Pees and poops indoors. Adult dog toilets in the house

Maggie is a beautiful, friendly ten-month-old Mastiff Staffie mix. Unfortunately, Maggie pees and poops in the house.

Pees and poops in the house

Family members are at their wits’ end. The man gets home first and is often met by puddles, sometimes both pees and poops. His understandable reaction is to be very cross.

Maggie is impervious to scolding. Zeus, their other Staffie mix, creeps off to his bed. He immediately  picks up that the man isn’t pleased though I’m sure he won’t know why.

Impulse control

Maggie lacks general impulse control in many ways – particularly where pees and poops are concerned. She wants to jump up? Maggie jumps up. She wants to pee? Maggie pees. She wants to move in on Zeus’, food? She does it. Continue reading…

Puppy Parenting Little Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise puppy under coffee tableEven the little black pads on fourteen-week-old Scooby’s feet are cute!

I love doing Puppy Parenting consultations, particularly as I am likely to keep in touch for many months – seeing them through adolescence to adulthood.

There is a lot to cover – all the usual things like toilet training and jumping up, the best sort of nutrition for the puppy and walking happily on a loose lead, but also preempting future possible problems from ever developing like guarding behaviours, fear of other dogs and running off.

Scooby has already been taught to sit and I showed them how to teach him to lie down. The next step is to work on ‘stay’.

fourteen week old Bichon Frise

Scooby with a favourite ‘toy’

Most importantly he needs to respond when he hears his name and come to them when he is called. They have a large open-plan house and very large enclosed garden and the lady worries that he might get into some sort of trouble when he is out of sight.

People often don’t realise that in order to get a puppy to come immediately they must not only sound exciting but also have something very rewarding to come to – food or fun. This needs a lot of repetition until coming when called becomes automatic – it can be made into a game as the puppy is called from one person to the other around the room and then house and garden. The man finds the ‘exciting voice’ impossible so I suggest he uses a whistle instead!

Scooby has been to two puppy classes where walking involves the puppy choking on his thin collar as he is ‘corrected’ and forced to walk to heel. That will now change.

He walked around the house beside me like a dream with no lead at all, with encouragement and rewards (placed on the floor where I want him to be). The next step is to simply clip his lead onto his harness and continue with the walking beside them – they will need a normal lead that hangs loose and not the retractable. Once good indoors it can be taken to the garden and then outside. There is absolutely no need at all for ‘correction’ of any sort if this is introduced correctly.

I look forward to my next Puppy Parenting visit.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own puppy may be different to the approach I have planned for Scooby, which is why I don’t go into exact detail details here of Scooby’s puppy plan. Finding instructions on the internet that are not tailored to your own puppy may be inappropriate. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with the parenting of your own puppy (see my Get Help page).

Puppy Parenting. Avoiding Future Problems

When I go to a family who simply want to bring their puppies up right with my Puppy Parenting programme, I feel truly blessed in my job.Benfield

Four month old brothers Ronnie and Teddy are a delightful mix of Bichon Frise and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Cavachon).

The only problem that impacts on their family at the moment is that the puppies haven’t learnt that outside is the place to toilet. Their chosen place to wee is inside the back door and their chosen place to poo is by the front door. The gentleman made the mistake of telling them off for doing it by the front door so they now do it on the carpet at the bottom of the stairs – perhaps, if they understood anything about it at all, thinking the scolding was about the location, not the act.

What is lacking is sufficient teaching of where they should be going. They aren’t using rewards. If the back door is open it is assumed the dogs will take themselves out. There are things to consider like why, after being accompanied out into the garden, they come straight back in and toilet indoors. When examined there are three very likely reasons. One is that they simply have learnt to go indoors. Another is that they are not rewarded going outside. If the grass is where they should go, then immediately they have been a food reward should be given on the grass. Another possibility is that the puppies will love being outside with their humans so if the job, once completed, results in their humans immediately going straight back indoors, fun finished, then isn’t this another reason for not toileting outside?

I’m sure a couple of weeks of hard work from the whole family will conquer the house training problem, as they take them out very regularly and cut down the puppies’ territory to the kitchen only unless carefully watched.

There are the seeds of a couple of future problems which should be addressed straight away. The puppies are starting to play a little too roughly resulting in recent minor injuries. As the siblings grow older we don’t want them to fight, so rough play needs to be discouraged right now. Little Teddy is already reactive and barking at other dogs on walks, so this needs working on so that he is happy to see another dog and not fearful.

