Author - Beth Jeffery

Q&A: Making a rescue dog feel at home


I am adopting my first shelter dog tomorrow. She is 8-10 weeks old. They found her and 3 other puppies when they were maybe 4 weeks old. She isn’t very timid or anything like that but she is VERY shy. Is this because she hasn’t had much human interaction and she doesn’t know how to react? Also, are there any tricks to get her to warm up to me and be her puppy self?

Hi Bri.

Some puppies are naturally very shy. Your new puppy may be more so in that she has had little contact with humans in the first few weeks of her life. Regardless though, you really will just need to give her time to warm up to you.

The bonding process takes time, and she will ‘come out of her shell’ the more she gets to know you and feel comfortable in her new environment.

Many 8 week old puppies are calm and sleepy, but typically by the time they have been in their new homes a few weeks they become much more lively!

If you give her love and affection, a good routine, and start doing some basic obedience with her right from the start, I am confident she will be fine. The transition from a kennel environment with her litter mates to a new home can take a bit longer for some pups, just be patient.


Q&A: When should I reward my dog?

When starting reward training for recall if your dog doesn’t come on the first call but does come after a couple of calls, should you reward this? I understand that we shouldn’t growl for not coming straight away but to reward him/her for coming after a couple of calls to me. I’d be very grateful for any tips. Thanks, Lana

Hi Lana.

It is great that you have started to work on off lead recall with your dog, and treats for coming to you is certainly the best way to start.

The biggest thing is that you do not call her more then once. If you are going to use the ‘come’ command, you say it one time only, and if she does not come to you, you need to go and get her. You would then praise her when you get hold of her, so that it is a positive experience for her. If you have to go get her though, I would not give her the treat, just verbal praise.

If you are finding that she is not coming the first time, you need to return to practicing recalls on a long lead. You can buy a long training lead, or simply get a long piece of rope to attach to her collar. You can begin with having her sit and stay and then back away from her. Then in a clear and excited voice, call her name and say ‘come’. You can also crouch down to encourage her to come to you. If she is running toward you, you can encourage her to continue by praising her as she is coming in.

If she does not respond though, or even if she comes part way but get distracted, tell her no and give her a jerk and release collar correction. Do not reel her in like a fish, just indicate to her through the lead and collar to make the motion herself. When she gets to you, have her sit at your feet and give her a treat and calm praise. Call her to you frequently, and then release her with an ‘ok’ command. If it is fun, and she gets praised/rewarded, she should like the game!

Remember, though you do not want to be repeating yourself on this command, or else she will learn to ignore you. Like many aspects of training, if you are finding she is not reliably coming to you the first time, you have probably progressed too quickly and need to go back to working on a lead and/or at shorter distances.


Q&A: Is it too late to potty train?


I have a four month beagle puppy. We’ve had her a couple of weeks now and never confined her because I was told not to and so that she can hang out with my other dog. However, as a result, I’m having a lot of trouble to potty train her. Is it too late to start confinement and, if not, how would I manage it when I have two dogsYogaDog? Are there potty training techniques that don’t involve confinement? My puppy is very bright but stubborn as hell and is only really responsive to commands when there is a treat at the other end.



Hi Jimena.

Beagles are notoriously stubborn, so in general they require a good set of rules and enforcement of those rules to help them with their obedience! Crate training is by far the most effective and efficient way to housebreak a puppy. You would go about this by buying a crate that does not give her too much room, but enough room to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. The idea is a dog does not want to sleep in the area they have messed in, so if the crate is too big they can simply move away from it. You could leave your dog in a crate for 4-5 hrs at this age, but I would practice with short stints first. You would take her out to relieve before you leave, and then put her in the crate. As soon as you get home you take her out of the crate and straight outside. Since you have another dog, it would probably be best to put the crate in a room and close the door so the puppy cannot see the other dog. In saying that though, many people certainly do train their dog without a crate. If you are at home most of the day, you should take your dog out every 1 1/2 to 2hrs to relieve. You want to give your dog a word association when relieving, such as ‘go potty’. When she does go, praise her and you can even give her a treat. The trick is you have to stay out long enough for her to go. The puppy should also go out within 15 minutes of eating. If you decide not to use a crate you can put her in a small room, such as a bathroom or laundry to at least confine the mess when you are out. It takes patience and persistence, but as a trainer I would normally like to see a 4 month old dog well on their way to understanding they need to go outside. I would personally recommend the crate for the easiest and quickest way to accomplish this.


