Thomas E. Catanzaro, DVM, MHA, FACHE, Diplomate American College of Healthcare Executives
Special Recognition for these contributions to:
Daniel O. Estep, PhD and Suzanne Hetts, PhD
Animal Behavior Associates, Inc.
4994 S. Independence Way, Littleton, CO 80123, (303) 932-9095
So You Want a Dog? Some Things for Prospective Dog Owners to Think About
Bringing a dog into your home is a wonderful experience but it is also a serious responsibility. Below are some questions for you and your family members to ask yourselves about your own needs and expectations of the dog which will help you pick out the pet best suited to you. Try to be as realistic and honest as possible in answering these questions.
1. Why do you want a dog?
What do you expect the dog to do? Will she just be a companion for you? Will she be a companion for your children? Do you want a dog you can jog or hike with? A dog to hunt with? A watch dog or a guard dog? A working dog like a herding dog? A show dog? Do you want the dog to serve several roles? (Note that some roles may not be compatible: A good guard dog may not be good around your children.) Different breeds or individuals within a breed may be better suited to some roles than to others.
2. What's your family like now? What do you expect it to be in 5 to 10 years
Are you single, married, married with children, have older relatives in the home? Are you single now but expect to start a family soon? Your choice of pet should take into account not only your present family status but also your expected future status. A dog chosen for a single person may not be suited for a family with children. Remember that owning a pet is a life-time commitment.
3. Do you want your dog to be an inside dog, outside dog or both?
What is your home like? Do you live in a small apartment, house with a fenced yard, etc.? Some dogs need lots of room and exercise (not just the big ones, some small breeds need lots of exercise). Will you be able to provide that space and exercise?
4. Are you planning on having other pets in the near future besides the dog?
What pets do you already have? Some pets don't get along well with other animals (and vice versa). You should think very carefully before bringing a new pet into a household with other pets that she may not get along with the new four-footed family member.
5. What is your lifestyle like?
Are you very active and rarely home or fairly inactive and home most of the time or somewhere in between? Do you have activities that you want your dog to be a part of? Dogs are highly social animals and need companionship, however some dogs may tolerate more isolation than others. If you are very active and rarely home perhaps you should consider another kind of pet.
6. What temperament do you want in your dog?
Do you want a very active dog or very inactive dog? Do you want one that is shy or very outgoing with strangers? What about a clog that demands a lot of attention? Is ease of obedience training important to you? A dog's temperament is very important to how well it will fit into your household. You should consider very carefully what temperament characteristics you want in your dog and then consult the books listed at the end of this handout to help pick a dog that has those characteristics,
7. What breed of dog do you want? Why?
Do you want a pure-bred dog or a mixed breed dog? Never pick a dog solely on its looks or its physical characteristics. It may not have the temperament or other characteristics you want. Consult books, breeders, your veterinarian, and friends who own a breed you are considering to help choose a breed. Consider a mixed breed dog from a shelter. They often have fewer physical and behavioral problems than do pure-bred dogs, but may be more of a gamble with an unknown history. If you buy a pure-bred dog, only buy from an established breeder with a good reputation.
8. What size dog do you want? Why?
Big dog, small dog or in between? All puppies are basically very cute and cuddly, but they sure do not stay that way. Different sized dogs have different abilities, characteristics and maintenance needs.
9. What kind of coat characteristics and coat color do you want?
Some coats are more likely to shed than others, some may require more care than others. Many of the new cross breeds are capitalizing on this fact with poodle crosses, but these crosses can usually be found at the local pound at a far more affordable cost that at a pet store, and you will be helping save the animal form potential death and/or isolation.
10. What sex dog do you want? Why?
Each sex has its own advantages and disadvantages, special needs and problems. Males are more likely to roam, urine mark and fight with other dogs, for example. All dogs should be spayed or neutered unless you are planning to show the dog competitively or breed the dog. Spaying and neutering reduces the chances of certain behavioral and medical problems as well as reducing the pet over-population problem.
11. What age dog do you want? Why
Puppies can be lots of fun but they can be a lot of work to housebreak, train and socialize. Are you prepared to put in the work necessary to have a puppy?
12. Have you thought through the potential costs and problems associated with accepting the responsibility for maintaining a pet 24/7, 365 for years?
Owning a dog can be a very rich and rewarding experience. However along with the rewards come problems and costs. There will be a time commitment required, feeding, grooming and health care costs, cleaning up after the dog and some destruction of your property by the dog. Are you committed to dealing with these problems and costs? Remember that owning a dog is a life-time commitment.
Resources (some books to help you choose a dog)
1. B. L. Hart and L. A. Hart, Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior (Paperback) W. H. Freeman & Co., New York, 1988/1998 (two editions), ISBN # 0-7167-1829-4.
2. Dog Owner's Guide: Picking a puppy (www.canismajor.com/dog/pikpup.html)
3. D. F. Tortora, The Right Dog For You, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1980, ISBN # 0-671 -24221-0.
4. Bob Christiansen, Choosing a Shelter Dog - (Canine Learning Center)
5. Mordecai Siegal, Choosing the Perfect Dog for You and Your Family - (Contemporary Books)
6. Chris Walkowicz, The Perfect Match -- A Dog Buyer's Guide - (Howell Books)
Human Companion Animal Bond Matching Factors
Coat, shedding & grooming
Tolerance for shedding, willingness, time and money to groom
Height, weight, bulkiness & longevity
Desire for a big dog, environment for a big dog, money for a big dog, longevity expectations
Indoor and outdoor activity
Enjoyment of activity, restlessness
Vigor (gentle, rough vigorous)
Enjoyment of physical activity
Behavioral constancy (stick-to-it-iveness)
Dominance with familiar people with unfamiliar people
Dominance (leadership, assertiveness, initiative)
Emotional stability - (high strung, nervous)
Sociability to familiar people to unfamiliar people to children
Sociability, social desire, frequency of visitors & children human acceptance or criticalness
Training desires, patience
Desire for obedience
Problem solving ability
Learning "dog behavior" standards
Watch dog ability
Need for watch dog
Guard dog ability
Need for guard dog
Summarized from: Hart, B. L. & Hart, L. A., The Perfect Puppy and Tortora, D. F., The Right Dog For You
Puppy Class Outline
People sit on floor with puppies (more than 1/family can participate), gently massage body, legs, paws. Progress to lifting lip, opening mouth briefly, squeezing paws, cradling in arms on back, put finger in mouth, examine ears, etc. If fearful or aggressive problems, use tidbits to associate process with positive consequences.
