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Doggy Times

The original dog blog!

The Magic of Dogs

I have written before about what makes dogs so lovable to us humans. But for some reason, I feel like I need to write about it again. So what is it about dogs that keeps us wanting more? Is it because they are just so darn cute? Or possibly because they make even the least confident of us feel important? Maybe it’s because no matter what is going on in our lives, they are there for us. They listen to us rant and rave about our day at work. They cuddle up with us and keep us feeling warm and safe. They make us feel like a part of something more in life. Maybe we don’t get along with people at work, or with our neighbors, or even our families, but we always get along with our dogs. They keep us laughing when we are depressed, sad, and lonely. They always have our backs, and they will fight to the death to protect us. We have their full attention, unless a squirrel or rabbit happens to run by. They always try to please us, and keep us happy. It is very difficult to find a person like this. Dogs are free, can generally take care of themselves, and have no use for money, laws, or politics. I think we as humans envy that sometimes. Despite those things, they choose to stay with us, obey us, honor us, and protect us.

Dogs are simple creatures, yet their love of us is complex. Dogs have easy rules within their packs. The leader is the strongest and most confident dog. He is not elected to this position, he simply claims it. But he is not a tyrant, socialist, or communist. He simply claims what is rightfully his. The other pack members simply follow his lead, no questions asked. If there is a disagreement, then they fight for it. In the dog world, you have to prove yourself. You have to earn your right to lead. Any dog that is confident enough, skilled enough, and strong enough can lead. It’s not like our world. It is totally fair. We have to go to school to learn a trade for many years. Then graduate and start at the bottom of that particular field. Then as life throws crap at us, we have to fight to maintain our positions at work. Sometimes, our economy collapses and we have no choice but to start from scratch. Dogs don’t have to deal with any of this, they simply live and adapt to changing times.

I think dogs are magical to us for those reasons, but mostly because of their simplicity. We bred dogs to live in our world so we could teach them to work for us, keep us company, guide us around, and keep us safe. Yet it seems that they are teaching us. Slowly, and steadily, with tons of patience, a new way to look at life. They are teaching us how damaging stress really is, how to have never-ending patience, how to love unconditionally, how to stop and smell the roses (among other things). They also teach us not to take life for granted, to be excited about the little things, and that opening ourselves up to others is not always bad. If you don’t take a risk, how will you ever experience new things? How will you learn to trust? How will you meet new loves? How will you ever know if you could have become something more than what you are? A normal, healthy dog does not wait for a safety net to appear before him. He simply leaps and trusts that the net will be there. As should we.

The most magical thing about dogs has to be their resilience. Even if that net doesn’t appear and something bad does happen, dogs bounce back. The only reason, in my 20 years experience, that dogs do not get over a negative experience is because people hold on to it for them. People keep the memory, the fear, and the panic with in them. Dogs react to our feelings and emotions. When we learn to let go of it, they let go even faster. In their natural world, they simply learn from a negative experience and move on. How many depressed 3 legged dogs have you seen? How many discouraged blind or deaf dogs do you see? Dogs don’t care about their disadvantages, they only care about making you and I happy and exploring their world. They would rather sleep next to you in a dark wet ally than alone in a fancy doggy hotel. They don’t care about expensive dog toys, they’d rather play with your old socks. Yet, there are people out there that would abuse them, torture them, fight them, and neglect them.

We bred them to be what they are. We are the ones that decided that Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers should exist. But what do we do with our creations? Some of us abuse and neglect them. Fight them to the death, and make them aggressive to children. We ban them. We bred these traits into them, and we can breed them out just as easily. Bulldogs nearly went extinct and were fierce dogs back in the bull baiting days, but we brought them back and bred it out of them. Boston Terriers were bred to fight to the death for sport, but we bred it out of them and now they are considered "The American Gentleman" of dogs. The point here is that dogs don’t choose what they are, where they are, or even who they are. Yet for the most part, they love us for what we are, where we are, and who we are. This in itself, is the magic that dogs share with us every single day.

