Steps to Prevent Excitement Urination

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Submitted by Amber Drake

Have you ever had a dog who was so ridiculously excited to see you (or someone else) when you walked in the door that she peed? Just walk in the door, look at your dog, and suddenly there’s a pile of pee you must clean up as soon as you get home.

Yeah? Us too.

And, so many other dog lovers have had this experience.

I had several clients who would pee every time their owners would walk in the door. They would just be that excited. They couldn’t wait for their best friend to walk through that door each day.

Don’t panic if your dog is one of those who pees when excited. We’ll talk about why this is and the steps you can take to get this behavior under control.

Excitement Urination: What is it?

Excitement urination (peeing when excited) usually happens during a greeting or playtime of some sort.

If your dog is peeing due to excitement, you won’t see any signs of submissive body language. She shouldn’t be looking at you with the ‘whale eye,’ a hunched back, tail between her legs, or display any other sign of submission.

Instead, your dog will be acting completely normal… other than being thrilled about the situation of course.

She won’t act scared, nervous, or frustrated.

She will just be happy. That’s all. And, while we’re on this subject, it’s nothing you should be scolding her for.

Excitement urination most commonly occurs in young dogs and puppies who don’t quite have control of their bladders. Don’t worry, most dogs get rid of this behavior with time (after one year of age).

In some cases, this behavior continues due to allowing it to be reinforced. For example, if you pet and talk to your dog in an excited manner while she’s excitement peeing, you’ll be letting her know all is well and be somewhat encouraging the behavior.

What Are the Recommendations?

First and foremost, as I always say, it’s important to visit your veterinarian. The behaviorist is step two in the process. It’s important to see your vet first so he or she can rule out any medical reasons for the behavior.

To avoid accidents, greeting or playing outdoors is recommended until the problem has been resolved.

Take walks often. Take long walks. Take short walks. Vary your routine. Make sure that bladder is empty as often as possible.

When your dog pees on walks, don’t forget to give praise and/or treats. Show him he’s doing a good job and you’re proud of him. He loves that. And, you’ll be making him more confident, too.

Keep your greeting on the ‘down-low.’ Don’t get overly excited or talk in an excited voice when you arrive home. You shouldn’t have any high-pitched ‘baby talk,’ hand-clapping, or hugging when you see your dog after you get done running errands. It doesn’t sound quite fair, but it’s important for your dog’s behavioral well-being (and for your sanity so you’re not cleaning up puddles all the time).

Once your dog calms down from the excitement of seeing you home, that’s when you can approach her and show her some love.

The last point, and the most important point, is not to punish your dog. Yes, I know I said this earlier in the article. But, it’s extremely important. And, I want you to know that punishment, even if you believe it works will damage the relationship you share with your dog. Your dog will have less trust in you. Your bond will be broken. And, that’s something you may never get back.

The Bottom Line on Excitement

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the situation, don’t feel bad for walking away for a few moments to take a breath. Calm down. Then return to the situation and think about what’s best.

Of course, if you’re feeling extremely frustrated, you may want to book a consult with a canine behaviorist.

Be patient. And remember, if your dog is under one year old, this is a behavior that could simply be due to her bladder not being ‘ready’ to hold much urine.

 

Jumping the Crate Training Hurdles

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Contributed by Amber Drake

Many of you likely cringe at the thought of crate training. And, it’s not because you are against crate training, but because you just aren’t sure how to get started. Or, maybe you just don’t get why crate training would help your new puppy.

At first glance, crate training (to most people) appears to extremely uncomfortable, and a bit like putting your new pup in puppy jail. Crates are so small, there’s not much space for our pups to move around. They can’t walk in there. So, why would it be comfortable for them? We sure wouldn’t be comfortable sleeping in a confined area.

Here’s the thing… there’s magic to the crate. That’s why it’s comfortable to our little pups. What’s the magic? Dogs, by instinct, search for cozy spaces to become their ‘den.’ Their dens are their safe spot; their place to escape the world.  Their crate is an area that’s 100% their own. 

