Saturday, January 21, 2012

House Training: APDT Article

 House Training
The keys to successful house training are: 
• Your dog will not eliminate in areas where he is not allowed to go. Using a crate is an excellent way to quickly housetrain a dog as a dog will generally not eliminate in the same space where it sleeps. 
• If a crate is not an option, you can also contain your pet in a small area of your house such as a kitchen or bathroom using baby gates. 
• Keep your dog confined at all times when you are not directly supervising (100%!) him until you are sure that he is housetrained. 
• Another method is to tie a leash to your dog and loop the leash handle through your pant’s belt loop, or tie the leash around your waist, so that the dog must be with you at all times. This also makes it easy for you to quickly move your dog outside if he starts to eliminate in the house. 
• By adhering to a consistent schedule for food, water and walks, you will pattern your dog to the desired behavior. 
• Do not leave food down in a bowl all day for the dog, but rather give him 15 minutes or so to finish whatever you give him to eat. Then, pick up the bowl when he is done. Your dog should always have access to water however.
• By controlling when and how much your dog eats and drinks, you can better predict when he will need to eliminate. 
• Puppies will tend to eliminate a few minutes before or after he eats or drinks water.
• Puppies will typically need to eliminate:
o When they first wake up in the morning;
o After a play session (or even sometimes during!);
o After a nap;
o Just after drinking;
o Just before or just after he eats;
o After chewing on a bone or chew toy
o If he hasn’t been out for an hour or two.
• Remember, young puppies are still developing control over their bladder so be patient and give them time to both learn, and to physically gain bladder control.
• If you have rescued an adult dog, the best tactic is to pretend your dog is an 8 week old puppy and start from scratch!
• Always praise your dog enthusiastically when he eliminates in the correct place, as this will let him know that he is doing the right thing by going outside. 
• NEVER hit or yell at your dog for eliminating in the incorrect place, or rub his nose in his mess. Punishing him is counterproductive as it teaches the dog that eliminating in your presence is a dangerous thing, but doesn’t teach them not to eliminate in the house at all.
• If your dog eliminated in the house, it is likely because he was simply unable to hold his bladder for that long, or he was not confined properly or supervised properly. Dogs do not eliminate in the house because they were “mad” at you or “vengeful.” If your dog urinated on your favorite couch or fancy rug, the ONLY thought that was on your dog’s mind at the time was “hey, I need to pee!”
• If your dog starts to eliminate while you are supervising, use a sharp “eh-eh!” or clap your hands to distract him, and then quickly 
scoop him up or leash him up and run outside. When he finishes going, praise him and reward him effusively.
• Praise him when he is outside and eliminating – do not wait for him to come back inside to praise him. Otherwise he will think he is being praised for coming back inside with you (which is a good thing, but immaterial to house training!).
• If you want him to eliminate in a certain area of the yard, bring him out to this area on leash and wait for him to eliminate. You can add in a “Go Potty!” cue while he is eliminating so he can associate this cue with his bodily function.
Odor Removal
• When your dog eliminates in the house, the most important thing is to remove all traces of the odor, or the dog will continue to eliminate in the spot. 
• Using common household cleaners is typically not enough, and using ammonia products will actually encourage your dog to return to the spot to go again since the cleaner residue is very similar to urine. 
• Use products sold specifically to eliminate pet urine and feces odors that you can purchase at most pet supply shops. Nature’s Miracle and Simple Solution are two brand names for such products.
Other Tips
• Try to avoid paper training. The dog is still learning it’s ok to go in the house, albeit in a certain area, and it will make housetraining him take longer. Crate training is a better alternative.
• Don’t expect a puppy to be fully housetrained until they are at least 6 months or older. Puppies have very little control over their bladders until this age.
• If you bring the dog outside and you think he needs to eliminate but he won’t, take him back inside and crate him for another 10-15 minutes and take him out to the same place again. Don’t assume that he didn’t need to go after all and then let him run around your house unsupervised.
• Always take the dog outside to urinate on leash. Wait patiently until he eliminates and then let him off leash to play. If you let him wander around the yard on his own until he urinates, and then go back into the house, he will learn that his fun play-time outside stops when he urinates. You want him to learn if I potty first the I get to play!
• Likewise, if you do not own a yard and must walk your dog on the street, take your dog outside and calmly wait for the dog to eliminate before proceeding with your walk. You want the dog to understand that his fun walk is the reward for eliminating. If the dog goes before he comes back in, the dog will wait longer and longer to go, and sometimes they will hold it until you bring them back inside.
• Finally, another useful method is to have a rolled up newspaper ready at hand. Every time your dog eliminates in the house, pick it up and hit yourself over the head while repeating, “I forgot to watch my dog! I forgot to watch my dog!” Remember, house-training accidents are your mistake, not the dog’s.