2. Attention getting/Calling puppy
Allow puppy to wander to end of 6 foot leash. Bend down, use pup's name and call him in a happy excited, tone of voice. Do whatever it takes to get pup's attention - pat floor, clap hands, use a toy or tidbit. Praise pup when it comes. Practice with increasing distractions let pup get involved in sniffing something, playing with another pup, etc. before calling it. Never call to punish or to where coming results in an aversive experience.
Hold a small tidbit (something soft which can be easily swallowed such as soft-moist dog food, tiny piece of cheese, hot dog, etc., not hard, crunchy treats) directly above pup's head. Pup should be looking up at the food. Move hand backward (not up) at same time using command "sit". As pup's head goes back, rear goes down. Give pup tidbit as soon as rear is on the floor. Try to get pup in position without touching him.
4. Hygiene & Wellness
Demonstrations and discussions of bathing, nail trimming and dental care. Diets can effect hair coat as well as body condition, so they must be discussed, as well as "appropriate treats". PCR testing, vaccines, and the community-based preventative medical care needed for protection and correction of parasites and problems (e.g., JPS surgery for hip dysphasia prone animals at 18 weeks).
5. Discussion topics
Leash and collars - why no choke chains. Owners should be using smallest leash possible - i.e. width and size of snap.
6. Tell owners about development of social behavior, critical period (4-16 weeks).
Discuss goals/perspective of class. Can't expect same performance/attention from puppy as from older dog. Training - both in class and at home- will be positive reinforcement, distracting puppy from what you don't want it do to and encouraging and rewarding it to behave appropriately. Punishment is least best way to work with puppy problems.
1. Walking on leash/attention getting
Goal is to have puppy walk with you on left side on a loose leash, paying attention to you. Proper heel position as in beginning class is not important. Continue using whatever stimuli are necessary to keep puppy's attention - slapping leg, toy, treats, praise, etc. Can use command such as "with me" or "by me" so as not confuse with more formal "heel" command later. If puppy leaves side, stop, call as in #2 from first week, continue on. Do not jerk and pull. Tug on leash can be given to assist with attention getting.
2. Sound and texture experiences
Expose puppy to several unfamiliar sounds and textures. These should be relatively easy ones, work up to more difficult/startling ones. Texture ideas include walking on newspaper, plastic, Styrofoam shipping "peanuts". Sounds include party noisemaker, class applauding, cheering, popping paper bag.
3. Continue handling experiences
Handling should progress to more restraint, examination of feet, mouth, ears in addition to gentle massage and touching. Discuss grooming while doing. Puppy should also be handled by at least 1 person it does not know. This handling should be very gentle more like last week.
4. Continue with "sit"
If puppy is performing well at home, begin to "wean off" treats gradually. Sometimes use treat, sometimes not. Add a brief "stay" to sit - not like in beginning class. Owner will probably already be in front of puppy. Have them use hand signal along with verbal command - pup should stay 5 to 10 seconds before release. Owner should not try to back away from pup this week. Teach importance of specific release word.
5. Discussion topics
"Puppy-proofing" house, destructive behavior, crate training, housetraining.
1. Continue with walking on leash, attention. Add sit at halt
Work on changing directions. Precise heeling is not important. Pup should be paying attention, staying on loose leash close to owner so can follow change of direction. Begin having pup sit when stop. "Straight sit" in heel position not important.
2. Continue with recall
During walking on leash practice, instructors can take 1 pup at a time, hold pup's leash, owner walks 8-10 feet away and calls pup who must pass by a few other puppies to get to owner. Owner should bend down, call excitedly, use food, toy, whatever. Should not be a formal recall.
3. Teach "down"
Use tidbit technique. Begin by having pup sit. Have tidbit, hold in front of pup's nose, move hand straight down to floor, then forward. This encourages pup to do the same. Some pup's rear-ends will come up (especially short legged breeds). Owner can use other hand to hold rear down. As soon as pup is down, gets treat. For difficult pups, use shaping procedure and reward for part of movement. With each successive attempt, must move more toward down. Discuss commands "down ", "off".
4. Sound/texture experiences
Add chicken wire, walk through pan of shallow warm water. Sounds drop a book, hit metal pan with spoon, fan. For all of these experiences, sounds should start quietly and then increase in volume. If pup startles, move it farther away from sound. Elicit non-fearful behavior with treats, toys, praise.
5. Socialization experiences
Puppies should be introduced to other people. Either "pass the puppy" from a circle, or switch puppies and do easy work on leash walking, coming, sitting. Should all be very positive and gentle. Also allow puppies to interact with each other more.
6. Discussion topics
Chewing, separation anxiety, mouthing/nipping, jumping up - have pup sit for attention instead. Discuss no punishment after the fact, misinterpretation of "guilty looks".
1. Work on "stay"
Add "stay" to "down", similar to "sit". Owner should stay with pup, use hand signal, have pup hold position for 5 - 15 seconds. Owner can begin backing away a few steps on sit-stay. Work on getting pup to lie down without intermediate sit position.
2. Round robin recalls
Class sits on floor. Work with 2-4 puppies at a time. Handle, massage, then owner calls back across circle. Exchange puppies, handle, massage, then owner calls back across circle.
3. Walking on leash
Work on stairs, passing between others, up to wall, in narrow area by couch, over an obstacle. Continue attention getting, sit at halt.
4. Sound/texture experiences
Pass through a cardboard box/tunnel, balloons, sirens, gunshot/firecrackers (from sound effects album).
5. Work with sit-stand-sit- down sequence with tidbit.
From Ian Dunbar's tape. Use food, moving hand to have pup change positions from sit to stand (move hand forward) to sit, to down.
