Tag Archives: Puppy training

Have You “Reverse House Trained” your Dog? Written by Niki Tudge

Does your dog refuse to go to the bathroom outside when you are present? Does your dog play outside and then come back inside and go to the bathroom in your absence? Does your dog look guilty if you see them going to the bathroom inside?

If you answer “yes” to any of these then you may have housetrained your dog the wrong way round.  Housetraining is a huge issue for dogs.  Why? Because many dogs that are not housetrained are given up to shelters and if they are unlucky enough to end up in a kill facility then they may lose their life over it.

 

I am often called out to a consultation on house-training behaviors to find that the dog also has other problems such as chewing inappropriately, growling and resource guarding.  Often owners will say “oh they are not problems but this urination, defecation issue has got to be solved”. The statistics show that many dogs are given up because of this one issue so lets talk about how to house train your dogs and more importantly how not to reverse house-train a dog.

Many owners are lucky to find that with little effort or specific knowledge they end up with a dog that is effectively housetrained.  But this is a result of luck or chance.  Without an effective approach to house-training most owners will end up with a puppy or dog that is unreliable making life with your new pet frustrating. Frustration and anger with your pet can lead to punishing the dog and this leads to a breakdown in the relationship and trust often resulting in even worse house-training behaviors. While we are too busy getting angry and punishing our dogs we are missing out on opportunities to spend that same time and effort training the acceptable behaviors.

 

Effectively house-training a dog is a three part process,

a) Management. A committed owner who arranges the universe temporarily to prevent any accidents. The owner has to be on a set program with the tools in place to make sure the dog only has access to the outside for its bathroom habits.

b) A Strong Reinforcement History. Teach the dog where and when they go to the bathroom and reinforce it with the big guns, tasty treats and lots of affection. Dogs respond well to training. If a behavior is rewarded, in this case going to the bathroom outside, then this will strengthen the rewarded behavior.

c) Interrupt and Redirect. When you have managed the process and built a solid reinforcement history, then you can, if done fairly, interrupt and redirect any behavior that looks like it is a prelude to the dog wanting or needing to go to the bathroom inside.

So, to prevent reverse house-training follow the steps.

  • When house-training your dog don’t just put them in the yard and assume they have gone to the bathroom. Choose a special spot, take the dog to the spot on a leash and play the waiting game. When the dog does go to the bathroom give them a high value treat and lots of affection. If you train them to use a specific location you are on the way to successful house-training. You know you have mastered this skill when you take your dog to their special spot and they quickly do their business and then look to you for reinforcement.
  • Do not take your dog for a walk and then once they have pooped or urinated take them straight home. To a dog this is punishment and they will relate their bathroom habit to ending of the walk. Thus they will hold off doing their business for as long as possible to prevent their walk from ending. So take your dog to the desired spot and as soon as they go to the bathroom take them for a walk as a reward. Your dog will learn that consistent bathroom habits result in a nice walk with you.
  • Dogs are not capable of feeling guilty, nor do they do particular things to be nasty.  What they do recognize is that people can be dangerous. If you have previously punished your dog for going to the bathroom inside they will anticipate the punishment following any future accidents in the house.  By punishing your dog for inside accidents you are teaching the dog that it is dangerous to go to the bathroom inside the house where you can see them. Your dog soon learns to sneak off and go to the bathroom in another room away from you. Remember, punishing your dog does not teach them the desired behavior (doing their business outside).
  • As the owner you must make sure the dog goes to the bathroom outside, and you must manage the environment inside until the dog is house-trained. If your dog is using the carpet, or a hard surface or a crate to go to the bathroom then there is a huge management issue. Your commitment and compliance to the correct house-training steps will pay off with big dividends and a lifetime of good habits.

 

If these 3 steps are followed then you will enjoy years with a solidly house-trained dog. If you are particularly slick with management and building a strong reinforcement history then you may never have to work on the “c) interrupt and redirect” step of the process. For more information on the house-training process contact your local DogSmith

 


The Downward Spiral of The Family Pet Dog

 

Written by Niki Tudge Copyright 2011

If putting a human, by nature a social being, in jail or solitary confinement is intended as punishment, then surely, isolating, chaining or tethering a dog will have the same effect on the canine soul. Dogs are domesticated, the most domesticated animal there is. Bred by humans to be companions and work partners, we have selected and bred dogs with highly social genes. Because of this selective breeding, dogs now have personality traits that need our attention, our time and our kind benevolent leadership. If our attention and participation in their lives is missing then dogs become lonely and bored. This loneliness leads to frustration and stress that in turn leads to behavioral problems. Excessive barking, pacing, self-mutilation and other destructive behaviors are all symptoms displayed by a dog that is not having its mental and physical needs met.

