You ask – we answer:
Q: We have a 6-month-old Springer Spaniel. He continually jumps on my wife and nibbles at her. What can we do to break the habit? She has tried turning the other way and ignoring him but it does not phase him.
A: Jumping up and mouthing are common problems in dogs. They usually begin when the dog is young, and then as the dog gets older, the habit becomes ingrained.
Dogs jump up because they learn it gets them attention. For most dogs, they prefer the negative attention of an owner scolding, then not having attention at all. For persistent jumpers, simply removing your attention by turning your back is not enough. Jumping up needs to be addressed in two ways: Firstly, you need to teach your dog a more appropriate way to ask for attention. This needs to be done when your dog is not jumping when your dog is calm.
Train yourself to require your dog to “Sit” each time you would like to pet it. Practice this hard! Don’t be tempted to sneak a pat or cuddle without asking your dog to “Sit” first. This exercise will start to teach your dog that sitting gets attention. If you are consistent with this exercise, you will start to notice your dog sitting in front of you when he wants attention. When this happens, you know you are making progress.
The second part of the training is practiced when the dog is jumping. When a dog is excited, he expels this energy through jumping. You cannot simply expect your dog to stop jumping without replacing the jumping with a more appropriate exercise to utilize this energy.
You need to highlight the negative behavior — the jumping — and replace it with a more appropriate exercise, the “Sit.” To highlight the negative behavior, the instant your dog begins to jump, fold your arms across your chest, make a loud “EGH, EGH” sound, and step gently into him.
The point of this exercise is NOT to flip your dog over onto his back, but rather to offset his balance so that he has to put his front feet back onto the ground to regain his balance. The second his feet touch the ground again, ask your dog to “Sit.” This may go on for a few minutes until your dog begins to understand he will only get petted when he is sitting. Expect this to take about 2 – 3 weeks of consistent practice before you see a noticeable difference.
The culmination of these two approaches will occur when your dog bounces over with excitement to greet you and, instead of jumping, proceeds to sit in front of you wiggling with anticipation. It is a very gratifying moment, and you need to praise your dog lavishly when he does this.
Good luck, they are not called “Springer” Spaniels for nothing.
Q: I have a miniature dachshund. She is two years old and still urinates and defecates in the house every now and then. Especially at night while we are sleeping.
We have made every effort to take her outside as much as we can and yet she still does this. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. PS: She knows she is doing wrong because when we find her accident she runs to get into her house.
A: The first thing you need to do is get her onto a feeding schedule. Dogs of her age should eat twice a day. Dogs should not be permitted to graze. Mealtimes should be 10 – 15 minutes long, and what your dog does not eat should be taken up until their next meal.
The reason you do this is to have a better idea of your dog’s potty schedule as well as to avoid developing a “picky eater.” Dogs also thrive on routine, so structured meal times will help create a routine for your dog.
Seeing that one of the more common times for her accidents is during the night, I would suggest feeding your dog her dinner earlier in the evening, around 4 or 5 pm. This will give her enough time to digest the food and go to the bathroom before bedtime.
I would also suggest removing her water for about 1 hour after she has eaten. It is also a good idea to confine your dog to her crate during the night. You may not have to do this forever, but while you are training her to hold it through the night, it is a good way to set her up for success.
Every time your dog has an accident without timely correction, you are allowing the bad behavior to be reinforced. Speaking of timely correction, you should never correct your dog after the fact of having a potty accident. Even though she may know she has done something wrong, she does not associate the “act of going potty” as the bad behavior, but rather the “finding of the accident” as the bad behavior.
The only time you should ever correct for potty accidents is if you catch her in the act. Even 2 seconds after the fact is too late. When you do find an accident after the fact, clean it up quietly without your dog seeing you no matter how mad or frustrated you are. You need to designate a very clear potty area in your yard. For a few weeks, you need to walk her on a leash to the same exact place in the yard for her to relieve herself. Make a potty schedule and keep it on the refrigerator. Write down each time she urinates and defecates on the schedule so that by the end of a week you know pretty accurately when she needs to go potty. This will help make sure she is on “empty” before bedtime.
With housebreaking accidents, most dogs choose to go to the same area of the house most times. If this is the case, I would suggest feeding her in the area where she has been having accidents. Dogs are clean animals and don’t want to potty where they eat. To make sure she doesn’t choose a new spot to go potty, once a day takes a handful of treats and walks around your house dropping treats on the floor for her to eat. This will help her claim ownership of the whole house as clean den space and not space to use to go potty. More than anything, you need to have patience. People don’t like to hear it, but the majority of house training accidents are human error. When your dog has an accident, don’t get mad at her, get mad at yourself for dropping the ball!