6. Exposure to novel people
Several people can be assigned to come in uniform (if use in their jobs), make sure pups meet children. Instructors or others can bring large hats, sunglasses, wigs, beards.
7. Discussion topics
Grooming, spay/neuter - cover myths and also what behaviors neutering does effect (urine marking, roaming, some forms of aggression, mounting).
Work with short distances, in a corner or against a wall to encourage pup toy bring toy back. Work on getting pup to drop toy, in exchange for a food reward if necessary. Also discuss tug-of-war, wrestling games, limiting number of toys.
2. Continue with "stay"
Owner can also back away from pup on down-stay. Add a brief, 5-10 second stay to stand. Work sit-stand-sit-down sequence.
3. Drop leash "heeling"
Owners should continue walking on leash as before. When pup is paying attention and doing well, drop leash. Not having leash in hand often forces owners to work harder to keep pup's attention rather than relying on leash. If pup wanders away, owner should bend down, call pup and start again.
4. "Not paid for" exercise
Pup learns not to take treat until owner says "OK".
5. Discussion topics
Expectations - although pup may now be looking like an adult in physical appearance, is not adult behaviorally. Still short attention span, curious, not to be trusted. Discuss appearance of some behavior problems at time of sexual maturity ( e.g. about 2 yrs, dominance aggression).
If time, can teach 1 or 2 easy tricks such as shake hands, jump over, or roll-over (lot depends on size, maturity of pup).
Encourage owners to come in costume for additional socialization for puppies. Demonstrate beginning obedience exercises, tricks. Encourage to continue with beginning class.
Allow puppies to interact with each other and other people. Distribute certificates, ribbons. Could have prize for quickest sit, longest stay, best trick, or whatever.
Crate Training Your Dog
How quickly a dog will adapt to a crate will depend on her age, temperament, and previous experiences. Crate training may only take a few days, or can take as long as several weeks. The crate should always be associated with something pleasant for the dog. Training should take place in a series of small steps - don't try to do too much too fast.
Step 1: Introducing Your Dog to the Crate
Put the crate in an area of the house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the den or kitchen. Put a soft sleeping blanket or towel in the crate. Bring your dog over to the crate, and talk to him in an excited, happy tone of voice. Make sure the door to the crate is securely fastened opened so it won't accidently hit your dog and frighten him.
Drop some small tidbits of food around the crate, just inside the door, and then gradually all the way inside the crate to encourage your dog to enter. If he doesn't go all the way in at first to get the food, that's OK. Do not force him to enter. Repeat this experience until your dog will calmly walk into the crate to get the food. If your dog isn't interested in food, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate instead. This process may take just a few minutes or as long as several days.
Step 2: Feeding your Dog in the Crate
After your dog has been introduced to the crate as in Step 1, you can begin feeding him his regular meals near or in the crate for awhile. This will create pleasant associations with the crate and decrease any fear he has of the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, you can place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. However, if your dog is still reluctant to enter the crate, then place the dish right in front of the open door or as far inside as he will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed him, place the dish a little more toward the back of the crate.
Once your dog is comfortably eating his food while standing in the crate, you can close the door while he's eating. At first, open the door as soon as he finishes his meal, let him out, and praise him. With each succeeding feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until he is staying in the crate without protesting for 10 minutes or so after eating. If he begins to whine to be let out, you may have increased the duration of crating too quickly. Next time, try leaving him for a shorter time period. Be sure to release him from the crate when he is not whining or barking. If he is let out while he's making noise, noisy behavior has been reinforced and he'll be more likely to make noise the next time.
Step 3: Conditioning your Dog to Stay in the Crate for Longer Time Periods
After your dog is eating his regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can begin to confine him there for short time periods while you are home. Begin by calling him over to the crate in return for a food reward. Give him a command to enter such as "kennel up". You can encourage him to do so by pointing to the inside of the crate with a tidbit in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, reward him with the tidbit and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for 5 to 10 minutes and then go out of sight into another room for a few minutes. When you return, sit quietly again for a short time, and then release your dog. Repeat this procedure several times a day. With each repetition, gradually increase the length of time the dog is crated, and the length of time you are out-of-sight. Once your dog will quietly remain in the crate for about 30 minutes with you out of sight the majority of the time, you can begin leaving him crated when you are gone for short time periods, and/or letting him sleep there at night. It may take several days or several weeks to get to this point.
Step 4 - Part A - Crating when Left Alone
After your dog is spending about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid while you are home, you can begin leaving him crated for short time periods when you leave the house. Put him in the crate with your regular "kennel up" (or similar) command. You will want to vary at what point you put your dog in the crate during your "getting ready to leave" routine. Although he should not be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate him anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Do not make departures or arrivals emotional and prolonged, but matter-of-fact instead. Praise your dog briefly and give him a tidbit for entering the crate, and then leave quietly. When you arrive home do not inadvertently reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to him in an excited, enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals very low-key and reserve playful, excited greeting behavior for after he has been let outside and has calmed down somewhat. Continue to crate your dog for short time periods from time to time when you are home so that he does not begin to associate crating with being left alone.
Part B - Crating at Night
Follow the same procedure you have been using to encourage your dog to enter his crate willingly. Initially, it may be a good idea (especially if you have a young puppy) to locate the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate at night, and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when he whines to be let outside. Older dogs too should initially be kept nearby so that crating does not become associated with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with his crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer.
If Your Dog Whines or Cries
If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether he is whining just because he wants out of the crate, of whether he needs to be let outside to eliminate. Whining is more likely to be caused by social isolation if the crate is located in another room. First, try moving the crate to your bedroom or close-by.