For more information on the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, 
visit our Web site at or call 1-800-PET-DOGS (738-3647) or email

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Amazed & PROUD of my Dogs!

Yesterday, I came home from a clients house and was in shock to see my husband standing outside with a cascade of water spurting out of our water main.  Our neighbor's cars were getting soaked and it looked like a fire hydrant had exploded.

The water company came out to shut off the water and recommended we get a plumber to fix the pipe.  I am not good with stuff like that and just let my husband take care of the issue.  He called out a plumber right away.  I was just doing a write up for my clients on the computer when I heard the plumber arrive.  My husband went out to meet him.  Finally, I decided that I would go and see how things were going and find out what the cost was going to be to fix this problem.  Well, when I went to the front door I was shocked and amazed at what I saw.  All 3 of my dogs were sitting at the front door watching the plumber and my husband with the door WIDE OPEN.  I immediately praised them all for being such AWESOME dogs and for staying inside as I closed the door.

I am not a huge stickler on them waiting at the door until released out but I do practice it before walks and play a game that I call "inside/outside" every once in awhile.  The game is they stay inside until I call them outside, then I reinforce for them coming outside.  Then I say, "inside" and they all run inside to get clicked and reinforced with jackpots.  I always reinforce them more for going inside (the front door) than just coming out when I ask.  It is a simple game, that really paid off!

I am still in shock at how they all just stayed there even with all the craziness going on outside.  I wish that I would have had a picture or had that on video.  I was just so proud and impressed with my dogs that I had to take a moment and share this experience on my blog.

My little mini training sessions at the front door really paid off.  Never under estimate what a little training can do!

Have a great day!
Pam, Isabelle, Bandit & Twix

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Twix & I Practicing Heelwork :)

Twix and I got started on our New Years Resolution today.  He does know the heel & side position, so I am just slowly building on what he knows.  It is just so much fun for me to see his brain working.  He is one smart cookie!

Here is our 1st video taped training session for 2012.  :)  I have done a few informal training sessions.  :)


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Behavior and Emotions are Connected...

