Author - Adrienne Farricelle

Q&A: How to get my dog to sleep through the night?

I have a 9-week old jack Russell x foxy and I’m having issues getting him to sleep through the night. Currently he is in a small room downstairs (can’t be upstairs with us as its all carpet) and we leave him with a puppy Kong bone, loads of toys an old shirt of my husbands and his bed plus pee pads. He has no issue going to bed he doesn’t whine when we walk upstairs however he does get upset at 3am I go down and let him out for the toilet (99% of the time he does a poo) but then when I put him back to bed he cries. We live in a townhouse and after 25mins of him howling and barking I have to go down it’s not fair on the neighbors so I end up sleeping on the lounge with him (he will sleep through until 7).

I’m not sure what to do I know you’re not meant to give in after a toilet break but I feel so bad for our neighbors at that hour. He had a set bedtime 10pm and we play with him until his very tired (usually he falls asleep around 9:45 or at least lays down not interested in play) and we feed him his dinner at 6:30.  Kate

Hello Kate and thanks for reaching out,

Your puppy is doing quite well if he only wakes up once in the night at this age! I can hear you about the whining and barking especially if you live in a close-knit neighborhood! Here’s likely what is going on. Your puppy falls asleep well at night time because you tire him out and drain his energy. Then, he wakes up in the middle of the night because he needs to go outside. This is reasonable and perfect as you want that. Then, he goes from being in your company to being alone again, and this time he’s no longer tired as before. The house is dark again, the home is silent and he wants you to come back. So he starts whining/howling/barking behavior, and since his bladder and bowels are empty, he is doing it clearly because he wants companionship. Normally, as you know, this type of barking/whining should be totally ignored. Instead, by going downstairs, you reinforce it. Who can blame you though, you are just trying to not bother the neighbors! Sounds like you need some type of compromise here. Here are some options:

Get a crate and keep him in a crate upstairs with you. With the crate he should be unlikely to have an accident as puppies normally do not like to soil where they sleep so they’ll whine and whine to get your attention so they can be taken out. After his 3AM outing, since you are nearby, he’ll likely relax and fall asleep again as he does when you sleep downstairs.

At 3AM after going outside to eliminate, you can try to play with him again and see if you can get that energy drained again as you do prior to bedtime. This can be a pain, but better 25 minutes of play time than 25 minutes of whining/barking. If you go this route, expect to do this though every single night as it becomes a deeply ingrained habit and your pup may whine at 3am even once he has better bladder/bowel control just to get to play!

At 3AM after going outside, try to leave him with a stuffed Kong that will keep him busy enough for some time until he gets tired and hopefully falls asleep.

Personally, I think the best option is the crate. Introduce the crate, make it a rewarding place to be and start using it so that you can speed up the house training process while providing him your reassuring presence. At this age, most puppies want to be around their family and they get distressed if they’re left alone. Then, as your puppy grows, you can gradually move the crate farther and farther away from your bedroom.

Or even better, since it sounds like your bedroom is on the second floor, let him stay downstairs so access to the outside is faster. When you’re on a second floor, by the time you walk downstairs, your puppy may have an accident so staying downstairs is better for easy access to the yard. Then, once your puppy has an empty bladder/bowel, take him upstairs and let him stay in the crate until 7AM. A win-win situation for all!

 

Q&A: How do I get my dogs to play nicely?

Hi, I have had a male beagle/lab mix for 6 1/2 years and we just got another dog. She is a 2-year-old wire hair terrier. My male dog loves other dogs and is eager to play- he is also very submissive. So when I first introduced the 2 dogs I had no worries about my male dog. He came right up to the terrier and went into play bow. She on the other hand growled and bite his ear. I have been reading a lot of articles on training and trying to work on her but now my male dog is kinda fearful of her. When he goes to do something she will run up to him and go to attack his ear so he gives up. She rules him and he lets it happen. He no longer tries to play with her and he just mopes around. She has a happy go-lucky personality but controls my male dog. I don’t know what to do, I want them to play nicely and I want my male dog to be happy again and be able to walk around without her nipping his ear. Can you help me with this? ~Shelby

Hello, and thanks for reaching out.

Your beagle/lab mix sounds like a sweet heart! I don’t like to generalize, but wire terriers can be feisty around other dogs as they are quite independent creatures who have a history of working alone. It’s not unusual for them to not get too along with other dogs, especially if they weren’t socialized much when young. For this reason, some dog owners report them to be “a one-dog pet” as they do best in homes where they are the only dogs. This is quite the opposite of your mixed breed dog which has beagle in him (a highly social breed with a history of being bred to hunt in groups with other dogs) and Lab, (the classical friendly dog who generally loves other dogs and is eager to play). So you have quite a combination there!