Is my dog scared of me?

scared-dogHi DTB

I recently adopted a 3yr old pit mix female who has taken very well to my 11 year old daughter but is very skittish around me, me being a male. I have tried the treat trick and she still doesn’t like to come to me. If I sit on the couch not that I condone this behavior, I have allowed her to come up next to me but she still is very apprehensive. Understanding this is a new environment for her, are there any other suggestions to help with comforting her towards me. Thank you for your time.


Hi JD.

So as you have probably already guessed, it is likely that your dog was previously abused by a male. She obviously has trust issues, and as is typical, has associated all males with this behavior. The main thing that is going to change this is simply time. Try not to raise your voice around her, and do things like raise your hands quickly or make loud noises in front of her. It can take dogs 6-12 months to really bond with their new owners, even if they have not been abused, so this too will take time. You don’t want to create other behavioral issues by allowing her to do things that you do not want her to do though, ie: get on the couch. So treat her as you would any dog that you want in your house, but always be conscious that she is nervous. Never force her to be patted or moved close to you if she is uncomfortable, just let her come to you. Treats are always good to help encourage her, but it has to be on her terms.

Over time I am confident she will learn to trust you!


Q&A: My Dog Cannot Be Trained


My question is, is there anything else that I can try beside what you have listed on your site? My dog is almost a year old and I have been training her since I got her when she was almost 7 weeks old. I really need to find a solution, she doesn’t listen to a word anyone says and she is destroying my house and mattresses. Also how can I get my dog from urinating on beds? I really hope that either you or someone else can help me find a solution. I don’t want to have to get rid of my dog. I love her very much, but I am running out of options.


Hi Danielle.

It sounds like you are having a lot of trouble with your dogs obedience.

Before I address that though, I want to touch on the destruction issues you are having. Firstly, you need to make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. A dog that does not get enough exercise tends to be destructive. A one year old dog needs a minimum of 2 x 30 minute brisk walks a day, and depending on the breed this may be more.

Secondly she needs to earn her freedom in the house. If she is destroying things and urinating on the bed, you need to keep her confined either in a crate or in a small room when you leave. A dog that does not have good house managers should never be given free reign when they are home alone.

As for the obedience, you need to go back to square one and retrain your dog if she is not listening. A well behaved dog does the following, ‘sit, down, stay, come, and heel’.

You need to work with her 15 min two, or even three, times a day. Make sure you say the command only once, and follow through. By asking repeatedly, she does not think you are serious and will ignore you.

I am not sure what methods you have tried, but a clicker is often very effective, particularly if your dog is food motivated. You can always attend a group class if you need more pointers on how to do this.

Depending in what your dog already knows, I would be running through each command at least 10 times each training session. Remember you must praise your dog when she does it correctly. Dogs don’t obey commands if they think they don’t have to or if they think there is nothing positive in it for them. Most dogs are motivated by a combination of food and praise by their owners.

If you feel you have done everything you can without getting results, then as I said, you may want to find a local class or trainer to guide you through this.

There is no such thing as a dog that cannot be trained to have good basic obedience, so you need to try a different approach. You need to be firm but fair, and always be consistent.

Ask once, make it happen, praise. Be patient and consistent, and you will certainly be able to achieve the results you are after!


My Dog Chews Everything

He licks everything, slobbers on everything, nibbles on everything and chews whatever he can drag away, but I love him, and a lot of the time he’s just being his doggy self.

Does your dog chew things? What is his/her favorite? Have you snapped any guilty-looking, mid-chew pictures? Share them with us!


Q&A: My Dog Won’t Listen


My dog has suddenly become stubborn and will not listen to me. She seems to have forgotten her basic training!

Is there anything I can do?



Hi Farida.

Dogs, especially young dogs, consistently test and challenge their humans with this sort of thing. Typically we train our young dogs to be obedient, and then we just expect them to continue that behavior. In reality, if you don’t practice all the time, your dog thinks they don’t have to do it. It is likely that over time you stopped enforcing the commands, so she decided not to follow them.

I would go back to practicing with her ten minutes twice a day. Reinforce that you mean it when you tell her to do a command, and that you are not asking her if she feels like doing it.

Remember to ask only once, use a firm but fair tone, be consistent with her, and praise her. Once she realizes you mean it, she will again be obedient. Most dogs want to please their owners, and your praise for ‘a job well done’ means a lot to her.

Let us know how you go!


Dealing with a Hyper Active Dog

dog-jumpingDTB, I hope you can help me.

I got a puppy from someone I know. She is about 8 or 9 months old and she is extremely hyper. Every time someone comes around her she starts jumping all over them and it doesn’t matter how many times you push her head away or her body off you and tell her no she wont quit unless I whoop her but and then she will lay right by my feet and start widdling all over the place and wiggling. When I try to move she is right under my feet or whoever is around how do I make her stop?