"Dogs are not merely dogs to some. They are children with fur that just
happen to bark, drink from the toilet, and shred our slippers. But they
are also teachers of life, purity, and loyalty to many." ~ The Canine Guru

Canines of Faith

Canines of Faith is a non-profit organization that I created to give back to the community. We have partnered with Freedom Hospice to provide canine therapy and assistance with pets to the sick, elderly, and disabled. We rely on donations to continue our services. If you would like to donate, please click here to be redirected to Paypal. You will be able to donate as much as you’d like. 

Thank You!!!

 

Ask Doggy Times!

Q: We have a 7 year old bordie collie.. When we take him to the kennel for the weekend he comes home completely exhausted.
He
gets very excited when arriving there. I am sure he doesn’t sleep and
he is so active that his paws get worn raw and has a bruise over his
eye from going in and out of the doggy door. He will sleep for at least
two days after a 3 day stay. It is getting to the point of not wanting
to take him for fear that he will hurt himself.
Do you have any suggestions to cure this problem?
thanks, Randy

A: I simply do not have enough information to give you any behavioral
suggestions. His paws could be worn from prolonged exposure to
concrete, or burned by his urine. Sometimes kennels do not clean the
runs out when the dogs pee right away, which can lead to urine burned
paws. I would definitely make sure that you rule this out if you
haven’t already.

I would recommend you find a dog day care facility in your area that
can board him overnight as needed. This way you know he will get to
play in a supervised ring during the day, and have a nice tiled/matted
run to sleep in at night. Some of these places even offer t.v.s and
toddler beds for the dogs in their runs. Most dog day cares will charge
$10 to $20 per day for play and $25 to $35 a night for boarding
depending on the niceness of the facility. But remember, you get what
you pay for!

Thanks for your question and best of luck!

Why Do Dogs Fight?

   If you’ve ever had to break up a dog fight before, you know how challenging it can be. Especially if one or both of the breeds are very powerful breeds. Some dog fights seem impossible to stop, or even to prevent. There are even dogs that seem to fight more often than others, and there are dogs that are even bred to fight. That’s a scary thing to think about. But, unfortunately it is true. Some people do enjoy watching dogs maul each other to death. So why do dogs fight? What could be so important to a dog that the dog is willing to fight for it? That is the topic of this blog entry. I’m going to cover what I’ve learned over the years studying dogs and their pack behaviors relating to fighting. Please know that my theories and experiences are my own, and I don’t speak for anyone else.

   To understand why dogs fight, you must first understand how their pack structures work. Now, there is much debate on pack structures now-a-days, so don’t be surprised if you hear something different from someone else. I’m pretty sure I’ve covered pack structures in a different blog entry, but I’ll go ahead and discuss it a bit here.

   First you need to know that if you have a dog as a part of your family, you are in a pack structure whether you know it or not. If you are one of those people or families that has a couple of dogs in the back yard all the time that you just feed and water, then you most likely have two packs in your household; the dogs, and the humans (and don’t think dogs don’t know the difference). But I want to focus on those of you that actually interact with your pooches on a daily basis. These are people that walk their dogs, play with their dogs, train their dogs, feed their dogs, and keep their dogs indoors with them for the most part. You folks are in a pack with your dog(s). However, even though you are in a pack with your dog, that does not automatically make you the leader, or "alpha." Pay attention, because what I’m about to tell you is verrrrrry important. How do you know who the leader or "alpha" is? The leader always eats first, goes in and out of doors first, lays in the most comfortable places, and lays claim to everything that he/she is interested in. If your dog(s) truly respects you he/she/they will not eat until you have finished eating, even if they have food in their bowls! This is a natural, innate, behavior. The reason for it is too show respect for the leader, and to see if the leader will drop food that is deemed more valuable for consumption. This brings us to the first reason dogs fight…. food. Dogs have a loose ranking system that is very primative, but it helps them set priorities as to what is more important. Food is high on the value list. In the dog world, you either fight, flee, avoid, or submit. Food, unless taught otherwise, is worth fighting for. There are a surprising number of dogs with "food aggression" issues because they’ve learned that the only way they will get to eat their food is to fight for it. Some dogs fight for it because another dog or person is stealing it, or I’ve even had a case where the dog displayed "food aggression" simply because the owner was not feeding the dog enough food. The dog was a growing yellow labrador puppy that was only getting half a cup of food twice a day. When I recommended that the owner increase the amount of food at feeding time and gave them a week to do so, the "food aggression" went away. Let me clarify, "food aggression" is classified as fighting for food. A dog that simply snarls, shows teeth,  or growls is simply saying, "Back off, this is mine." There are plenty of dogs that bluff a good game, but will not actually fight for the food. This is because dogs often prefer to not have to fight unless they have too. However, you should never test your pooch. If your dog is showing any of these behaviors, consult your local trainer/behaviorist.