When things like this happen, it can be quite upsetting, but it’s important to carefully evaluate what’s best for both dogs. The terrier doesn’t seem much eager to be around your first dog and your first dog seems to be suffering. I don’t usually recommend trying to re-home a new dog, but when one dog (especially a formerly happy-go-lucky one) starts getting fearful of the other, it’s not fair to change their world upsides down.

Yes, there are sometimes ways to allow them to tolerate each other, but you will always have to supervise and make sure she doesn’t revert to the ear biting behavior, which may be difficult at times and exhausting as some terriers are very determined.

Here are some options. You can try training a solid cue that tells her to go to her mat, come to you or some other cue such as a sit or down that stops her in her tracks, but again, you will need to reach a certain level of control to do this and it may take time and there are no guarantees that your male will be able to relax knowing that she might go back to ear biting the moment you turn around. To train these cues reliably you will need to work on them when your beagle is not around and practice a whole lot for a few weeks, using positive reinforcement (give rewards for complying). Then, you would have to put a leash on her and practice with your beagle at a distance. Then, once she reliably complies, put her on a leash tab, a short leash with a handle and if she is about to bite his ear, give your cue to go to her mat, come to you or sit or lie down and reward generously if she complies. If she doesn’t, promptly get the leash tab and remove her from your other dog.

Another option is to keep them separated for a good part of the day, let the terrier drain all her energy before being introduced to your male so she may be less likely to pester him. You may want to contact a trainer to help you out, but last but not least, consider that you may have to rehome the terrier if things don’t work out. Not all dogs are meant to get along, and we must sometimes accept the fact that some dogs would do better if they would lead separate lives. This doesn’t mean your beagle is forced to lead a solitary life for the rest of his years. Your beagle mix may find a better friend in the future, and an option may be fostering a dog for the shelter for a few weeks and see if things work out. Ask for a dog that has a friendly disposition towards other dogs. Last but not least, you may want to have your beagle/lab mix’s ears checked out. Sometimes dogs get ear infections that make the ears irresistible for other dogs to chew on! I hope this helps! Best of luck!

Q&A: How do I introduce a new dog to my dog?

Hi, I have had a male beagle/lab mix for 6 1/2 years and we just got another dog. She is a 2-year-old wire hair terrier. My male dog loves other dogs and is eager to play- he is also submissive. So when I first introduced the 2 dogs I had no worries about my male dog. He came right up to the terrier and went into play bow. She on the other hand growled and bite his ear. I have been reading a lot of articles on training and trying to work on her but now my male dog is kinda fearful of her. When he goes to do something she will run up to him and go to attack his ear so he gives up. She rules him and he lets it happen. He no longer tries to play with her and he just mopes around. She has a happy go-lucky personality but controls my male dog. I don’t know what to do, I want them to play nicely and I want my male dog to be happy again and be able to walk around without her nipping his ear. Can you help me with this? ~Shelby

Hello, and thanks for reaching out.

Your beagle/lab mix sounds like a sweet heart! I don’t like to generalize, but wire terriers can be feisty around other dogs as they are quite independent creatures who have a history of working alone. It’s not unusual for them to not get too along with other dogs, especially if they weren’t socialized much when young. For this reason, some dog owners report them to be “a one-dog pet” as they do best in homes where they are the only dogs. This is quite the opposite of your mixed breed dog which has beagle in him (a highly social breed with a history of being bred to hunt in groups with other dogs) and Lab, (the classical friendly dog who generally loves other dogs and is eager to play). So you have quite a combination there!

When things like this happen, it can be quite upsetting, but it’s important to carefully evaluate what’s best for both dogs. The terrier doesn’t seem much eager to be around your first dog and your first dog seems to be suffering. I don’t usually recommend trying to re-home a new dog, but when one dog (especially a formerly happy-go-lucky one) starts getting fearful of the other, it’s not fair to change their world upsides down.

Yes, there are sometimes ways to allow them to tolerate each other, but you will always have to supervise and make sure she doesn’t revert to the ear biting behavior, which may be difficult at times and exhausting as some terriers are very determined.

Here are some options. You can try training a solid cue that tells her to go to her mat, come to you or some other cue such as a sit or down that stops her in her tracks, but again, you will need to reach a certain level of control to do this and it may take time and there are no guarantees that your male will be able to relax knowing that she might go back to ear biting the moment you turn around. To train these cues reliably you will need to work on them when your beagle is not around and practice a whole lot for a few weeks, using positive reinforcement (give rewards for complying). Then, you would have to put a leash on her and practice with your beagle at a distance. Then, once she reliably complies, put her on a leash tab, a short leash with a handle and if she is about to bite his ear, give your cue to go to her mat, come to you or sit or lie down and reward generously if she complies. If she doesn’t, promptly get the leash tab and remove her from your other dog.