Dogs are not only social beings they are also very inquisitive and enjoy exploring. They need to interact with their environment and with other dogs. From these interactions, dogs benefit from the mental stimulation of new challenges, sights and sounds. If they are restricted from companions or there life is reduced to a tedious limited environment then they can suffer mental stress. For a dog, loneliness is abandonment. Many dogs find themselves reduced to a life isolated from their human pack because they lack basic behavior and social skills that are needed to live peacefully in the human environment.

Below is an example of the downward spiral we see in a dog’s behavior when it does not receive the training, exercise and social interaction required:

The dog enters the home as a puppy or a young dog. The owners are excited, the dog is a bundle of fun but no management or training plan is put in place. There is no housetraining plan and at the same time the dog is being handled by each of the family members differently and the wrong behaviors are being rewarded. Puppies are inadvertently encouraged to jump, pull and nip. As the puppy grows those small potty accidents become more annoying and the puppy is punished for the bad behavior rather than being shown and guided to the right behavior.

Puppy romps on a leash turn into walking nightmares. As the puppy grows in size and strength it is no longer fun to run behind a small ball of fur. The leash pulling becomes annoying and dangerous to the owner and the dog. The leash walks become less frequent as nobody enjoys walking the dog and the dogs’ energy levels build. This results in an overly energetic dog with high levels of frustration and no appropriate physical outlet.

A lack of daily physical exercise results in destructive and irritating behaviors.  The dog is more frequently left alone and for longer periods of time. Attention seeking behaviors prevail and the dog’s behavior spirals downhill and out of control leaving the owners with an overwhelming feeling of helplessness.  The dog has become an inconvenience and a chore and the owner-dog relationship breaks down. The dog will be punished and this is justified by the owner to help alleviate their own feelings of inadequacy. The owners convince themselves that they have done everything possible; their dog is dumb, stupid or both.

To save the family home the dog is now reduced to living in the yard with minimal contact from its owners. The dog now engages in behaviors such as digging holes, chewing at outside furniture or attempting to escape its life of solitude.  In some cases the dog’s behavior becomes such an aversive for the owners that they physically restrain the dog in a kennel run or on a tether. This is a very sad outcome for the owners and a devastating and cruel outcome for the family pet.

The solutions are simple. From the onset, right off the bat, invest some time and money and enroll your dog into a well run and organized puppy class. You will save hours of future frustration, eliminate damage to your home, your furniture and your yard. You, as a responsible pet owner, will teach your dog how to successfully share your home – surely that was your goal when you made the decision to being a dog into your family. A well run puppy class will teach you how to house-train your puppy, prevent problematic nipping and biting, socialize your puppy so it’s safe around other dogs and people and if you take the time you will learn the obedience basics, sit/down/stay and walk nicely.

Before you spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on your pet dog and all its accompanying equipment, toys and outfits think about how you plan to train your dog.  More pet dogs are euthanized due to behavior than illness. Don’t let your pet dog become another sad statistic in our animal shelters.

Talk to your local DogSmith, request a FREE consultation or search for a Force Free Dog Trainer.

 


What and How Much Can a Puppy Learn?

Well first of all let’s define a puppy. In The DogSmith puppy classes the dog must be under the age of 6 months, however a dog is not considered an adult until it is 12 months of age.

It is a great idea to get your puppy into a well run and safe puppy class when it is several weeks old. Begin your puppy’s education before any problematic behaviors can develop. If you wait until your puppy is 4-6 months of age then I can guarantee you are probably already experiencing some jumping problems, nipping problems and maybe some potty accidents. This means when you start your training program, at the same time you are trying to build appropriate behaviors such as sit, down, come, stay etc you have to work on reducing the other problematic behaviors. This often causes frustration for owners and this is when we begin to hear comments such as “my puppy is dominant” or “my puppy is stubborn” when really the puppy is just exhibiting the behaviors that it has learned from its environment during its early months of development.

