Young Red Setter Chloe lying on her backChloe is a gorgeous 6-month-old Red Setter.

Chloe is a paradox. Unlike most young dogs that I go to that are unruly, fly all over people, persistently jump up, nip and mouth, try to pinch people’s food while they are eating and toilet in the house, she is calm before walks and the model dog outside.

Usually dogs that are uncontrollable in the house are also over-excited before walks, pull on lead, don’t come back when called and may react to other dogs. Not so Chloe.

Going back to the puppy I visited a couple of days ago, Chloe has lacked three essentials from the start that this eight week old puppy is already receiving. These are ‘feet on the floor’, ‘no using mouth or teeth’, and ‘toilet training’.

All nice things happen with feet on floor, all contact is instantly withdrawn when mouth or teeth are used, and work and time is put into toilet training. Chloe, at six months, shows what happens if those three things are ignored or, worse still, actively encouraged, especially when there is inconsistency.

Does Chloe jump up! Chloe’s lady owner likes her jumping up on her with front feet on her shoulders. She actively has encouraged it since Chloe was tiny. However, not everybody else likes it, so she is told ‘down’ and pushed away by other people. I find usually when I visit a dog that jumps up, if I keep turning away or standing to tip it off, it gets the message within a couple of minutes. Chloe was much more persistent. She has been taught it gets her attention – good and bad. The young daughter is intimidated because on her hind legs Chloe is taller than she is.

Another actively encouraged bad habit during play and fussing is mouthing, but Chloe nips the daughter, she jumps on top of her and mouths and grabs her hands, she catches ankles and legs when people walk downstairs. She is encouraged to walk all over the sofa and the people on it.

These behaviours weren’t actually why I was called out though. It was her toileting indoors. She did it while I was there – quite deliberately – because nobody was taking any notice of her. She went to a high place (it’s an interesting room with different levels), she looked down at us and she peed. She will also poo indoors. The lady may wait outside with her for half an hour only for her to toilet in front of them as soon as she comes in, even looking her in the eye as she does so. She toilets on their bed and in her own bed, on the landing, down the passage. With no boundaries or rules in the house – why shouldn’t this include toileting also? She has little ‘dog-parenting/leadership’ so she is making her own decisions. ‘I own the place, I own the people, I own the beds, I put my scent everywhere, I do what I like’.

Rules and boundaries across the board and no more mixed messages will, I’m sure, in time cure the toileting problem. Chloe will learn some impulse control. Meanwhile, they need to start with proper ‘training’. Take her out at regular times, drop a piece of her dry food on the ground in front of her immediately she has performed outside to show her that outside is the place. When she goes indoors she must get no result or attention whatsoever. She should even be out of the way when they clear it up.

This will all take time. There are big bad habits to undo. Habits formed very young, good or bad, become more entrenched. What a blessing it is that she is no trouble on walks and interacts well with other dogs – so far!

Chloe has a lovely temperament – friendly and confident, but she is quite literally being spoilt. Mixed messages and confusion won’t produce a happy, well-balanced adult dog.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.