Another option is to keep them separated for a good part of the day, let the terrier drain all her energy before being introduced to your male so she may be less likely to pester him. You may want to contact a trainer to help you out, but last but not least, consider that you may have to rehome the terrier if things don’t work out. Not all dogs are meant to get along, and we must sometimes accept the fact that some dogs would do better if they would lead separate lives. This doesn’t mean your beagle is forced to lead a solitary life for the rest of his years. Your beagle mix may find a better friend in the future, and an option may be fostering a dog for the shelter for a few weeks and see if things work out. Ask for a dog that has a friendly disposition towards other dogs. Last but not least, you may want to have your beagle/lab mix’s ears checked out. Sometimes dogs get ear infections that make the ears irresistible for other dogs to chew on! I hope this helps! Best of luck!

It is hard to tell if she will ever completely come out of her shell or how long it would take. I am tempted to think that eventually she will get used to the idea of going in and out of the house to potty, but there are really many things to evaluate. Here are some things to consider and options that you can try.

Many new dogs go through a period of time when they are adopted during which they are more intimidated and fearful. It may take weeks or months for new dogs to come out of their shell and behave normally.

She might be scared of being in the yard. If your yard is noisy and it exposes her to stimuli that can be overwhelming, such as other dogs in nearby yards, scary noises or traffic. If your yard is noisy or scary in any way (put yourself in her shoes being raised in a kennel most of her life) you may want to take her when things are more quiet (early morning, lunch hour, late evening).

Instead of carrying her out, try to open the door, head out and see if she’ll follow you in the yard. She may follow you if she feels lonely and vulnerable to be left alone in the house all alone. If she does come out, make sure you praise her, but do it calmly without scaring her.

Instead of carrying her back in, try to go back in the home first. She may feel vulnerable being left alone in the yard, so she’ll likely come back inside. Again, make sure you praise her when she does, but calmly so not to scare her. Carrying her in and out, may only make problems worse.

You can try enticing her with higher value treats. We’re talking about the real high value stuff, think freeze-dried liver, low sodium hot dogs, boiled chicken, some canned salmon. Don’t use the food to lure her straight out, instead, every day start feeding some near the door, then by the door with the door open, then one step out until she’s out. Baby steps!

From your description it sounds like she’s not only fearful of the yard, but her new surroundings as well. It takes time to get used to new places, new sounds, new smells especially in a dog that has likely been under socialized and perhaps never lived in a home. A DAP diffuser, may help and so may some calming aids such as a calming cap, calming treats etc.

You need to be very patient, calm and encouraging. If you get frustrated at any time, she’ll notice it and this will only cause her to become more and more intimidated and shy. Slow and steady wins the race. I hope this helps, best wishes and good luck!

Q&A: How to help former kennel dog to become active?

We just picked up a 3-year-old Golden Retriever female from a kennel who retired her from breeding. She has lived in this kennel for all of her 3 years. The problem is she is very timid and submissive to the point to where I have to literally pick her up to take her out to potty and do the same to bring her back in the house. As soon as you get close to her she lays on her stomach and will not move…even with treats. Is she damaged merchandise or is there a chance she will start coming out of her fear of her new surroundings and what can we do to help her? ~Doug

So sorry to hear your new dog is acting so fearfully! Bless your heart for opening your heart and home to this girl. If she lived in the kennel for all of her 3 years, I am assuming she must have not been socialized much and may have missed out being around people and experiencing all the sights and sounds of life outside of a kennel.

It sounds like she is intimidated and when you approach her, she freezes and just cannot function normally. When dogs are fearful, they may react this way. They may fight (act defensively), flight (run away) or give up and freeze, which sounds like your case. If you get frustrated by her behavior, things will only get worse and she will freeze even more. If the treats are not working, I am guessing that she is to a point of feeling very stressed. If she lived in a kennel for her 3 years, it could be that she never really got a chance to understand the concept of “being taken out to potty.” She likely just went in the kennel. So this is perhaps this is all new to her.

It is hard to tell if she will ever completely come out of her shell or how long it would take. I am tempted to think that eventually she will get used to the idea of going in and out of the house to potty, but there are really many things to evaluate. Here are some things to consider and options that you can try.

Many new dogs go through a period of time when they are adopted during which they are more intimidated and fearful. It may take weeks or months for new dogs to come out of their shell and behave normally.

She might be scared of being in the yard. If your yard is noisy and it exposes her to stimuli that can be overwhelming, such as other dogs in nearby yards, scary noises or traffic. If your yard is noisy or scary in any way (put yourself in her shoes being raised in a kennel most of her life) you may want to take her when things are more quiet (early morning, lunch hour, late evening).