Next time I go, as part of the ‘Puppy Parenting’ programme, we will be looking at more puppy training and teaching them to do a few more useful things, using either luring or clicker training or a mix of both – and rewards of course.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own puppy may be different to the approach I have worked out for Ronnie and Teddy, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet that are not tailored to your own puppies can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with parenting strategies specific to your own puppy (see my Get Help page).

Dogue de Bordeaux Puppy

Boris2It’s hard to believe delightful Dogue de Bordeaux puppy Boris is only fourteen weeks old because he’s so big!

The household has a range of ages including two little children, therefore it’s vital Boris grows to be a stable and gentle family dog. I do so love helping people to get things right early on.

Already the lady has been socialising him. His toilet training is going great. Circumstances mean they have to take him out down the road on lead to toilet, so already he is learning to walk nicely and not to get too excited about going out. They have to deal with the usual things like nipping and grabbing kids’ clothes when they run about and I advised that for now puppy and little children should be separated as soon as there is any excitement.

The most important area needing work is changing away from scolding and harsh ‘uh-uh’ and ‘no’ which apart from teaching Boris very little can cause him frustration, to showing Boris what he should do instead, using food rewards and praise – positive things – along with distraction. If he picks up something he shouldn’t have, chasing him, shouting at him or forcing it off him encourages defiance. Teaching him to exchange it for something better means he’ll be a willing and cooperative puppy.

Preempting (catching him when he’s just about to do something they don’t want him to do and calling him away or diverting him) is the very best tactic.

It’s important that every member of the family is on board otherwise mixed messages could cause a problem. A puppy is most likely to grow into a gentle, trustworthy and kind adult dog if the people around him treat him in a gentle and kind fashion. Little children must be taught to respect a dog and learn the kind of touching dogs like and don’t like. Just as it is important for a puppy to avoid contact with dogs whose behaviour could later make him fearful of dogs, it’s important for a puppy to be protected from people whose behaviour could later make him fearful or aggressive with people. We need to pick our puppy’s friends just as we would our child’s!

Boris is a clever boy. He catches on really fast. HIs lady owner is really switched on and she has done really well already. This first couple of weeks with me is about getting the basics right. I am sure that when I visit next time everyone will have worked hard at finding ways to reinforce good behaviour and to drop any scolding, and we will move forward to other interesting and fun things.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Boris, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).



A Puppy Needs Active Toilet Training

Bichone Frise Lucky Bichon Frise in crateBichon Frise Lola is now nearly 5 months old and an exceptionally easy puppy. Isn’t she delightful!

She never nips and she’s not demanding. This is fortunate because the family has five young children.

They have another dog also, a gorgeous and rather reserved fifteen-month-old Goldendoodle called Sam. Both dogs get on famously when they are together.

Lola spends long periods of time in her crate in the dining room, mainly because she may otherwise toilet all over the place but also because she may run around the house and they don’t want the dogs loose anywhere but in the utility room.

Toilet training doesn’t work like that.

With the five little children life is a bit of a juggling act.

It is Lola’s toileting training regime I was asked to help address, but this leads on to other things. Unfortunately, this toilet training can’t be done without changing her entire lifestyle. At the moment she is seldom taken outside so has, in effect, been taught that the puppy pad in her crate is the place to go.

She is always carried, so would not have learnt that if she wants to go to the toilet, it starts with walking towards and then out of the garden door.

It is a little concerning also that, because she doesn’t go out to meet new people and dogs, the window for effective socialisation and getting her exposed to things that may later frighten her is now closing. As she’s such an easy-going character, they may still have time.

Another thing is that she doesn’t seem to understand coming when called, which is unusual for a puppy. This will be because she is pulled, not called, out of her crate and then carried everywhere (to discourage the toileting or running off into other parts of the house).

I have suggested an intensive fortnight of working with Lola’s recall and toilet training, and then I shall go and see them again. No more carrying her about all the time!

At present she is crated from 7pm to 7am without a break as well as for much of the day. I have suggested a smaller crate – no bigger than her bed – which she should only be shut in at night-time or when they are out and at other times she can be in the utility room with Sam. It would, however, not be fair to put her in a bed-sized crate without giving her plenty of opportunities to toilet outside so she isn’t forced to mess her bed.

Last thing at night before being shut in her new little crate she needs to be walked outside (not carried). She needs to be accompanied (even in the cold and rain) and rewarded when she performs.  First thing in the morning, instead of leaving her in the crate until they have done some other jobs, they need to take her outside the moment they come downstairs.

