Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
House training problems part one
This week I went to Majorca and had two very interesting discussions with people regarding house training their dogs. The first was where an owner had a dog that continued to wee and poo in the house no matter what the owner did to encourage the dog to go outside in the garden. In the end, the finally became angry when actually watching the dog poo in the kitchen in front of the owner. That was the final straw; the owner grabbed the dog and shouted, hit it, and rubbed its nose into the offending mess. Amazing it worked: no more fouling the house.
The second case related to an older dog that should have been house trained but it continued to foul in the house. The owners spent a small fortune on behaviourists at £50 and £75 an hour who gave them advice like using a crate or many other standard behavioural advice that are common and easily found in any dog training book. The owner told us that the dog had all the attention from all the family of two adults and older family as well as resident young children that it could ask for but it would not stop fouling their house so they had to return the dog.
A further case just received was where three older male dogs continue to urinate round the house and another case where a puppy where when ever anyone comes to the door it becomes so excited it can not stop urinating.
From these cases, they may appear the same problem but they are not.
For the first case the owner caught the puppy at the right moment and full-blown chastisement of the worst kind metered out making it that, what the dog was doing produced a bad result so it stopped messing the house. It must have already learnt to go outside and that it now had more control of the bowel and bladder muscles. It was therefore easy for the dog to now understand the other places were ok but in the house was not.
OK yes I do agree that it worked and pain does work so this is why this method is often the normal relied upon standard when all else seems to fail. It therefore follows if it works it must be the best method to use. It is not and it would not have worked in most cases and can only make things worse.
When you bring young puppies into the house, they are only just gaining some control of the muscles that control going to the toilet. The puppy case was it may well have been house trained but during periods of excitement, it still cannot control its bladder. It such cases just ignore the puppy to calm it down and clean up the mess later. Do not try to notice this urinating or respond to your dog’s actions. I will deal with this next week.
Normally whenever a puppy wakes it needs to go to the loo. Every time this happens, take the puppy out and wait. I stood for ages one evening in the rain waiting for them to go and then I praised them for doing so. It did not take them long to understand that going to the loo outside they received a lot of praise whilst if they went inside as some do and have little accidents they receive nothing.
When I say to praise your dog I mean to show it lots of praise that really tells your dog that you are happy. Do not use words alone but be obvious in your body language. Using the same everyday tone so many owners use will do nothing, as dogs do not understand the words without some prior training.
Tricks to use are to collect any house mistakes and deposit them outside at a place you are happy to use as a dogs toilet for now. Just the smell will often set your dogs into going to the toilet. It is always possible to change your chosen place later if you need to. Another method to try is to make a pole covered in carpet then pour your dogs urine onto this. When your dog or any dog smells this pole, it will set them off urinating. If you have seen Greyhounds before a race, they walk them up to the pole so they go before running the next race.
Do make sure you have a good enzyme cleaner to clean up any mistakes. Bleach etc does not kill the smell for your dog so if it smells the last little error it will set it off again to use the same spot. Bleach contains similar ammonia and this often makes dogs urinate.
Most pet shops will sell a good enzyme cleaner specifically for this job. It is worth it as the more errors you have the longer it takes to retrain. If any of you have found and can recommend a good cleaning product for all to use please do write in to share this with us all.
Going to the loo is necessary as well as being a pleasing sensation so they will do it again in an appointed place if there is good reason. If there is still any lingering smell of its previous experiences this can trigger a further event. We have to remember that dogs and even puppies use urine and defecate in please as a directional aide to their territory so instinct can play a part in why it goes in a certain place. I watched five dogs in Romania wee up a tree in turn and then start all over again.
You may notice problems of urination by dogs if you have other pets. I know our dog would if it could wee up the legs on the birdcage just to let the bird know it was his territory outside the cage.
The first case was the normal classic case but where the owner did not keep a vigilant eye on the dog so it made mistakes. The owner was training reasonably well but did miss the odd times when the dog woke and so errors occurred.
This case is a classic where the owner had almost trained the dog but finally resorted to pain from sheer frustration and managed to catch the dog at the appropriate moment. Had the owner not done so like many having this problem and not caught the dog at the right time this only makes the problem worse not better?
A dogs association memory is very short so once the dog has finished what it was doing, it is too late to use chastisement, as the dog will not know what you getting angry about.
Coming into a house and seeing a mess is too late. Many people do chastise their dogs because they believe the dogs know they have done wrong. They do not. They read your face and body language so they know you are angry and duck for cover making it look as if it is the action of guilt. Your dog has no idea what the problem is and rubbing its so sensitive nose in the mess is hurtful for a dog and does not help at all.
Showing anger can also make the puppy go secretly when ever it wakes up so you find a mess behind the sofa or in a quiet room. It can also make it go to the toilet from fear so when it wakes it thinks you are about to chase it in anger so it does what is natural reduce the weight and flee.
The quick way to train takes only a few days and you must change your routine making vigilance of your dog’s toilet behaviour second nature to you. I know that sometimes a dog wakes and nothing happens until some time later but this is because the puppy is distracted. Do use this technique to use say a squeaky toy to distract the dog if you think it is about to wee and be happy taking the puppy outside and ignore it until it has gone and done something right then be over the top happy. Do not worry what the neighbours think of your behaviour but if you follow this routine, you will have a puppy house trained easily in days and without or few mistakes.
Once you have a puppy that tells you when it wants to go out to obtain praise from you when it goes to the toilet then you can start and become less vigilant and calm down knowing you have done a good job.
For those of you who purchase a shelter dog then you can find that older dogs have forgotten or become lazy about house training as they have become use to going to the toilet in their runs. They probably still do not foul their beds and this is normal but you have to define to your new shelter dog how big the dog’s bedroom is. Some people who use dog beds sometimes find it is difficult to house train as it simply goes anywhere outside its basket. Again teaching the dog where the territory boundaries of the house and garden can are often over come this one.
One other item is diet. Normally you feed puppies four meals a day so going to the toilet becomes one of put food in one end etc. This splitting of meals is primarily to stop dog’s rib cages bending outward and remain round bellied when their bones stop growing. If you feed using this sort of routine you will find the dogs has a deeper chest and more flat sided. My dog Winston does sometimes puts on a little too much weight and I cannot see or feel his ribs without pressure. If you can just see the ribs with a bit of meat on them and they often seem hungry, you will be getting the Diet right. PC Trevor Ellis told me that if you feed a dog once a day it should go to the toilet twice a day. Feed it too much and it will go more than twice so reduce the volume of food.
Looking at your dog’s poo is not a likeable job but at least if the stools look shaped and firm your dog’s diet would seem ok. For those dog owners in Javea the Quick Save shop in the Arenal is stocking English Chappie. Do try it and do not assume cheapness is an indicator of poor quality. This English version is not the same as the Spanish version. The Chicken and Rice menu is especially good for those dogs that currently have digestion problems. Do obtain some cans and try it. Then if it works for your dog then you can try to persuade your local shop to obtain some cans for you.
I had my dog Winston eating this for two weeks and he was much improved. We are currently on Chum as the shop is out of stock and getting some more Chappie in shortly so I have ordered some. You may have to do the same.
If you like to read recommendations there are websites like www.ciao.co.uk/Chappie__Review_5354624 where some people swear by using Chappie and others who would never touch it. There are other similar sites so if you enter Chappie dog food into your search you can choose for yourselves. All I can say is that people who know about dogs recommended it to me and it is good for Winston so I will try to keep to it and I gladly pass the recommendation on to you.
To be continued.