If you followed the training procedures, your dog should not have been reinforced for whining by being released from his crate. Initially you can ignore the whining. Your dog may stop if he is just testing you. Yelling at him or pounding on the crate may only increase his vocalizations and may make him fearful. If the whining continues after you have ignored it for several minutes you can repeat the phrase your dog has associated with going outside to eliminate. If he responds and becomes excited, take him outside. This should be a trip with a purpose - not play time. If you are convinced your dog does not need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore the whining until it stops. Most attempts at punishing the behavior actually end up inadvertently reinforcing the noise because the dog is getting attention from you. When you ignore the whining, expect it to get worse before it gets better. You cannot give in, otherwise you will have taught your dog that he must whine louder and longer to get what he wants. If you have progressed very gradually through the training steps and have not attempted to hurry the process you will be less likely to encounter this problem. If additional problems arise, contact your veterinarian for more information or for a referral to a behavior specialist. Animal Behavior Associates, Inc. will be happy to consult with you and help you with your pet.
House Training Procedures for Puppies and Adult Dogs
One of the reasons that we can keep dogs and cats as house pets is because their elimination behavior patterns allow them to be trained to go to the bathroom in locations which are acceptable to us. However, puppies cannot be expected to control their bladder and bowels for long time periods until 5 to 6 months of age. Some puppies are not fully housetrained until they are 8 or 9 months, or even a year old. Because dogs are denting animals, like wolves, they tend not to soil the area they consider to be their den. You cannot assume that your new adult dog or puppy will realize at first that your entire house is now his den. You must teach him that. This handout provides information about basic housetraining procedures.
1. Establish a routine. Housetraining a puppy requires time and commitment from you. The more consistent you are, the quicker your puppy will learn acceptable behavior. Like babies, puppies do best on a regular schedule. If possible, put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. Check with your veterinarian, but depending on its age, puppies usually need to be fed 3 or 4 times a day. Feeding your puppy at consistent times will make it more likely that she will need to go to the bathroom at consistent time periods as well. This will make housetraining much easier.
2. Reward good behavior. Take your puppy outside frequently, at least every 2 hours. Your puppy should also be taken outside when she wakes up from a nap, after playing, and after eating. Establish 2 command phrases - one which asks "Do you need to go outside?" and another which says "Go do your business!" once outside. Use whatever words you choose, but be consistent - always use the exact same phrase. Go outside with your puppy. Repeat your command phrase, and when she urinates or defecates, praise your puppy quietly but enthusiastically. Also give your pup a tidbit as a reward for eliminating outside. Most pet owners forget to reward puppies for doing the right thing. The importance of rewarding good behavior (rather than punishing unacceptable behavior) cannot be over-emphasized.
3. Supervise your puppy. A new puppy must be supervised constantly. Puppies who are allowed to wander off into rooms by themselves or who are left alone, free in the house, will most likely get into trouble. Always be sure you know where your puppy is. Encourage her to stay in the same room with you or another family member. You can "tether" her to you on a 6 foot leash, or use baby gates to keep her in the room where you are. Close doors to unoccupied rooms. When a puppy must be left alone for relatively long time periods, she should be confined in a small area or a crate. This area, or crate, must be large enough to provide a sleeping and playing area, as well as an area where the puppy can eliminate. Papers can be placed in that part of the confinement area designated as OK for the puppy to eliminate in. Because young puppies cannot always control their bladder and bowels for long time periods, it is not fair to confine a puppy for an entire work day with no place to relieve itself. A puppy can be crated at night (preferably in the same room with a family member) if you are willing to get up and go outside with her when necessary. A handout about crate training is also available from us.
4. Never punish after the fact. Virtually every puppy will have an accident in the house. Expect this - it is part of owning a puppy. If - and only if you catch your puppy in the act of soiling, do something that startles her, which she perceives as coming from the environment, not from you. Make a loud noise (slap your palm against the wall, drop something), or toss a pillow toward your puppy. Do not rub your puppy's nose in the mess or hit her. This will teach your puppy to be afraid of you and afraid to eliminate in your presence - and you do want her to go to the bathroom in the yard when you are there. If you find a soiled area, but do not catch your puppy soiling, do nothing but clean it up. Animals do not understand punishment after the fact - even ff it is only seconds. Punishment after the fact without a doubt will do more harm than good. Punishment should punish the behavior, not the animal. This cannot happen unless the puppy is caught in the act.
5. Use enzymatic cleaners. The best cleaning agents to use for soiled areas are the enzymatic type cleaners available at many pet stores. The enzymes break up the organic material which produces the odor. Do not clean with ammonia, as this smells similar to urine. Vinegar diluted with water can also help neutralize odor. If your puppy has picked a favorite spot to soil, not only should it be thoroughly cleaned, but it can be made less appealing by changing the texture. You can do this by covering it with plastic, or tape which is sticky on both sides. However, you must also make sure that you are following all the rest of the basic housetraining procedures, especially rewarding your puppy for going outside.
6. Provide more freedom gradually. As your puppy matures and begins to show you that it understands going outside to eliminate is what you expect, you can gradually increase her freedom. If you wish, you can leave her free in the house for short time periods - while you run to the store. Don't expect her to make the transition from being confined to being left completely free in the house in a single step.
When Adult Dogs Need Retraining
Dogs obtained from previous owners or animal shelters may have been housetrained in their previous homes. However, this does not guarantee that this will be the case in their new homes. Shelter dogs have no choice but to eliminate in their runs or cages, which may weaken good housetrained habits. The routine and physical environment in a new household will be different from the previous one, so a dog may not know for awhile how to get outside, and how to let his new owners know what he wants. When first in a new environment, a dog may not yet realize that this is now his den. Even spayed and neutered animals may also want to urine-mark their new territory for awhile. Scents and odors from previous pets can also stimulate urine marking.
For the first few days and weeks, you should assume that your new dog is not housetrained. Treat her just as you would a puppy - establish a regular schedule, take her outside frequently, reward her for eliminating outside, and supervise her activity while inside. Progress should be much faster than with a puppy because you are refreshing and reinforcing already established habits, rather than teaching totally new behaviors.
Common Causes of Housesoiling Problems
If you have consistently followed basic housetraining procedures and your dog continues to eliminate in the house, then the cause of the behavior must be determined before it can be changed. There are other reasons why dogs house soil other than a lack of house training. Some examples of causes of house soiling are:
Medical problems. House soiling can often be caused by physical problems such as a urinary tract infection or an irritated bowel. Check with your veterinarian to rule out any possibility of disease or illness.
