Trainer Q&As

Puppy Shredding Potty Pads

By on November 27, 2016

“We’ve been doing very well with our potty training. I would say she’s been a good girl about 90% of the time (using her pad). A few days ago she started tearing the pad into a lot of little pieces and now it’s becoming a very bad habit of hers. Any suggestions on how to get her to stop this very nasty little game?”

Rebecca:
“Glad to hear things are going well! The pad shredding is a favorite hobby of a lot of puppies and dogs for some reason… must be a lot of fun! There are a few things that you might try to fix the problem. First, you may want to do something to keep her from being able to move the pad, since half the fun of shredding is dragging the pad around. You can tape it to the floor, put something heavy on top of it to keep it from moving or get a plastic pad tray from the pet store.

If these solutions don’t work, you can also try using washable, re-usable fabric potty pads. Lots of people are using them these days, since they’re a “green” option for eco-friendly indoor potty training!

Of course, you should also be sure she’s getting plenty of exercise and that she has other fun things to play with and chew on, since the pad shredding can be the result of boredom and energy overload!

One thing you should NOT do to try to fix the problem is using an anti-chewing product like Bitter Apple on the pads. I’ve had a few clients who decided to try this (without checking with me first!)… of course, they didn’t think about the fact that it would not only get the dog to stop chewing the pad, it would make the dog want to stay away from the pad completely. Not good.

I hope this helps!”

Pee Pad Training, Crying in the Crate, Where Should Puppy Sleep, Puppy Biting

By on November 14, 2016

“We finally brought Yogi home last night. I’m so happy he’s finally here, but now I have to enforce lots of discipline. Fortunately he hasn’t done a poo in the house. Last night we set up a pee pad with a few shredded newpaper sheets on it (the breeder used paper). He went to poo there twice so far and he did it on his own. He has used the pee pad for pee on large pee events, but would usually have the occasional squirt every so often.

Our first night was tough. We tried the soft crate and he wouldn’t have it. We then tried a small crate someone lent us to use in the pen instead of our large one. He went nuts. Keep in mind this is all going on in our room. He was hollering for maybe 1-2 hrs and I finally gave up and opened the gate. He quietly with no force laid right outside the crate and fell asleep in a minute. He pulled his blanket out and pretty much stayed in the same spot all night. I took him to the pee pad twice and he never went. This morning I found two small puddles. But he slept through the night, in the same spot.

We fed him, played with him and took him to the pee pads this morning, so we decided it’s time to get used to the pen/crate set up. He’s not up for that either. He’s pretty much just whining/crying. My husband is feeling bad about the whole thing, since we’re home we should play with him all day. I go back to work on Tues, so I want him to get used to being alone from today. We may head to the store later and I think I’m going to leave him by himself. Otherwise he’s a wonderful puppy. Very playful and not too aggressive. He can be easily spoiled since he’s so cute and friendly, but I need to stay focused. I think something needs to be done about the nighttime situation. I have no problem letting him sleep at the foot of our bed without the crate IF he was housebroken. What are your thoughts?

While typing this he was in the pen and I’ve noticed the crying stopped. Hopefully it’s for good. Any pointers for us on the pen/crate (away from home) situation?”

 

Rebecca:
“Glad Yogi’s finally home! Overall, sounds like things are going okay… it isn’t unusual for dogs who aren’t used to being crated to protest in the beginning. I assume you’ve read Surviving the Night with your New Puppy?

I’d spend some time doing the crate acclimation exercises, which should help him to accept being in his crate. We also have an article that discusses what to do if your dog barks in his crate, so check that out for solutions to the barking.

I would NOT have him sleep free in your room overnight under any circumstances! He’ll just get in the habit of having accidents and it’ll be a disaster! I’d say there are 3 options for overnight… crate, confinement area (exercise pen or small room) with potty pads, or you can do what I did with my little Teddy when she first came home and have his leash on him and have him sleep in the bed with the leash tied to your wrist. This way, if he starts to move around overnight, you’ll know it’s time to get up and take him for a potty trip.

If you decide to try the crate again, you may find it helpful to put the crate on your bed in the beginning if it’ll fit, or you can put it on your nightstand or a chair next to your bed so puppy is at your level right next to your face… this makes the puppy feel more secure since he’s right next to you.

Be sure to wear that little sucker out today so he’s tired and ready to SLEEP tonight! A lot of puppies want to sleep all evening, then they’re ready to rock and roll overnight, so be sure not to let him snooze too much prior to bedtime!

