Housetraining your Puppy

Housetraining your Puppy

The first thing everyone wants to know when acquiring a new puppy is how to housetrain him. Remember that consistency is definitely the key to success when housetraining. By following these easy steps, your puppy should be housetrained quickly:

Frequent toilet breaks: Take your pup outside to eliminate every 40 minutes, after naps, mealtimes and playtimes. First thing in the morning and late at night before bedtime is also a must.

Management: Don’t let your pup wander out of sight unless he’s just had a toilet break. Keep bedroom doors closed, and block access to other unsupervised areas. That makes the margin for error much smaller.


Watch your pup: If you see him circle or sniff around, or generally looking uncomfortable, take him outside immediately.

Reward: When you take your pup out, take a treat with you. You will have to reward correct toileting habits within a second of it happening so you’ll need the cookie there!

Cleaning up: Don’t use any product containing ammonia as this is a constituent of urine and your dog could mistake this as “just another toileting area”. Rather use dishwashing liquid, diluted in lukewarm water, which is sponged on and rinsed out repeatedly.

At night: either paper train your puppy, or alternatively take him out every four hours to eliminate. Remember, he won’t be able to hold his bladder all night yet!

Other bits: Don’t always carry him outside – he has to learn to walk outside all by himself. Choose the same area for toileting every time and take your pup to this spot every time. But: make sure that the area is easily accessible and nearby.

Punishment: NEVER EVER hit your puppy, or scold him for accidents. Punishing your pup will only harm your developing relationship and he will become scared to eliminate in front of you – which makes teaching him the correct place very difficult.

Your pup should quickly learn where he is supposed to eliminate during the day if you are consistent and he has access to outside, but bear in mind that it can take up to six months of age before your pup will be able to control his bladder for prolonged periods of time.



This post first appeared on Thinking Pets:

A touch of love (Ttouch)

A touch of love (Ttouch)

Hands-on Healing for the Animal Kingdom

By Catherine Gallegos (© Catherine Gallegos)

Our two new barn cats sat inside their oversize traveling crate, surveying the view of this next chapter in their lives. After a full day chasing mice and exploring the great outdoors of the ranch, they’d retreated back into the security of their “home” to rest.

Ashes already followed us around like a puppy and repeatedly flopped onto his back asking for belly rubs. His aptly-named twin sister, Majestic, remained aloof. In the interest of equal treatment, I reached into their crate and trailed my hand softly down her stiffened back before picking up their empty cat food bowl.

Just as I turned to walk away, Majestic attacked. She bit me hard on the back of my leg and leapt onto my back, sinking her claws and teeth deep into my skin before racing away to hide.

I was stunned. I didn’t know anything about cats, but I’d enjoyed training horses over the years, had cared for many other creatures and certainly thought I had a way with animals. Majestic had been vaccinated against rabies, so I assumed her aggression resulted from territory or distrust issues. But whatever the reason for her behaviour, it just wouldn’t do.

After cleaning and dressing my wounds, I web-surfed various problem-animal sites. Especially intriguing was the “Trust Touch” (TTouch) therapy and training work of Linda Tellington-Jones, practiced by more than 1,400 certified practitioners in 26 countries. As the website,, explained, TTouch treatments focus primarily on a series of clockwise circular motions of varying pressures, performed by pushing the skin with the fingers.

My interest piqued, I scheduled an appointment with the certified practitioner nearest my California home, Barbara Janelle in Santa Barbara. We would practice the basics on her cat-I wasn’t prepared to catch and transport Majestic. Janelle explained that aggressive behaviour is an instinctual response to fear, and that the TTouch technique rapidly eases fear, distress and pain. She assured me the technique would allow me to provide better care for all the animals I work with, aiding in their training, increasing their contentedness and confidence, and serving as a potentially life-saving method of calming an animal in an emergency.

A few days later, Janelle warmly greeted me at her door and ushered me into her living room. We sank into deep, soft chairs to discuss her long history working with animals, including the past 22 years teaching clinics and numerous seminars.