Territorial urine-marking. Dog will deposit urine, usually in small amounts, to scent-mark territory. Both male and female dogs may do this. This most often occurs when the dog believes its territory has been invaded.
Separation anxiety, It is not uncommon for dogs to become anxious when left alone and house soil as a result. If the soiling is occurring only, and consistently when your dog is left alone, separation anxiety may be the cause.
Fears of phobias. When animals become frightened, they often lose control of their bladder and/or bowels. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, thunderstorms, or other things it may house soil when exposed to these environmental events.
Submissive/excitement urination. Some dogs, especially young ones, temporarily lose control of their bladder when they become excited or threatened. This usually occurs during greetings, intense play, or when they are about to be punished (another good reason for not punishing after the fact or using physical types of punishment).
The techniques necessary to correct a house soiling problem depend on the cause. If your veterinarian has determined your dog does not have a medical problem, the certified applied animal behaviorists at Animal Behavior Associates, Inc. will be happy to consult with you and help you work with your dog.
Preventing Destructive Behavior by Puppies
The first thing you should know is .that chewing and digging by puppies are perfectly natural, normal behaviors. It is unlikely that anything you do will stop these behaviors completely. What we will try to do is give you some things to do to lessen the damage. You should accept the fact that if you own a dog you will experience property damage and lose something of value. The basic strategy in preventing puppy damage is to 1) prevent access to things that you don't want damaged, or to make those things give the animal an unpleasant experience when she tries to damage it, and 2) provide acceptable things to chew and places to dig.
Puppies are very oral beings. One of the main ways they explore their world is to put things in their mouths and chew on them. Teething occurs in puppies up to six to eight months of age. This can make chewing problems even worse in young animals.
1. Puppy proof your house. This means keeping things that can be destroyed out of reach of the animal. Keep clothes, children's toys, and other small objects off the floor. Keep closets, drawers, and toy boxes closed any time the puppy is out. Remove objects from lower shelves, end tables, or any other surface the puppy can reach.
2. Keep a close watch on your puppy. Never let your puppy run loose in the house without supervision. If there are times you cannot watch the puppy, put her in a secure area like a kitchen with baby gates at the doors to prevent escapes, in a dog exercise pen, or in a crate or dog kennel. (If you use a crate or kennel be sure that the dog has been properly crate trained. To do otherwise may create other problems.) You could also leash the dog to your belt to keep her out of mischief.
3. For objects that may be chewed that you cannot prevent your puppy from gaining access to, try to make them aversive by coating the surfaces with Bitter Apple, a hot sauce, or Listerine mouthwash (be sure the surface is color fast and that the material will not damage the surface). For other things that cannot be treated in this way, make the areas around the objects unpleasant by putting down plastic rug runner (pointy side up), motion detectors such as The Scraminal, or vibration sensors such as The Tattle Tale. Be consistent in discouraging chewing of inappropriate objects. Never encourage it.
4. If you catch your puppy chewing some inappropriate object, tell her "no", take it away from her and give her an appropriate chew object. Never punish your puppy for chewing things after the fact. Punishment is neither effective nor appropriate if you don't catch the animal in the act.
5. Provide plenty of acceptable chew toys such as Nylabones, Kong Toys, cattle hooves, sterilized large beef bones, or rawhide chewies (check with your veterinarian about what are safe, acceptable chew toys). You may have to experiment with different objects to find ones that your puppy likes. Praise and reward your puppy for chewing appropriate things.
6. Never give your puppy old clothes, shoes, or children's toys as chew toys. The puppy may not learn the difference between them and your good clothes, shoes, etc.
7. If these things don't help, or if the destructiveness gets worse, consult a professional for help.
1. Puppy proof your yard, garden and flower beds, and any indoor area that may be scratched such as doors, carpets and rugs. Put up fences or other barriers to keep her out of unwanted areas.
2. Booby trap other areas that the puppy cannot be kept out of. Fill in holes and stretch hardware cloth over the area to make it unpleasant to dig. Inside, put out Plastic carpet runner, Scat Mat or other devices to make scratched areas unpleasant to scratch.
3. For a puppy that is strongly motivated to dig, set aside a part of your yard for her to dig in and reward digging in that area.
4. Seek professional help if the digging continues or gets worse.
When puppies and kittens eat things they shouldn't
Puppies and kittens will sometimes eat or merely suckle on clothing or other objects which may result in a variety of problems for both owners and animals. Not only can the owner's possessions be destroyed but clothing and other objects can produce life-threatening blockages in the animal's intestines. Another form of this behavior - stool eating - while not necessarily dangerous to the animal is often unacceptable to the owner. Stool-eating is called coprophagy and eating non-food items is referred to as pica.
The causes of pica and coprophagy are not known. It has been suggested that coprophagy is carried over from the normal parental behavior of ingesting the waste of young offspring. However puppies and kittens have obviously never had litters so this explanation seems not to apply to them. Some experts believe coprophagy occurs more often in animals who may be frequently confined to small areas and receive limited attention from their owners. Coprophagy may be seen more often in dogs who tend to be highly motivated by food. It is possible that a dog may learn this behavior from another dog. Coprophagy is fairly common in dogs and puppies but is rarely seen in cats, for reasons unknown. Both pica and coprophagy may be attempts to obtain a necessary nutrient lacking in the diet, although no nutritional studies have ever substantiated this idea. These behaviors may also be frustration or anxiety related and occur when the animal is "bored", anxious or afraid. It is possible the behaviors begin as play, as the animal investigates and chews on the objects, and subsequently for unknown reasons begins to eat or ingest them. Suckling of objects seems to occur more frequently in cats than dogs. Weaning a kitten too soon may contribute to or cause this problem.
