House Training Tips for Dog Who is One Potty Girl

Dear Poncho,

Could you tell me why my 13-year-old lab, who has never had an accident in my house, will sometimes discreetly pee in my parents’ house when she’s there? Help!

Cheers!
Deena

Dear Miss Deena,

Been there myself. And I must say, when you aren’t given a heads-up on the rules, then you just go with the flow. Unfortunately, in this case the flow is on your parents’ living room floor. Bummer. Allow me to give you the help you’re asking for.

Here are the four tenets of my Mutt Model:

Know Your Animal!

Unless we’ve been taught otherwise, we dogs eliminate when we feel the need, no matter where or when. And, similar to you humans, we have preferences as to where we prefer to do the deed. Two main triggers that get us going are surface texture and scent. The feel of dirt or grass can be appealing to one dog but not another. This goes for tile and/or cement. And wet grass? Hah! Fahgettaboudit! Do you like a wet toilet seat?

As for scent, again each dog has his or her own favorites. You may have your “31 flavors”, but for us the entire world is one giant perfume counter. Observing one of our buddy’s go potty, wanting to update our status by “marking” territory, and previous learning are a few other reasons we’d get the urge. So be mindful of any smells and surfaces that might be sending a mixed message. Continue Reading “House Training Tips for Dog Who is One Potty Girl”

Real Simple Dog Training Steps to Make Life Easier on Dogs and Dog Owners

Poncho and Mama New Years Day 2012When it comes to dog behavior and training, it’s common for many to lose sight of the bigger picture of how great our dogs are. In general people tend to focus on the irritating things their dog does, even though these are often the behaviors that drew them to their pooches in the first place.

As a professional dog trainer I like to remind dog training students that for every day life, keeping it simple and focusing on the positive can help guide your training, as well as enhance the relationship you have with your dog. There’s a time and place for structured action plans, but for the overall, ongoing, every day stuff I suggest a few of the following:

  • Keep a more optimistic and positive outlook on your dog’s behavior. These are key elements in teaching and shaping their behavior.
  • Focus in on and reward the behaviors you like and want. This results in getting more of the desired behaviors, and less of the unwanted ones. Similar to us, our dogs can never be thanked too much, for the little things.
  • Visualize what you want from your dog, so you know what to teach them. This will help you look at your dog with a more positive attitude, and not the negative. Continue Reading “Real Simple Dog Training Steps to Make Life Easier on Dogs and Dog Owners”

Dog Training Basics to Prevent Fido From Being Left Out of the Group

Dear Poncho,

Help! We’ve had family staying with us all weekend, and our dog, Wiley, has had a hard time behaving. At the family’s request, when we go outside, we have to put him inside, in his crate. That’s because if we let him out when we go out to play, he jumps on and nips at us, the extended family, neighbors, the gardener and anyone else stopping by for a visit. When we are inside, Wiley must be sent outside in the yard.

Wiley is part of our family, and I want him to blend in and be able to play with us. When we try to ignore him by turning away, he jumps on our backs and also continues to nip. We just can’t have him doing that, especially to my 85-year-old dad or our 2-year-old granddaughter. We’ve tried lots of praise when he sits and we pet him, but then he jumps and nips. I hope you have some suggestions for us — we’re so frustrated, we’re happy to try anything you suggest!

Ellen (Wiley’s mom)

Dear Miss Ellen,

Sounds like Wiley is living up to his name — skilled and clever at getting what he wants. I’d be happy to offer some tips on how you can help your own inquisitive canine become part of the group, not left out in the cold.

Let’s talk about dogs and a few of the general behavior traits we possess: jumping to greet, having enormous amounts of energy (especially when we’re young or haven’t burned off the excess energy), using our mouths to explore the world, wanting attention (positive or negative), preferring to be around people than alone and always game for a good time.

Hmm, yep, sounds like Wiley is a full-blown canine extraordinaire! My first tip is to understand these characteristics and appreciate Wiley for who he is — a dog who loves people of all ages and wants to spend time with his family.

Continue Reading “Dog Training Basics to Prevent Fido From Being Left Out of the Group”