Janelle demonstrated several TTouch treatments on Magic, her 17-year-old black cat, including an “Ear TTouch” that would help me to relax Majestic. She explained that a cat’s ear contains 397 acupressure points that affect every major system in its little body. Janelle also demonstrated the “Clouded Leopard” TTouch, named for a Clouded Leopard at the Los Angeles Zoo whose aggressive behaviour was successfully treated with that particular therapy. I learned how to rest one hand “as light as a cloud” on Magic’s shoulder, curving my fingers slightly while placing the flat pads of my fingers on his skin, then pushing his skin in a circle rather than sliding or rubbing my fingers against it. Meanwhile, I supported the cat gently with my other hand, to help hold him still. Janelle reminded me to relax and keep breathing, pointing out that when I held my breath, so did Magic.

When Janelle recounted how she has also applied the technique to friends and associates with great results, I rolled up my sleeves to show her my rather severe case of poison oak. She walked to the kitchen and returned with clean towels, which she wrapped around my swollen and blistered arms. Working through the protective cloth, she began a series of barely perceptible “Raccoon TTouch” circles, using the very tips of her fingers and fingernails to push my skin gently, in clockwise circles, over and over again, moving slowly in rows up and back down my forearms. Within minutes my taut skin softened and the swelling began to decrease considerably, easing my pain and at least slightly soothing the intensity of the itch. Perhaps another type of massage would provide similar results. But whatever Janelle was doing sure seemed to work, and I liked it.

“We’re talking to the body,” Janelle explained, “saying, ‘Hey, let’s get your act together, start healing this area.’” She said that although formal studies on humans are still pending, decades ago-early on in the development of the TTouch technique-Tellington-Jones discovered that her method helped people in the same way that it seemed to benefit animals.

“We began to recognize we were working with the intelligence of cells,” Janelle explained, “and that this circular touch activates cellular memory, helping bring back normal function to damaged areas.”

In the weeks after Janelle’s demonstration, I devoured several of Tellington-Jones’ 13 books and began experimenting with TTouch on our cats, baby horse and my husband Victor (on a trip to the emergency room for stitches). I wasn’t sure if the circles themselves were responsible for the good feelings in our little family, or if it was just the extra love and attention. Perhaps all Majestic needed was to grow accustomed to us, but after a few TTouch sessions she quickly became as fun, trusting and playful as her brother.

As Tellington-Jones tells it, her work is largely informed by human-potential pioneer Moshe Feldenkrais. While attending a four-year course at his institute in San Francisco in the 1970s, “A statement made by Moshe Feldenkrais electrified me,” she says. “[He said] that by using non-habitual movements that would activate unused neural pathways to the brain, it is possible to improve learning potential.” Already an accomplished horse trainer, Tellington-Jones began applying Feldenkrais’ teachings to her trainees.

The book Man on His Nature, by British physician and Nobel Prize winner Sir Charles Sherrington, instigated Tellington-Jones’ next turning point. “Sherrington’s belief that ‘every cell in the body knows its function within the body and its function within the universe’ had a profound influence on me,” she says. “I began to see the body as a collection of cells and was struck with the idea that by touching the body gently I could allow the cells in my fingers to convey the message at the cellular level to ‘remember your perfection’ in order to activate the healing potential of the body.”

By adapting and applying the various techniques she learned, Tellington-Jones gained considerable notoriety within the equestrian world in the ’70s and early ’80s. Then, in 1983, while demonstrating on a cranky mare at a veterinary clinic, Tellington-Jones was struck with an intuitive impulse to begin pushing the mare’s skin in small circles-a departure from her more complex Feldenkrais-based approach. “When I saw the effects on this mare, I realized that there was something special in the circular movements that anyone could learn. I began experimenting with a variety of circular movements,” Tellington-Jones says. What has emerged over the ensuing decades she calls Trust Touch.

Dr. Stephanie Cote, a veterinarian in Ontario, Canada, incorporates TTouch into her work daily. “Especially in my job, where my patients are frequently scared and concerned about having something painful examined,” she explains, “I am constantly asking myself, ‘How can I make this easier for them?’ TTouch is always a part of the answer.”

Dr. Kerry Ridgway, a noted equine veterinarian based in Aiken, South Carolina, often recommends TTouch as a preventative or follow-up therapy to his clients. He contends that, “Love and caring expressed by touch and intent promotes a sense of well-being, stress diminishment, confidence and a diminishment of fear that set the stage for mind and body healing.” He adds that, “The results of Linda’s work cannot be placed in the mold of ‘evidence based medicine’ through double blind studies. However, like acupuncture, TTouch should be considered ‘proven to be effective’ based on the thousands of case studies and the empirical results that accompany them.”