Because the causes of the problem are not well understood, no treatments which are consistently successful are available. A commercial product, 4-BID, available from veterinarians, when put on a dog's food supposedly produces a stool with an unpleasant taste. It has been said the same result can be achieved by putting MSG (mono-sodium-glutamate, a food additive) or meat tenderizer on the food. Based on owners' reports, both of these products appear to work in some cases, but are often ineffective. Before using either of these products, check with your veterinarian. The stools can also be given an aversive taste by sprinkling them directly with either cayenne pepper or a commercial product called Bitter Apple. For this method to be effective, every stool the animal has access to for a length of time must be treated in order for him to learn that eating stools results in unpleasant consequences. It is obviously difficult for most owners to watch their dogs each and every time they defecate. In addition, it may be possible for some dogs to discriminate by odor which stools have been treated and which have not. Interactive punishment (punishment which comes from the owner) is usually not effective because: 1) attempts at*punishment, such as a verbal scolding, may be interpreted by the dog as attention and/or 2) many clogs learn not to show the behavior when their owners are present, but will do so when owners are absent. The simplest solution may simply be to clean the yard daily in order to minimize the dog's opportunity for coprophagy. Puppies may outgrow the behavior.
Any type of environmental "booby-traps" to stop a puppy from eating cat feces from the litterbox must be attempted with caution. Anything which frightens a puppy away from a litterbox is also likely to frighten the cat away as well. It is much better to install a baby-gate in front of the litterbox area as a cat will have no trouble jumping over it while most puppies will not make the attempt. Alternatively the box can be placed in a closet or room where the door can be wedged open from both sides (so the cat cannot be trapped in or Out) a small enough distance to allow the cat access but not the puppy.
In Colorado's dry climate, parasites are not nearly the problem as in other parts of the country. A dog that is parasite free and is eating only his own stools cannot be infected with parasites by doing so. If a dog is eating the stools of another dog that has parasites, it may be possible, although still unlikely, for the dog to become infected. Some parasites, such as giardia, cause diarrhea, and most coprophagic dogs ingest only formed stools. In addition, there is a delay period before the parasites in the stools can re-infect another animal. Finally, most parasites require intermediate hosts (they must pass through the body of another species such as a flea) before they can re-infect another dog or cat. Thus, dogs are much more likely to become infected with parasites through fleas and killing and/or eating birds and rodents than by coprophagy. Most parasites are also species-specific, meaning that dogs cannot be infected by eating cat stools. Although some owners may think it unpleasant, health risks to humans from being licked in the face by a coprophagic dog are minimal. For more information, contact your veterinarian.
This can be a more serious problem because items such as rubber bands and string can severely damage or block an animal's intestines. In some instances, the items must be surgically removed. The chances of resolving this type of problem successfully will probably be greater if the reason for the behavior can be determined. Unfortunately, this will often not be possible as the behavior is poorly understood. Making the objects the animal is eating taste unpleasant with some of the substances mentioned previously may be helpful. Owners may need to either prevent the animal's access to the items, and/or be very vigilante about putting socks and other such items out of reach. If the animal is very food oriented, it may be possible to change to a low-calorie or high-fiber diet to allow him to eat more food, more often which may decrease the behavior. Check with your veterinarian before changing diets.
Pica can be an attention-getting behavior, play behavior or a frustration or anxiety relieving behavior. If anxiety or frustration is involved, the reason for these reactions must be identified and the behavior changed using behavior modification techniques. For attention-getting behaviors, the animal can be startled with a loud noise or a spray of water when she is caught ingesting the items, and should receive attention and social interaction from the owner when the items are left alone. Cats commonly play with string, rubber bands, and tinsel and ultimately ingest them. Owners need to keep these items out of reach and provide a selection of appropriate toys.
Because pica can potentially be a life-threatening behavior problem, it may be advisable to consult both your veterinarian and a behavior professional for help.
Young kittens may suckle on the owner's hair, fingers, toys, clothing or other objects such as blankets and bedding. Most often, kittens showing such behavior may have been weaned too young. The items can either be made to taste unpleasant using products previously mentioned and/or the kitten can be distracted with a toy when caught suckling. An acceptable item for suckling, such as a doll's baby bottle, may be provided until the kitten matures.
There are various reports in the behavior literature of Siamese and Siamese-mix breed cats showing a tendency to suckle on and sometimes ingest woolen objects. This problem is not exclusive to this breed however, as it occurs in other breeds as well. The reason for this behavior is unknown. It has been suggested that the cat may be attracted to the odor of lanolin in the wool, but this idea has not been proven or even widely accepted by cat behavioral experts. Not allowing the cat to have access to wool items, treating them with an unpleasant tasting substance as mentioned above, or startling the cat with a loud noise or water sprayer when caught may all be helpful.
Punishment after the fact for any of these behaviors is never helpful. This approach will not resolve the problem and is likely to produce either fearful or aggressive responses from the animal. If your puppy or kitten is displaying pica or coprophagy, ask your veterinarian for more information or for a referral to a behavior specialist. The certified applied animal behaviorists at Animal Behavior Associates, Inc. will be happy to consult with you and help you work with your pet.
Preventing Aggressive Behavior by Puppies
Aggression by dogs directed at people is the most serious problem faced by owners. Aggressive dogs can cause serious injury or even death. There is nothing that an owner can do that will absolutely guarantee that a puppy will never become aggressive. This is because our knowledge about the causes of aggression is incomplete. However, there are some things that you can do as an owner that will lessen the likelihood that your puppy will become aggressive. Some of these things are designed to prevent puppy aggression, while others are designed to prevent aggression as your dog grows up.
Genetics and Breeding can influence aggression and other problem behaviors.
If you buy a puppy, purchase it from an established breeder with a good reputation. Always ask the breeder about the parents and brothers and sisters of the puppy. Never buy a puppy that has been bred to be aggressive, or whose parents or siblings have been aggressive or fearful of people. Be sure that the puppy has had plenty of contact with people and other dogs. Avoid buying puppies that seem overly excitable or overly fearful.
If you get a dog from a shelter or pet store where you cannot ask about the parents or siblings, don1 pick a dog that is overly excitable or overly fearful. Avoid getting a dog that has been living by itself with little contact with other dogs or people.
Out of Control Play is one of the most common causes of injury by puppies. Puppies should always be encouraged to play gently with people.
Never encourage a puppy to play roughly and to bite or mouth clothing or skin. This only rewards unacceptable behavior. Children should be taught acceptable ways to play with puppies and supervised to be sure that they are not encouraging bad behavior.
