Author - Junior Watson

How You Feed Your Dog Can Affect Training

dog-biscuitsDid you know that how you feed our dog can actually affect their training? A dog’s feeding routine is one of the first questions I’ve always asked my clients about, and so many hadn’t been aware of the impact that food, and how it’s served can have on behavior and the training process. Sometimes, implementing a small change during that first visit makes a big difference very quickly. Most dogs are fed one of two ways. “Free-feeding”, or leaving a bowl of food out at all times or for several hours at a time for the dog to eat whenever they want, is one. The other is serving food at regular mealtimes. Food is offered at somewhat regular times and either eaten right away, or taken up after a certain amount of time if not eaten. For example, you feed your dog in the morning while you get ready for work, but pick it up before you leave, eaten or not. I have always recommended to my clients to feed their dogs meals, if possible, rather than free-feeding. This has several benefits.

A HUGE HELP IN HOUSE-TRAINING

Feeding habits should always considered in  the house training strategy. Free feeding can sabotage your new pet. Feeding regular meals will help establish a generally regular poop schedule. For puppies, that means you will have a good idea of when a big potty time is coming, before an accident happens – and setting your puppy up to succeed is the most important part of house training.

MOTIVATE YOUR DOG TO LEARN

Training your dog requires motivation on your dog’s part, and it’s up to you to find out what your dog will work best for. Something your dog really, really wants, AND that you can use to your advantage. It can be anything from a bite of a treat to a tennis ball or tug toy. Whatever gets your dog excited that you can also control. Food, naturally, is a very popular motivator used for training because it’s readily available and goes over very, very well with many dogs.

But what if your dog is hard to train because she doesn’t seem to care about anything you can offer? She ignores treats and is not ball-obsessed. It seems that if you don’t leave food out, she’ll starve.  But actually, not having constant access to food should improve and encourage the development of a healthy appetite. This can really help with “only dogs”, who don’t have another dog around to “compete” with over food or toys.

When your dog looks forward to their dinner (and breakfast or lunch), mealtime becomes a fun and highly anticipated event, and you are the focus for what your dog needs and wants. Instead of the always-full “magic food bowl”, it’s YOU who brings the deliciousness. You have control of that resource and that gives you your dog’s attention. And that means more respect – and better learning!

OTHER BENEFITS

Controlling meals also lets you easily keep an eye on how much is being consumed. If you’re trying to manage weight, portions are easier to control. If there is any change in appetite, you’ll pick up on it right away, and that can give you an early warning that your dog may be sick. And administering medication may be easier because it’s more likely to be eaten with a relished meal.

Depending on your dog’s age and specific needs, you may serve your dog as often as several times a day (puppies need more frequent meals) or as little as just once a day. Almost all dogs can benefit from meals rather than free feeding; but there are exceptions. Some dogs with medical issues and certain breeds are much more likely to experience conditions like hypoglycemia. If there is any question, ask your vet! But if your dog is okay to do so, consider feeding meals instead of free-feeding for awhile, and see what a difference it can make for you and your dog. Let me know what changes you notice!

How You Feed Your Dog Can Affect Your Training

Q&A: How can I potty train my puppy when she can’t go outside yet?

How can I potty train my puppy when she can't go outside yet?I’ve adopted an 11wk old puppy from shelter, but she hasn’t had her shots and is unable to go outside for 2 months (in hindsight, I probably took in too much as u live in an apt on 3rd floor and it’s summertime) have had little Sally 12 days and she’s doing good using pee pads, How can I potty train her for outside or command if she’s unable to eliminate outside? I carry her out for fresh air and change of scenery twice a day but, in 2mts time she’ll be nearly 4 months and will she have to be retrained?

Thanks, I’m a bit confused and just want to start her off on right notes!!

Appreciate it,
Frances

Hi Frances,
Congratulations on your new family member! Housetraining a puppy can be tricky in an apartment, but with some time and effort, most puppies tend to pick up the basics fairly quickly, and it sounds like you’re off to a great start with Sally.

First of all, I would make sure that you get Sally up to date on her vaccinations as soon as possible – not only for the purpose of potty training her outdoors, but because exposure to new people and environments is very important for a puppy’s social development in the first few months.

In the meantime, there are a few ways that you can make the transition from puppy pads to outdoor potty time easier on both of you. Many dog owners don’t realize that puppies develop what we call a ‘substrate preference’ for elimination very early in life. That means that a puppy who initially learns to pee on grass will tend to prefer pottying on grass in the future, whereas a puppy who’s been taught to ‘go’ on pads learns that eliminating indoors on soft surfaces is acceptable. You can probably see how this could end up making Sally’s potty training confusing for her in the long run, right?