Art Goodrich practiced TTouch at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, where he served as master zookeeper from 1973 until his retirement in 2000. He remains an avid proponent of TTouch today. “I have used TTouch on everything from aardvarks to zebras,” he says. “Giraffes especially enjoy the relaxing of the muscles and the relief of painful areas.” He says that all the animals he handled received a measure of TTouch, and, “They all loved it and wanted more.”

Now in her late 60s, Tellington-Jones says she is looking forward to the publication of her next book, this time focused on TTouch for humans.

“We don’t understand why TTouch works so effectively to reduce pain and fear,” Tellington-Jones says, “but the results have been so positive in hospitals and for individuals working on themselves.” She notes that TTouch is now included in coursework for a minor degree in Complementary Healing Modalities at the University of Minnesota.

When asked what brings the most meaning to her lifework, Tellington-Jones explains, “I feel like I’m an animal ambassador here to speak for the animals and remind their people of the many gifts our animals bring to us. Animals are often thought of as a part of our recreation, but for so many people, especially living in cities and disconnected from nature, I believe our animals play an important role as a means of re-creation, in a special way bringing us closer to nature and our Creator.”

Catherine Gallegos serves as editor-in-chief of (part of the National Geographic family), a retail site featuring the handmade creations of artisans worldwide.

This post first appeared on Thinking Pets:

Top Training Tip: Ankle Biting

Top Training Tip: Ankle Biting

I remember as a child visiting my best friend. They had a little dog who would welcome you into the house with a wagging tail, but the moment you tried to leave she would bite your ankles. It started out as nipping and eventually got so bad that she’d draw blood.

Ankle biting is not only annoying, it can become a serious problem if not addressed as soon as it starts. It can be especially scary for young children – who run and squeal, reinforcing the bad behaviour by turning it into a game of “chase the squeaky thing.”

Remember that a dog who bites ankles isn’t “naughty” and you should never use punishment to try and change this behaviour. Smacking, kicking or using aversives like spray bottles are likely to make the behaviour worse.

There is one strict rule about ankle biting: Do not wait until your dog is already attached to your ankle before reacting. 

If she is biting you a lot invest in a pair of wellington boots, because ankle biting is jolly sore and ideally what you want to do is ignore the behaviour, which is very difficult if it’s painful. Then when she bites she just gets the wellington and you can stand still and not react. If a behaviour is not reinforced the dog will stop doing it. Wellington boots are an absolute must for small children because one cannot expect them not to squeal and run if the dog catches them

Here are some steps to follow to get your dog to stop using your ankles as a chew toy:

  1. It is important to set your dog up for success, and you can do this by interrupting her before she even has a chance to nip or bite your ankles. As soon as you see your dog coming up behind you, immediately turn to face her.
  2. Now that you have interrupted the behaviour, you can redirect her attention to a more suitable object, such as a toy. 
  3. If your dog has been trained, you can ask her for a more acceptable behaviour, such as sit.  By doing this you are replacing the unwanted behaviour with something that is incompatible – she can’t bite your ankles while she is chewing a toy or sitting. 
  4. Build in an appropriate behaviour such as “approach à  sit”, meaning when your dog comes to you she knows she must sit.  The best way to do this is to call your dog to you, and when she is on her way, ask her to sit.  Immediately reward her with a yummy HIGH VALUE treat for sitting. Repeat this sequence over and over so that it becomes a habit.  (Note: your dog must already be trained to sit to do this).
  5. There is a big difference between you calling your dog to you and then asking her to sit while facing her and turning your back to the dog and walking away from her.  You need to work towards the latter where your dog automatically runs up to you and offers a sit, because running up to a human ALWAYS means “sit and get a reward” as opposed to “run à grab ankles à tug and chew”. 
  6. Initially, use high value treats to reinforce the sit.  Once the behaviour is established, you can phase out the food and use a reward such as a cuddle or a game, or anything your dog enjoys.
  7. Another great tool is distraction: scatter a handful of kibble around you so your dog is preoccupied with finding those while you take yourself out of harm’s way. 