I suggest the family draws up a rota so that Lola is taken out every half hour she is awake, immediately she has woken up, immediately they come home and any time she starts to sniff and prowl. She needs to go out after each meal. She needs praise and reward for going outside, whereas accidents indoors should get no reaction at all.

Using food they can teach her to follow them into the garden; they can teach her to come in again without having to chase her, they can teach her to go in and out of her crate without any man-handling.

I hope they have made some good progress in a fortnight’s time, because then I shall be teaching one of the children how to clicker train her puppy to sit, and also how to walk nicely beside them.

Giving Lola more attention and freedom may ‘unleash the puppy’ within her to the extent that she may become more lively and ‘naughty’, but that is what puppyhood should all be about, isn’t it.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own puppy may be different to the approach I have worked out for Lola whose situation is fairly unique, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own puppy can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with parenting strategies specific to your own puppy (see my Get Help page).


Puppy Training: Chews Nips Toilets

Havanese King Charles mix puppyThe couple have had adorable thirteen-week-old Luna for a week now and they don’t know what’s hit them! She is a divine cross between a Havanese and a King Charles Spaniel.

Luna is a totally normal puppy, doing what puppies do – but they’ve not had a puppy before and are finding Luna hard work. When not asleep, she is either ‘on the go’, rushing from chewing skirting or chair legs, to digging the floor, to charging around after a ball, to nipping hands and biting clothes – and toileting.

They are finding the indoor accidents a bit exasperating. She obviously hadn’t had much training where she came from, so they are catching up.  She has messed in her crate each night they have had her.

People have the idea that a puppy must be shown toileting in the house is ‘wrong’. How is it wrong? Would a baby toileting be wrong? When a puppy wees or poos indoors the only possible reasons are insufficient vigilance and trips outside (our  fault), lack of positive reinforcement for going outside (our fault), anxiety (our responsibility), simply too young, unsuitable diet – or perhaps a medical problem.

Luna came to them on Bakers Complete dog food – cheap and tasty – with too many additives and colourings and not enough high quality nutrition. The cheaper the food, the more ‘bulking’ ingredients there are that simply pass through the dog, hence more or larger poos. They have now changed her diet but she still does poo very frequently. She probably went about five in the three hours that I was there.

She consumes too many commercial treats and chews in the evening which the couple give her in order to manage her. This may result in the messing in her crate during the night. What looks like a small treat to us will be the size of a doughnut to little Luna. I personally feel commercial treats are simply money-spinners. What’s wrong with real, nutritious food kept back from her meals, or real chicken or turkey – or tiny bits of cheese so long as the dog isn’t lactose intolerant?

Feeding the last food if the day earlier, making her sleeping space in her crate no bigger than the size of her bed so that she is reluctant to soil her sleeping place and getting up once in the night for just a week or two should cure the night toileting problem.

We covered lots of puppy stuff making sure things are on the right track, preempting any future problems like separation issues, and we made a start with walking her around the house and garden beside them – off lead for now.  Unfortunately she still hasn’t had her second injection which means vital socialisation is limited while they carry her about. We also looked at ways to avoid ‘correcting’ her by teaching her what we do want instead.

People still can be resistant to using food rewards as positive reinforcement. It is scientifically proven beyond all doubt that learning is more efficient when reinforced positively than it ever can be if to avoid punishment or scolding, and food is usually the most potent reinforcer for a puppy in particular.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own puppy may be different to the approach I have worked out for Luna, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own puppies can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with puppy parenting strategies specific to your own puppy (see my Get Help page).

Frustrated Puppy

Cavalier puppy and his big toy dogWhat do normal puppies do?

They toilet indoors, they have manic sessions tearing around the place, they may fly at you and nip, they chew the carpet, they bite you with their sharp little teeth, they get over-excited and they may even get cross when they are told off.

What usually happens? “No, No, No, No, STOP”.

“How otherwise can I teach my dog NOT to do these things,” people ask?

It’s not that I don’t take it seriously, but I say that the unwanted behaviours are unimportant.

“You teachAfter manic sessions of tearing around the place, Cavalier King Charles puppy sleeps him to do other things instead”. If you just keep telling him off, you create a frustrated puppy that either gets worse and worse or becomes fearful.

