House Breaking A Puppy – The 3 Things You Don’t Know

One reason people find it difficult to train and house break a puppy is that the puppy has absolutely no idea what the owner is trying to teach. And, many times, the owner’s expectation of the puppy is beyond what the puppy is capable of at that certain age. This communication gap is never more painfully obvious than in house breaking a puppy. It can be a very frustrating process. It doesn’t have to be, but sometimes there are those puppies that are difficult to house break. Many people will say, “I’m doing all the right things” or, “I’ve read a whole stack of books” and the bottom line we keep getting back to with some puppies is, “House breaking this puppy” is difficult – or at least so it seems – but in reality, they’re generally overlooking some very simple “tricks of the trade” to house break a puppy. There are many factors that impact house breaking a puppy. None of them can be viewed separately as they all work together. One component most puppy owners do not consider is the impact that nutrition has on house breaking a puppy. What kind of food, how much and how it’s prepared can heavily impact how quickly you can house break a puppy.

1. Step one is to feed a high premium, nutritionally balanced diet to your new puppy.

Tip: Inexpensive dog food is chocked full of artificial preservatives, dyes, bad fat and low grade carbohydrates used as fillers. You can not purchase high quality dog or puppy food in a grocery store or a big box store. They don’t carry high quality foods. Tip: Keep your new puppy on the breeder’s food for at least 4 days once home. Any change in diet should be done gradually to prevent digestive problems and any related house training issues. Tip: When you are ready to begin switching to your high quality food, begin using this formula: day one – 3/4 old food, 1/4 new food; day 2 – 1/2 old food, 1/2 new food; day three – 1/4 old food, 3/4 new food and finally on day four – all new high quality food. If at any point your puppy develops a soft stool, simply go back to the previous day’s formula until you get a firm stool.

2. How much you feed is important. Many people over feed their puppies and in fact, leave the food bowl down all the time so that the puppy can free feed.

Tip: The quantity they tell you to feed on the bag of food is not set in stone. Be flexible and adjust to your puppy’s appetite and weight. Too much food and you will have a puppy with loose stools. Tip: Puppies have a very difficult time or simply can not control loose stools resulting in accidents for which they should not be blamed.

3. Developing a regular and consistent feeding schedule is important.

Tip: Keeping your puppy’s feeding schedule consistent on weekends as you do on week days is critical. Once you have the diet correct, there are other components you will need to put into your house breaking routine. These include:

  • How to be proactive in teaching your puppy to be house broken instead of being reactive.
  • Understanding the importance of the crate in house breaking your puppy.
  • Teaching your new puppy where not to go is the final part that completes the process.
  • Remember that throughout this process avoid any and all punishment of your new puppy

Again, always set your dog up to be successful. Give your dog what he needs and he will give you back years of wonderful companionship and love.

Need help now???  Check out our puppy training course.  You’ll think I’ve moved in with you 🙂

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

Dealing With Dog Aggression When Walking on a Leash

Over the years many clients have initially come to me because of dog aggression when walking on a leash. Interestingly, many of these dogs were not, in fact, aggressive – their behavior was simply a result of the dog perceiving the owner’s anxiety. The first step in curbing any negative behavior in dogs is dog training, and lots of it. I cannot overemphasize the critical nature of training in order to establish yourself as the pack leader, and subsequently teach your dog to respond to basic obedience commands. Only after you have mastered these two phases, can you expect your dog to respond to you (and trust you) in potentially fearful or unknown situations. After basic training, aggression when walking on a leash can be evaluated properly by the owner and effectively addressed.