Instead of carrying her out, try to open the door, head out and see if she’ll follow you in the yard. She may follow you if she feels lonely and vulnerable to be left alone in the house all alone. If she does come out, make sure you praise her, but do it calmly without scaring her.

Instead of carrying her back in, try to go back in the home first. She may feel vulnerable being left alone in the yard, so she’ll likely come back inside. Again, make sure you praise her when she does, but calmly so not to scare her. Carrying her in and out, may only make problems worse.

You can try enticing her with higher value treats. We’re talking about the real high value stuff, think freeze-dried liver, low sodium hot dogs, boiled chicken, some canned salmon. Don’t use the food to lure her straight out, instead, every day start feeding some near the door, then by the door with the door open, then one step out until she’s out. Baby steps!

From your description it sounds like she’s not only fearful of the yard, but her new surroundings as well. It takes time to get used to new places, new sounds, new smells especially in a dog that has likely been under socialized and perhaps never lived in a home. A DAP diffuser, may help and so may some calming aids such as a calming cap, calming treats etc.

You need to be very patient, calm and encouraging. If you get frustrated at any time, she’ll notice it and this will only cause her to become more and more intimidated and shy. Slow and steady wins the race. I hope this helps, best wishes and good luck!

Q&A: How do I keep my dog calm when home alone?

I am trying to train puppy to stay calm while being left alone. However, the room I am keeping him in has everything he needs. I have played with him in this room, he has a bed, plenty of chew toys and food and water he also has radio on. I also put an old shirt with my sent on it so he feels close to me. My concern is him getting hurt. I have been leaving him a few minutes at a time so he gets used to it. However, when he realizes he is alone he frantically keeps running in to the door. It is a hardwood door. He also will howl and whimper. What do I do?? Please help I am afraid he is going to hurt himself or have severe behavior issues. Thanks, Stephanie

Hello and thank you for reaching out.

It sounds like you are doing everything correctly and are on the right path. It’s a good idea to keep the radio on, your old shirt and safe chew toys around to keep him busy. He has his bed, food and water so everything should be fine, yet, you mention your puppy is still having trouble being left alone. Leaving him a few minutes at a time to give help him adjust to your brief absences is also the right procedure for dealing with an issue as such. So what’s left to do? There are several options that you may want to try, but as you mention, safety should be top priority. Here are a few ideas you may want to give a try:

With a puppy, you may want to not give him the full reign of the house, at least not yet. If your puppy is slamming against the door, you may want to set up a safe play pen or install a sturdy baby gate so you can confine him in a small area of the house where he can be safely confined. I am not sure of the size of your puppy, but the sturdier these enclosures, the better. You may also want to provide some sort of cushioning if he would also tend to slam against these enclosures.

When you leave for a brief period of time, make sure you do not come back when your puppy is actively howling and whimpering. Wait it out, when he stops to catch his breath, even if for a split second, make your return. If you come back every time your puppy whimpers or howls, you risk reinforcing that behavior.

I would not leave food out for the puppy to eat whenever he feels like it. I would feed him at specific times of the day. When it’s meal time, I would give the food and then leave out of sight (not out of the door yet through) for brief periods of time. Just go in another room. Alternatively, you could give him wonderful treats stuffed in a Kong and then leave the room for a handful of minutes. Ideally, your puppy should work on getting the goodies out. When he’s done, come back in the room. The goal of this is to make him associate your absence with good things.

I would also work on desensitizing him to the noise of you opening the door. Just open the door as if you’re leaving, toss a treat his way and then shut it closed. Stay inside for now. Repeat several times. As your puppy gets good at this, you can then increase criteria and start moving out of the door as you toss a treat, then toss a handful of treats and leave for split second (the time he gobbles them up) and then return. Gradually, make these absences longer, but in the midst of them, also add some brief ones so he’s not stressed knowing that you are leaving for longer and longer times.

Desensitize him to any pre- departure cues. Pre-departure cues are things you do that tell your puppy you are about to leave. Put your shoes on as if you’re about to leave, but then just sit on the couch and watch TV. Grab your keys and then go read a book. Repeat several times.

Puppies hate being alone, but boredom and anxiety is generally worse in pups who have loads of energy. Try to drain some of that energy by playing a game of fetch or going on a walk before you leave.

Start teaching your puppy to stay away from you at times. Teach him to go to his mat and enjoy a toy or long-lasting treat on it. Don’t let him follow you from to room all the time.

Finally, record your puppy’s behavior when you are out. Often the howling and whining is most tragic the first few minutes when you leave the house, then you might be surprised to see that your puppy may play or even take a nap. By recording your pup’s behavior while you are out, you can also track progress on your plan. If you continue having problems, enlist the help of a trainer so you can nip this problem in the bud before it gets too out of hand. I hope this helps, good luck!

