Author - Beth Jeffery

Q&A: Dealing With a Troublesome Rescue


We adopted a Jack Russell approx 3months ago and his behaviour is going from bad to worse. We have 3 children aged 1, 10 and 14 and a West Highland Terrier. We explained on adoption that we were looking for a dog with minimal training needs as due to home and work we didn’t have the time to commit to training but had room and love for a new addition. He is a lovely dog but he jumps continually so it’s difficult having him around the baby as he knocks her over and steals everything she has in her hands. The older children struggle with the jumping and nipping at their hands. He isn’t too bad regarding toileting and have only had a few accidents. We have bought several toys – kongas, balls, squeaky toys etc – to occupy him but he wants everything but those and destroys them. He gets on fine with our Westie though and they do play nicely together. He just will not listen.

We can get him to sit but only with a treat and the rest of the time he ignores you. We are finding life extremely stressful having to try and keep the baby and house safe and my husband is unimpressed by him trying to bite him every time I try to remove him from the sofa (where we don’t allow either of the dogs).

If you have some advice it would be very welcome.. As I say I know training would be ideal but with my husband working days and me nights one if us is always working while the other has the baby so time is an issue.



Hi Sarah.

Training is going to be the key here. You can do it yourself or you can hire a professional, but it sounds jack-russelas if your puppy needs a clear set of rules to follow, and someone to follow through enforcing those rules. I will give you a guideline on some things you need to do, but ultimately you and your husband must find time to practice with the dog to modify his behavior. Firstly, many behavior issues are linked to lack of exercise. Jack Russell’s need a lot of exercise. This breed needs two walks a day, for 45 minutes each walk at a minimum. Maybe this is something you can get your older kids to help with. Additional time spend playing with a ball or something will also help. When dogs don’t get enough exercise, they take out their pent up energy other ways, like destroying things. For obedience, you need to practice about 15 minutes twice a day. Your dog should know the following: sit, down, stay, come and heel. Once he is good at the command, you need to move away from the food (giving it every second time, then every third time, then no food at all). Your commands need to be firm and only said once. You then use the leash to move him into the correct position without repeating yourself. You can find lots of helpful tips on the website to guide you through this. For the jumping, no one should touch him unless all four feet are on the ground. If he jumps up everyone should use their leg to gently push him off whilst saying, ‘get off’ in a firm tone. There is to be no play time or attention when he jumps and you should turn your back and walk away. In respect to jumping on the couch, practice with him on a leash. Let him jump and then tell him to ‘get off’ in a firm tone, and use the leash to move him to the ground. Practice this at least ten times a day. When he nips at anyone you need to stay calm but tell him a firm ‘no’. You can give him his own toy to play with and chew. It is always hard to have a baby and a young, excitable dog. Until you get more control you may want to consider keeping the dog on a leash at times when the baby is around. You need the dog to listen to you so you can tell him ‘no’ and he will stop. The only way to do this is through training! Lots of repetition, time, patience and additional exercise will achieve the results you want.

Beth Jeffery


Q&A: My Dog Has Separation Anxiety


Do you have any suggestions for a dog with separation anxiety? We can not even go for laundry in the basement or walk outside without our 7 month old Bischon/Cavalier going insane. It’s very frustrating and he even just barks at as non stop when we are relaxing at night on the couch. We play with him, he goes out in the yard, and we are just going crazy! He’s lucky he is the cutest dog around!


Hi Kiley

Separation anxiety is unfortunately a very common problem these days, particularly with small breed dogs. It is important to remember that dogs have no sense of time. It doesn’t matter if you leave them for 5 minutes or 5 hours, what matters is that you left them. So, there are several things you can do to help him deal with you leaving. Firstly, never acknowledge your dog when you leave or when you This makes your coming and going a ‘non issue’. When you leave, simply pick up your things and go. When you return, do not give your dog attention. Put your things down, busy yourself with something, and then once your dog is totally calm, you can calmly reach down and say hello. Do not make your coming home exciting for him in any way. In addition to this, I suggest you pick up your keys and leave the house as frequently as possible for short periods of time. Just go stand outside for a minute or two, and then return. The more often you do this, the more he will realize you leave, but you always come back! Continuing with these changes will help him relax about being away from you.

The barking at you when you are on the couch is a totally separate issue. This is for attention. He is demanding it, and it sounds as if at least some of the time, he wins and you take him out to play. Never reward him for barking at you. The best thing to do is simply get up and walk away. Dogs quickly learn to stop doing something if they are not getting the result they want. He gets attention when he is calm and quiet, never when he barks. On a side note, be sure he is getting at least two good walks a day to help with his energy levels. Young dogs need lots of exercise, and often these behaviors are an indication that they need more!