Jumping the Crate Training Hurdles

Your puppy doesn’t look at the crate and automatically think, “yes, this is my spot.” Usually, they choose their own. Instead, we have picked her den for her.

At first glance, your puppy (or dog) might be a little afraid of the crate. Don’t panic. This reaction is completely normal. After your pup becomes accustomed to the crate, he will love his new, cozy sleeping space.

Of course, crate training isn’t a requirement for being a loving, responsible pet parent. But, it’s worth considering.

In addition to helping with potty training, crate training can help reduce separation anxiety. And, if your dog encounters a stressful situation, the crate allows her to escape to her own world which assists in preventing severe behavioral issues.

Make Crate Training Positive

Being certain to connect the crate to a positive ‘thing’ or experience is important. If your pup connects the crate with a treat, praise, and/or a toy, he will be more likely to want to go into the crate on his own.

Ensuring the connection is positive also increases the level of trust they have with you. They form a good emotional connection from this experience.

To make this experience positive, don’t immediately jump into locking your pup in her crate. Be sure he is properly (and slowly) introduced to the crate first. Keep the crate open and put your pup’s favorite treat as far back in the crate as it will go.

Keep the crate door open to begin. This part is important and must be emphasized.

After a few attempts, if your puppy appears to be comfortable walking in the crate on her own, you can now close the door. Only close the door for as long as it takes her to finish eating her treat (or chewing on her toy). Then, open the crate back up.

Gradually increase the amount of time your dog is in the crate. Leave the door closed for longer and longer periods… increasing only by a few minutes at a time.

What if my Dog is Still Uncomfortable?

What if the above step gets your pup somewhat comfortable… but she’s still not fully comfortable yet? Some dogs are perfectly content, and happy, with their crate using the above step. Others need more reassurance.

If your dog is one who isn’t comfortable yet, we move on to desensitizing your puppy. This process could take an additional few days, or another few weeks.

Continue the process above, but only keep the crate locked for 10 seconds at a time or so. Then, gradually increase only be 5-10 seconds each time and work your way up to minutes.

Do not leave your puppy in the crate alone until he’s fully comfortable. We don’t want him to be miserable in there. We want him to be comfortable and feel safe.

How Big Should the Crate Be?

This is one of the parts of the puzzle where dog lovers get frustrated. How big should the crate be? How do you know if it’s big enough? And, how do you know it’s not too small?

Your puppy (or dog) should be able to lie down, move around a bit to get comfortable, and turn around. The crate should not be big enough to have a ton of extra room.

Dogs don’t like to use the potty where they sleep (by instinct). If the crate is big enough to have ‘walking room’ or an extra little area that’s not taken up by anything, she is likely to use the potty in the crate. We don’t want that to happen. Part of the reason we crate train is to help with potty-training, right? So, that would defeat the purpose of the crate.

Just Some General Guidelines

There are some general guidelines I would like to share with you.

1.     Never leave your puppy in the crate by himself if he’s uncomfortable.

2.     Always leave something for your pup to do in the crate- treat, toy, puzzle, etc.

3.     Never leave your puppy in her crate longer than 2-3 hours… especially a young pup. Young puppies can’t hold their bladder. And, if they do, could end up developing a urinary tract infection.

4.     Always take your puppy (or dog) potty before she goes in her crate.

5.     Always exercise with your dog before he goes into his crate.

The Bottom Line on Crate Training

The most important ‘thing’ to remember about crate training is… make sure the crate is a positive experience and be patient. Patience, you will find, is key to nearly everything you do with your dog. Remember, the way we want them to act and what their instincts tell them is completely different.

 

 

4 Steps to Successful Leash-Walking

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Contributed by Amber Drake

There’s a common misconception that dogs automatically understand how to walk on a leash. But, this is a skill that needs to be learned by your dog. Dogs are not ‘natural leash walkers.’ Fortunately, this is a simple skill to teach in most cases.

The most effective way to train your dog to walk on a leash is step-by-step. Take small steps to acclimate your dog to this ‘unnatural’ behavior.