Q&A: How do I get my dog to stop scratching stuff?

I rescued a Pomeranian chawawa mix dog that’s about 4 years old. I’ve had him for 4 months and he’s a great dog. For some reason for the last week he stated scratching at my door and carpet when I’m away. I live in an apartment so he can’t go outside when I’m gone. What made him start doing this and how can I stop it. He’s one of the best dogs I’ve ever had and I don’t want to give him up.~Lee

Hello and thank you for your question Lee,

If this behavior is exclusively happening when you are away, it could be that your dog is developing separation anxiety. This is not uncommon in dogs who are rescued. With these fellows it’s often unclear if they are surrendered by their previous owners because of this problem or if these dogs are more prone to it because of their history of being surrendered which causes a great deal of instability and a strong need to form strong social attachments with their new owners (even to the point of the attachment being dysfunctional).

Why is this behavior happening now and not in the previous 4 months? One must consider that many rescue dogs go through what trainers call a “honeymoon period” during which behavior problems aren’t apparent. During this time dogs are getting used to their new homes and settling down. It could be your dog has now realized that you are his caretaker and has started bonding with you. In some cases, separation anxiety tends to erupt when owners have been around for a while and then sudden they get a new job and they’re out more. In any case, it sounds like this is something that needs addressed. A first step would be identifying if this is truly a sign of separation anxiety of something else.

At times, what looks like separation anxiety is just a dog who is bored and trying to find ways to keep himself occupied. In these cases though, dogs are more likely to chew up items not related with departures such as remote controls and shoes and they may also chew up and scratch rugs, upholstery and couches. These dogs tend to improve if their needs for exercise and mental stimulation are met. Offering these dogs a walk prior to leaving and a few stuffed Kongs or safe toys to chew, often provides them with enough outlets for their boredom.

Dogs with separation anxiety instead focus on barriers that prevent them from reaching their owners. Their strong desire to be re-united with their owners causes them to focus their attention to doors, windows and anything close by. If the carpet is right by the door, chances are it’s part of the manifestation of anxiety your dog feels. In these dogs, providing them with walks, toys to chew etc. is often not enough as these dogs are anxious and entirely focused on the door as they’re nervously waiting for their owners to come back.

I would suggest to record your dog’s behavior next time you go out. Then when you come back, take a look at it to have an idea what your dog is doing in your absence. Dogs with separation anxiety typically, pace, whine, bark, scratch and chew at windows and doors. They also tend to drool, act restless and even eliminate indoors. Please keep in mind that this is not done out of spite of being left alone, this is a real form of anxiety. Showing the video to your vet or a trainer/behavior consultant will help confirm if you’re really dealing with a case of separation anxiety.

If that’s truly what your dog is diagnosed with, consider that there are solutions. Based on how severe it is, your vet may suggest behavior modification along with prescription drugs or behavior modification alone. May I suggest a great read? “Don’t leave me! Step-by-step help for your dog’s separation anxiety by dog trainer “Nicole Wilde.”

Q&A: How do I keep my dog from eating cat poop outside in the yard?

dog eating photoHow do I keep my dog from eating cat poop outside in the yard? ~Royallynn

Hello, and thank you for reaching out. Dogs are often attracted to cat poop because cats eat a diet rich in fats and proteins so their feces have a strong appeal to dogs. Dogs are animals who like to forage for food, so going out in the yard to hunt for kitty nuggets is not only a tasty hobby but also an entertaining way to pass time. However, dogs can get much more than a tasty treat when they’re hunting for cat feces. Veterinarians warn that eating cat poop can also cause dogs to develop pesky parasites as they ingest potential eggs found in cat feces and dirt. Once ingested, it’s just a matter of time for these parasites to hatch and lead to problems. Owners of dogs who tend to eat any kind of animal poop should frequently have their dog’s stools checked for parasites. So for sure this is a habit you want to curb!

While in a home setting, a litter box can be kept out of the way, things get more complicated in a yard, where the cat feces are scattered about and likely buried under ground. There are ultimately only a handful of options to resort to and they are mostly based on controlling access to the environment.

1) Keep your dog on leash every time he goes out in the yard. If your dog isn’t too fond of being on a short leash for his outings, you can invest in a long line. These are like long leashes measuring about 10 to 15 feet or even longer and are often used for horses. A long line gives your dog more freedom to walk around, but you also have a level of control, so when you catch your dog sniffing an area and about to dig out a treasure, you can say “leave it” and gently guide your dog away as you get ready to praise and reward him for leaving it.