Hi Monica.

There are several actions you can take to help change this behavior.

Firstly, make sure she is getting enough exercise. A young, active dog needs two good walks a day.

When you have someone coming over, put her on a leash before they come in. If the person is comfortable doing so, they can use their leg to push her off gently, and tell her to ‘get off’ in a firm tone. No one should touch her unless all four feet are on the ground. Alternatively, you can use the leash to give her a ‘jerk and release’ correction off. By this I mean you should pull sharply on the leash and then immediately release all tension, whilst telling her ‘no’ in a firm voice.

Make sure you praise her when she does not jump. You never want to use your hands. This makes her fearful and insecure, hence why she pees and then sits by your feet. Use the leash to communicate with her, and be firm and consistent. If you also practice her obedience skills this will help. If you teach her to sit and down and stay, then ultimately you can tell her to do so when someone comes.

Ask people to come over as much as possible to help you practice. The repetition and consistency will help.

Let us know how you get on.

Q&A: When Good Dogs Go Bad


I have a 4 month old husky / shepherd mix. I’ve had her for 2 months and from the start I did crate training. At first she was fine but now she hates her crate. She soils the crate at night cause she knows I’ll have to take her out of it to clean, she barks and howls until you let her out and she shreds the bedding when you ignore her. It’s not like I don’t take her out at night either. I’m at a loss. I can’t leave the house during the day without hiring a pet sitter because she chews the crate when you leave for short amounts of time.


Hi Alexie. husky-puppy

You have a few options that you can try. If you have an appropriate space, and are not set on sticking with the crate, you could try and close her in a laundry room or bathroom. This gives her a little more space but still confines her so you don’t have any accidents or destruction issues in the house (make sure there is nothing around that she can get). If she chews up her bed, I would just put an old towel down for now.

If you want to stick with the crate, it is important to put her in there frequently for short periods of time. No matter which you choose to do, this is the strategy you want to use. (You can put a bone or a stuffed kong in there with her so she has something fun to do when you go for longer periods of time).

I would put her in, pick up your keys, walk out for a few minutes and then return. Make sure when you leave you show no emotion. You put her in close the door, and leave. When you return you open the door and let her out. No big hellos or goodbyes, make coming and going a ‘non-event’.

Make sure you give her a good walk before putting her in for a long period of time. For dogs, sometimes even negative attention is better then no attention.

By four months, she should be starting to be able to hold her bladder through the night. Make sure you feed her no later then 5pm, and no water after 7pm. Take her out to relieve just before you go to bed and put her in the crate/room. If you do have to get up in the middle of the night, give her no attention. Simply take her out or just clean it up and put her back in. It should in no way be fun for her.

An appropriate crate is small enough so she would really have to sit in it. If you have her in a huge crate she can move away from the mess. The concept of dogs do not like to mess where they sleep only works if she literally cannot move away from it. By four months I would say you should be starting to ignore the barking in the crate. Typically the first night is very hard, the second night a little less so, and by the third or fourth night they settle down quickly because they learn it is not getting them what they want…your attention!

Let us know if this helps!


Q&A: Potty Training When It’s Raining


I have a wonderful 2-year-old female poodle mix that was brought up here to WA from Southern CA by a rescue group. We have a pet door going onto the deck/back yard and on nice days, she goes outside to potty. The catch is, we’re in Washington, known for our rain, and she WILL NOT go outside if it’s wet out. She’s usually pretty good about using the potty pads though will miss them occasionally. My goal is to get rid of the pads and have her going outside always since she’s free to go in and out on her own. How can I get her to do this when it’s wet outside? Thanks!



Hi Elaine.

Yep, some dogs just hate the rain! My own dog will hold it for 10hrs if it means avoiding the rain!

There are a few things you can do though to help this. Firstly, it may be worth buying a rain jacket for your dog. This will alleviate the feeling of the rain falling on her coat, and she may feel more comfortable. Secondly, grab your umbrella and take her out when it is raining. Just getting used to it helps a lot of dogs. As a two year old, she should be able to hold her bladder for many hours. I would say get rid of the puppy pads and take her out on a leash before you go out. Make sure she relieves herself, and then of course take her out again as soon as you get home. The pads are really an excuse for her not to go out at this stage. If you are home, again take her out on leash every few hours. Over time, she will get used to it. She may never like it, but she has to realize the option is either hold it or get wet…and there is only so long she can hold it!

Good Luck!