   Another reason dogs fight, is for rank, or position, within the pack. Basically, there are some dogs that are more confident than others. These dogs display that they are willing to fight for things. They posture to show how big they are. They bare teeth to show how big and sharp they are. They growl to sound intimidating. These dogs are basically saying, "I am not afraid of you, and if we fight, I’m sure I’ll win." If this display works, meaning that the other dog submits, then they become higher in rank. If it does not work, however, then a fight will insue. Whomever wins the fight then becomes higher in rank. Dog fanciers call this behavior "T-ing up" which is when two dogs meet each other. During the "T-ing up" process, the two dogs will go through a ritual of either posturing as mentioned above, or submitting, which is when a dog lowers and curves him or herself. Now, it is important to keep in mind that dogs don’t think of rank in the same way that we do. Dogs are much more primative than us humans. Rank to dogs simply means that whomever is the most confident is at the top, and whomever is the least confident is at the bottom.

   Dogs will also fight to protect their territory. Some dogs are more territorial than others, meaning that they will fight practically anything that steps foot on their land. In the wild, territory is very important. It keeps rival packs at bay so there is no or less competetion for food and other resources. In the home, it works the same way, but on a much smaller scale. Fighting for territory not only keeps rival dogs out, but also other predators, which can include humans, that might eat puppies or steal food or shelter. Dogs will always give a warning before fighting for territory, unless they are caught off guard, or taught not too. These warnings include, growling, raised hackles, curled lips, forward ears, standing on tip toes, a territorial bark, lower pitched howling, ect.

   Resource guarding is another big reason why dogs fight. It is the same as "food aggression" but instead of food, the dog is willing to fight for other resources… hence the name. Resources can include, people, toys, bones, beds, or anything else that the dog sees as valuable. Think of resource guarding as a way to keep other beings away from your stuff. Dogs that have obsessions with guarding their resources have most likely had something valuable taken from them as a puppy repeatedly and they’ve learned they can keep it by displaying this type of behavior. So if dog A is bonded to you (leaning on you, pushing into your arms, laying on your lap) and dog B comes up for a nice scratch, dog A would attack dog B. This is resource guarding. (If you are also the leader of your pack, then dog A could also be showing that he/she is higher ranking than dog B). Dog B can then choose to fight dog A for you (the resource), flee from dog A, avoid dog A, or submit to dog A. If dog B deems that you are a valuable enough resource, he may choose to fight.

    Once in awhile there is a dog born with an innate aggressive tendancy. And, there are people in the world that breed these dogs to other dogs like them, creating very aggressive dogs. They then use these dogs as fighting dogs to make a profit. In these types of situations, the dogs are not usually fighting for rank, toys, food, or anything else for that matter. They are simply bred to fight. Other dogs in these kinds of situations whom have not specifically been bred to fight, will fight to live. Life is the most highest ranking resource there is to any creature, including dogs. So if he/she must, a dog will fight for survival. Even nervous, scared, and weak dogs will fight to live. Fear aggression is very common in dogs, and is often mistaken for pure aggression. Fear aggression is displayed much differently than pure aggression though. Dogs displaying this type of aggression are often curved, lowered, and backed into a corner. They are saying, "I really don’t want to fight, but I will if you push me, or if I have too." Dogs that fight out of fear, often keep the fight as short as possible attacking with quick bites and nips. This is obviously because they do not want to be in the fight in the first place. Dogs displaying pure aggression are very postured. They raise their hackles, lift their ears forward, lock on to their targets, and don’t hesitate to attack. They attack with ferocity and don’t let up. A dog displaying pure aggression intends to kill his/her target.