If your dog has already attached herself to your ankle, stand completely still, she will in all likelihood look up to you to find out why you are not playing the game by moving, then if you have a toy to hand throw it for her, or else throw some food for her, or get someone else to call her – anything to make her move from your ankle. Make for the nearest door and close it between you and the dog.  She has to learn that this is an unacceptable behaviour, and that doing it results in loss of social contact with you. 

Never encourage your dog to play ankle biting games such as “tug on my jeans”, and don’t encourage her to play with your feet.  Grabbing onto pants is one of those behaviours that tend to be reinforcing regardless of what you are doing: even just by standing still and ignoring her, she is still getting to play the tug game!  

Don’t ever turn and shout or scream as this will just make it more fun for her; because then, when she bites you, you become a squeaky toy!

This post first appeared on COAPE:

The Intricacies of Animal Behaviour and Training

The Intricacies of Animal Behaviour and Training

Discussing various books and opinions as a guide for all dog owners

By Karin Landsberg (DipCABT (NOCN UK), CAPBT Practitioner, CertCAB)

The field of Behaviour is an interesting one, with never a dull moment.  Different opinions between trainers, behaviourists and other professionals can often make it hard for pet owners to choose which belief system they should subscribe to when it comes to what’s best for their pets.  There are so many conflicting opinions out there.  So to help our pet owners make educated decisions about which methods they choose to employ, we’re going to put as much information about modern pet behaviour and training out there as we can.  When we say modern, we don’t mean a new idea that is held by a handful of young upstarts – no, we mean modern scientifically proven facts about canine behaviour, researched by the leaders in the industry who are recognised across the world as ‘the people who know what they’re talking about’ – both practically and academically, applied daily by countless professionals and understood to be the most accurate and humane method of changing any problem behaviour in our companion animals.

This modern viewpoint encapsulates the understanding that dogs are not wolves, that they are emotionally capable of far more than just being either dominant or submissive, and it questions and confronts the reality that pack theory is a far too simplistic way to try and suppress behaviour.  It embraces their individuality and takes into consideration the fact that owners and their pets are unique, not just some pre-cast stereotypical alpha and beta characters constantly vying for a position of power.  It also doesn’t follow the old adage that “there are no problem pets, only problem people” – an outlook that places such reserve on owners to even acknowledge they may have a problem, in case they are immediately labelled as poor owners who caused issues in their pets which causes so many pet owners to rather either live with the problem in silence, or if the problem is serious may relinquish their dogs to shelters in the hope of the dog finding a more suitable home where the problem may not appear.

Behaviour problems are often the result of miscommunication, misunderstanding and inappropriate feedback. It doesn’t mean owners are always to blame – if you don’t know better, how can you be held responsible?  However, ‘finding out’ can be a tremendous task on its own.  Which normal pet owner has time today to read through volumes of material and then ponder the implications and repercussions of what is advocated?

I’m not going to lie to you – there are some extreme disagreements on what a dog is, how a dog should behave, what a dog is capable of, what the owners should do, and who knows what.  It’s easy to get bogged down in the details and get stuck in endless arguments about who is right.
That’s not what this is about – the underlying question, in fact, the ONLY question, is: which methods do you use to change what’s happening?  There at least, we seem to have mostly two methods being subscribed to.  Positive reinforcement training, or punishment/aversive training.  Do you want to use motivation to change what your dog is doing which will result in a stronger bond with a more willing and cooperative dog who isn’t scared of you? Bearing in mind that when using these methods it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake because you won’t do harm and you can try again, or do you want to use punishment and aversive methods which has a severe impact on your dog’s emotional state, his ability to learn and his relationship with you. Not to mention that using punishment and aversive techniques can do a lot of physical and emotional damage if you make a mistake – either you can hurt your dog, or you can get hurt if your dog acts in self defence against what is perceived as a hazard..

There are pros and cons to each technique, which is not surprising.  But before you decide on which method you choose to employ, be certain of both positives and negatives and make sure you understand what you’re doing.

Motivational methods

The biggest pro here is that anyone can do it without doing damage while training or doing behaviour modification with their dog, regardless of level of experience.  If you make a mistake, or your timing is off, you can always fix it and shape it into the desired behaviour, without making your dog scared of you or doing any physical damage.  It doesn’t mean you have to let your dog run amok and ignore you and basically do whatever he wants – far from it! It just means that you put boundaries in place about his behaviour and you enforce those boundaries without the use of physical punishment or argument.  You give feedback on what you like and when the dog does something you don’t want, you correct him by providing a consequence he doesn’t like, for instance a time-out. It means you don’t grab him, choke him until he turns blue, you don’t pin him to the ground until he loses control of his bladder or scare him so badly that he has to resort to biting you to keep you away from him.

