How To, Kalstone-Shirlee, Non-Fiction, Pets, Self-help

#143 How to Housebreak your Dog in 7 Days by Shirlee Kalstone


As I have mentioned previously, I have a puppy. My puppy needs some potty training. So far it hasn’t been going too awesome. I thought why not buy a book about housetraining a puppy?  I ended up with this book.

It’s short. That is a good thing about it. You can pretty much read it in one setting, but I am not too happy about having to pay around ten dollars for a book that is so short.

Anyways, the author, Shirlee, talks about training your dog to go to the bathroom outside.

She says dogs have to have a strict schedule. You wake up, you take them outside, you feed them, you take them outside again, you go to work, you come home, you take the dog outside, you feed the dog, you take it outside again, you play with the dog for a while, maybe you feed the dog again, then you take it out again, and finally you put the dog to bed.

This all sounds fine and dandy and simple. It’s very deceptively simple. This whole book is pretty much common sense. There are a few things I did learn. Like it’s a good idea to clean up accidents with cleaner and a deodorizer because dogs are the Superman of the nose world.

I haven’t had a chance to try this out for seven days. I am just one of those people who don’t want to get up before I have to. I am a lifelong insomniac and given the choice between getting some extra sleep and exercising, or getting some extra sleep and walking the dog, or getting some extra sleep and breakfast, most of the time I am going to choose getting some extra sleep.

In a world where people work this plan makes sense, but it’s hard to do. You rush in the morning to get ready for work, you may not live close enough to your house to go home for lunch. You may only have a thirty minute lunch hour, which many shift-workers have. You may get caught in a traffic jam. There are many things that would prevent a person from carrying out this training style.

The author does give a few pointers for situations like this. She suggests leaving your pet and their cage in a bathroom or part of the kitchen, so he or she is not in the crate all day. Yes, it’s a good idea in theory, but Shirlee didn’t put too much time in addressing giving your dog the run of a space when your dog will chew up everything. Yes, puppies chew a lot of stuff. They have strong jaw muscles and can pretty much chew whatever you put in front of them barring metal and concrete, some dogs may even be able to handle those two substances.

I have had lots of dogs in my life. I have had tiny dogs and I have had big dogs, very few of them were actually allowed in the house. The last puppy we had while I was living at home took a long time to house train. A long time. It took months. While Shirlee’s method sounds amazing, I am guessing it is one of those things you have to keep up forever.

There are so many things like that. They advertise like their solution will fix all your problems, but fail to mention that their solution is not a fix it’s actually a habit change. Shirlee does mention this to a degree in this book, but I think it should be made well-known. This is not a do it for seven days then forget it thing; it’s a do this all the time kind of thing.

I can’t actually review her method, because I haven’t had the time to enforce it yet. Maybe Shirlee thinks it would be easy for a working person to complete this method, but it’s not.

Shirlee breaks the book down in chapters, it is a book right? She addresses various issues. Maybe you dog is an inside only dog? Maybe you live in the city? Maybe you work all day? Maybe you stay at home? Maybe you want to litter train your dog? This is the first time I have heard of this. I know you can litter train cats, ferrets, rabbits, ponies, and even big cats to use a litter box, but I have never heard of training a dog to use a litter box. I am almost certain the dog is going to be nowhere near as fastidious as the cat would be.

What I liked: I like that this plan is put out in a straight forward manner. It seems simple and Shirlee does a good job of explaining this or that.

What I didn’t like: Shirlee does not present her book as a habit-changing book. She presents it as a quick fix book. Differences do exist. Sure you can do plan A for a certain amount of time and you will get results, but if you don’t keep up with Plan A, everything will go to the dogs. Pun totally intended.

People generally aren’t into changing their habits. They’re into behaving differently for a short period of time to get results. A person doesn’t want to have to change everything about themselves to potty train the dog, lose weight, quit smoking, or control their diabetes without insulin, but most of the time that is what we run into. Small changes over time are what get us where we want to be, not big changes for a short period of time. Although, sometimes big changes can really help a person get jump-started.

The paper the book is printed on is newsprint in quality. Ok, so maybe it’s a little better than that, but it’s still inferior to many other paper types. I don’t like it when I run into a very cheaply printed book. That means the book is not going to last. You want to have the information in your book for years, not until you spill your glass of water on it.

Overall, it’s worth a read, I guess, but I don’t know if I would make it an end-all resource for your dog.