As for leaving him alone during the day, after doing the crate acclimation exercises it should be easier. Once you’ve done that, you pretty much have to just go for it. Just put him in his crate or pen with something extra yummy to chew on and leave. Try to wear him out first and try not to leave for too long in the beginning so he learns you won’t be gone forever. You’re right in thinking you should get him used to being alone for short periods right away… if you play with him all day for the next few days then have to leave him alone suddenly for long periods when you go back to work, it’ll be really stressful for the little guy!”

Dana:
“Congratulations! I’m so excited for you- getting a new puppy is a big event, and lots of fun. Enjoy yourself with Yogi these next few days, they grow up so fast

On the training front, I agree with Rebecca- don’t let that little guy sleep loose. When they come from the breeder with no crate training, those first few nights can be really rough. Like Rebecca, I keep my puppies’ crates right next to my head, either sitting them on the bed or on a night stand next to me. And, if they are not doing well in a crate during the day, I tie them to me and let them sleep loose so that there is peace. The screaming at night is terrible!!!

I sleep on my side, so I tie the puppy to my waist with a short leash, pretty much forcing them to cuddle into my belly. I always wake up when they start moving around this way. However you tie them to you, make sure you will wake when they do and that you won’t squash them or let them jump off the bed and hurt themselves with the leash. In other words, don’t do this if you are a really heavy sleeper.

This technique is only for the first few nights. During the day you need to be training Yogi to stay in a crate or x-pen. Personally, I think all dogs should be trained to stay calmly in a crate, even when their owners don’t expect to use one- it’s important that dogs can be crated for their own safety and happiness. If you ever need to transport them on an airplane, they will have to be crated. If they have to stay at the vet’s overnight or be boarded in a kennel, they need to be crated or kenneled. A little bit of crate training as a puppy goes a long way towards making these experiences less stressful.

So, do a little bit with Yogi everyday, even when you are home. He only needs to stay confined until he is calm and quiet, so it’s not like he will be away from you a lot over these next few days. If you time it right, he’ll just use the crate for nap times which goes a long way towards making it a happy place for him. Keep us posted! (and try to never let him out again if he is protesting)”

“Advice well taken! After that first nite of sleeping at the foot of our bed, we completely switched the next few days and had him sleep in his pen in the kitchen. The second nite (sat) he slept from 11pm-4:30am, he started crying so I went out to see him and take him out. The pee pad was still in there from earlier and he surprisingly used it for both number1 and 2. sun nite he went thru til 5:30am, this time I did not get up for the 15 min cry, after that he went back to bed and woke up at 8am. last nite he surprisingly slept all the way thru or maybe played..but he never cried. he still however cries when u initially put him if if he’s not tired. we try to our best to tire him b4 he goes in at nite. ..so sleeping soughta under control.
however we have a “squirting” issue. those short, small amts of pee that come so quick u cant even tell what he did until after he walks away. plus he has short legs. he loves doing them in only carpeted room in the house. i have no idea why. ive tried airlifting him in the midst of a few and he just goes regardless. the poos however seem to be easy to catch. on a morning its easy to just bring him outside and he goes right away, but those mid morning/afternoon poos he loves going on rugs. we’ve used nature’s miracle countless times but we may just need to get rid of the carpet/rugs. we’ve blocked both areas in hope of having him stop. let’s see what happens.
otherwise, his vet visit went well and hes eating his new food. He is a nipper, and while this is all instint for the corgis, its becoming annoying and painful.. but im doing a few training exercises with him before hes older enough to enroll in puppy classes, hopefully ill see some improvement soon.

 

Dana:
“It sounds to me like you are really on the right track I would not get up if he is whining in the night- he has his pee pads and should use them. He doesn’t need your help and going to him will teach him to be noisy in his pen. Sounds like you’ve already stopped doing that, so you’re on track.

I would suggest keeping him completely off the carpet for a few weeks to prevent the quick pees, and again, it sounds like you’ve already decided to do that.

Nipping is totally normal in young pups. The number one rule is do not pull away the thing that he is biting- it only turns on his predatory instinct to chase and bite it again. If he is nipping your arm or hand, hold it completely still and use the other hand to stop him, either by grabbing his leash or reaching under his chin to catch him by the collar. Get him off your hand (or whatever) and then offer him something he should be biting (like a rope toy) and let him chase that.