Beth Jeffery


Q&A: My Puppy Thinks Her Leash Is A Chew Toy

Please help!

My 8 week old puppy is more distracted by the leash than anything. She would rather chew on it than focus on going potty. How can I successfully use the leash when taking her out to go potty?



Good question. So we put a leash on an 8 week old puppy and their first reaction is always, ‘yea…a new chew toy, and right by my face!’ Many, if not most puppies, do this.

The first thing you want to do is get your puppy used to the leash. Attach the leash frequently when you are in the room (never leave her unattended with it attached) and allow her to drag it around. From time to time pick it up and stick the end in your pocket encouraging her to follow you. Anytime she puts it in her mouth tell her ‘no’ and give her something else to chew on. This will help her get used to the leash in general.

Another useful tool is a bitter bite spray that you can find at pet shops. It has a nasty taste and really discourages chewing. Spray it liberally on the leash.

And lastly, try and keep the leash behind her head, instead of allowing it to go under her chin. You can also do this by not using a collar at all but by putting the clip through the handle of the leash, hence forming a loop, and put that over your dogs head. This then allows you to keep the leash at the back of her neck. Out of sight out of mind helps (using a harness also helps as the leash attaches in the middle of their back).

No matter which method you use though, just keep telling her no and taking it out of her mouth whenever she does it, and she will eventually get it.

Beth Jefferey

Q&A: Snack Attack

Hi there,

I was just wondering, my dogs have a habit of always randomly eating their bikkies when I come outside. They have free access to bikkies all day and get meat at dinner time and they’ll eat their bikkies throughout the day but if they’re laying down and I come outside they get all excited and start eating. Do you know why they do this??



So this is one of those issues with lots of theories but no proven answers to! My theory is that they feel in some way this will please you and get them some attention. It could be that at one stage you praised them for eating their bikkies. It could be that you find the behavior somewhat amusing so you paid attention to them when they did it. The bottom line is that they think it will get your attention, so they continue to do it. They probably are not particularly interested in the dry food, so only eat what they really need to sustain. Incidentally dogs are not ‘grazers’ by nature. If you did want to stop the behavior, you should just put their food down for 10 minutes, and then pick it up and not feed them again till their regularly scheduled meal time. If they are hungry, they will eat. If it doesn’t bother you there is no need to change anything, just chalk it up to your individual dogs idiosyncrasies!

Beth Jeffreys


Q&A: My Dog Hates Her Crate

Q: We have 7 month old rescue. Was told she was crate trained.  We have tried wire and plastic crate.  Anytime I leave her in the crate alone (even just for a few minutes) she does one or more of the following: excessive salivating and vomiting, crying, barking, growling; she has chewed the plastic crate, the plastic tray underneath the wire crate,  bedding, a sheet we tried to cover the crate with, has been biting the wire crate, has rubbed the top of her nose raw; she somehow managed to get the plastic tray out from under the wire crate and chewed holes in our carpet.  Have also tried to restrict her with baby gate (jumps over or crawls under) and have tried enclosing her in the laundry room and she has clawed and chewed at the door and walls.  Give her several stuffed kongs, special treats, etc when we leave and she ignores them.  She is fine in the crate if the door is open.  We do not trust her yet to give her the run of the house.  Any suggestions welcome!

Sounds like you have a tough situation on your hands. I would like to give you some insight from a behaviorist point of view, and then also give you some suggestions. If you are not seeing any results though, this problem sounds serious enough that I would suggest you find a good behaviorist/trainer to come to your home and help you.

Crate training is a term that has a variety of meanings to different people. When I read about your puppy, it is quite clear to me that ‘crate training’ meant she was locked in a cage far too often, and left their for extended periods of time. She is clearly extremely distressed by being confined, and is suffering serious separation anxiety. The fear is so severe, that the distraction of food for example, means nothing to her.

One method for you to try, is to put a leash on her, and have her sit on one side of the room. Tell her to stay, and move away from her. After a few seconds, return to her and praise her (using a clicker and treating her at this stage is a good tool). If she is good at this, you can start to slowly increase your distance from her, and the time you spend before you return. Once she is happy with this with you in the same room, do the same thing but move out of her sight into another room. Again, slowly increasing the time you are away. If she gets up, simply say, ‘no’, and return her to her original spot. If she continues to get up, go back to shorter distances and less time before moving on. The goal is for her to realize you always come back, and she does not need to be concerned. In addition to this, you want to try and leave her frequently for very short periods of time. Pick up your keys, walk out the front door, and then return 1 minute later, and then again increasing to 5 or 10 minutes. Never say goodbye or hello to her when you come or go. Make leaving a ‘non-issue’. Again, always reinforcing you will return.