2) Fence off an area of the yard with a cat proof fence and use it only for your dog. This way you can be sure that only your dog has access to it and Fluffy no longer uses that part of the yard as a toilet. This can be costly and a bit time consuming at first, but it sure pays off in peace of mind!

3) Close supervision with a solid “leave it” command. This takes time and requires loads of practice. Basically, you will have to closely supervise your dog outside and at the very first signs of him detecting poop, you will say “leave it” and call your dog to get a treat from you that is far higher in value than the best cat poop in the world. You want to train this on leash first and as your dog gets good, then you can try off leash. Keep in mind though that if your dog manages to eat cat poop when you are not watching, all your hard training will have a big set back.

4) Use Forbid for cats. This is a product that can be given to cats and it makes their feces taste horrible, so dogs are discouraged from eating them in the future. While this may seem like a good solution, consider that there are some downfalls. Your dog may resume eating cat feces the day you no longer give it to your cat and it doesn’t always work. Some dogs still like the taste. You can ask your vet if this is something you may want to try on your cats.

As seen, there is really no easy fix for this unfortunately frustrating problem. Some dog owners have such a serious problem they must muzzle their dogs when outdoors to keep them from eating the feces. Even then, the dog may try to get access and get their muzzles smeared in cat poop, something probably even more annoying than the dog eating it! Not to mention, that dogs on muzzles should always be supervised!

Q&A: How to get my dog to play nice with other dogs?

A few months ago my dog ( 2 years old in May ) started acting territorial and nervous around dogs she’s not familiar with. She was always quite a timid dog so we socialized her when she was young. She has a couple dog friends which she doesn’t growl at but I’m starting to get worried because she even growled at a puppy (2-3 months all) which didn’t do anything to her. Usually she would sniff the other dog as normal then lie down ( I think this is a submissive thing ) but then If the dog gets too close and for too long she starts growling at them and sometimes even lunges at them! She also seems possessive over her food and toys with other dogs. She’s not territorial with food or toys with humans, it’s just other dogs… What is this? How do I solve it?  Thank you so much, Mica

Hello, and thank you for your question,
Most puppies and young adolescent dogs get along pretty much with any dogs they meet. This is up to generally about 12-18 months. Things can change a lot after this time frame. At 2 years old, most dogs reach the social maturity stage and this is a time when they are prone to changes in social settings. While they were friends with all puppies and dogs earlier, now is the time they get more selective and may no longer accept certain behaviors from other dogs. Your description isn’t unusual at all, countless dog owners experience this with their dogs. The dog who used to go to the dog park now no longer wants to be friends with all dogs, the dog who wanted to meet every dog on the street, now ignores other dogs, the dog who eagerly played with ANY dog know is selective. It’s a time of social maturity, where they start seeing things differently and may no longer be eager to engage in rowdy play with a group of other dogs. This is not at all abnormal.

Something to consider though is also the possible impact of some negative experience. It could be your dog one day felt uncomfortable in an interaction with another dog and this has made her more selective on who to “befriend”. The growling and lunging is reinforcing as it likely sends the other dog away (or you intervene to remove your dog or the other dog from the situation), so it soon becomes the default method to tell other dogs to back off, the moment she’s uneasy in a social situation. Soon, a new behavior pattern puts roots.

Also, it never hurts to see the vet, especially if the behavior is uncharacteristic or started out of the blue. Sometimes underlying medical conditions can lower a dog’s tolerance threshold making dogs react in uncharacteristic ways. Ear problems, low thyroid levels or any form of pain can make a dog a bit more grouchy than usual.

The growling towards the puppy isn’t unusual either. Puppies often engage in boisterous behaviors that can trigger a warning growl in a grown-up dog. It may look like the puppy didn’t do anything other than just acting “puppyish,” but from your dog’s perspective, the puppy likely got into your dog’s space or didn’t pay attention to your dog’s previous “leave me alone” signals. We often think of a growl as something bad, but we often forget that it’s a form of communication. Dogs tell each other “please, leave me alone” just as grown up may tell a child “I have had enough, please give me a break.” While it’s not unusual for an older, well-socialized dog to growl at a hyper puppy, you must also consider though if your dog was socialized with puppies in the past. If your dog hasn’t been around puppies much, there may also have been an element of fear.

Social greetings should be brief and up to the point. Dogs sniff each others’ rears for a few seconds and then one dog may decide to leave, one may invite the other to play or both dogs may initiate play. It’s rude behavior to stick around for too long, and some dogs will growl to tell the dog “off” if the inspection is getting too long or out of hand. Additionally, if your dog lies down, this is a vulnerable position and she may feel uncomfortable with anther dog “standing over.” I am not sure if you are taking your dog to a dog park, but if you are, your dog may be happier playing just with the dogs she’s well acquainted with rather than a bunch of other dogs at the park. Take it as a time of maturity and changes.