At The DogSmith we encourage puppies into class at around 9 weeks of age; puppies are capable of learning some really nice behaviors even at this age, more importantly we can teach the owners how to manage their puppy’s environment during these first weeks so they do not inadvertently teach the puppy inappropriate behaviors. In my opinion the most important thing we need to teach our puppies is that training is fun and people are safe. If you want to raise a socially sound dog that can solve problems and live comfortably around your family then stay away from aversive and invasive dog training methods.

On our website you can watch some really nice videos of puppies who are just four months of age demonstrating sit-down, stay behaviors, come, up and off and walk nicely. We also have a really nice E-Book that covers all the behaviors you can begin to teach your puppy under our proprietary MTR Program. These behaviors are categorized under management tools, relationship exercises and training skills. Feel free to grab a copy and begin working through them.

Here is a copy of our DogSmith Skill Training Card for puppies, your local DogSmith will covers some or all of these skills in your Puppy Class depending on the number of dogs in class, age of dogs in your class  and your individual goals. What you and your dog will learn from a DogSmith puppy class is how much fun training can be and that the working relationship between people and dogs should be fun, effective and non damaging both mentally and physically for your and your puppy.


A short summary of a dogs sensitive periods of development and the importance on its socialization.

Niki Tudge October 2011 Copyright

A few days ago one of our DogSmith Dog Trainers, Susan Barton,  brought a new puppy into their home. I just love puppies of all shapes and sizes and feel very strongly about guiding owners in the right direction for their puppies socialization. Seeing Lucy reminded me that soon many of you will be out looking  for your holiday puppies so i felt it was the right time to  post a blog on the critical socialization periods of dogs. Susan congratulations on Lucy i am sure she is headed for great things and will become another great ambassador of The DogSmith Dog Training Programs.

The Critical Socialization Periods of a Pet Dog

There are key stages within a dog’s development where they are particularly sensitive to environmental influences. Scot & Fuller, (1965) and Serpell & Jagoe (1995) have described that conditioning of behavior during these sensitive periods is not easily changed in later years. Whereas genetics set the range for physical or behavioral traits the dog’s experiences during these important periods will determine where within that range the dog behavioral tendencies lie. Scott and Fuller (‘O’Heare p 47) concluded that “dogs should be introduced gradually and sensitively to the circumstances that they are likely to experience during their lives.” Socialization during the key sensitive periods is critical as dogs are biologically prepared to learn different things during different phases of their development. An emphasis and focus on socialization should be made around the 6 – 8 week mark as this is considered the peak of the socialization period.

During the prenatal period, studies have shown that environmental influences, such as stress, can affect the behavior of the fetus. If the mother is reactive, emotional or stressed then this may produce similar traits in her offspring.

During the neonatal period (birth to 2 weeks) puppies are slowly learning even though their ears and eyes remain closed.  They are very sensitive to touch and smell and careful and reoccurring handling has been shown to be a valuable practice and can produce confident and exploratory behavior even though these learned associations may not carry over to adulthood (O’Heare 2010).

The transitional period (2-3 weeks) prepares dogs for the socialization period.  Puppies begin to move, stand and walk during this period and many new behavior patterns emerge such as communication behaviors and simple associations (O’Heare p 46 2010).

During the socialization period (2.5-3 to 9-13 weeks) dogs form attachments to people, places and locations. During the first period of this socialization period puppies will begin to approach strangers and be tolerant of passive handling.  This leads on to a period between 8 to 10 weeks where a ‘fear’ period begins. During this ‘fear’ period if a puppy is exposed to aversive stimulation it can have long term effects on a dogs behavior. This is the period where most new puppies are adopted or purchased making the timing of this homing event important. Puppies need time to settle into their new homes before they hit the ‘fear’ period at around 10 weeks of age. Placement prior to 6 weeks of age can also be detrimental to puppies’ behavioral wellbeing as it has been shown that they suffer from distress, lack of appetite and are susceptible to disease (‘O’Heare 2010).

The juvenile period (12 weeks to 6 months) sees puppies become less tolerant to change. There motor capacities emerge and they have an increased learning capacity. Social relationships with other dogs become more stable and at around 6 months of age they reach sexual maturity.

 

So for all you new puppy owners out there, be aware of the social development periods of your new puppy. If you are still looking and searching for your new puppy think carefully about where your puppy comes from, the early days are also critical on its long term development. Enroll your puppy into a well run puppy class free of aversives and punishment. Choose a force free trainer who can help you shape your puppies future behavior and they will get you quickly on the road to owning a happy and mentally healthy puppy.