Here is adorable eleven-week-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Hassle. Hassle (self-named like my Cocker Spaniel Pickle!) plays nicely until he gets over-excited and then he flies at them. Too much hand play and touching simply encourages him to go for hands. He may bite, nip feet and grab socks; he tugs at the lady’s hair. When they try to stop him firmly, Hassle gets cross. They feel he’s becoming aggressive.

The problem with all ‘don’t’ and no ‘do’ is that a dog can become bewildered and frustrated.

Puppy does one thing and the humans react in a way which causes puppy to try harder. Human reaction escalates all the problems until they have a battle of wills on their hands.

It can be so hard but they need a new mindset, one of: “Do do do do YES”.

They will keep half of his food back to ‘mark’ quiet moments. When he gets over-excited they can scatter some in his large crate and, shut in there, he can then be busy ‘hunting’ which will calm him down. He can learn how to take food gently from hands. They can show him what he can chew and make sure there are plenty of options. They will remove temptation.

One big problem is that Hassle toilets all over the place, day and night. They live in an upstairs flat with no garden so he is expected to go on puppy pads. At the moment he ignores them.

Hassle has too much space. From the start the puppy’s environment should start small and gradually increase in size as he becomes trained. His environment needs to be controlled so that initially, unless he is closely watched, he has two just choices for toileting – in his bed or on pads.  It’s very unlikely he would go in his bed so he will be choosing to go on pads. Gradually, one sheet at a time, they can be lifted until there is just one left – and that will become his necessary indoor toilet place until he realises that walks are for toileting.

Of course – Hassle loves destroying puppy pads, so what should they do? Scold? No (it only makes him worse). They should ‘mark’ the moment he stops with a piece of food and offer him something he can chew!

So far he has learnt that he’s let of his crate out as soon as he cries, so now he can learn how to be quiet before he is let out of his crate. How? By rewarding just a moment of quietness and then letting him out – and building up from there.

Until he can stay happily in his crate at night-time and when they aren’t watching him, they may have little success with the toilet training.

The quality we need above all others with a puppy, is patience.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own puppy may be different to the approach I have worked out for Hassle, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with puppy parenting strategies specific to your own puppy (see my Get Help page).

Puppy Training: It’s Best to ‘Start Small’

Eight week old Chocolate Labrador puppy


Sometimes my job just isn’t work at all!

Oscar is 8 weeks old – a gorgeous Chocolate Labrador puppy. He has been living with his family for just three days. I shall be helping them not only to start his life with them in the very best way possible, but also helping them as he grows bigger with walking nicely and training.

Getting things right from the outset is so much better than later having to remedy a situation that has got out of hand. Puppy training is about a lot more than learning tricks.

To start off we cover everything from the food he eats, where he sleeps, how to toilet train him, how to make sure he never develops separation problems, how to make sure he is confident and polite with visitors, get him used to wearing a collar and harness, to have a lead attached and walking beside them off lead initially. In this way he should be comfortable with the equipment when they are able to take him out in a couple of weeks’ time.

We ‘start small’ and work our way out. A puppy that is crated from the start quickly learns to love his ‘safe den’. It helps with the toilet training as he won’t mess his bed area unless he is really desparate. It gives him a peaceful hidey-hole when there are too many people about. He can be safely left in there when they go out. In a while he can be given the freedom of the ktichen for short periods. Puppies with too much freedom initially can end up toileting everywhere, stealing things from bedrooms and can generally feel insecure.

The family in their excitement with this glorious puppy may be using rather loud voices and clapping loudly to call him to them. I suggested they ‘start soft’. If they speak quietly and he will learn to listen. Reserve a loud clap for occasions when it’s important to get his attention to save him damaging something or himself. It’s the same with play – ‘start gentle’. Rough and tumble with huge humans can be scary to a sensitive little puppy.

My own Chocolate Labrador, Marmite, as a puppy


There is one area Oscar’s humans need discipline – and that is with playing hand games. Teaching Oscar to chase and grab hands may be fun now, but it will hurt more as he gets bigger. He will move on to grabbing clothes. Right from the start he should find no mileage in biting hands or clothes – and I show them how to achieve this without scolding. They can collect loads of legitimate things he can chew – that he can put in his mouth instead of human flesh!

The one area of slight concern is his wariness of people coming in the house. It’s unusual for a puppy so young that has come from a normal home environment to be wary of people at this age. When someone comes in the front door he hangs back and may pee a little.  The ‘fear period’ in a puppy really starts at about fourteen weeks – the age when usually puppies start to feel cautious of things. Up until this time as many different people, friendly dogs and positive experiences as possible need to be introduced.

