• Housetraining Your Dog

    House training
    As with most things in life, there are hard ways and there are easy ways to get things done. Punishing a puppy or dog for a mess that has already happened is the hard way. Using ample supervision and positive reinforcement is the easy way.  

    Designate a Spot 
    Designating an appropriate elimination area outdoors and accompanying your dog to this location until he associates this spot with eliminating is a good way to start training your puppy or dog. 
    The odor left from previous visits to that area will quickly mark it as the place for the pup to do his business. Praise and an occasional food reward also help encourage elimination in a desired area. 
    To avoid spending a lot of time waiting for your puppy to go potty, simply repeat a unique command as your puppy does his business, such as "hurry up" or "potty" in an upbeat tone of voice. After a few weeks, you will notice that when you say the command your puppy will begin pre-elimination sniffing, circling, then eliminate shortly after you give the command. 
    Another way to ensure success is to set up a schedule. Start by controlling your puppy's feeding schedule. Meal times should be consistent and arranged so that you will be available to let him out after eating. 
    To avoid messes while you are away, avoid giving your puppy a large meal prior to confinement. The last feeding of the day should be completed several hours before your puppy is confined for the night. 
    Still, controlling the feeding schedule is only one way to develop a reliable schedule for eliminating. 
    Similar scheduling considerations should be taken for exercise sessions, confinement periods, and trips outdoors to the elimination area. 
    Crate Training 
    Training a puppy to be comfortable in a crate is a popular way to provide safe confinement during house training. The majority of puppies will rapidly accept crate confinement when you make the introduction fun. Play with him there or spend some time reading or watching television nearby as he relaxes with a favorite chew toy. 
    Make training a game. Feed your puppy his dinner, one piece at a time, by tossing pieces of kibble into the crate for him to chase and eat. Store toys in the crate so he will enter on his own to play. You may even want to occasionally hide a biscuit in the crate. 
    When you do have to crate while you are away, make sure you don't use the crate for periods that exceed the length of time the pet can actually control the urge to urinate or defecate. 
    Expect Mistakes 
    Left on his own, the untrained puppy is very likely to make a mistake. Close supervision is very important to training. Do not consider your puppy house trained until he has gone at least four consecutive weeks without eliminating in the house. 
    For older dogs, this period should be even longer. Until then you puppy or dog should be constantly within your eyesight. Baby gates can be helpful to control movement throughout the house and to aid supervision. 
    When you are away from home, sleeping, or if you are just too busy to monitor your pet's activities, confine him to a small, safe area in the home. 
    Nervous Wetting 
    If your dog or puppy squats and urinates when he greets you, he may have a problem called submissive urination. Most young puppies will grow out of this behavior if you are calm, quiet, and avoid reaching toward the head during greetings. 
    Another helpful approach is to calmly ask your dog to sit for a tasty treat each time someone greets him. 
    What to Do (and What Not to Do) 
    It is a rare dog or puppy that can be house trained without making an occasional mess. You need to be ready to handle the inevitable problems. 
    Urine and fecal odor should be thoroughly removed to keep your dog from returning to areas of the home where he made a mess. Be sure to use a good commercial product manufactured specifically to clean up pet odors and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for usage. 
    Rooms in the home where your dog has had frequent mistakes should be closed for several months. He should only be allowed to enter when accompanied by a family member. 
    If you see your dog getting ready to mess in the house, interrupt your dog with a "Outside" and lead your dog to the appropriate spot. Just do not be too loud or your pet may learn to avoid eliminating in front of you, even outdoors. 
    Finally, don't rely on harsh punishment to correct mistakes. It usually doesn't work, and may delay training. 
    The basic principles of house training are pretty simple; but a fair amount of patience is required. The most challenging part is always keeping an eye on your dog or puppy. If you maintain control, take your dog outdoors frequently, and consistently praise the desirable behavior, soon you should have a house trained canine companion. 
    Keep these points in mind as you work with your pet: 
    Expect an occasional mess
    Invest in a good commercial product to clean up mess
    Restrict access to areas where messes have occurred
    Don't punish mistakes!
  • Feline House Soiling

    For the cat owner, it can be frustrating to live with a wonderful pet that can't seem to find her way to the litter box. There are many reasons why a cat might not use the litter box. Pinning down the exact cause is very important and may take some careful observation

    Possible explanations why your cat may be urinating outside the litter box include litter issues, territorial issues, anxiety, or medical reasons. 

    Litter Box Issues
    If your cat has recently begun urinating in inappropriate areas, begin by investigating the litter box. One of the most common reasons for house soiling is a dirty litter box. Cleaning the litter box more frequently or investing in more than one litter box, especially for multi-cat households, may solve the problem.

    Occasionally, some cats may prefer a different kind of litter. Try purchasing a second litter box and another type of litter. Offer both litter boxes to your cat for about a week and observe which is used more often. You may need to repeat this process a few times with several kinds of litter.

    It should be no surprise that cats prefer privacy when using their litter. Check to see if the litter box is in a high-traffic area. If it is, move it to a more secluded location.

    With any of these problems, it may help to retrain your cat. Begin by confining the cat to a small area, such as a bathroom, along with the litter box. Most cats seem to prefer eliminating in the box rather than soiling the floor. It is then a matter of confining your cat long enough for a consistent habit to become established.

    Only allow your cat out of the confined area when you can supervise him or her at all times. It may help for you to spend some time playing and interacting socially with your cat during this free time. After about one to four weeks, you can gradually allow more freedom to your cat under gradually relaxed supervision. 

    Territory and Anxiety
    Cats are territorial creatures and mark their territory with scent, most often with urine. Marking - also called spraying - may occur when your cat feels his or her territory is being invaded - If other pets in the household are contributing to the problem, separate them from your spraying cat or create a separate area for your spraying cat.