Assuming your dog has successfully completed basic obedience training, the first step is to have confidence in your handling skills, leave your anxiety at the door and understand that as long as your dog is on a leash the situation is controllable. IF your dog is well-trained, some ideas to curb dog aggression when walking on a leash include:

  • Ask the other dog owner if their dog is friendly and if so, let them interact. A good way to do this is to allow your dog to approach the other dog from behind for a little backside, get-to-know-you sniff. This is the best non-aggressive hello in dog-language.
  • Alternatively, keep on walking and pass the dog by, or put your dog in an obedience command of sit and stay (at a safe distance) while the other dog passes. Both of these communicate to your dog that you are in control of the situation, and they need not worry. This also helps with familiarity, so that passing another dog on a leash becomes a regular occurrence.
  • Take the opportunity to train your dog with other dogs around (when the environment is safe), and begin to reward your dog for neutral or positive behavior around other dogs. Anything short of good behavior requires a stern OFF, then call your dog to you, get a sit, and then send your dog to interact once more.

With the above suggestions, repetition is key, especially around other dogs/distractions. If you are not having success in consistency, and/or if your pet continues to struggle with aggression while walking on a leash, I recommend that you see a positive reinforcement trainer in your area, being sure to work on distraction training.
Again, always set your dog up to be successful. Give your dog what he needs and he will give you back years of wonderful companionship and love.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”


Does Your Dog Dig in Your Backyard? Quick Fixes to Stop It

If your dog is digging in the backyard, this can be a hard habit to break if you don’t understand the cause and some simple but effective cures. Dogs digging in the yard is one of the most common behavior problems, but as with all dog training, consistency, repetition and patience are part of the solution.

So why do dogs dig in the yard to begin with? The most common reason is boredom. Dogs are intelligent creatures and they are pack animals. If you stick your dog out in the back yard, your dog does not get any intellectual stimulation, he will also have barrier frustration because he can hear and smell things beyond the fence but he can’t investigate them, and he’s lonely. Dogs need to be part of your family, they are pack animals. Try to imagine how you would feel if you were isolated all the time with nothing to do.

Dogs will also dig in the back yard to cool off or warm up. In the summertime, the ground is often cooler than the air so your dog will dig a hole to cool down. The same goes for winter, the ground is generally warmer than the air, so the dog digs a hole to be warm. This would not be an issue if the dog were not just stuck in the back yard, the holes would not need to be dug.

Dogs will also dig holes in the backyard to bury their treasures such as bones or toys. All of this digging is one way dogs manage their energy. Although it is destructive, it is a way for them to get exercise and get rid of pent up energy. Yet another reason to walk your dog every day. If you give your dog the opportunity to manage his energy constructively rather than destructively both of you will be much happier. Start doing activities with your dog such as obedience training, playing fetch, all of this helps with boredom and managing energy.

One way to make digging holes in your backyard less rewarding for your dog is to place stones in the holes and cover the stones up. When the dog tries to dig, he will encounter the stones and stop digging. Another trick, although somewhat less attractive, is to place your dog’s waste into the hole. They won’t dig where they can smell dog poop.

Do not bury chicken wire or screening in the hole. This can cause lots of damage to your dog’s paws and nails. Also they can chew the wire or screening and end up with intestinal damage.

Another trick is to put a sandbox in the back yard that is just for the dog. Place the dog’s toys and other favorite items in the sandbox and let thim bury those things in the sandbox. Praise for the digging and burying in the sandbox. The dog will soon realize it’s ok to dig there and not in the yard.

Again, always set your dog up to be successful. Give your dog what he needs and he will give you back years of wonderful companionship and love.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”


Changing Dog Aggression – Is it Possible?

When you are the owner of a dog that often shows aggression whether to other dogs or people, finding the best information on how to remedy this can be difficult and confusing. There is so much information out there on dog aggression, much of it by hobby trainers. The information could even be harmful.

The best time to start training your dog is when he is still a puppy. This allows you time to socialize your puppy to other dogs, people and children so that as the puppy gets older starting at about 4 to 5 months, the chance of fear being associated with these things is greatly diminished or not a problem at all. Fear can be the basis for dog aggression.

Working with an aggressive dog can be a bit frightening to the owner. If this is the case, you may want to consider getting some help by using a trainer who understands positive behavior modification and has worked with aggressive (reactive) dogs. If the aggression is not severe, you may be able to change this yourself with consistency and patience.