With Oscar, because of his slight wariness they will need to go carefully, watching for signs of unease so that they don’t push him out of his comfort zone. It’s important at this very formative time he doesn’t associate anything with bad stuff. It may be a delicate balance between exposing him to things and avoiding frightening him.

The picture on the left is my own beloved Chocolate Labrador, Marmite, now unfortunately dead from a heart condition. She came from the same area as Oscar but nine years ago, and to look at Oscar I believe they may well be related.

What is ‘Kind and Loving’ to a Dog?

malteseRiley (on the left) and Maddie are two absolutely beautiful little Maltese Terriers. They are both about seven years old.

They are adored by their lady owner – her ‘babies’.

Riley started marking all over the house a short while ago.

I believe that it’s no coincidence that Riley’s marking started and one or two other behaviours deteriorated since the lady was at home for the month. There can be a lot of pressure put upon the dogs in a way, with humans on their case with touching and attention and mixed messages.  Maddie is a more laid back individual and not so affected.

Many people who adore their dogs do things in the name of love that I would myself see as quite unkind, and some of the things I advocate may seem unkind to them.

To scold or shout at a dog, even put his nose in it, for toileting or marking in the house seems to me not kind at all. To constantly touch and cuddle a dog also seems to me to be unkind, but owners usually see it otherwise. Leaving a dog to decide when and what he eats, even sharing their own food, I believe is not fair to a dog. People usually see it otherwise and the lady says she would feel dreadful if she didn’t leave food around all the time for them to graze on, and herself eat without letting the dogs have some.

People who dote on their dogs also feel it is OK to shout at their dogs when they bark at sounds outside, where I think it’s a lot kinder to help them out.  They feel their dog should be at the door jumping and barking at people when they come in. I feel this is not kind. The dog should be somewhere else and saved from the stress.

People usually feel it’s kind to comfort and fuss a dog when it’s fearful of something like fireworks. I believe it reinforces the fear and actually makes things worse – so isn’t kind at all.

Adorable little lap dogs are, inside, dogs after all. A little bit of being treated like dogs can lift huge burdens from them. I am sure when Riley no longer feels that the decision making is his responsibility, when he has a few boundaries and rules,  that he will stop marking.

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

Starting Off Right With a New Puppy

Nine week old Tibetan TerrierYesterday I visited nine-week-old Tibetan Terrier Molly’s new home just a couple of hours after she arrived. The couple want to do all they can to start off the right way with their gorgeous little ball of black fluff.

We were able to work out the best place in the house for her to spend most of her time – somewhere she can easily get to the door leading to the garden and somewhere that her inevitable toileting mishaps won’t spoil the carpet.

We worked out where she would sleep at night-time. They are using a crate. Molly has never been all alone before and we want her to feel secure. It is a lot better to give a puppy company to start with and gradually wean her into independence, rather than to force her into hours of solitude, howling for company. This can easily then lead to panic whenever she is left alone.

From the start she needs to be shown that use of teeth and mouthing isn’t welcome, but in a fair and kind way that a puppy understands and without scolding. She needs to be gently discouraged from jumping up. She is already grabbing trousers and feet, so playing chase games will only encourage this. It’s important she’s not taught through play the very things they don’t want her to do.

I gave them tips I have gathered for successful toilet training including some that people don’t think of, like if the dog is always carried outside she will find it harder to learn to walk to the right place herself; like when praise is lavished on her for ‘going’, she might think this is for the act itself rather than for going outside.

It’s important to give her quiet times in their company without too much fussing and to take no notice of her sometimes so she learns independence and self-confidence; to teach her what behaviours are NOT wanted by showing her instead what IS wanted – ‘come away – good girl – do this instead’.

We discussed the best food for Molly. Cheap food is false economy. Her little body and bones will thrive best on good nutrition, and it can affect her behaviour as well.

Finally, the next few weeks are crucial for introducing her to people, children, cars, bikes, vacuum cleaners and so on in a careful way so that she grows up to be a confident dog. Her early experiences need to be positive ones. They should not let friends and family overwhelm her with lots of excited noise, too much picking up and especially teasing. They should keep calm, allow her to sniff them and explore them, and if they have to pick her up to do so gently. Don’t allow children to get too excited or noisy.

In a couple of weeks I shall be going again.

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