O’Heare J. Domestic Dog Behavior 103 (2010)


The Ten Rules to House Train Your Dog or Puppy in Ten Days.

The Ten Rules to House train Your Dog in Ten Days.

To listen to the accompanying podcast click here

Depending on your dog, your family and your lifestyle, housetraining a dog can be anywhere from easy, to almost impossible.  Many dog owners get lucky and in spite of mistakes they unknowingly make, they find themselves with a housetrained dog. On the other hand, some dog owners need help from a dog trainer or dog behavior counselor.  Even a small number of these pet owners may become desperate when everything they do, even under professional counsel, seems futile.

The more difficult housetraining cases to crack are those of dogs that, by mistake, have become ‘reverse’ housetrained by their owners.  ‘Reverse’ housetraining results when dogs have been allowed to go to the bathroom inside the home and then been inadvertently reinforced for doing so.  Another difficult housetraining example to correct includes puppies from pet stores, puppy mills and backyard breeders where the puppies have been raised in contained, unsanitary conditions.  Since they have no alternative these puppies eat and sleep in the same area they use as their bathroom.

So, when you bring a new puppy or rescue dog into your home, or if have an older dog that is not yet housetrained, follow our “Ten Rules to Housetraining” and you should be relieved (no pun intended) to find in ten days you have a housetrained dog.

 

Managing the Environment

  1. The first thing you need to do before you start your housetraining plan is to ensure your home is free from urine stains and residual odors. Purchase a black light and a pet odor remover from your local pet store. When it is dark, turn off all the lights and thoroughly inspect your home, carpets, furniture and tiled area. The black light will reveal any old stains so you can effectively clean and remove them. There are many very effective pet stain/odor cleaning products available on the market.
  2. If you don’t already have one, purchase a good quality wire crate that is large enough for your dog to stand up, lie down and turn around in.  Position the crate in a quiet, but not isolated part of your home.  You will also need three Kongs (chew toys you can stuff with treats), a squeaky toy, a nylon collar and a 6 foot nylon leash.
  3. Develop and follow a 24 hour management schedule of potty breaks.  This is critical because you don’t want your puppy to have an accident.   Your schedule should include meals, play time, training time, bathroom breaks and sleep time for the entire 10 day program. Bathroom breaks should be scheduled every four hours except overnight when you can allow 6 hours. The plan should also include two or three feeding sessions, one in the morning, one midday and the last one no later than 6pm. Your dog should not have access to drinking water after 8pm or three hours before it goes into its crate to sleep for the night.
  4. If you can’t be home during the midday break, either schedule some time off work or hire a dog walker or pet sitter that can help you with that portion of your housetraining schedule. This will be vital for success.
  5. Keep a daily journal on your dog’s eating schedule and bathroom habits. Note when your dog urinates and defecates. Note the exact time your dog eats and any other treats it is given during the day.  Your journal will help you determine how long after eating and drinking your dog typically needs to use the bathroom.  You can use this information to adjust your schedule if necessary.
  6. Your dog’s day will include meals, sleep, play, training and bathroom breaks. During each of these periods the dog is either in its crate or tethered to you. Give your dog a Kong stuffed with yummy treats for mental enrichment while it is in its crate. Your dog must be supervised 100% of the time during the housetraining period.  When the dog is tethered to you, watch for signs of needing to go to the bathroom. If you notice your dog sniffing the ground, walking in circles or looking uncomfortable then quickly take the dog outside to its designated bathroom area and follow rule number 7.

Training the Behavior

  1. At the scheduled bathroom times take your dog from its crate, on a leash, and take it to its designated bathroom area. Keep your dog on its 6 foot leash but let it explore while you stand in one spot. Initially ignore your dog.  Because your dog isn’t getting any attention from you and there will be limited things of interest to explore in the restricted area defined by the leash, your dog will eventually go to the bathroom.
  2. Once your dog has finished, praise it with ‘good doggie.’  Give it lots of attention and treats. Have a little celebration with your dog.  This lets your dog know that its behavior is remarkable and deserves praise.  You MUST create a situation where your dog wants to go to the bathroom in that particular area.
  3. Only after your dog has been to the bathroom should it be let off the leash to play or taken for its ‘long’ walk.  This ensures that your dog will soon learn that the more quickly it completes its bathroom behavior the more quickly it gets its reward of treats, play, its walk or all three. ALWAYS exercise or play with or train your dog for at least ten minutes before you take it back inside to its crate.