Set your dog up for success may setting up only positive interactions with the dog she has chosen as playmates. By choosing appropriate play partners, you can up your chances for positive interactions. If you are going to a dog park, I would suggest to no longer go. You may be surprised to see that there are many articles written by professionals that explain why dog parks can cause more trouble than fun.

Food and toys should not be offered in a setting with several dogs. Several dog parks now do not allow toys to prevent squabbles. If one must give treats, they must be given when no other dogs are around. This is another good reason to avoid dog parks or other settings with several dogs, as these should not be offered due to safety concerns.

It sounds like your dog does well with a few selected play mates. This is quite normal considering her age. There are many dogs who grow up to become selective and there’s nothing wrong with that. This is common in many herding breeds, but is also seen in several other breeds and mixes. It’s a myth that all dogs must get along. I would consider encouraging positive social interactions with these selected dogs, always keeping a watchful eye for early signs of her getting tired to play and asking for a break. In a more controlled setting as such, you and the other owners can also practice important obedience skills such as calling your dogs, giving a distance down-stay or a distance sit -stay so at any first signs of conflict you can distract the dogs and give them something else to do. There are many other fun activities dogs can do with other dogs but in a more controlled, safer setting. You can enroll your dog in classes and find a good trainer who can evaluate your dog’s comfortable levels with other dogs and suggest other venues for fun activities. This makes for happier, more obedient dogs who enjoy the company of other dogs in a structured setting. A win-win situation for all!

Q&A: How to get my dog to go outside instead of using training pads?

Hi! I have a puppy (Border Collie mix). He is approximately 7 months old (I got him since he had 2 months). I house trained him in my apartment and he goes to pee and poop on his training pads. I was waiting until he had his full vaccines. Now I want to train him to go outside. I’m walking him twice a day and I see him smelling but he does not go outside! He waits until he gets to the apartment to go on the pads. I’m willing to reward and praise him if he goes outside but he doesn’t! What would you recommend?
Thanks, Cristina

Hello, and thank you for reaching out for help with your 7 months old Border collie mix puppy. Your pup would be a dream for those who want a well trained pup who goes potty strictly outdoors! From your description it sounds like you have done a very good job in house-training him, so well that your pup has learned to go exclusively on the training pads. Kudos to you as this is not an easy task!

The problem you have encountered is a common one: dogs aren’t that great in generalizing. This is the same problem owners encounter when they are able to train their dogs at classes and then once out and about around the world with all its stimuli, the dogs lose it. Thee are many ways we can help dogs generalize behaviors in different contexts, but it takes some time and patience. Training a puppy who has always gone inside to go outside is fortunately much easier than training a dog who has always gone outside to start going inside. Here are a few tips for you:

Try in the morning. Mornings are great outdoor potty training opportunities, because the dog has a full bladder in the morning and this can up the chances for success. I would go on a walk and then take him to a quiet area. Keep the leash extra loose and let him sniff. Be patient, some dogs feel our frustration at times and this can inhibit them from going. If he’s fully vaccinated, you can take him to areas frequented by other dogs. Sniffing the urine of other dogs or seeing them potty may entice him to go so he can also leave his personal “business card” too.

Find a quiet area. Some dogs are very picky about going potty in certain places. If the place you walk is loud and there are many distractions going on, your dog may not be comfortable going because he is a bit nervous. Your home is safe and quiet so he feels more comfortable going there. So look for a place that is very quiet and where there are not many cars, people or noises.

Bring a long line. Some dogs do not have a problem going potty outside, but going potty when on the leash. Some dogs get inhibited by the leash especially if it’s short. If there is a large area when you can let him wander on a long line, that can help him feel better. A long line is a long type of leash that comes in different lengths ranging from 10 feet to even 30 feet.

Try bringing a pad with you. Some dogs are so used to going on pads, they need to see pads to learn to go potty outside. Try bringing one with you and placing it in a designated outdoor spot. Some owners have success bringing one that already has a bit urine on them to help the dog go.

Dedicate a full day. If you have the time, try dedicating a whole day for the process or maybe even a whole weekend. Put your dog on leash and go outside first thing in the morning. Follow all the tips above. If he doesn’t go despite waiting and letting him sniff in quiet areas and keeping him on a long leash, etc, go back home. As soon as you notice him walking towards the pad to potty, interrupt him and call him to. Let him get a treat or play with the toy a few seconds (you want to reward him for coming!) and then immediately clip the leash on and go outside. And try again. Rinse and repeat as needed. Of course, be ready to praise, praise and praise and reward with high-value treats when he finally goes! Then, make a mental note of the area he went and return to the same exact place each and every single day.