My suggestions are:

• If possible, take Sally out the same area outdoors every time you want her to eliminate, even if that means onto a balcony. This teaches her that elimination is an act that’s always done outside, no matter what.

• Remember to reward her each time she goes in the ‘right’ place

• Instead of teaching her to use puppy pads, bring her to a litter box filled with gravel, or a patch of artificial ‘potty training’ turf to do her business. These substrates are much more similar to what would naturally be found on the ground outside, making for a far less confused pup when you actually start taking her out of the apartment to eliminate.

• Teach Sally to go pee on command – it will help her with the transition to new and different potty areas as she gets older. You can use ‘go pee’ or a ‘hurry up’ cue to teach this behavior, but make sure to use the same phrase each time! When she starts to urinate, say your cue word or phrase, wait until she’s completely finished, and then reward her immediately with praise and a tasty treat. For the first few weeks, ONLY say the phrase if she’s actually in the process of going potty. Once she’s eliminating regularly with this routine, start saying the cue earlier (when she’s showing signs of having to go, like circling or sniffing the ground, for example), only rewarding her if she actually urinates. She’ll soon connect the command with the act of going potty, and you’ll be able to use the cue with her anywhere you go. Dogs aren’t typically able to poop on command, however, but it’s always good to assume that they’ll need to have a bowel movement after a meal or playtime.

Sally sounds like a delightful little puppy, and you must be excited to watch her grow and learn! With time, patience, and a consistent routine set by you, she’ll be learning an outdoor potty routine in no time.

Q&A: How to get my Dog to Stop Trying to Break Out of her Crate?

Hello, I was wondering how I could get my 1 1/2 year old pitbull to stop trying to break out of her crate? She chews the bars & the plastic piece in the bottom of it if she’s left in there all day while I’m at work. And then she chews the carpet after she’s got the plastic tore up. I’m thinking it’s some sort of separation issue maybe. Bc she sleeps with me and is never in her crate unless I’m not home (which is usually only when I’m at work from 9-5) she has destroyed every kennel I get and it’s driving me crazy! I put bones in the for her to chew on but that doesn’t make a difference. Any advice would help. Thank you!

-Casy

Hello, thanks for your message. I am sure this is a question many have. how to stop a puppy/dog nipping and biting

Crate training can be tricky sometimes. You have to make the crate appealing and fun looking to your dog. You can do this by putting in different toys, smells, tastes. For example a chamomile scented toy (chamomile is good for calming dogs) a tasty, yet healthy treat, and different textured blankets.

Once your dog goes inside by himself you have to reward him, this can be with affection and a very exaggerated “good boy!”. Each time he goes in the crate by himself you should wait a little longer to reward him. Please remember rewards don’t always have to be treats. But most important thing is to get him used to being in the crate whilst you are at home so he sees it less as a punishment.

If you are to leave your dog in the crate for a long period of time you should ensure you take him for a long walk beforehand to really tire him out and get some of that energy out. Pitbull types are known to be a little hyperactive.

Is there a reason why he has to be in the crate all day while you are at work? Maybe we can work through some other issues if this is the case 🙂 Thank you for your question, I hope this helps and if you have any queries, write back.

Q&A: Dogs with a traumatic past

Hi DTB

My family just took in a maltese that had been rescued from a neglectful home.

She is wonderful with our cats and our children. My eight year old actually seems to be her favorite person. She is quite sweet. However, she is very skittish, fearful of the leash and of putting anything onto her, making going outside difficult.

She is small and had most of her fur removed due to a flea infestation prior to our adoption. She needs to have some layers put on and to be comfortable with putting a leash on her, especially because she is house broken. However, she hides under the table whenever we try with either.

How do we get her to be less skittish, especially with layering up for the cold and using a leash?

 

Hi Lynn.

It sounds as if your poor little dog has had a traumatic past.

She is probably not used to being handled, and then when she has been handled, she may have been treated roughly.

You mentioned she really seems to like you child. It may be a good idea to have them make some attempts at ‘dressing’ her.

The dog needs time to build trust with you and gain more confidence. Often rescue dogs are skittish because of their past. The best thing you can do for her is be very calm and patient.

Never try to do anything quickly, or make any sudden or loud movements around her.

Use a confident tone to reassure it is ok, do not feed into her insecurity by using ‘baby talk’ with her.

Try and find a treat she really likes and lure her into the jacket/collar and leash with the food (you can try peanut butter, cheese, sandwich meat, etc) Maybe have your eight year old hold her while you try and do this. Again, remain calm and confident, and be very patient with her.