Behavior and emotions are connected
The relationship between behavior and emotions can be very interesting. If you’re happy (emotion), you smile (behavior). More interesting, however, is the fact that if you can only manage to smile (no matter how upset you are), your mood will improve as well.
That doesn’t mean I am going to suggest that we teach angry dogs to wag their tails on cue when they really don’t like something, but there are actually other examples of how we can use this principle to our advantage in dog training.  However, I do believe that you could capture a tail wag when your dog is actually happy, put it on cue, and when you ask for a tail wag as a trick, chances are your dog would really be happy when doing the trick.
I have recently started working on heelwork with my puppy Twix.  Well he is not really a puppy anymore as he is 19 months, but to me he is still my little pupper do.  I noticed that if I worked with Twix on heelwork, he would get so anxious and either bark at me or run ahead of me.  For some reason heelwork was frustrating to him.  Could it be me?  Was I doing something different in my training that was causing him frustration?  Was it that he hated heelwork and would rather be chasing a frisbee or running circles around me?  It really could be all of the above...  If I changed and worked on tricks (fast tricks, jumping tricks, stationary tricks), he would focus back and become the dog that I know.  So, I decided that I needed to make some changes.  I needed to change his emotional outlook on heelwork, because he was completely out of control and clearly not in a thinking state of mind.  
Here is what I did to help my little Twix...
I implemented the following training plan:
  1. Take him for some play/trick time with some running and frisbee play to get him a little tired before working on heelwork.
  2. Since he already knew how to find the heel position due to working on rear end awareness on the box.  He was ready to work on finding the heel position as I was walking and moving.  I turned this into a fun game but clicking him every time he got to my left side and then I would move away again.  At first I did not care that he was straight or perfect.  I just wanted him to really enjoy finding the heel position.
  3. Next, I started moving with him in the heel position.  I started with one step, if he moved with me, I clicked and rewarded him with a high value food or toy.  I made sure to reinforce slightly behind me, since he liked to forge ahead when we worked on this in the past.  I wanted that reward to happen behind me and prevent him from wanting to drive forward after the click.
  4. Once he got really good at moving with me, I noticed that he thought that touching my leg and just about pushing me over was what he thought he was supposed to do.  So, I had him touch my hand out and away from my body as we moved and as he was still moving with me, I clicked and treated him for not pushing me over.
  5. Now it was time to get him to straighten out.  I used a wall for this...  I positioned Twix in between me and the wall.   I did a few games of him standing still next to me, finding the position and then standing still in a calm manner before getting a click and a treat.  The heel position was a place of calmness and not a place to bark, jump, run ahead, and be frustrated or anxious in.  
  6. I also started using a variety of rewards.  I took a ziplock bag and put cheese, dry kibble dog food, freeze dried raw “Stella and Chewy’s”, and some baked chicken in it.  This way he never knew what food reward he would get.  I also would sometimes give him food or sometimes reinforce with a toy.  I had to be very careful when reinforcing with a toy as that could get him too over aroused, which defeated the purpose.  So, if I noticed him getting too excited, then I would just go back to reinforcing with food and possibly even putting the food on the ground when rewarding him.  The more I was unpredictable the more he paid attention to me.  It was quite a change from how he started out.  i.e. before this training plan.  
  7. As he was focused and calm, I would then start to move.  When he moved with me calmly, I would click and either feed to his mouth to keep his head up or drop the food on the ground.  I eventually want a nice prance and keeping his head up will also get his feet to come up into a prance.  However at this time it is more important to me that he remains calm.
  8. Eventually I would move forward, backward, have him turn toward me and face me as I walked backward he walked forward.  Having him next to the wall really helped him learn to be straight.  He loved the randomness of my movement.  I think it kept him thinking and wondering what I was going to do next.  
  9. Now I am at the point where we are increasing our criteria by adding more duration before clicks and reinforcement.  
A few Training Tips:
  • I always quit training while he was still wanting to work and was still having fun.
  • If he forged ahead, got over excited, barked, or did anything that was not acceptable, then I would wait for him to calm down and I would click and treat him for calmly finding the heel position.  The last thing that I wanted to do was to build in the over aroused, stressed or anxious behavior into the heelwork. 
  • If I got frustrated for any reason, then I had Twix do something fun that he loved, rewarded him for that behavior and ended the training session.  There is no sense in trying to work through frustration.  Just take a break and try again later.
Explanation of my training plan
The reason might be obvious, but in case it is not.  The reason I felt it was important to only reinforce calm heelwork was to condition a new emotional response to that particular behavior.  A response that allowed him to be able to think and not just react.
Why did I chose to place treats on the ground at times? Well emotions and behavior are connected.  So, sniffing the ground (for the treat) and being stressed are incompatible (just like being upset and smiling don’t go together). Therefore, by getting Twix to sniff the ground (which is also a calming signal) I was also helping him becoming calmer.
By the way, it’s also great to reward by tossing treats on the ground when you are rewarding the dog for behaving nicely around other dogs, people or things. Then the other dog will think that your dog is giving out calming signals, and so both of them will become calmer. I recommend watching my video “The Surprise Party Game” to help reactive dogs, if that is something you are interested in.  
So Far it is working and Twix’s heelwork is really coming along nicely.  

Pamela Johnson

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Resolutions for Dogs

New Year's Resolutions for Dogs
  1. I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the toilet.
  2. I'll remember that the garbage collector is NOT stealing our stuff.
  3. I do not need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm lying under the coffee table.
  4. I will not roll my toys behind the fridge.
  5. I must shake the rainwater out of my fur BEFORE entering the house.
  6. I will not eat the cats' food, before or after they eat it.
  7. I will stop trying to find the few remaining pieces of clean carpet in the house when I am about to throw up.
  8. I will not throw up in the car.
  9. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc.
  10. I will not lick my human's face after eating animal poop.
  11. "Kitty box crunchies" are not food.
  12. I will not eat any more socks and then redeposit them in the backyard after processing.
  13. The diaper pail is not a cookie jar.
  14. I will not wake Mommy up by sticking my cold, wet nose up her bottom end.
  15. I will not chew my human's toothbrush and not tell them.
  16. I will not chew crayons or pens, especially not the red ones, or my people will think I am hemorrhaging.
  17. When in the car, I will not insist on having the window rolled down when it's raining outside.
  18. We do not have a doorbell. I will not bark each time I hear one on TV.
  19. I will not steal my Mom's underwear and dance all over the back yard with it.
  20. The sofa is not a face towel. Neither are Mom and Dad's laps.
  21. My head does not belong in the refrigerator.
  22. I will not bite the officer's hand when he reaches in for Mom's driver's license and car registration.
Author: Unknown