The downside of the motivational methods is that it takes time.  There is no instant cure, no immediate effect that looks glamorous and it requires patience.  It does, however, mean that you can create an environment that is conducive to your dog learning something and that the learning lasts a lot longer than when you use aversive methods.

Aversive methods

The biggest draw-card for owners about aversive behaviour modification and training is that it appears to produce instant results.  Which, to a certain extent, it does – if you punish or frighten any dog badly enough, he will do one of two things – he’ll either suppress his behaviour (temporarily) or he’ll engage a hazard avoidance strategy (fight/aggression).  The problem with suppressing behaviour is that it is often like putting a pressure cooker on the stove and leaving that pressure to build and build – at some point it’s going to explode and then you have soup all over the ceiling.  Using aversive methods means applying pressure, constantly.  The catch of course is that you have to keep increasing the pressure, since the dog will habituate to the level that’s being used.
It causes great stress and stress inhibits learning. It means that while it may yield ‘instant wow results’, it’s only going to work until something gives. That something is either the owners or the dog. And when it does, you end up with an even bigger problem.

Are there dogs whose behaviour can be altered by the use of physical punishment? Well, yes.  The question is, is it humane and what is it doing to the dog?  Using aversive methods can be dangerous. It’s all good and fine for an experienced person to come in and ‘dominate’ your dog, but can YOU do it, just as well? It’s easy to come into someone’s house and be horrible to their dog. The dog will respond to that –he has no history or relationship with this new person and will try to escape or avoid this hazard. He doesn’t know what this person will do, so it’s easier for him to learn new responses that will stop the threat.  He has a relationship with you. He knows how you respond; he knows what you do when he growls at you.  This means he’ll behave differently with you when you try to do it.  And the results will be different.

Behaviour modification can be done using only motivation. It is remarkably effective for just about everything, including aggression and rehabilitation of difficult or dangerous dogs, as proven by Best Friends in America. This organisation focuses on rehabilitating pit bulls used for fighting. They are successful without being unpleasant with the dogs – there is just no need for it plus the risk of getting badly hurt while trying to physically force a pit bull to comply is too high.  Consider this. There’s a reason marine parks use motivational training when training large marine mammals… you can’t put a choke chain on a killer whale or a dolphin and MAKE it do anything.  So why should we use choke chains on dogs just because they’re smaller? It’s unnecessary and nothing but bullying.

So, back to the different behaviourists and experts and their stance on behaviour modification.  As I mentioned, there are countless professionals who are leaders in the field internationally who are very outspoken against old fashioned pack theory implementation when addressing behaviour and training problems. The list is quite long and actually quite impressive.

It includes people like Jean Donaldson, James O’Heare, Professor Raymond Coppinger, Professor Peter Neville, Barry Eaton, Karen Pryor, James Serpell, Dr Ian Dunbar, and associations the world over, including COAPE (Centre Of applied Pet  Ethology), the CAPBT (COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers), the American Humane Association (AHA), the Association of Pet Behaviour Councellors (APBC), the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB,) the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior… the list is endless. These people all speak out against the use of out-dated pack theory in behaviour modification. They (as do many others in the world) believe that you don’t have to dominate or abuse your dog into submission. You can use positive, modern methods that won’t damage you and your dog’s relationship.

The information is out there. The books that should be on every dog owner’s shelf include:

*Karen Pryor: Don’t shoot the dog.

* Jean Donaldson: The Culture clash.

* Barry Eaton: Dominance, fact or Fiction.

* Professor Coppinger: Dogs: a startling new understanding of Canine Origin and Behaviour.

*Burch and Bailey: How dogs learn.

Over the next few months we’ll do reviews on various books out there.  We believe in education as a way to prevent problems, and we also hold true the belief that it is every professional’s responsibility to their clients to continue their education on an on-going basis, instead of blindly subscribing to what is being put in front of them.  The information is available; all it takes is a bit of time to read it and an open mind. Keep an eye on our website for more!

This post first appeared on Thinking Pets: