Health and Behavioral Problem Discussions




Now You Can Have a Dream Dog!




In this section, Dr. Dare Miller answers our customers' letters.








Dear Dr. Dare:


Can you give me any pointers (not the dog kind) on what I can do about this dog we've got. She's an eight month old Collie now. We've tried everything to housebreak her but nothing helps. In fact, it's getting worse or more disagreeable anyway and I can't seem to fill her up either. This morning when I got up I went in my slippers to make coffee and before I knew it I had stepped right in it. A real load. I don't mind telling you it turned my stomach and it turned me off. I was so disheartened and all that I just left my slipper there and went back to bed. Later I heard my husband whipping the dog and rubbing her nose in it as he often does but as I've said nothing seems to work. What's wrong? There's got to be a better way.


Better way in Gateway, Col



Dear Better Way:


You sound as if you've had it. But hang in there I think I may know what's wrong. You've given me an important tip in your letter (that you "can't fill her up"). Owners often overlook or don't relate the amount of food and water to housetraining. You may be overfeeding your dog. When you exceed the rate of the dog's digestion with too much food her bowel movements increase and become looser and looser (undigested) and even if she tried she might not be able to hold it for the time required. More food contains more water too. The younger the dog the harder this is for her.


Here's what you do:(1) Cut down on the food each successive day until your dog's bowel movements are formed and firm. She really should not have more bowel movements than the number of feedings. Always feed her at the same exact time of the day. What goes in regularly is quite likely to come out regularly— so you'll soon know how she acts and just when she needs to relieve herself. Dogs, like human babies, are most likely to urinate and/or defecate right after eating, sleeping, and excitement. Knowing this, you're ready for (2) establishing a planned place for her to relieve herself. It is the easiest for a dog to learn this way since they can more quickly relate urge and purpose when thinking of a particular place. All that remains then is to (3) acquire enough control over your dog by teaching her to COME (using DOG-MASTER®), etc., so that you can eventually send her to that place when you think she may have to "go." Don't continue taking her or leading her there since she won't be learning by "going" there unless by herself. When she does relieve herself there, always praise her in THAT SPOT, don't wait until she's back inside. (4) It's a great help at first if you can consistently take her out the same door— the same route until she learns it. At the Canine Behavior Institute we discovered a phenomenon: that a dog's strong sense of direction under certain circumstances literally ruins housetraining. Often the dog quickly learns the place where she is to "go." But her sense of direction pulls her in a straight line and if there is a wall in between instead of a door she just relieves herself right there without further bother. To overcome this, simply "route her" by sending her or encouraging her to go ahead of you from that area upstairs or whatever back through the correct door to the right place when you're sure she has to "go."


The above is housetraining in a nutshell. It works in as short a time as two to three days when you first get the dog. Good luck, you'll make it even though you're a little late.





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