    These are some of the main reasons dogs fight. Every dog is different and may fight for different reasons. If your dog is fighting often, then you need to see your local canine behaviorist, or qualified trainer. You may also want your vet to do a check up to rule out any injuries or conditions that would cause your dog to fight more often.

Tail Chasing Shelter Dog

Q: My
question is:  We adopted a rescue dog two months ago, we were not given
much information about his past, but he was in a run by himself.  He
was picked by my husband after taking a walk with him, a half hour walk
and Molson (the dog) had adopted Steve (the husband).  Initially we had
problems with anyone coming in and out of the house….he would nip
them, but he has relaxed since then, as long as Steve doesn’t get too
close, he is very possessive.  I have cancer and stay home all day and
he is very protective of my, because he has figured out I belong to
Steve and I’m his best bet for playing during the day while Steve is at
work.
Well here is the question (thought I’d never get to it eh?). 
Molson spins and chases his tail until he either gets it or I finally
get his attention.  When we first got him, his tail was hairless.  He
generally does it when we let out and spins himself off the deck, when
he is waiting for me to throw the ball, I’m unable to walk well or get
out of my chair quickly.  He did it before he came to us, the hair is
almost totally grown in on his tail and we don’t want him to loose it
or hurt himself.
I thought I had seen something about this on your site, but can’t find it. 
I would really appreciate any help you can give us.
Thanks
Vera

A: Tail chasing is usually a sign that the dog is not getting enough exercise. Dogs build up energy that needs to be released, and when it isn’t, they will develop problem behaviors. In this case, the dog is also unbalanced, and poorly socialized. I imagine that Molson (love the name) probably spent a lot of time in his kennel or run at the shelter by himself (see my entry on shelters). Imagine how crazy you’d go if you had to stay in solitary confinement for a long period of time with nothing to do but sleep, and you were only let out to potty. I think Molson probably started chasing his tail as a pup as most puppies do when they first find it. As he got older, he learned that chasing his tail released some of his energy and gave him something to do. Now, he is obsessed with it. It has become his "pacifier." In other words, he is using it to release any pent up energy and to relieve any anxiety he may be feeling.

All of a sudden, along comes your husband, and he gets to go on a nice long walk. First of all, dogs are meant to walk. That is why they have all the energy they do. In the wild, wolves will spend all day traveling their territory hunting and expanding it, which eats up the energy they have. On average, a dog will usually get about 14 hours of sleep every day. Sleep builds energy. When Molson was allowed to walk with your husband, he formed a pack bond with him. Your husband became his saving grace, and his leader. Molson instinctively didn’t want this to end, because he desperately needed a leader. Dogs don’t do well with out clear structure. The walk gave him structure, and freedom. No wonder Molson bonded to your husband. He was probably nipping at other people because he saw them as a threat to his structure and freedom. If he’d been in shelters his whole life, then he could have built an association with people taking him away from his structure and freedom. Active dogs require at LEAST 1 hour of structured exercise every day. This is usually accomplished in the walk. Less active dogs require at least 30 minutes of walk time a day. Be careful with brachyophalactic (short nosed) breeds though, as they overheat easily. The walk eases a dog’s mind, and usually you can see a difference in dogs when the walk is finished.