Make it move to draw his attention and prey drive into the correct object. It helps if you put it on a string and use it like a cat toy, making it dance around and run when he goes for it. If you can’t get him into the toy and he keeps going after you, you may need to give him some time to calm down in his pen. Just remember- when he bites you, freeze and then slowly catch him and redirect him to his toy. Keeping a leash on will really help. Try to make sure you do not lose your temper. If you are getting too frustrated, put him in his pen and give yourself a little time to calm down.”

“I will definately use the string with the toy since I noticed he gets sidetracked to bite my hand when Im playing with him. His first day here we noticed he was more into our hands, feet and ankles than his toys. If we’re sitting on the floor playing with him and I try stopping him from biting my pants or toes..he gets so worked up he tries to aim for my face and gives a growl. I was shocked. I tried the “no” command and I notice he stops and will probably stay away for 15mins, but then he’s back again. When it gets real bad I put him in the closet for 2 minutes. I thought about putting him in his pen, but was worried that this may set us back since hes starting to become comfortable with the pen. So is the pen okay to use in time outs?..or can the closet work?
today was my day off from work, but i treated him as if we were on schedule. he did the usual, crying and jumping on the pen for 15 mins then got quiet. (btw, if it werent for strings tied to large kitchen appliances i think the pen would have either toppled over or left the kitchen by the time i got back home. he is very strong for a 6lbs puppy.) i did some errands and gave him more time alone. it seems as tho he is doing okay. he goes on the pad and keeps his sleeping area tidy.
the only behavior ive seen him adopt today is biting on furniture. its not as frequent, but this only started up today. i read that this can occur from teething or even boredom. i just redirect his attention to a toy and that usually works. im hoping he doesnt become like some pups ive seen that rip thru sofas and wood floors lol.”

 

Rebecca:
“Oooh, there’s nothing worse than a short-legged little male dog! So hard to tell when they’re peeing! I remember years ago reading a great comment about this (I think it was Ian Dunbar, but I read it in about 1989, so forgive me if I’m wrong!)… he said something like, “If your male puppy looks like he’s just standing there thinking, you can bet he’s peeing… male puppies are not great thinkers”. If he’s standing still, be afraid… be very afraid. Over time, you’ll start to notice subtle differences in his posture that will let you know if he’s emptying out or just hanging out.

Just be VERY careful about floor time… with brand new puppies, I try to give them little or no time with their feet on the floor in the house. The only time I’d have him on the floor for short periods would be right after a successful potty trip when he’s empty (at least for the moment!).”

Dana:
“If my puppies are driving me nuts, I put them in a crate, x-pen or yard until we both cool down. You can give him a toy to chew on in there- it’s not punishment, just a break to calm down. When he’s calm he can come out again. With the closet I’m envisioning a tiny little dungeon full of brooms and old cleaning supplies- sounds like a scene from Mommy Dearest so I might avoid it Seriously, though, any puppy proofed area would be fine for a short break, but make sure it is safe- i.e, no brooms or bottles of drano.

Don’t worry too much about the wild behavior Yogi is starting to show- it all sounds like pretty normal puppy stuff. Your reactions sound right- keep showing him when he is wrong and praising him and playing with him when he is right. And, most of the dogs that I have known that were really destructive had owners who didn’t supervise them enough and gave them too much freedom, too soon. Make sure Yogi is always supervised when he is in the house- that way you can correct him on the first nibble of the couch instead of coming home to a giant stuffing party mess.”

“hhahahaha…no brooms or chemicals in the closet. its our coat closet and since its warm now its empty. but it is dark in there. i think it might be working becuz after one of his “wild” attacks followed by the 3 min closet timeout, he’ll come out and start licking my feet. i think he’s also getting the word “no”, either that or my loud tone scares him off.
today was yogi’s first day home alone with a quick visit at lunch. his pee pad was filled and he missed once. not bad for the first day. during playtime this evening, the door connecting to the garage was wide open and he ran out there twice to go. we have a pee pad near the door, but i notice he’ll move further from the pad to go poo. i know its not on the pad but we’re thrilled that he went out there twice on his own. i took him for a walk around the house today so ill be slowing introducing him to his new potty spot.
btw he detests the small crate that i use ocassionally to carry him around and im scared he’ll do the same for the larger one i plan on placing him in once he can hold. tomorrow he turns 8wks so we have a ways to go, but i need to start gettin him friendly with crates. b4 i leave for work tomorrow i think ill place it in the pen with a few treats inside. hopefully he’ll get the hang of things. any suggestions on when i should transistion and how?”