I am concerned that her behavior in the crate will cause her further distress and even possibly injury. Until you feel confident leaving her in the house, I would use the laundry room or if you can find a way to section off another area where there is little to destroy, and just accept that you may have to replace the door. This is an issue that is going to take time an patience on your part. Try these techniques, and again if you don’t start to see some results, you may want to enlist the help of a professional.


Beth Jeffrey


Q&A: Potty Training a Rescue Dog


We adopted a rescue dog in June, and we are working on potty training her. She is about 6 months old. She is a smaller dog (a mix of a beagle, and something else – nobody knows for sure). Anyway, her potty training has been very stressful. We take her out at regular intervals, and always go out with her. She does well most of the time when she goes out; however, it doesn’t seem to matter what we do, she continues to go inside as well. I am not sure what to do with her. When she goes outside, we praise her and give her treats. And just when we think that she is learning, she goes and does her business inside. Do you have any suggestions for us?



Hi Andrew

Potty training can be very frustrating for a lot of people, so you are not alone in feeling this way! The best thing to do here is go back to the beginning with your puppy. She either does not really understand the concept, or she is getting so distracted at other times that she forgets she has to go until it is too late. In many cases though, it is really that we believe our dog understands what is expected when they really do not. This being the case, go back to taking your dog out every 1.5-2hrs, and then within 15 minutes of eating. Use a word association like, ‘go potty’, and repeat this until your puppy goes. Your use of calm praise and even a small treat (not necessary but ok to do) is good. Try and stay outside until she does something. 15-20 minutes can seem like a lifetime when you are waiting, but the time she takes will shorten quickly once she realizes she gets praise or playtime after going.


You did not mention what type of accident she is having, but regulating water intake and/or changing to a different high quality dog food might help as well. Keep meal times as regular as possible. In addition, try not to leave your puppy unattended in the house. You can tie her up with a lead and attach her to a piece of furniture in the room you are in, hence giving her less opportunity to do something while you are not watching. Puppies need to earn their freedom in the house, and if she is not potty trained, she should not have free reign. If you do see her going you can use a firm ‘No’ command and pick her up immediately and put her outside. If you don’t catch her in the act, just clean it up and ignore it.

So back to square one; take her out more frequently, use the word association, praise, limit her freedom…and stick with it!


Beth Jefferey

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Q&A: How Do I Teach My Puppy To Be Independant?


I have been trying to teach my puppy to become a little independent, as he always jumps on me or sits between my legs. I’ve been walking away from him every time he sits between my legs, but now he’s not coming when I call his name, and seems less happy and affectionate.  I’ve had him for about 5 days. Is there anything I can or should be doing to teach him to be a little more independent?


What an independent dog!


Hi Jonathon

Good question. We all want our puppies to be independent, and it can sometimes be confusing where to draw the line. The first few weeks you have with a young puppy are really about you bonding with him, and him
gaining confidence in his new environment. If he wants to sit with you or be cuddled, at this stage I would view it as a positive thing.

There is a fine line though, as you don’t want him to be so attached he gets separation anxiety, or that he gets scared if he is away from you. So in saying that, leave him frequently for short periods of time, encouraging him to be confident on his own. Also if he is shy around other people, gently encourage him to approach. As you begin to take him out in new environments and around other dogs, encourage him to explore. You want your puppy to be attached and loving with you, but don’t feel obligated to always have him sitting on you. If you want to get up, certainly do so. Maybe put a bed close by and encourage him to sit on that near you, but not on you!

Remember it has only been days since he has been taken out of an environment with all his litter mates living in close proximity. He is probably just craving some warmth and love!


Beth Jefferey

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Q&A: My dog won’t potty if we’re around!

labradoodleWe are having an issue with our 10 month old labradoodle, Sammie. She will gladly go potty outside when not on a leash and when she feels the need to while playing outside, but any other time she is taken outside she simply lays down on the ground (especially when the leash is on her)!

We have been taking her out on the leash for 10 minutes and then putting her in the crate for 15 minutes if she does not go potty while outside. Anything that we could be doing differently? We really want her to know the difference between going out to play and going out to potty.



Thanks for your great question, Liz!

The first thing I would suggest is that every time you take her outside you do so with her lead on, and ask her to relieve before you start to play. You want to have a ‘word association’ you give when you expect her to relieve, ie: ‘go potty’, ‘do your business’, etc. When she goes, praise her.

If you were planning on a play session, as soon as she goes you can take her lead off and play. Use the word association every time she goes, even if it is on a walk or in the park. By doing this, she will start to associate the word with the action of relieving. In addition, I would suggest you stay outside until she actually goes. This can be very time consuming in the beginning, but will certainly pay off in the long run. Whilst outside, keep repeating ‘go potty’.