If the puppy tries to bite, nip or play roughly, either 1) try to direct her play onto a ball, chew toy or other appropriate toy, 2) put the puppy on a time-out for a few minutes away from people or 3) use remote punishment to discourage rough play. Remote punishment means telling the puppy "no" at the same time you squirt her with water or make a loud startling sound like shaking a can full of pennies. The punishment should always occur during the rough play, never after. If you cannot catch her in the act, don1 punish her. Never hit, slap, kick or use other physical punishment with a puppy. It is unnecessary and may make the problem worse.
Always try to make touching, petting and grooming the puppy a calm, relaxed and non playful situation. Encouraging play in these situations will only make it more difficult for the puppy to learn the difference between play and non-play situations.
Fear and Pain are the other major causes of puppies injuring people.
Never hit, slap, kick or hurt a puppy. It is cruel and may cause the puppy to bite or become fearful of you.
Young children should never be left alone with puppies or allowed to hurt or scare them.
Never scare puppies with loud noises, sudden movements or other frightening events.
If your puppy is frightened of sounds, things (like vacuum cleaners) or people, get professional help.
Dominance Aggression is one of the most common causes of aggression in adult dogs. It occurs when the dog tries to dominate one or more members of the household.
Neutering male dogs and spaying female dogs may reduce the likelihood of dominance aggression developing.
Puppies should be taught to tolerate handling, being restrained, petted, groomed and moved around as well as having food, toys and chew bones taken from them. Rewards, not force should be used to get the puppy to comply so that she has a good attitude about doing these things. These activities should be done regularly as a normal part of play, feeding, grooming, etc.
It is not necessary to "scruff shake", roll a puppy over and pin it to the ground or use other dog dominance gestures to reinforce your dominance over the puppy.
Simple rules should be developed by the family as to what the puppy can and can't do around the house (such as sleeping on the bed, getting on the furniture, getting food scraps from the table, etc.). These rules should be enforced consistently by all family members.
Punishment for misbehavior of any sort should be done only when other things have been tried and have failed. Punishment should only be of the remote kind (a loud noise, water squirted on the puppy, or a small pillow thrown in the general direction of the puppy, don't hit the puppy with the pillow).
Possessive Aggression occurs when a dog thinks that a person is trying to take something away from her that she values such as food, a toy or a chew bone.
Puppies should be taught to tolerate having food, toys and chew bones taken from them. Rewards, not force should be used to get the puppy to comply so that she has a good attitude about doing these things. These activities should be done regularly as a normal part of play, feeding, grooming, etc.
Never punish a puppy for not giving up these objects. Trade the puppy a food treat or other toy for things it will not readily give up.
Territorial and Protective Aggression occurs when a dog tries to drive away unfamiliar people or dogs from her territory or from people or dogs she is attached to.
Puppies should be socialized with other dogs and unfamiliar people. This means gradual, non-threatening exposure associated with rewards (food, play, petting) while your dog is non-aggressive, non-fearful, relaxed and comfortable. A good puppy class can help with this and help prevent many other problems.
Puppies should be taught to be calm and quiet when people or dogs pass by your property (including your car), come on your property or come into your house. Use food or other rewards to get your dog to sit or lie down quietly.
Puppies should be taught to be calm and quiet when people or dogs approach you or other family members while on walks or otherwise away from your home.
Physical punishment should not be used to stop puppies that are barking, threatening or out of control around unfamiliar people or dogs.
Predatory Behavior occurs when dogs attempt to hunt and kill small animals like cats, squirrels or birds.
Puppies should never be encouraged to hunt small animals or birds or to excitedly chase any animal or person.
Puppies caught in the act of stalking, chasing or lunging at people or other animals should be discouraged by loudly approaching them, making a loud sound or squirting them with water.
Puppies should never be punished after the fact for stalking, chasing or lunging or for carrying or consuming prey.
Restrict the puppy's access to small animals and birds to prevent predation.
If an aggression problem develops, get professional help immediately. Do not wait. It is very likely that the longer you wait, the worse the problem will become.
If you find yourself punishing your dog more than just occasionally, seek professional help to deal with the problem.
Introducing Your New Puppy to your Other Dogs
Dogs are social animals. This means they normally live together in groups that are highly structured. A dominance hierarchy or "pecking order" is -established among dogs living in the same household. This order is determined by the outcomes of interactions between the dogs. Owners cannot choose which dog they want to be dominant. When a new dog is brought into the family, the hierarchy is upset and becomes unstable as the newcomer finds her own place in the social order.
Puppies and the Dominance Hierarchy
Puppies almost without exception will be the most subordinate members of the hierarchy. Within the litter, puppies will establish some degree of a dominance hierarchy among themselves but all will be submissive to adults. When you bring a new puppy into the house, expect the resident adult dog to establish herself as the dominant animal. Dominant dogs expect to receive certain benefits due to their social position. These can include being fed first, passing through doors first, being able to push other dogs out of the way in order to be petted, and controlling toys and preferred sleeping areas. These behaviors relate to social dominance, not to "jealousy" between the dogs which is an anthropomorphic interpretation. Owners need to support the resident dog's position by allowing her to be first, and not favoring the puppy. A dominant adult dog should also be allowed to set limits with the puppy by growling or snarling. Well socialized adult dogs with good temperaments will use these threatening behaviors to set limits with the puppy without harming her. These ritualized behaviors are the means dogs use to establish and maintain the social structure without injury to themselves or other members of the group. Preventing the adult dog from demonstrating her position using just threats can push her to show her dominance with more aggressive behaviors such as biting.
Keep the Routine
Keep the resident dog's routine the same as possible by not changing her feeding, exercise, play, and sleeping times and locations. You can also give both the adult and the puppy some time alone with you. It's not uncommon for a puppy to have a difficult time playing with toys because the adult dog takes his toys away. Either different family members can play with the animals in separate rooms at times, or the adult can be confined with a special chewie while the puppy has some playtime. Be careful not to isolate the adult in such a way that she perceives the puppy is receiving special attention and she is not. This could undermine the dominance hierarchy and contribute to a problem. Be sure to give an adult dog some quiet time away from the pestering play of a young puppy.