Dogs are simple. Give them structure, exercise, and love and they will love you forever. Displace any one of these, and the dog will become unstable. If you don’t like him nipping at people, then show him you disagree with it. Block him from doing so. Make him realize that he will have to go through you to get to that person. Use a firm, but calm tone with him when correcting him. NEVER EVER HIT. Hitting in any form can cause fear-aggression, and hand shyness. I’m not saying that you do, I’m just throwing that out there for the readers. Make sure that Molson knows you and your husband are both leaders. Eat before him, don’t let him on furniture unless invited, go in and out doors first, and always disagree with the behaviors you do not like. Simply saying "no" will not work. You must get in front of your dog and block until he surrenders by sitting, lowering his head, laying down, or moving on. Blocking envolves putting your body between the dog and whatever he’s after. Don’t block in an aggresive way. Make sure your energy is calm and your body posture conveys confidence. Do NOT be the first to surrender, or it will all be for nothing.

You may want to contact a behaviorist or reputable trainer in your area to better asses the situation. This way the behaviorist or trainer can observe the body language of the dog and make a more accurate diagnoses of his specific problems. Best of luck! Stay positive!

Earning Your Dog’s Respect

I am often asked how I am able to do the things I do with dogs. Many people have tried to get their dogs to complete a certain task, whether it be getting their dogs to come to them, go into a crate or ring, or to simply calm down and be quiet. But these people often end up frustrated, and sometimes they take it out on the dog(s). Imagine how their frustration grows when they have invested a lot of their time and energy into getting the dog to complete this task and I come along and make it look easy. Don’t get me wrong. These people are usually very thankful that the dog did complete the task, finally, but they become frustrated with themselves for not being able to get the dog(s) to do it themselves. So they ask me, "How’d you do that?" One person even said, "Now, that just makes me mad!" But in different words.

Look, there is no magical secret. That is the first and foremost misconception. I am not a magic man wielding my power over dogs. I simply, yes simply, understand their language because I have studied it for 20 years. Anyone can do this, yes even you! Sure, some people have a "gift" for it like myself, but really that "gift" is just a love for it. Not a special ability. The "gift" just keeps me motivated, and if you have enough motivation, why… you can do anything!

So, to those who want to know how I do it, I’ll tell you. Earn the dog’s respect. That simple. Really. "Well, how do you earn the dog’s respect?" I’ll tell you. In a few simple steps below.

1.) Refrain from getting frustrated. Stay calm. This is the number one most important rule if you want to gain your dog’s or any dog’s respect. If you try to get the dog to do something, and he won’t budge, then there is a reason. Flying off the handle and yelling, screaming, hitting things, making loud noises, cussing, and jerking at his collar will NOT work. And if it does work, your dog has learned to fear you, and is not truly happy. Fear, is not respect. Dogs obey out of fear, for fear of harm. Dogs act out of respect, because they trust you and choose to listen and act. If you don’t stay calm, you will be seen as unbalanced by the dog. Dogs do not listen to unbalanced people, or dogs. Those dogs, and people will often be ignored, or attacked depending on the situation. But a calm person or dog is seen as balanced, and the dogs know that the calm ones mean business. Even the slightest bit of frustration can cause some dogs to lock up, avoid, or even attack.

2.) Set a goal and follow through. No matter how big, or small, you must have a goal in mind. Say the goal is to get your dog in the tub. No matter what happens, you MUST accomplish your goal every single time. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they give in too soon. Some people say, "Well, he just doesn’t feel like it right now." or "He’s just not ready yet." The facts are that he may not feel like it, and he may not be ready, but he still needs to do it when you ask or he’ll learn he doesn’t have to listen to you. In the wild he could get killed for not honoring the pack leader. So when he doesn’t honor you, and nothing happens, guess who becomes the pack leader? Not you. Accomplish your goal every single time, and your dog will begin to respect you. All of the dogs at the daycare I work for know that when I tell them to go into the ring, they are going in the ring. There is no fight, or struggle to get them in. And I average about 20 dogs a day. If the dog is being stubborn, I will block and herd that dog where I need him to be. I rarely have to grab the collar and drag a dog to where I need him. This is because my goal is to get the pack into that ring, and I make sure I accomplish it.