This will get easier in time, she just needs to understand that you are not going to hurt her.

Beth

Q&A: To leash, or not to leash

My family just took in a maltese that had been rescued from a neglectful home. She is wonderful with our cats and our children. My eight year old actually seems to be her favorite person.

She is quite sweet. However, she is very skittish, fearful of the leash and of putting anything onto her, making going outside difficult.

She is small and had most of her fur removed due to a flea infestation prior to our adoption. She needs to have some layers put on and to be comfortable with putting a leash on her, especially because she is house broken.

However, she hides under the table whenever we try with either. How do we get her to be less skittish, especially with layering up for the cold and using a leash? ~Lynn

Hi Lynn.

It sounds as if your poor little dog has had a traumatic past.

She is probably not used to being handled, and then when she has been handled, she may have been treated roughly.

You mentioned she really seems to like you child. It may be a good idea to have them make some attempts at ‘dressing’ her.

The dog needs time to build trust with you and gain more confidence. Often rescue dogs are skittish because of their past.

The best thing you can do for her is be very calm and patient. Never try to do anything quickly, or make any sudden or loud movements around her. Use a confident tone to reassure it is ok, do not feed into her insecurity by using ‘baby talk’ with her.

Try and find a treat she really likes and lure her into the jacket/collar and leash with the food (you can try peanut hotter, cheese, sandwich meat, etc).

Maybe have your eight year old hold her while you try and do this. Again, remain calm and confident, and be very patient with her. This will get easier in time, she just needs to understand that you are not going to hurt her.

Beth

Q&A: Companionship for older dogs

We recently adopted a small rescue dog (9 yrs old) to be a companion to our 10 yr old dog who has been lonely since our other dog died. From the description of the rescue dog from the rescue group, it seemed to be a perfect fit. We made a point that we wanted a companion for our other dog. However, the new dog has started snapping at the resident dog, and one time I was almost in the middle of it because I was putting their leashes on. We are disappointed that the new dog seems to have no interest in the resident dog or my son. I’ve tried to contact the rescue group to get some advice on this, but they don’t contact me back. Our resident dog loves to interact with other dogs and this is upsetting to us. Any advice?

Carol

Hi Carol.

Sounds like a tough situation.

Unfortunately it seems as if the rescue organization did not have a lot of information about the dog you adopted, and what seemed like a good fit at first, may have proven otherwise.

You didn’t mention how long you have had the rescue dog – If the adoption is very recent, it is possible that the new dog just needs time to settle in and find his place in your family.

Bonding with a human can take 6-12 months, especially if he has trust issues from abuse or abandonment. His interest in your other dog though, should be quite clear after several weeks.

A 9 yr old dog is considered a senior dog, and he may very well not have much interest in another dog at all.

The show of aggression is more of a concern. The dogs need to, at the very least, live amicably in the house.

You need to train the new dog that it is not acceptable to snap at your other dog. I would tell him a firm ‘no’, if he snaps at your dog, and then separate them.

You can set this up to practice in situations you know cause a reaction. You should always have the rescue dog on a lead when doing this so you have more control.

Depending on the severity of the aggression you may need to look at hiring a professional to help you and see if the situation is going to work out.

Good luck

Beth

Q&A: Collar Chaos

We have purchased a puppy border collie and we have had him 2 weeks. He’s almost ten weeks but we are struggling to get the collar on him.

When attempting to put his collar on he yelps and runs and hides. The only way we can get his collar on if he’s asleep.

Thank you, Natalie

Hi Natalie.

The simplest way to deal with this is to put his collar on and just leave it on.

There is no reason he can’t wear a flat collar around the house all the time, and he will soon get used to having it on.

When he is calm, busy interacting with you, or even eating, you should touch him around the collar area, and even lightly hold onto it. This will get him used to being touched around that area.

I would guess though that you will have the same issue when trying to put a leash on him.

The best thing to do with this is attach the lead when he is eating, or in the evening when he is distracted or tired, and allow him to drag it around for awhile.

Always stay near him to ensure he does not get it caught on anything. After awhile you can begin to pick the lead up and put it in your pocket so he gets used to walking around with you without any pulling on the leash. The bottom line is he finds it a bit scary to have anything put on him at this stage, so you just want to slowly get him used to it.