Step 1: Introducing the Collar and Leash

You should begin this process by allowing your dog to become familiar with the collar/harness and the leash. Place the collar or harness on your dog, then clip the leash to your dog’s collar, but don’t hold onto the leash.

Allow your dog to wear the collar and leash throughout the house while giving her treats. Using this step, your dog will associate the collar and leash with treats and happiness.

Step 2: Understanding the ‘Come’ Command

The next step is teaching the ‘come’ command. If he already knows the ‘come’ command, that’s perfect. We’re ahead of the game. If not, this is a skill that must be taught prior to walking on a leash outside (for safety precautions).

In this scenario, let’s say your dog already knows the command. Say ‘come’ and then reward your dog with a treat (with the collar and leash on).

While he’s still heading your way, begin walking backwards and provide the reward (treat, kibble) when he gets to you. If you have a puppy, this process will take more patience. Puppies have very short attention spans. But remember, patience is key.

Step 3: Practice Leash-Walking Inside

At this point in the process, your dog should understand how to come to you… and feel comfortable with the leash and collar on (from Steps 1 and 2). You can now practice walking on the leash in your home.

While you’re walking on the leash, reward your dog often. You may want to provide kibble in this step, so your dog doesn’t go over her treat limit. If you feed your dog too many treats, she could easily become obese. And, that leads to a range of other problems we simply don’t want.

Step 4: Let’s Go Outside

If your dog did well with steps 1-3, you can now go for a leash walk outside and test out her freshly-learned skills.

Don’t get upset if your dog struggles on her first few walks outside. Even though your dog has mastered steps 1-3, you may still face challenges in this step.

There will be all kinds of sounds, sights, and smells your dog may have never smelled before (especially if you have a puppy). And, if you have an adult dog, they may still smell, see, or hear things they haven’t heard before and want to explore just as much as a puppy.

At first, keep the walks short.

We know you want to go on long walks, but this takes time to master.

If your puppy or dog becomes distracted on your walk, re-direct his attention to you and continue walking.

What Should I Do?

There could be a few problems you run into. Don’t worry. Problems with leash-walking are common, and they’re generally easy to fix.

The first problem… what if my dog pulls on the leash? If your dog starts pulling, you should stand completely still and refuse to move until your dog comes back to you. You should never jerk the leash, or drag your dog, as these actions could severely hurt your dog.

Another note to add, if your dog is a puller, a front-hook harness or head halter is recommended as these are designed for dogs who pull on the leash.

The next common problem… what if she won’t stop barking? Some dogs have a barking issue when they’re going on their first walks. They aren’t sure what’s going on in the world surrounding them and may feel compelled to bark at the unknown (strangers, cats, other dogs, etc.). You can reduce this behavior by exercising with your dog before their walk.

Then, there’s the constant sniffing. Dogs want to smell everything. If your dog wants to stop at every step, you might be giving them ‘too much leash.’ Retractable leashes are not recommended for this reason… especially while training. Of course, there are times when it’s okay for your dog to sniff and explore. And, as your walk with your dog, she will learn when it’s appropriate and when it’s not.

The Bottom Line on Leash Walking

The most important thing to take out of this article is… be patient and understanding. Learning how to walk on a leash is a process for your dog. And, it’s not a natural behavior. Just like going ‘potty outside’ must be learned, leash walking is a process that we desire as humans that must be learned.

If you’re having a hard time getting your dog to walk on a leash properly, you should consult a Canine Behaviorist or Dog Trainer for additional tips.

6 Steps to Potty Training Your Puppy

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Contributed by Amber Drake

Young puppies have an extremely hard time holding their bladder and will need to relieve themselves frequently. Potty training isn’t an easy process, but with time and dedication, you’ll have a much easier time as your pup gets older.

Potty training should begin the moment you pick up your puppy. This will help her get on the right track, sooner. Although she may have accidents, she will begin to understand what is expected of her. And, this will mean less clean-up for you. In this article, we’ll go through the steps of potty training… the ‘do’s,’ and the ‘do not’s.’