3.) If the dog is hesitant, figure out why. Some dogs are less confident than others. If they are afraid of something, they will often avoid or flee from it. So in example, if you are trying to get your dog in the tub and she hesitates, take a moment to study her body language. What is she saying to you? Is she curved over with her tail tucked and ears laid flat? If so, this means she is feeling afraid. If she is licking her lips while curved, then she is saying that she is afraid and stressed about the situation. If she is nipping at you when you reach for her, it is out of fear, not aggression. You job is to accomplish your goal, so you need to figure out how to make your dog feel differently about the situation. This is where having some training experience is very handy. Because you may have to break down the process to get her to even go close to the offending object. If your dog is showing signs of stress and fear as mentioned above, either seek a trainer or behaviorist in your area to help, or look for one of my blog entries on dog training for help. Do not force a fearful or stressed dog to do something, because you can cause the dog to develop a phobia or squeeze out a bite.

If your dog is just resisting because she doesn’t want to get in the tub, she won’t curve herself. Instead, she will keep her posture straight. She may play keep away from you, she may bark, she may put the brakes on when you try to pull her, or all three. The key to knowing that she is simply being stubborn is her body posture. Figure out why she is being so stubborn. Does she hate water? Does she associate the tub as a negative thing for any reason? If so, change this by making it a game. Stubborn dogs are often easily lured by simply changing your tactics. It could just be that the goal you set is boring and there is no real reward in it for the dog. If you offer a treat, but the dog seems like she could care less, then the treat does not equal the motivation and energy needed to complete the task. Or put simply, it may not be worth it. Try upping the anti.

4.) Reward when the task is complete. Once you have followed through and the dog has completed the goal, reward the dog with something that the dog sees as rewarding. Often people will reward the dog with something they see as rewarding, and not with what the dog sees as rewarding. You can tell what the dog finds rewarding simply by watching them. Do they like to chase things? Do they like to take naps? Do they like to go for walks? Toys? Balls? What is the dog actively pursuing a lot of the time? Is what they are pursuing healthy for them? Ask these questions to find a reward for your dog. Some dogs are very simple and a nice scratch behind the ears, or above the tail is sufficient reward. Other dogs require more and would rather chase a ball, play with a toy, or take a nap on their owner’s lap. Most dogs are happy with something to chew on, like a bone or rawhide. Only let your dog have these with supervision. Rawhides can be dangerous. Treats are great, but too often people get stuck on treats and so do the dogs. Obesity becomes an issue, and the dogs’ diet becomes unhealthy. Some treats aren’t fully digested by dogs and this can cause coprophagia (eating poo). Use treats in moderation.

5.) Set up some rules and remain steadfast. Once you set up a rule, then you must enforce it every time. Dogs will test the rules often. If they find that they can break it with no consequence, then they will continue to break it. Dogs learn by repetition, so you may have to enforce the rules more than once. You will also need to determine what the consequence for breaking the rules should be. It could be time alone, which a lot of dogs don’t like, or a squirt from the squirt bottle (doesn’t work that well on water loving breeds like Labs and Newfies) or you can block and muzzle. Block and muzzle is where you block the dog until they submit to you (lower their head or roll over on their back) and then put your hand around their muzzle. WARNING: Don’t try it with dogs that show ANY signs of aggression! You may get bitten! Or you can leg bump, which is where you walk into the dog and gently bumb them with your shin. DO NOT KICK! Don’t leg bump small dogs, because you could accidently injure them. The same is true with very tall dogs, like skinny Great Danes. You could injure their hips and/or legs. You must stand up straight when leg bumping. What you are doing is mimicing an alpha dog’s butt bump. This is where an alpha dog will turn himself and litterally bumb another dog with his butt. It’s a way for the alpha to say "I’m boss, knock it off." While doing the butt bump, the alpha dog will stand erect and proud, so you must do the same for it to work. Sometimes it helps to say "Hey!" or something short when leg bumping.

