A Pair of Morkies in Westchester Learn to Calm Down and Potty Outside

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 21, 2016

Ziggy and Marley

Ziggy (left) is a four-year-old Morkie who lives in Westchester with a Morkie puppy named Marley. Their guardians scheduled a dog behavior training session with me to stop the pair’s over barking and excitement when guests arrive and get Marley to stop having accidents in the house.

When I arrived for the session, both dogs tried to jump up on me. When a dog does this when someone arrives, they are attempting to claim them or communicate that the dog is watching them. These are both actions that dogs engage in when they think they are in a position of authority.

When I disagreed with Marley for jumping up, his territorial bark got more intense. Ziggy just tried to ignore my rebuke. Time to start up another version of the Dog Gone Problems puppy classes.

Near the end of the initial greeting, I spotted an interaction with the dog’s guardian that could be somewhat related to their behavior.

When I sat down with the family to discuss what they wanted to accomplish int he session, I learned that the dogs didn’t have much structure in their lives. When a dog doesn’t have any real rules, it can get the impression that it is in a position of leadership. This leads many dogs to think they have the same authority as their humans. When this is the case, then listening to the human’s becomes optional.

But these dogs showed a few signs that indicated that they felt they had more authority than the humans. This was likely reinforced by the humans petting the dogs any time they asked for attention. Just like humans who are responsible for others, dogs can feel some stress if they feel its their job to look after the humans.

I knew I needed to show the family members how they can start to act like leaders in the dog’s eyes. Once the dogs identify as being in a follower position, they will stop feeling over stressed and start listening to the humans when they give them commands or corrections.

To help the dogs start to see and identify as followers, I suggested the family start practicing my Petting with a Purpose technique. If the humans can get into a habit of only petting the dog after it does something to “earn” its reward, they will help define a healthy leader follower dynamic each time they pet their dogs.

One of the main problems the guardian wanted to address in the session was Ziggy’s habit of going potty in the house. As we discussed how the dogs were potty trained, I discovered a few crucial things were skipped so I spent a few minutes going over my strategy on how to get a dog to be motivated to eliminate outside.

By eliminating the dog’s ability to go anywhere but outside, we can avoid accidents in the house while also getting the dog into a habit of going outside. For dogs, habit is very important. Once a dog does something a specific way enough times, they tend to continue doing so.

But one of the best puppy potty training secrets is to connect the act with some positive reinforcement and a command word. I explained how to do this in the next video.

Many people focus on punishing their dog for engaging in unwanted actions or behaviors. But the fact of the matter is its much more effective to focus on rewarding the dog when it does the right thing.

By blocking access to the house when it has a full bladder, we can remove the possibility of a mistake and put ourselves in a position to reward the dog for doing what we want them to do.

One of the puppy potty training tricks many people ask me about is how to get the dog to tell them when it has to go. I spent the next few minutes going over how they can teach their dog to ring a bell when it needs to potty.

It will take a week of accompanying the puppy EVERY TIME it goes potty before it starts to recognize the command word. Only after this is the case should the guardians move on to teaching the dog to ring the bell when it needs to potty.

We worked on a few other things in the session like how to disagree, how to enforce rules and even keeping the dogs a few feet away from the door when guests knock. Ziggy picked up on things a little quicker than Marley did, likely a result of his youth.

By the end of the session, both dogs were listening to their guardians commands and corrections, were already starting to follow the new rules and the guardians were communicating in ways the dog’s understood and respected.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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