    When neighborhood cats visit - Discourage stray and neighbor cats from visiting your property by removing anything in the yard that might attract them, such as bird feeders, garbage, or food. When you cannot keep outdoor cats from visiting your property, take steps to prevent your cat from seeing them. Move furniture away from windows, close drapes, or modify windowsills so there is no room for your cat to perch and watch outdoors.

    It is also important to clean urine odor from around doors and windows, both inside and outside.

    Your cat becomes anxious - Cats also spray when they feel threatened by the arrival of a new pet or family member. Or maybe your cat is trying to tell you that he is upset by the absence of another pet or family member! If your male cat has not been neutered, consider having this done. Male cats may stop spraying following the surgery. For difficult cases, medication may be required to stop your cat from spraying. If you are having a tough time controlling the problem, consult your veterinarian. Medication may not work for every cat, but for some cats, it may be the only thing that does.

    Medical Issues
    Signs of medical issues include:

    An increase in the frequency of urination

    Voiding large volumes of urine

    Straining or discomfort when eliminating

    Blood in the urine

    Diarrhea or constipation

    If your cat is experiencing these signs, a visit to your veterinarian for a medical evaluation is very important. The doctor can perform tests to diagnose specific disorders and recommend specific treatments. Retraining your cat to use the litter box may also be necessary.

    What Can I Do?
    Removing the odor from the affected areas is important. Use a good commercial product that is specifically formulated to work on feline stool and urine odors. Most products need to make contact with the urine or stool. Use the product as directed in the manufacturer's instructions.

    Discourage a cat from returning to a common problem area with two-sided tape or aluminum foil. Cats generally don't like the feel of either on their feet and will avoid it. Or, place the litter box over the problem area. If it is in an undesirable location, gradually move it to another location after the cat becomes used to using the litter box.

    If you catch your cat eliminating in an inappropriate area, you may squirt her with a water gun or make a noise enough to distract her. Try not to let your cat know you are the source of the correction.

    What Not to Do
    Punishment is rarely effective and can actually make problems worse, especially if it is harsh or delayed. Under no circumstances should you swat or physically punish your cat. For example, rubbing your cat's nose in the soiled area is ineffective and can actually heighten the problem. Any rough handling of your cat followed by placement in the litter box may lead to a negative association with the litter box. By taking a calm, rational approach to uncovering the cause and treating the problem, your chances of success will be increased.


  • Problem Chewing

    Chewing: Puppies and Dogs
    Chewing is a normal behavior for puppies and dogs. They use their mouths for grasping food, gaining information about the environment, relieving boredom, and reducing tension. Chewing appears to be great fun. Chewing, however, becomes a major problem when valued objects are damaged. 

    Why Do Dogs Chew? 
    When you couple strong jaws with the curiosity and high energy of an exploring puppy, the result is an incredible chewing machine! The speed at which puppies can wreak havoc in a house, and the extent of the damage they can do, can really take you by surprise. 
    There are a variety of reasons why puppies chew. 
    Reasons to Chew 
    Noises behind a wall, such as a high-pitched heater motor or the scurrying footsteps of a mouse, might trigger investigative chewing.  A delay in feeding time may send a hungry dog off chewing into cabinets as he searches for food. Food spilled on a piece of furniture can cause a puppy to tear into it with his teeth in hopes of finding something tasty to eat. 
    Dogs make good pets because they have a very social nature and plenty of energy to share in activities with us. In return, we need to provide enough exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction for them to avoid destructive behavior. 
    A Puppy's World 
    Puppies usually pass time or break the boredom by using their mouths, which may result in destructive behavior. Household destruction occurs because puppies are simply entertaining themselves. Sometimes we unwittingly contribute to a puppy's problem by improper training. Puppies are unable to determine the difference between old shoes and new ones, or between stuffed toys and the corner of a stuffed couch.  Likewise, tug-of-war games can set up the puppy to fail. A puppy or dog entertained by tearing a towel is tempted to attack curtains fluttering in a breeze. 
    Can a Second Pet Help? 
    It is usually not the best course of action to get a second pet to help correct a chewing problem. In some cases, a second pet may serve to distract the destructive pet away from chewing, but it is just as likely that the problems could double, especially if the second pet is another puppy. 
    Chew On This... 
    The first step in correcting a chewing problem is to guide your puppy's chewing toward acceptable chew toys. 
    Choose a variety of good quality, safe products. When your puppy shows you what he likes, buy several more of the same type. Hollow rubber toys work well since biscuits can be wedged inside for your puppy to pry out. This gives him a job to do and helps keep his focus away from your possessions. Another way of keeping puppy focused on putting mouth on the toys is to each him to play fetch. 
    Never take proper chewing for granted. Take an active role in rewarding desirable chewing with lots of encouragement and praise. Give your pet plenty of praise every time he chews on his toys. Occasionally give a small reward such as a biscuit, to strongly reinforce the behavior. 
    Protect Your Possessions 
    Until you can trust your puppy, he must be under constant supervision or confined to a safe area. During times when he is with you, he might sneak off by himself to chew. Consider using a leash to keep him within eyesight. A crate, dog run, or safe room will keep him out of trouble when he cannot be watched. 
    What Not to Do 
    Corrections and reprimands are rarely effective by themselves. 
    Under no circumstances should your puppy be spanked, slapped, kicked, or physically punished in any way. There is a risk he will become hand shy or a fear-biter. Instead, offer a verbal reprimand followed by encouragement to chew on a proper chew toy. To be most effective, the reprimand must be given during or immediately after the misbehavior, and every time it occurs. Reprimands, however, can backfire by either teaching to dog to be sneaky about chewing, or by teaching him not to chew anything, even toys, in your presence.