6.) Stay consistent! This is really important. Lack of consistency is a leading reason why people fail with their dogs. By staying consistent, you are showing your dog that you are the boss. Consistency is a very important ingredient when trying to earn your dog’s respect. Dogs thrive on it, and with out it they often panic. You can not let your dog do something one time, and then not the other. The reverse is true as well. Once a dog learns a rewarding behavior, that behavior tends to stick. So if every time your dog barks at the mailman and the mailman goes away, that is a reward to your dog. Because your dog successfully defended his and your territory from an intruder. The mailman is usually consistent and comes and goes at the same time everyday.  Your dog picks up on this, and will be ready when the mailman comes. This example can be applied to anything, but the point is that dogs need, count on, thrive on, learn from, and down right live on consistency.

If you put all of these things together, you will earn your dog’s respect. It really is a lot simpler than it sounds. Keep in mind that dogs learn by trial and error. They do something, and if no one disagrees with it, and it’s rewarding, they will do it again. If someone stronger disagrees with it, then they will usually move on. Dogs do not think like people, so don’t feel bad about enforcing the rules. Your dog will respect you for making the rules and then enforcing them. They are a lot like kids in that way. Push them too hard, and they rebel; don’t push hard enough and they will become uncontrollable.

Ask Doggy Times

Question:
Hi,
I stumbled across your blog when I was searching why my 6 year old
Boston obsessively licks our couch.  I think you may be right…it
soothes him.
 
My question for you:
We also have a 6 month old Brindle Boston female.  I got her from
a breeder whom I think allowed her to sit in her own feces.  We used to
kennel her while we were gone but stopped when we realized that she
will urinate and defecate in her kennel.  She doesn’t seem to mind to
be covered in it.  It was such a mess–coming home and having to bathe
her and then spray down her kennel each day.  We have a doggie door and
she learned quickly to use it.  When we are home, Emme doesn’t have any
accidents.  She understands that she needs to go outside to relieve
herself.  However, when we are gone, she has accidents in the house
even though the doggie door is open.  When we arrive home, she will
sometimes hide under the table, almost as if she knows she did
something wrong.  Do you think she has anxiety when we leave the
house?  Why do you suppose she defecates in the house when we are
gone?  OH!  Another thing–if we are in the house but behind a closed
door, she will also potty in the house.

Answer:

  This kind of situation can be down right frustrating. Boston’s are great dogs, but if they are raised by a breeder that doesn’t crate train them properly this sort of thing can happen. Refer to my blog entry about puppy buying basics. More than likely, you got Emme from a backyard breeder. Dogs do not naturally like to potty where the eat or sleep. So what had to have happened is that she was forced to go in her crate because she wasn’t let out of it very often. She then learned that going in the crate was ok. However, there can be other problems caused by this. She could develop coprophagia, which is where she learns to eat her own feces in order to keep her crate clean.

  Here are some tips. First, don’t throw out the crate, it can be your friend. What’s happened in your situation is that Emme has been what we call, reverse trained. Where instead of holding herself in the crate, she is relieving herself in the crate. So to counter this you will have to use her instincts to your advantadge. Put the crate somewhere in the house where she can escape if she wants, but still be amidst all the goings-on of the home. Make sure to put some bedding in the crate (Bostons love to snuggle under blankets), and start feeding her in the crate as well. Leave the door open at all times so she can go in and out as she pleases. We want her to think of the crate as a den. Dogs are den dwelling creatures, and when she hides under the table, she is retreating to a den like spot where she feels safe. When you feed her in the crate, make sure you put the food all the way at the back so she will have to go all the way in to eat. Just set the food inside, and wait. Pay no attention. Don’t even try to coax her in. Just let her go in on her own when she is ready. Don’t feel bad if she doesn’t go in right away, or even at all the first day. She will eventually get hungry enough to go in there and eat. You can even add chicken broth to her food to make the food even more tempting. When she does go in, don’t make a huge fuss about it, and leave the door open. Do this everyday for at least a month.

  At night, you’ll want to let her sleep in her new den. Make sure to let her outside just before bed. Then put her in her crate and close the door. Say good night and go to bed. If she cries… you have to ignore it. If you give in and go to her, she will never learn to sleep in there. In the morning, let her out to potty right away. When she potties outside, PRAISE HEAVELY! It is important when potty training to go out with the dog and praise them for pottying outside. Bostons especially love a nice scratch right above the tail! They also love having their ears massaged!