In general I would avoiding sticking her in the crate when you come inside just because she hasn’t gone, but instead just keep her lead on and keep her with you if you are concerned she might have an accident. It is never a good idea to have the crate be associated with any form of punishment. I would give her the opportunity to go every few hours, and within 15-20 minutes of eating. The consistency of the word association to relieve, and the fact that she always goes out on a lead should help you solve this problem.

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Q&A: How Do I Stop My Puppy From Chewing On The Crate Bars

Can I just say thank you – your site is so useful! I do, however, want to know about chewing on the crate bars (when inside). Our 8 week old puppy does this when he’s looking for something to nibble on (even with his favourite toy and stuff Kong with him), and also at night when he’s indicating it is time to eliminate. Should I ignore this during the day? Perhaps treat it, as you said about crying in the crate, with a quick rap on the lid and say “quiet”?

how to stop a puppy/dog nipping and biting


Also, when drying paws on re-entry from the garden, how can I avoid him chewing gum towel? We’ve tried distractions with toys (totally unsuccessful), saying “no” and removing it, and ignoring it. We’re unsure which is best. Thanks in advance! I now have a nylon lead on him and our issues of distraction and stone/mud chewing outside are gone!

Laura Jacks


Dear Laura

It sounds like you are having a few issues with chewing. I firstly want to point out that these behaviors are very normal for a young puppy, and it will continue through the teething period, and possibly beyond! Chewing on the crate bars is not very good for his teeth, so this is certainly something you want to discourage. There are several methods you can try to stop this; you can try to rap on the front of the crate and say a firm ‘No’ (do not say ‘quiet’, as that is another word association for vocalization).

You could also try to put an ‘anti chewing’ spray directly on the bars. These can be found in most pet shops. Another option is to give your puppy something that is really meant for chewing; a nylabone, a raw hide/pressed bone, a pigs ear, etc. These will allow him to really work at something that is hard to chew on, other then metal bars.

Your second issue of chewing on the towel is also very common, and this often seems like a fun game to a puppy. Saying ‘No’, removing it from his mouth, and replacing it with his toy is typically the best method. If you put his collar on, it will give you more control as you can hold his head in place whilst using the towel. Stay calm, go slowly, and be verbally firm. Never get into a struggle with him. If you are struggling with this method, another option is to put him into what we call the ‘Cradle’ position. You sit on the floor, flip him over on his back, and put him in between your legs. If he struggles gently squeeze your legs together so he is unable to move. When he relaxes, release all tension whilst still keeping him in position. When he is calm, dry his feet, and then calmly ‘release’ him with ‘ok’.

You can practice this everyday, even when you don’t need to dry his feet. With any of these options, make sure you offer calm praise when he is allowing you to do it, so he understands this is what you want. Practice and patience will help you overcome this issue!

Good Luck!

Beth Jeffrey
Professional Dog Trainer and Animal Behaviorist

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Q&A: Transitioning From Potty Pad To Outside

Moving from potty pad to outside poops“I have a 12 week old puppy. He was “potty pad” trained by the breeder, and he is pretty reliable at using the pad. I have begun the process of transitioning him to going outside to potty. My question is, should I leave a potty pad inside for him or should I leave it as a “back up” and if so for how long?”

Donna Wengel 

Dear Donna

It is great that you have a 12 week old puppy reliably going on a puppy pad, and you are certainly heading in the right direction to have fully trained puppy – well done!

At this stage, you should begin moving the pad close to the door that you would like your dog to use to go outside when he needs to. This way, if he decides to use the pad, he is at least starting to associate moving toward the correct area leading to outside. Once this is successful for a few days, you should take the pad and move it just outside the door, assuming you have a patio or deck that leads to grass. If your door exists directly onto grass, you can skip this step, and simply remove the pad all together. The point is to get rid of the pad all together, so leaving it in the house for an extended period can confuse the dog.

There are two important tips to remember:

Firstly, if your puppy starts having more accidents as you move the pad toward the door, you have probably progressed too fast. Simply slow down the process of moving the pad until he understands what is expected.

Secondly, it is always helpful if you give your dog a ‘word association’ command when he goes. For example every time you see him go outside, or you take him out to go, say something like, ‘go potty’. You can keep repeating this, and then make sure you calmly praise him when he goes. He will then start to associate these words, and this praise, with relieving outside. And lastly, remember he is a young dog, and accidents will happen even when you feel he is fully trained. Continue to take him out regularly to help increase your chances of success.

Good luck!

Beth Jeffrey
Professional Dog Trainer and Animal Behaviorist

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