Step 1: Praise Your Puppy Excessively

Being required to go potty in a designated area is new to any dog. A dog’s instincts don’t tell them they’re not permitted to use the bathroom inside the house. Their instincts tell them to find an area where they don’t sleep or eat, and use the bathroom there, whether inside or outside.

That’s why it’s so important to praise your dog excessively when he uses the potty outside. Your dog needs your feedback to be successful in potty training (and all other types of training). Be sure to praise your puppy immediately after they potty outside… or else they won’t know what you’re praising them for.

The praise can be in the form of an excited “yay, good job,” a yummy low-calorie treat or kibble, or both. Many dog lovers carry around a handful of kibble in their pockets out of their puppy’s daily portions.

Step 2: Utilize a Crate

There’s controversy in the dog world about using crates… some dog lovers want a crate and others feel it’s not necessary. But, the crate essentially becomes your dog’s ‘den’ or ‘safe space.’ The crate is also helpful because puppies don’t like to use the bathroom where they sleep.

The crate should have a soft layer of padding to it. A dog bed generally works just fine. The crate should be large enough for your puppy to stand up and move around, but not large enough for your pup to relieve himself and move to another spot to sleep.

You can also place toys in the crate with your puppy so they’re able to play if they get bored. Mental puzzle toys, and some type of chew toy, are usually best. The Kong toys work extremely well, they’re mentally stimulating, and puppies generally can’trip them to shreds. One of the biggest mistakes puppy parents make is grabbing a toy that looks neat, but their puppy shreds the toy into small pieces and end up swallowing parts of the toy. This could lead to a blockage… and we don’t want that to happen.

For this step, it’s critical to note that puppies should not stay in their crates for long periods of time. The crate should only be utilized when you’re not able to pay attention to your puppy. Then, once their potty trained, you can leave the door to their crate open so they’re able to freely enter and exit.

Step 3: No Punishments

Punishing your puppy for urinating or defecating on the floor can do more harm than good. By the time you find out your puppy has had an accident, your pup likely doesn’t remember what they did. And, even if you catch them in the act, punishing your puppy could permanently damage the bond and trust they have with you.

Staying calm when they have an accident is essential. You shouldn’t yell, chase, or smack your puppy. You also shouldn’t ‘rub his nose in it.’ Not only will you lose their trust, but they will associate going potty with punishment and may resort to using the bathroom in areas you won’t find.

Some dog lovers will argue, ‘but rubbing her nose in it works.’ And, yes… sometimes it does. But, you risk the bond you will have with her for the rest of her life by using punishment as a learning method.

Step 4: Show Her Where to Go

If you catch your puppy in the act, instead of punishing, try to re-direct her attention. You can re-direct her attention by saying “let’s go potty outside” or something similar. Then, immediately bring her outside to show her where it’s okay to use the bathroom. Then, once she uses the bathroom in your designed area, that’s when you can excessively praise her. She will connect the dots, and learn you are happy when she uses the bathroom in that particular area.

Step 5: Don’t Overuse Puppy Pads

You can, and should, have puppy pads in the house while you’re training your pup. But, you shouldn’t set them up in multiple areas around the house. This is confusing to a puppy, and they won’t understand why it’s not okay to use the bathroom in the house. They also may not be able to distinguish between a puppy pad and an area rug, or why she’s allowed to use the bathroom in some areas of the home but not others.

Step 6: Establish a Routine

Establishing a routine with any puppy or adult dog is critical. Dogs have a great sense of time, and if you have a set routine it will make potty training much easier. For example, if you always take her potty after she eats, she will understand after she eats she goes potty outside. This may take time- so don’t get upset if she doesn’t immediately understand the routine. Don’t worry- she will.

The Bottom Line on Potty Training

The most important step you should be aware of in this process is to always be positive with your puppy. Dogs and puppies are eager to please you. They want to make you happy as often as possible. Also, understand every dog is different, and some puppies may take longer than others to learn what’s expected of them.