 

 

Developing the Relationship

  1. Show your dog you are a trusting and benevolent leader. Never punish your dog for mistakes.  Your dog’s accidents are your accidents. If, as described in rule 6, you notice your dog displaying signs of needing the bathroom while inside and you are slow getting your dog outside, simply get their attention with a loud clap of your hands and immediately take your dog outside to their bathroom area (you can clean up any inside accident later).

 

When dogs are exposed to consistent, accident-free housetraining systems you will be surprised at how quickly they learn. With the right level of commitment and conscientious use of a training schedule you can train a dog to be solidly housetrained in ten days.

For a sample of a daily housetraining plan visit www.DogSmith.com or contact your DogSmith at CustomerService@DogSmith.com

Full copyright Niki Tudge. Oxford MS The DogSmith. Dog Training & Pet Care.

 

 

 


DogSmith Puppy Classes – What Age and What Shots are Required?

Which shot records should I have for my dog or puppy?

For The DogSmith Small Paw Etiquette class, puppies must be up-to-date for their age, with at least the first set of DHLPP shots, usually given between 6-8 weeks of age. Because socialization is so important and needs to begin as early as possible we do not usually recommend waiting for the full three sets of puppy shots.

Veterinarians will suggest different guidelines for your puppy, so please take their advice into consideration. If your veterinarian tells you that your pup must have ALL vaccinations before attending a puppy class then he or she may not be current on the latest protocols for puppy socialization and vaccinations. The recommendation of the American Society of Veterinary Behaviorists (AVSAB) is as follows: “In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming. They should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class.”

If your veterinarian wants more information, you can print out a flyer from AVSAB that discusses WHY the protocols have changed. The primary reason for this change, in our opinion, is that “behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.” The AVSAB Puppy Socialization Position Statement can be downloaded from the AVSAB website: www.avsabonline.org

At The DogSmith we agree with the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s Position statement -“In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming. They should be kept up to date throughout the class.”

For non-puppy classes all dogs must have the full sequence of DHLPP (usually an annual booster for adult dogs) and the Rabies vaccine. We also require Bordetella which is an intranasal spray. Your dog’s shot records may be anything from a vet receipt to a shot-vial sticker to a note from the breeder or a checked-off list with the shots on them. We have to work a bit on the honor system, but we do want to make sure the puppies are all safe.


FREE Monthly Puppy Training – Lafayette County Mississippi

Start Them Out Right! FREE Puppy Socialization Class

       
Get your puppy off to the best start possible. Dog Behavior experts agree, proper puppy socialization is essential to the development of your dog and can prevent many future problems. Our 1-hour FREE Puppy class is for dogs less than 6 months old and will keep you in stitches watching your puppy interact with its classmates. Be sure to bring your camera. You will also see how much fun dog training is as your pup learns critical new skills through play. The class is full of games and exercises plus you will establish some important dog training skills to build on. Space is limited so register today before it’s too late!

 


At What Age Can My Puppy Start Training Classes?

and which shot records should I have for my dog or puppy?

For The DogSmith Small Paw Etiquette class, puppies must be up-to-date for their age, with at least the first set of DHLPP shots, usually given between 6-8 weeks of age. Because socialization is so important and needs to begin as early as possible we do not usually recommend waiting for the full three sets of puppy shots. Veterinarians will suggest different guidelines for your puppy, so please take their advice into consideration.

If your veterinarian tells you that your pup must have ALL vaccinations before attending a puppy class then he or she may not be current on the latest protocols for puppy socialization and vaccinations. The recommendation of the American Society of Veterinary Behaviorists (AVSAB) is as follows:

“In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming. They should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class.”

If your veterinarian wants more information, you can print out a flyer from AVSAB that discusses WHY the protocols have changed. The primary reason for this change, in our opinion, is that “behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.” The AVSAB Puppy Socialization Position Statement can be downloaded from the AVSAB website:

The DogSmith Policy

At The DogSmith we agree with the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s Position statement -“In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming. They should be kept up to date throughout the class.”

For non-puppy classes all dogs must have the full sequence of DHLPP (usually an annual booster for adult dogs) and the Rabies vaccine. We also require Bordetella which is an intranasal spray. Your dog’s shot records may be anything from a vet receipt to a shot-vial sticker to a note from the breeder or a checked-off list with the shots on them. We have to work a bit on the honor system, but we do want to make sure the puppies are all safe.