The first step you should take when you begin the process of eliminating the dog’s aggression problem is prevention. What do I mean by this? As you are beginning to work on your dog’s behavior, don’t put him in situations or settings he is not used to. Prevent problems from occurring as you begin to rehabilitate your dog. This is a slow process.

You must learn how to re-direct the behaviors of your dog. If you place him in areas where he will become aggressive before you have the understanding and the handling skills of how to re-direct those behaviors, he has the chance to once again display the bad behavior. You want to eliminate this, not give him even more opportunities to act out his aggressions. If you do this, you have set your dog up to fail.

The next area you want to approach is obedience. Teach your dog to “sit” first. You can progress to down, stay, off and all the other commands once you are comfortable that he has the first command down. By teaching your dog obedience, you will find that you feel more comfortable in the leadership role. You dog will also begin looking at you in a different light and will begin to believe that you can handle any situation, so he doesn’t need to.

Teaching your dog to obey simple commands will go a long way in changing the aggressive behavior. Obedience commands give you appropriate actions for your dog to do instead of aggressing. This is called re-directing. Give your dog the opportunity to do an appropriate action and praise him instead of allowing him to fail.

This is the point where you may want to join a class that involves people who have dogs with aggression problems. It isn’t likely that a friend will let you use their dog to see if your dog is still aggressive after you have worked on your dog. A class specifically for aggressive dogs, with experienced trainers lessens everyone’s fear and you will have assistance in helping your dog not to aggress. It will also teach you the appropriate handling skills you will need to help your dog be successful.

Teach your dog desired behavior and you may soon find that he loses much of aggression he had before.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog, as you are the teacher of your children, and remember, “Opportunity Barks”


My Dog Whines – Why and How Do I Stop It

Does your dog whine? Irritating isn’t it. But before you loose your patience, you need to make an evaluation of why your dog is whining. Is there something wrong? Does he need something like– to go out to the bathroom? Or, is he demanding something, like your attention?

Since our dogs can’t talk, their only forms of communication are barking and whining. When a dog consistently whines, the very first thing to check for are any medical issues. If your dog is in some type of pain, his way to deal with it is to whine. Especially if you have an older dog, arthritis can be very painful and the dog’s only way of telling you it’s in pain is to whine.

Fear can be another reason dog’s whine. If they are in a situation that is causing them to be afraid, again the way they can communicate that is to whine. If you placate those feelings by saying something such as: it’s ok, and pet, pet, pet you are actually reinforcing the dog’s belief that he should be afraid. Instead, use your leadership role, using your calm energy to signal the dog that you have everything under control and he has no need to be afraid. Distract with a jolly routine.

Boredom is another reason dog’s whine. Dog’s are intelligent creatures and their intellect must be properly stimulated with exercise and training. Dogs need a job to do. Their job can be anything from working on basic obedience a few times a day, to tracking, to walking with you appropriately on a leash for a nice walk.

Demanding attention and being bossy are also reasons dogs will whine. If this is the cause of your dog’s whining, you again, must use your good dog parenting skills and leadership to let the dog know that whining does not get him what he wants. You can choose to ignore the dog and see if the whining stops. Once the whining stops you must IMMEDIATELY tell the dog he’s done a good thing by saying something as simple as Good Quiet!

If ignoring the dog doesn’t work, you may have to resort to the handy squirt bottle that has water in it. When the dog whines, say something like –ack ack, no –and squirt immediately in the face (short squirt) do not squirt in the eyes. The second the dog stops whining, be sure to praise excitedly.

Again, if training begins the moment your bring your dog or puppy home and good leadership is put into place, the dog will be less inclined to be bossy and try to run the show. Obedience training, coupled with understanding what your dog needs to be balanced, is so much easier to incorporate than to wait until you have learned behavior from your dog that you dislike.

Remember, train, be consistent and train again.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!