Another idea is to put the action of going potty on cue. When you catch your pup going potty inside on the pads, say “go potty!” right before he goes. Do this every single time. You want her to associate the word “go potty!” with the action of going potty. This can help your dog generalize the act of going potty from indoors to the outdoors as the cue is familiar.

Training a puppy that was used to potty indoors to go outdoors may take some time, but patience eventually pays off. Being consistent, persistent and providing loads of reinforcement when the puppy goes in the correct spot will up your chances for success. Good luck!

Q&A: How to stop my dog from jumping on people?

Hello, my name is Brett and I am 12 years old. I have a purebred lab she is almost 2 and her name is Bella. She is very friendly and sometimes she can be very obnoxious to people and other dogs. We try the commands sit, stay, wait and even try holding her back when it comes to other people. When she is jumping all over people we usually tell her to sit and stay but when she sees people she totally puts her blinders on and won’t listen. If you could recommend a video or training device like a full body leash that would be great. She is my parents 3rd lab and even they don’t know how to control her, Thanks.

Hello and thanks for reaching out,
It sounds like you have a very enthusiastic greeter! Labs are often full of energy and they may be quite boisterous sometimes in their happy displays. You are on the right path in trying to get her to obey the commands sit, stay and wait, but these commands seem to go in one ear and out the other, don’t they? Your description of her wearing blinders is quite close to what she may be truly going through. In the dog training world there’s a term: “being over threshold.”

What does this mean? It means that a dog is at a point where there’s little place for learning going on. Usually the term is used for dogs who are fearful or aggressive, but in my opinion, it can also fit dogs who are overly enthusiastic. For sake of a comparison, imagine being a big fan of a famous actor or rock star. One day this rock star is walking by your home and giving out free autographs. You notice the rock star and rush over to get an authograph as well, when a family member says: “wait, where are you going, your dinner is going to get cold!.” Most likely, you barely hear these comments as you are so excited and eager to get your autograph!

When your dog meets other people or dogs, the enthusiasm is likely too overwhelming to get her to listen to your requests to sit and stay. The people and dogs are acting as a strong distractions and she is likely not ready for being trained at such level. At the same time, also think what the people and other dogs may be doing when she rushes over them. She likely gets pet and greeted by the other dogs. So rushing up to them is rewarding, much more rewarding than sticking by your side. And by the time she’s there jumping and acting overly excited, it’s to late to get her to listen.
So what is left to do? Practice, practice and practice and the right choice of tools.

To better control her, try a no-pull harness with a leash that attaches to the front. There are several types on the market today such as the Freedom harness, the Walk your dog with love harness, the Sensation harness etc. The most important thing when choosing a no-pull harness is to make sure that the leash attaches to the harness in the front. Get one with leash that attaches to the back and you will have a dog that will pull more! Ask the store clerk or trainer how to fit it correctly and get a brief introduction on how it works.

To practice, try working with some friends or neighbors. You can even start with family members at first. Have them on a side of the sidewalk ignoring your dog. To train well, there are some rules of the game that will need to be followed:

Rule number one: no pulling towards the people. If you notice the first signs of pulling, turn the other way, in other words,make a U-turn and start walking again towards the people. Any time you notice pulling, make the U-turn and resume. It may take a long time to eventually reach the people, but Bella will learn that pulling doesn’t get her where she wants. Walking on a loose leash will only do so. Imagine that a tense leash is your brake and a loose, slack leash is the accelerator.

2) Once you finally reach your friends, no jumping. If she manages to jump, have your friend turn around and become boring as an electric pole. When she stops trying to jump, you can have your friend praise her and toss her a treat. Tossing the treat on the ground will distract your dog and let her focus on the ground rather than jumping. Repeat several times. Once you notice less jumping, you can try practicing asking your dog to sit for the treat before your friend tosses it on the ground. You asked for a video, and here is a good one with a similar exercise from Kiko Pup.

Tip: Practice the same exercise at the door as when you have guests!

At the age of 2 your Lab is full of energy and is also in the peak doggy teenager phase. Yes, dogs go through that too! It’s important to provide loads of mental stimulation and exercise during this time. Play games of fetch and ask her to sit before you toss the ball, instead of feeding her food in a bowl, stuff it in a Kong Wobbler or scatter it around the house and let her use her nose to find it. Play with her a game of fetch-the-food, tossing her kibble in the yard. Teach her some cool tricks. If you can, enroll her in classes so she can better learn to be under control in presence of dogs and people.
Consider that many dogs go through this phase and many dogs are very enthusiastic greeters. As your dog matures, you will notice she will calm down considerably but with exercise, mental stimulation and training, you can help her attain better impulse control and lower those threshold levels. Good luck!