 

Dana:
“It sounds like Yogi is really learning very quickly Missing the papers or pads is a common problem. You can try putting a few pads together to make a larger area- many dogs like to circle as they go and a bigger area can help. The other thing that really helps is putting the pads in a tray with a raised edge. This helps to give pups a boundary and keeps them in the right area as they are going.

It’s great that you are thinking of your crate training ahead of time! Have you read through the crate acclimation article yet? That should get you off to a good start. If you still have questions, let us know.”

Training Your Pup to Ring a Bell to Go Outside

By on November 14, 2016

“I adopted Molly, a one year old Japanese Chin/terrier mix, from a rescue shelter in November of last year. She had been hit by a car and then suffered a broken leg after jumping off a ledge in the shelter. She has been through a lot and was very skittish but is really coming around and acting more and more like a confident little dog. We continue to have difficulty with house training her and, since she doesn’t bark (only in extremely rare situations…she almost scares herself when she does make some noise!), I’m thinking of trying to teach her to ring a bell to go outside. She knows she is supposed to go out there, consistently goes on verbal command in her designated spot, but sneaks away to the bathroom every now and then to go instead of letting someone know she needs to be let outside. Do you have any suggestions for teaching the bell ringing technique? Is it even something I should attempt with her?”

 

Rebecca:
“Molly sounds like a cutie! I’m glad she found someone to give her a good home and some good lovin’ after what sounds like quite a rough start! It sounds like you’re off to a good start with her training… great that she’s going promptly in her potty spot on command!

There are pros and cons to teaching you dog to ring a bell (or indicate in any way that she wants to go out). Let’s talk about the cons first, since there are only a couple, and they’re not too bad.

One is just a practicality problem… ringing the bell is effective only if someone can hear her ring! If you have a huge house, you might not find this to be too terribly effective.

The other is that some dogs learn that they get attention and get to go outside every time they ring, so you’ll get a lot of false alarms… Molly might ring the bell just because she wants to get you up from the dinner table or because she wants to see if there are any squirrels in the backyard. Often, this problem can be resolved by making sure the potty trips that follow the bell ringing are strictly business… no playtime out in the yard, just an in-and-out potty trip.

So, if you think this still sounds like a good idea for Miss Molly, I’m going to give you a few simple steps to try, then you can get back to us if it needs any fine tuning or troubleshooting…

First, you want to make sure you get an appropriately sized bell that Molly will be able to ring easily. There are potty bells that are commercially available, like Poochie Bells, which should work well, or you can just tie your bell to a string that hangs from the doorknob. The bell should be at Molly’s nose level.

Some dogs will immediately want to investigate when they see the bell, but since Molly’s a little bit of a nervous gal, she may be scared of it! With a dog like her, I’d do an extra step in the beginning of training… hold the bell in your hand so it won’t ring and startle her, and let her lick peanut butter off of it. This will teach her to have a positive association with the bell.

Over a couple of practice sessions with her, start moving the bell slightly to get a small amount of noise. When it rings, praise Molly and tell her she’s a good girl if she stays there and continues to lick the bell. If she gets scared and backs away, go back to not moving the bell for a few sessions and try again later to get her used to the ringing.

When she seems comfortable with the bell, you’ll move on to hanging it on the door. At this point, you’ll use just a tiny smear of peanut butter than she’ll be able to get off the bell with a couple of quick licks. With any luck, she’ll be excited and ready to chow down when she sees you pulling out the peanut butter and putting it on the bell, so she should go over to lick the bell.

When she licks the bell, say, “Let’s go outside!” in an excited, happy voice and take her out for a potty trip, praising her lavishly if she goes potty, of course. Do this several times a day for a few days. After a few days, use the peanut butter only a couple of times when you take her out. In between “peanut butter sessions” you should wait inside the door for a second… if she sniffs or licks the bell, you’ll say “Let’s go outside!” and take her out.

If she doesn’t make a move toward the bell, try holding it near her nose to see if she’ll sniff or lick. If she doesn’t, you can gently lift her paw, ring the bell with it, and excitedly tell her it’s time to go out.

With most dogs, you’ll see fairly quick results with this approach. Remember, any time you see her give the slightest nudge, paw, sniff or lick on the bell, you need to hustle over, praise her like crazy and take her outside.

Another thing that will be important for Molly’s training is getting on a serious supervision program with her. Don’t allow her the freedom to have an accident, since breaking her habit of pottying in the house is critical. If she thinks going in the house is an option, there’s no motivation for her to ring the bell to go outside!

I hope you find this helpful!”