to sniff as though he's looking for a spot and / or turns in tight circles and / or squats, then he most likely is going to go. Quickly get him outside or to the paper.

- When he's not confined or in a crate, actively watch for signs that he's about to go. Alternatively, take him out at frequent intervals to prevent accidents. When my puppy first came home, I took him out about every 15 minutes when he wasn't in his crate. I gradually increased the time span as I got to know him.

- The last thing to do before putting your dog in his crate is take him outside to eliminate. The first thing to do when you take him out of his crate is take him outside to eliminate. Don't play with him until he's done his business.

- If your dog just ate, he'll need to go within thirty minutes. So watch for the signs.

- When you wake up in the morning, promptly take your dog out to eliminate. Before you go to bed, take him out.

- Get into a daily routine, i.e. a schedule for feeding and potty trips. Realize that a puppy will need to go more often than an adult dog. Adjust your schedule so that you can meet the needs of your dog. If you're unable to do this, then get help, perhaps from a reliable relative, friend, or neighbor or a reputable pet service.

Cleaning Up
When an accident happens, quietly clean up the mess. Don't make a big deal out of it and try not to get frustrated.

It's important to completely eliminate the odor from the accident scene to prevent your dog from going in that spot again. When a dog starts sniffing around for a spot to go, he's actually looking for a spot that he previously used.

Cleaning with soap and water or a regular household cleanser does not do the job. Your dog will still be able to smell it and will go there again. There are some special solutions, available at pet supply stores and online, that are specifically made to eliminate the odor.

I used the solution not only on my carpets but also on my floors (just to make sure the odor was gone).

Final Tips for House Training a Basset Hound

If you're house training a Basset Hound, whether a puppy or an adult:

  • Have patience. It will take time and effort on your part to housebreak your Basset Hound. But, the end result will be worth it. The Basset Hound matures more slowly than other breeds and usually takes longer to housebreak. Try not to get frustrated!
  • Be consistent. Lots of accidents mean you're not providing enough opportunities for your dog to go in the right spot. Establish a feeding, eating, sleeping, and play time schedule that's sufficient to meet your dog's needs and follow it consistently. Your goal is to prevent accidents.
  • Praise, Praise, Praise! Punishment for accidents can lead to set backs. Blame yourself when accidents happen and provide ample praise after your dog goes in the right spot.

And finally, don't give up on your Basset Hound!

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My Basset Hound, Hunter

My dog, Hunter!
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