Helping Stop Accidents and Overexcitement in the House

By: David Codr

Published Date: September 11, 2014

Charles ShawCharles Shaw is a 11 month old Havanese / Shih Tzu mix. His owners called me for help with his reluctance to pee anywhere but on a walk and accidents in the house when he doesn’t get a walk.

It took me all of 5 seconds to see that overexcitement was the biggest problem this dog had. He bolted around the room barely touching the floor, jumped up and off the couch faster than you can say … couch. He stuck the top half of his body into my bag to investigate, jumped up on me and then repeated the process.

I asked his owners what they did to correct him when he engaged in this behavior and they said he was so fast and nimble it was extremely difficult to catch him once he got all revved up.

I called him over with a hand motion that communicated I had a treat for him, then moved my hand to put him into a sit position. As soon as he did, I attached a leash to his collar then stood on it about a foot away from his head. I don’t think he realized he was restricted at first, but once he did, he pulled for a minute or two then sat down. When he sat down the leash got taut so I slid the foot standing on the leash over towards him to take the tension off the leash. A minute later he laid down on the floor and was completely calm. Once this was the case I slowly picked my foot up off the leash. A minute later he got up and walked away in a nice calm manner dragging the leash.

I suggested that Charles’ owners repeat this process every time his energy level passes the midway point but only leave the leash attached while they are supervising him to ensure he doesn’t get hung up or injured. Its much easier to get a dog to calm down when you catch it before it gets all worked up. By consistently interrupting Charles and incorporating the consequence of the leash time out when he gets over excited, his owners can help him learn to stay calm.

Next I asked his owners how they fed him, and as I suspected, they were free feeding the dog. Not only does this cause many dogs to develop eating issues, the inconsistency of the food intake means that the food comes out the other end at random times.

I showed them a new way of feeding Charles. I had them put food into his bowl, but not allow him to eat of come close to his bowl until they gave him permission. As soon as the food came out, Charles started to come into the kitchen until I used my movement and body language to communicate the boundary I wanted him to respect. I coached him owners through this technique until they were getting the same results.

Once he was respecting their boundary, I had them snack on a few chips in front of Charles. In a pack setting, dogs eat in the order of their rank amongst their peers. By eating in front of Charles and controlling when he has permission to eat his food, he will identify his owners as being in a position of authority. This will help when they want to correct or disagree with him in the future.

To stop his accidents in the house, I suggested a more structured walk until the problem is corrected. BY a structured walk, I mean no sniffing, staying in a heel position and no peeing. For a male dog, peeing on the walk can be more of a way to mark territory. When this is the case, the dog isn’t walking with you, you are tagging along with them as they attempt to claim or at least mark their territory.

Not allowing Charles to eliminate on the walk will help motivate him to do so when he gets home. To that end I suggested that they take him for a walk first thing in the AM and only give him access to urinate after the walk while he is in the yard while they watch him. If he doesn’t go in 5 minutes, they need to bring him back in and keep him on a leash in their presence for 10-15 minutes. This removes his ability to find a secluded part of the house to do his business in.

After 15 minutes, they should take him out into the yard for another chance at doing some business. If he doesnt go after another five minutes, I told them to repeat the process and keep doing so until he goes outside. When he does, I suggested that they repeat a command word such as “potty” to help tie the action with the command word.

It will take a week or so of structured walks, supervision and 5 minutes out / 15 minutes inside on a leash, but once Charles gets into a habit of eliminating outside, the accidents in the house should stop completely.


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This post was written by: David Codr

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