  So why would you leave your new pup out to run around the house while you are behind a closed door? That is just asking for trouble! The key is prevention. Never let her out of your sight!!! EVER!!! She has already learned to potty in the house when you aren’t looking. Dogs are very smart, if you’ve read any of this blog about how smart they really are, then you would know that they study our every move. Dogs know when we close our eyes, we can’t see them. Test this if you want. Put a treat on the floor and tell your dog not to get it. Then close your eyes, or walk away and see if that treat is still there. They know.

  You have to build up trust in your relationship with your dog. They have to trust us, and we have to trust them. If there is no trust, behavior problems can develop, or pre-existing ones can get worse. To build that trust, you need to praise her for pottying outside, and never let her out of your sight inside. Crate her, or confine her to a single area in the house if you can not watch her until you know she will not potty in the house. You can also keep a journal of when and where she potties in the house. This will help you identify any patterns she may have. At 6mos old, her bladder is pretty well developed, but don’t count on her holding it for longer than 5 hours until she is at least a year old. Most dogs will have to go potty about 2 – 4 hours after they eat or drink. Puppies go even sooner, about 1-3 hours, depending on the breed.

  If she is hiding under the table when you get home, it may not be because she knows she did something wrong. Dogs forget about pottying in the house after they do it, because they live in the present, not the past. Most likely, she has been scolded when someone got home and found it. She has come to associate someone coming home with being scolded. Therefore, she retreates to a den like area for safety. However, Bostons are very intelligent dogs. They rank number 52 on the breed list for intelligence. Number 1 being the Border Collie. If she had just done it and someone came home and found it and then scolded her, she may understand why she is being scolded. But if it happened an hour or more before the person arrived home, then most likey she doesn’t know why she is being scolded. If she potties in the house, spanking, yelling, and rubbing her nose in it won’t help. These actions can cause her to develop fear issues. You have to catch her in the act, and then take her outside as she is going. She should stop going once you pick her up, and then resume outside when you put her down. If you don’t catch her doing it, then there is nothing you can do to help the situation other than cleaning it up. Get a cleaner that will repel her from that same area, or completely get out the scent or she may soil that area again.

   Remember, patience is a virtue and consistency is how dogs learn. Good luck!

Ask Doggy Times!

Do you have a question for Doggy Times? If so, I am here to help, so ask! I am going to start a new section on this blog site where readers can email me questions about their dogs, and I will answer. If you have a question about behavior problems, training advice, odd behaviors, or just general questions about dogs… I’m here to help. Send your questions to doggytimes@hotmail.com. At least once a week, or maybe twice, one, or two, email question(s) will be featured with an answer.

To ask a question, please give some background history about your dog(s) so I can better answer the question. Also don’t forget to leave the name of the dog, as well as your name. If you’d rather go by a nickname, that is fine too. Please also include your dog’s age, sex, and breed. If your dog is a mixed breed, please include as best you can all the breeds you think he/she is mixed with. After the question has been answered, you will receive a confirmation email to let you know to check this site for your answer.

I’m anxious to share my knowledge with you, so what are you waiting for? Ask a question, you have nothing to loose.

Been awhile since I’ve posted.

Ok, so I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve updated and added to this site. Life has been extremely busy for me. Working at a dog daycare during the day, and training at night and on the weekends has kept me really busy. Plus, I have a beautiful wife, daughter, and one on the way to keep me busy when I’m not working with dogs.
 
I am writing this entry to  apologize to those that may be looking for new updates on a regular basis. I simply have not had the time to keep up with this blog. But rest assured, this blog will remain. Filled with all the posts and blog entries that give it its appeal. I will still post from time to time, but not nearly as often as I have in the past. Thank you to all of you that have become fans, and to MSN for giving me the opportunity to share my knowledge and passion of dogs with all of you.
 
I am on Facebook and Myspace if you’d like to look me up. Just look for The Canine Guru or Brandon Ross.
 
 

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