“My dog is pooping everywhere and we never know how big of a mess we will walk into each morning.” Jake and Ashley actually had two dogs so the problem was double-trouble.
They were looking for strategies and solutions that would work for them. I wondered why Missy, a 2 year old Schnauzer and Buddy a 18 month old Lhasa Apso were still peeing and pooping in the house at their age?
Plus, in addition to their house soiling issues, Missy and Buddy had some other minor issues like barking at and jumping on house guests when greeting them at the door. I definitely got a good sense of the barking/jumping problem first lesson when I walked into their home. But barking and jumping definitely took a back seat to their house soiling problem.
Jake and Ashley’s story
They had three children, all under the age of 10, and it was extremely frustrating every morning, to have to dodge land mines and puddles left by their two dogs overnight, on top of the morning ritual of preparing the kids for school. They made it clear to me that their first priority was the house soiling and, as they told their story, it became clear what the problems were.
You are not going to believe what I found out!
Too much food
As Jake and Ashley began to tell me what they did, one problem surfaced immediately when we discussed “how much” they feed their dogs. Missy, at 30 lbs. was getting more food than we feed our 73 lb. lab, Sammy. Buddy, at 13 lbs. was getting twice as much as we feed our 17 lb. terrier mixes.
I explained that reducing their food to an appropriate amount would begin to give them immediate results. Also, slightly wetting the food in hot tap water for 5-10 minutes before feeding, would help Missy and Buddy process less food more quickly; thereby drastically improve their house training efforts. In addition to changes in their food, I mentioned that we had to “Break the Cycle” of pooping/peeing in the house. Since the only time the dogs seemed to have accidents in the house was when family members were gone, and at night, we decided to gate them in the utility room and for a while, pick up the water for these “alone times.”
Both Jake and Ashley began to smile. They liked these straight-forward, simple to understand concepts and principles, which would be very easy to implement.
A change in pack dynamics
After sorting out their feeding issues, we talked more and I learned that Buddy came into the mix after Missy was already a family member. When you have an addition to the pack, many home dogs get a little concerned about their sense of place in the pack.
Missy was used to getting all of the attention. Suddenly more attention was given to Buddy, the new puppy. This kind of left Missy out in the cold – at least for a while. She began to feel very insecure in her sense of place in the family. She started to have more potty accidents. Not to be out done, Buddy began to compete with Missy’s marking territory. And round and round we go!
In addition this past holiday season saw overnight family members who stayed through the weekend. With people constantly coming and going and no consistent structured activities likes walks or brief obedience sessions for Missy and Buddy, the dogs were confused as to “where they fit in” – in this perpetual evolving family pack. Missy and Buddy’s stress escalated.
A Lack of structure
I talked to Jake and Ashley about the benefits of a daily ritual of dog obedience training to help with reducing Missy and Buddy’s anxiety-related stress. These daily training rituals would also give their dogs a sense of working for and listening to them rather than the dogs trying to figure things out for themselves.
After a short dog obedience lesson where I taught Jack and Ashley how to train their dogs to do simple sits and downs, we moved our lesson to the family room to work on the “settle” command to address their other concern of jumping and acting wild. I immediately noticed no boundaries or rules were set for the dogs in the family room. The dogs jumped freely on and off the couch and chairs – bounding from lap to lap.
Time to teach the settle command! Leashes everyone! This calmed the dogs down immediately.
Jake and Ashley liked this new calm that came over their dogs and promised to practice every night until they got it – both the dogs and people! Ah, one more dog behavior problem tackled.
We also discussed increasing Missy and Buddy’s dog walks. Both in frequency and duration. They would see more benefits if the walks happened at predictable times throughout the day – consistently every day. With more exercise on walks to constructively manage energy, working on sits and downs and more control overall in the home, the dogs began to settle down to a great stress-free life with the family.
Jake and Ashley liked their new ground rules for great dogs and knew it would just take some time to begin seeing improvement. After just one week, they had ZERO accidents.
All the dogs really wanted and needed was a roadmap to show them the way. So we gave them one.
“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
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Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog. His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is 25+ years of how to have a great dog, put into an easy, simple, step by step process to help you succeed.