Reducing Excitement and Adding Some Structure to Help This Tro Learn to Behave

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 10, 2015

Delta, Rio and Jenkins 1

For this session I worked with an unusual collection of dogs; Delta, Rio and Jenkins (clockwise from left). Their guardian called me specifically to work with Rio’s potty issues, but once we started the session, it was clear all the dogs had some issues.

All three got over excited when I arrived for the session and showed little self control, barking, running around and jumping up on me. It took me a minute to get them to settle down before I was able to discuss what their guardians wanted out of the session.

Their guardian pointed to a home-made door opening that allowed the dog to go in or out whenever they want. While a dog door is an amazing thing to have with trained dogs, it can really increase the length and difficulty of potty training. Potty training is all about supervision, association and positive reinforcement.

Someone needs to monitor your puppy every time it goes outside to potty so that you can repeat the command word “potty” while the dog is eliminating. Once it finishes, immediately call the dog over and pet and reward the dog while repeating the command word for a 30-60 seconds. By consistently doing this every bowel movement for a week, the dog will associate the potty word with the act with the reward.

Because Rio was able to let himself in or out, there were multiple times he was eliminating outside without any reward. Dogs don’t potty inside because they prefer it, its because they don’t know any better. Rio just hadn’t gotten the message.

I suggested they close down the dog door for a week for Rio. Instead I suggested that she take him outside in the morning and give him five minutes to potty. Many people think the amount of time a dog is outside correlates to potty training. But in most cases, if a dog doesnt go within five minutes, he isn’t going to go any time soon.

Once the five minutes were over and the dog hadn’t eliminated, I told his guardian to bring him back inside and keep him on the leash tied to her belt on in his kennel for 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes are up, give the dog another five minute opportunity to potty. Keep repeating this process until the dog potty’s outside. Once it does, it will be important to lavish a lot of attention and a positive reward on Rio to communicate how good it is to potty outside.

While the potty training issue was the primary reason for the appointment, it was clear all the dogs had some issues. Their guardian couldn’t really come up with many rules or boundaries the dogs were expected to follow. When you have three or more dogs, rules, structure and discipline become very important. I suggested some rules, new communication methods and structure the family can adopt to help the dogs learn to settle down and respect them.

To eliminate the overexcited jump around greeting when guests arrive, I showed their guardian how to claim the area around the front door. To practice, I had one of the family members go outside and pretend to be a guest knocking and ringing the doorbell.

The first time she knocked, the dogs excitedly rushed the door barking and going a little nuts. I demonstrated how to get the dogs to back away form the door and communicate that they needed to stay behind an imaginary seven foot boundary. It only took a few corrections before the dogs understood what I was asking.

I had the person repeat the door knocking exercise, but this time the dog’s guardian answered the door. It only took her a few corrections before the dogs either walked away or calmly sat down behind the new boundary.

Delta, Rio and Jenkins 2

Its going to take some practice and regular enforcement of the new rules and structure before these new behaviors become a habit. Intense observance of them and consistent follow through for the next few weeks will make all the difference for these dog’s rehabilitation.

By the end of the session, the dogs were noticeably calmer, were immediately following commands and showing self restraint in observing the new rules and communication methods the family had adopted. Because the dogs and guardians picked things up so quickly, I’m optimistic that these unwanted potty and excited behavior problems will soon be a thing of the past.

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