If you have chosen a puppy several days before he will actually come home, you can introduce your resident dog to the puppy's scent. Bring the puppy's sleeping blankets home from the breeder, or even just wipe a towel over the puppy you have chosen from the animal shelter. Put the towel under your dog's food bowl, in her bed, or in your lap when you hold her. In this way, the puppy's scent becomes associated with "good things" for the adult.
This idea - the adult should expect "good things" to happen whenever the puppy is around should be carried over to the rest of the introduction process. Let the resident dog sniff the puppy, which is normal canine greeting behavior. As she does so, talk to her in a happy, friendly tone of voice "Look at your new friend! What a good dog you are!" Don't use a threatening tone of voice "Fidoooo--Be Good". If you see the puppy becoming frightened or the adult getting too threatening, interrupt the interaction by getting the adult interested in doing something else. Call her over to you for a tidbit or toss her favorite ball. After both animals have calmed down, try the introduction again with more distance between the two dogs.
You may need to feed the dogs separately at first so the adult doesn't steal the puppy's food. The adult dog can also be encouraged to leave the puppy's food alone by giving her something else to do while the puppy is eating.
Introducing The Puppy to Several Resident Dogs
A group of dogs may have a tendency to "gang up" on a newcomer. In addition, redirected aggression can occur. If one of the adults is provoked by a more dominant one, he can attack a third, more subordinate animal which may be the puppy. A puppy is a likely candidate for both kinds of attack. To be safe, if there is more than one resident dog, it's probably a good idea to introduce them to the puppy one at a time.
As The Puppy Matures
Aggressive fighting problems are unlikely to occur when a young puppy is first introduced because puppies are generally subordinate and not viewed by adults as threats. However, as the puppy matures and grows, she may attempt to challenge one or more of the adult dogs for a higher position in the social hierarchy. These "canine rivalry" problems need to be dealt with using appropriate behavioral techniques. Punishing either dog is likely to make the problem worse. If the introduction of your puppy does not go well or if conflicts between the dogs arise later on, consult your veterinarian for more information or for a referral to a behavior professional. The certified applied animal behaviorists at Animal Behavior Associates Inc., will be happy to consult with you and help you work with your dogs.
Introducing Your New Puppy to your Cat
Dogs and cats who were not exposed to each other's species when they were young will require some extra time to become accustomed to each other. A puppy will likely want to play with an adult cat, or may even be afraid of her. An adult cat may either react fearfully and defensively when confronted with a young, silly puppy, or could decide to "take him on" if he gets too out of control. It is less likely for a puppy than an adult dog to respond aggressively to a cat, with the intent to harm her. Dogs and cats will react to each other differently because they differ in their communication signals and social behaviors. They will need to be introduced to each other slowly and gradually so that neither is harmed or frightened and aggressive reactions don't become a habit.
Introducing a Puppy to a Resident Cat
1. Any puppy in a new home needs lots of supervision. Managing normal puppy behaviors such as housetraining and chewing require that the puppy not be allowed to explore the house unsupervised. Puppies, like toddlers, easily get into trouble on their own! Thus, when you first bring the puppy home, you'll want to choose an area where you can confine him when you can't be watching him. A kitchen or laundry room blocked off with a baby gate or other barrier works well. You can also use an exercise pen, a playpen, or a crate. Ask your veterinarian for a handout on crating and crate training to prevent over-use of the crate. Provide a bed, water, toys, food (if feeding free-choice) and papers for elimination if you are paper-training the puppy.
2. Unless the puppy is extremely rambunctious or the cat quite timid and frightened, you can probably let the cat decide on her own how close she wants to approach the puppy when he is confined in his area. If either animal becomes aggressive or frightened (a few hisses and barks are OK), you can manage the introduction by having one person sit with the puppy and offer him some small tidbits of food. Another person can sit with the cat on the other side of the barrier, also with some special tidbits. Lay a "Hansel and Gretel" trail of tidbits from the cat's position to the barrier in order to encourage her to approach the puppy. Keep the puppy relatively calm using the tidbits. The puppy can be encouraged to "sit" and "down" by holding the food just above his head (as the head goes up, the rear goes down!) then slowly moving the food straight down to the floor and then forward. Practice these procedures for several minutes or until both animals are calm, even though they may be curious about each other. Allow them to touch noses through the barricade if they wish.
3. Next, try walking the puppy around the house on a leash. Encourage the cat to stay in the vicinity by making "good things" happen to her - offer her some tidbits, play with her favorite toy, or merely hold her in your lap if she enjoys being petted. An important goal is for both animals to have pleasant things happen to them when they are in each other's presence. If neither animal is overly upset or excited, drop the puppy's leash and let him approach the cat.
4. It's OK to let the cat set her own limits as to what she will tolerate from the puppy. Most puppies get the message that they have over-stepped the cat's tolerance limits after several hisses and swats. Even declawed cats can intimidate a puppy. It is unlikely that a puppy will be injured by these threatening behaviors. Although a few of these limit-setting interactions are OK, don't let them become a habit. If your cat is hissing and swatting or running away every time the puppy approaches her, you need to work more on controlling their interactions as described above.
Precautions: Dogs like to eat cat food because it is very high in protein, and therefore very tasty. You should keep the cat food out of the puppy's reach (in a closet, on a high shelf, etc.). Why dogs like to "raid the litterbox" is not well understood, but eating cat feces is a relatively common behavior. Although there are no health hazards to the puppy from this habit, it is usually distasteful to owners. Unfortunately, attempts to keep the puppy out of the litterbox by "booby trapping" it will also keep the cat away as well. Punishment after the fact will not change the puppy's behavior. Probably the best solution is to place the litterbox where the puppy cannot access it - such as behind a baby gate, or in a closet with the door anchored open (from both sides) just wide enough for the cat.
If even after following these introduction procedures your puppy and cat are not getting along, ask your veterinarian for more information or for a referral to a behavior specialist. The certified applied animal behaviorists at Animal Behavior Associates, Inc. will be happy to consult with you and help you work with your pets.