Beth

p.s. we’d love to hear how you and your dog get on and whether this information was helpful. Comment below to let us know

Q&A: My dog can’t take no for an answer

Hi DTB

I am the lucky owner of a sweet, playful, energetic black lab mix named Charley (11 months old). We adopted him when he was 7 months old and put him immediately in basic training. He knows his commands, is not destructive, gets oodles of exercise and really is just a joyful, exuberant pup. He comes to work with me, so he is always being socialized with other people and dogs (and sometimes cats).

There’s this one thing, though….

At the dog park, he is super playful. When he finds a good match in another dog who has his same energy level, it’s fantastic. They run, tug, wrestle, etc. and it’s obvious that they’re having a great time. The problem happens when he decides he wants to play with a dog that clearly does NOT want to play with him. Here is what happens:

Charley (in a play bow): BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK (he has a loud bark)
Other dog: (ignores Charley):
Charley (still in a play bow): BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK
Other dog: (growls, bares teeth, nips, lunges)
Charley (still in a play bow): BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK

Sometimes (very rarely) Charley will get the message and back off. Most of the time, though, one of three things will happen:
1) The owner of the other dog will interfere and either think Charley is being aggressive and push Charley off or, if their dog is small, pick up their dog and make the situation worse
2) I will grab Charley and take him for a time out. These time outs work occasionally. When they don’t work, he just goes right back to that same dog. I have to grab him because I can call his name until I’m blue in the face and he still won’t listen. He’s fixated on the other dog. (For this reason, were are ramping up our recall practice.) Also, it’s next to impossible to grab him first try – usually I’m running around in circles like an idiot trying to grab him as he keeps barking and scampering away from me – he definitely thinks it’s a game.
3) Sometimes I will distract him with a tug toy, which acts as a doggie pacifier and shuts up the barking, but then he will just shove the toy in the other dog’s face to try to get them to play tug.

Anyway – how can I stop this rude, attention seeking behavior? Believe me when I say this dog does not have an aggressive bone in his body. I would love for him to be able to pick up on the energy of the other dog on his own and back off. What can I do? How can I teach him to be polite?

Lauren

 

Hi Lauren.

Charley sounds like a great, fun, playful dog, but it seems as if he lacks some much needed social skills.

Most importantly, you do need to work on recall with him. In the park, you should be calling him frequently, have him sit at your feet, and give him a treat. Do not just call him when it is time to go home!

You then want to release him to begin playing again. At first you need to do this with little to no distraction around, and slowly build up to higher levels of distraction. It is a good idea to get a long recall lead (or you can even use a piece of rope), so that if he does not come the first time you can give him a ‘jerk and release’ correction to get him back on track.

I cannot stress how important it is to invest a lot of time into recall training, particularly with a lab that tends to be really independent. Having better recall training will then allow you to call him back if he is behaving inappropriately.

In the meantime, I suggest you make this type of behavior the end of playtime for him. If he continually tries to engage an unwilling dog to play, and will not back off, you put his lead on and leave the park. There is no second chance.

His behavior will annoy other dogs and dog owners, and could get him attacked if the other dog gets really annoyed. As far as actually getting ahold of him, again a strong recall will definitely help, but do not chase him.

Slowly and calmly approach him without even looking at him. You can try and lure him with a treat but if he is not coming, do not keep repeating ‘come’.

Remain as calm and disinterested as possible to ensure it is not fun for him. Once you do get him, remember to praise him no matter how annoyed you are. Your holding onto his collar should always be positive, you never want to scold him for this or you make him even less likely to want to come to you.

Beth

Have your dog training questions answered

Here at Dog Training Basics we work hard to ensure that our readers have their dog training handled so that they can get onto the fun part – living harmoniously with their healthy, happy, well-behaved hound.

potty-training

Avoid this!

But sometimes, our readers find that their particular dog does something that doesn’t fall within our handy training guide. Or their dog just suddenly forgets all the time and labor intensive hours that have gone into their training and just will not come when called. For times like these we have a very special Q&A section where you can direct questions to our panel of dog training professionals, free of charge, here.

You can also browse through the questions that have already been asked here – Q&A.

You might be surprised by how many people have asked the same questions as you!

Did you find these answers useful? Let us know below!

The DTB Team

 

Stop – read this before you feed your dog

Thanks to that Oreo’s advert, we all know that chocolate isn’t good for dogs, but did you know that onions are bad for dogs, too?

So bad, in fact, that they can lead to anemia in dogs. But onions aren’t the only thing to look out for – Garlic and corn on the cob can be just as dangerous.

You can find out what else your dog should not eat in this handy guide we’ve put together before you take that delicious dinner out to your pup.

Is there anything your dog cannot eat? Anything s/he loves to eat? Let us know about your pooches dietary delights in the comments below.