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House Training Troubles

What to do when your dog just isn’t getting it.

I’ve seen a lot of comments recently on our other post How to Potty Train A Dog with people still having trouble so I’m going to comment on those here.

If your dog is all of a sudden having more trouble or seems to go little bits frequently, its time for a quick sample to be taken to the vet. Just use some tongs and a dixie cup or throw away container of some kind or take your dog to the vet and let them catch it for you. Often times bacterial infections can cause this problem which is common in puppies and small dogs because of their closeness to the ground.

If your dog has been cleared of an infection, but you aren’t seeing progress, the following steps need to be taken.

1) Make sure you are keeping track. If your puppy is having accidents still its important to quantify how many times they are having accidents and when they are occurring. If there is a pattern that will help you in your training to be proactive rather than reactive. Or maybe the puppy isn’t having as many accidents as you think.

2) Is the puppy having accidents when you aren’t around? If so then quit letting your puppy or dog roam. Use baby gates, dividers, crates, leashes tethered to you, whatever will help keep your puppy from leaving where you are. Also watch for those tell-tale signs, pacing, sniffing, circling, jumping up from a down position and going somewhere new.

3) Reward the puppy or dog for going outside. It can be easy as a tummy rub or a little treat, but try to make it worth their while!

Dont punish the dog, they just aren’t getting it yet

Now keep in mind, small dogs take longer to learn this process and certain breeds are harder than others. It probably has to do with the size of their bladders and the amount of control they actually have. Over the years I have noticed certain temperaments of dogs get it easier than others. If you have a dog that came from a puppy mill type situation, I would call a local dog trainer to come and give you advice on your house training troubles.

Stay patient, keep at it, keep taking notes, it will get better.

Chiropractors for Dogs

Some people call me crazy, other call me weird, but thats OK! I *love* chiropractors for dogs. My younger dog injured his leg and was constantly leaning to one side. We found a chiropractor who straightened him right out and after a few months and just a few short visits, Blaze is finally back to normal!

When you start looking for a chiropractor for your dog there are two different types. The first is a Vet who takes a certification course (or more) in chiropractic. The second type is an actual chiropractor who has adapted to working on animals. Many that I have met work on all types of animals. My personal preference has been to work with actual chiropractors who also work with dogs. I can’t say that one is better than the other but if its just adjustments you need, then you have a few options to research.

What can you expect when getting your dog adjusted? The chiropractor will likely want to see your dog walk around a bit, then they will begin to contort the next back, legs and tail. Most dogs don’t like the pressure and will wiggle about but I usually just hold their heads still. My dog Sandy used to love getting adjusted and afterwards would love up on her chiropractor. I can always tell that they feel better and if it helps prevent arthritis, I’m all for it!

Training, just 5 minutes a day

I’ve got a few things going with my dogs. Blaze is trying to finish his last task to complete his service dog demo tape and take over for Nitro. He is learning to push a door shut. Its hard for him for some reason. I wasn’t sure how to discriminate how hard he was pushing – in other words, click only when he pushes so hard. Well I figured it out today – watch how far the door moves. One of those “duh” moments. He is doing better and I’m keeping a high rate of reinforcement. Training him to close a door should move pretty quickly now.

Nitro is working on attitude. He has the behaviors but he doesn’t do it with much oomph. Thanks to Bridget Carlson’s motivation videos we’re working on a jackpot word (hungry) and rewarding any effort or fun attitude he gives me. I’m not specifically asking for anything yet just seeing if he will throw behaviors at me. So far its going great. He loves it and stays in the game longer.

All this for just 5 minutes a day with each dog. What can you do with your dog in 5 minutes?

Leg Injuries

My puppy is a wild boy when he gets the crazies or when he just needs to burn some energy. It doesn’t take much for a dog like Blaze to injure themselves. He cuts the wrong way, or in his case slammed his rear into a bench. After a few weeks of taking it easy he is finally back to normal, but that set me out for an important quest in life. How do I keep my dogs from injuring themselves?

Dogs are like athletes in many ways, they need conditioning and cross training. So many owners just take their dogs for random hikes, runs, play sessions for hours at a time with little to no conditioning. This opens them up for major problems.

One of the things I discovered in my research is a strong core prevents injuries. This is true for humans and dogs, probably more so for dogs! If you have a dog who is a performance dog you probably know this already. I purchased my very first giant peanut shaped work out ball. There is a great DVD “Get On the Ball” you can order too which shows you how to use the ball safely.

At first Blaze was a little nervous about it, but now he LOVES his ball time. He jumps up, sits on it, stands on it, and gets very excited when I say its time to get on it. I stabilize it with my feet but I am hoping that my dear husband will build me a little PVC stand. If you are looking for a good way to rehab your dog or build core strength I highly recommend you look into this. As always consult with your vet on what is best for your dog.

Slow Dogs

Nitro doesn’t live up to his name. He isn’t speedy or hyper. Quite frankly he would love to lay on the couch the rest of his life and have someone bring his food to him. Now that isn’t to say he doesn’t love a good romp in the yard with his brother, or playing with a toy here and there. But it has to be FUN for him. It can’t be tedious, take too much effort or anything like that.

I am part of an online group clickcompobedience through yahoogroups. Its lovely – lots of good trainers working hard to get good scores in obedience. Someone suggested Deb Jones “The Need for Speed”. Now this is typically an agility dvd but a lot of things really hit home. My dog isn’t nervous that I can tell but he does stress down, in other words he gets more lazy the more “stuff” that is going on.

After watching it, I decided I need to do some things different to help keep nitro up. I need to provide reinforcers that actually help ramp him up. Here are some things I have found that seem to help

Catching the treat. Why just put it in his mouth, he loves to catch food!

Chasing the treat. You can always toss it. My favorite quote from the video – the squirrel didn’t jump into the dogs mouth did it?

Spin – this doesn’t require jumping which he hates and you can add it into heeling and heavily reinforce it. It also redirects a dog right back to you.

Touch – for him, touching and jumping (nose to hand) is not something he loves. I keep my touches lower to the ground and only ask for a few.

Run through my legs – I have heavily trained cheeseball – throwing a treat between my legs. So if I ask him on a recall or any other time to “go through” he thinks its super fun!

Save your best treats for last. I keep a few favorite treats in my pocket and at the end of our training session I do some heeling. I do random patterns, throw in some auto sits, maybe some spins and end it with a jackpot of his favorite food.

If you have a flat dog, my advice is to watch them and with every exercise figure out – is this amping them up? or flattening them out? Keep track and use it!

Now, we have a trial in a few weeks so we’ll see how this all pays off. He knows the behavior, its just a matter of keeping him in the game!