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Potty Training and General Obedience

1037 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  AndrewF
So, have a few issues with our dogs and would love some input on what to do.


Preston (The definition of a Mutt)- He is probably about 4 years old. Got him from the local shelter. Currently he is semi potty trained, but destructive if left alone. We have a few toys and this helps, but he will chew on pretty much anything. He knows the command to sit, and I have almost got him on lay down and stay. All indoors, or on leash outside. Outside we can not let him off leash or he will run. Runs like a greyhound and can for awhile. Last time he got out he was gone for 2 days. Since the backyard has been escape-proofed and he can't run away any more.

Piper (Beagle and Bulldog Mix) - She is probably about 4 years as well. She was brought into the shelter while my wife worked there and wow has she come around. When we first got her she was scared, depressed and wouldn't even come near me in our backyard. We had to leave her in the backyard 90% of the time because at the time I worked from home and if she even heard my voice she would start shaking. Now shes happy, active, will lay with me in bed, and only slightly cautious around strangers. Her issues is potty training and destructive behavior. Much worse than Preston. She may only be 20" off the ground, but she can jump up on our counters like a cat. She also likes to escape the kennel they are currently in. To the point I had to buy clamps to lock around the bars, because she can unlock it and get out. Too smart for her own good. She does know how to sit, especially when the treats come out.

Holly (Vizsla Mix) - She is getting close to a year old. She was brought into the store my wife worked at and long story short, she was only 2-3 weeks old and would of died had she not taken her. We are looking for her forever home, and in the meantime she has gotten all of her shots, been spayed and socialized with dogs, cats and small animals. The issue we are having with her is potty training, destruction, and food aggressiveness. Bellow I will outline their diet, and current schedule. But, when its food time she will launch into her bowl hard. Like shes going after something she has to hunt. Always has. When she is done. she will immediately try to get to the other dogs food, so we now feed her in the kennel.

What I am seeking help in:

Potty Training - I saw there is a sticky for this topic, so I am going to read it. But, if there is anything specific I should be doing now, that would be helpful.

Destruction - How can I stop this behavior? Right now I use a spray bottle, or light pop on the nose. Not ever a hit, or beating, but a simple pop and a stern "No".

Food Aggression - I would understand this behavior if she was from a shelter or backyard breeder, but my wife literally bottle fed her from a puppy. How can I stop this behavior?

Daily Routine:

Right now they are kenneled the majority of the time they are inside. When I get up around 7 or so they are let outside to go to the bathroom, while I prep their breakfast. I'll post there diet below this. I let them stay outside for about 30 min, after I'm done prepping their food I go outside to play with them. Once back inside they eat, and drink then its back in the kennel. About every 2 hours I let them out to go play outside for about 20 min, use the bathroom, etc... Then back in the kennel. About 6pm I lewt them outside and make them dinner. They eat, drink and are typically out with the wife and I until about 8-9pm when they go outside for the final time and then its bed time. All 3 are crated together in an Extra Large kennel. We have separated them and given them there own individual space, but they whine all night. They all 3 do very well in the kennel. No fights, no nothing.

Diet - Currently they are on Abound, and if we where able to, they would get Fromm. Occasionally the shelter where my wife works gets holistic food they can not use, and she brings it home and we integrate it into there meals, but even then, its at a ration of less than 10%.

Morning - 1 cup dry food, 1/4 dry oatmeal (made with 1/2 water), 3 blueberries, scoop of peanut butter with multi vitamin in the scoop, and a squirt of salmon oil.

Dinner - 1 cup dry food with squirt of salmon oil.

Any recommendations are more than welcome!
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Welcome to Dog Forum. Sounds like you have a full house!

For potty training, the sticky will outline the basics - prevention, routine, and proper cleaning. :) If accidents are something new, you'll want to see a vet to rule out a medical issues such as a UTI. I saw that you said you "let them outside" to potty. You might want to start accompanying them to 1) ensure they actually go and 2) reinforce going in the right spot.

For destruction, prevention is key (again). Either crate / kennel the dog when you can't supervise or remove tempting items. When you can supervise, you can reinforce choices to play with appropriate toys. Punishment is unlikely to work as there are so many things you don't want the dogs to destroy that you'll spend your life punishing them. It's also possible that they won't fully understand why they're being punished.

You might review these threads, 4 quadrants of operant conditioning and Suppression, Modification, Shutdown, and Fallout

For resource guarding, it sounds as though it's just with other dogs?? If so, continue to feed in their kennels. If it's with people, see Resource Guarding, causes, prevention and modification

I am curious about why they are kenneled the majority of the time they are inside. And if they are kenneled so much, how do they have the opportunity to have potty accidents and destroy household items?

How much physical and mental exercise do they get? The destructive behavior could be a result of boredom. It sounds as though they have ample time outside, but just allowing them to run in the yard may not be sufficient for their needs. What do you mean by you and your wife play with them?

You might find the resources in the Training and Behavior Stickies section helpful.
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Hopefully I can address all your points with this response. Thanks for the response.

We just moved out a former friends house, and long story short on an extended weekend for the wife and I, they were to take care of the dogs, but failed to do so. We moved out and immediately took them to the vet, and they were cleared of any problems except for the expected dehydration and malnourishment. They have a follow up in 2 weeks, but all signs points to everything being ok. But, the potty training started since then. Obviously they eliminated in their kennel.

Destruction is being curbed based on kennel when we are not their and supervision while we are. Just seeing if there is anything else I can be doing.

Its not so much resource guarding, since she does not bark or get defensive when the other dogs get around her while eating, but more of an over zealous nature when food and/or treats are presented. All of my dogs will eat food, no matter if its feed time or not. I'm assuming this is an average behavior for dogs?

Right now they are kenneled a majority of the time, while I am home, for potty training reasons. We are currently in a rent home while our house is being built, and I don't want to ruin this persons carpet. I read a strategy to build up their bladder and control by keeping them kenneled and rewarding going to the bathroom outside. Slowly you let them out of the kennel more often and outside just as much and supposedly its to build up the bladder as well as teaching them the right place to eliminate. By now, they should of been out at all times, except when we are gone, but Holly and Piper have both escaped multiple times. It has been a few days, so starting tomorrow I am planning on keeping them out longer.

Outside consist mostly of just general play. No set routine. Preston loves to play fetch, Holly just likes to run as well as tug of war, and Piper is kinda like the old grandparent. Sometimes likes to play, but mostly just walks around. We try to take them to the dog park at least once a week, but at minimum of every other week and we stay until they are worn out. Inside I like to play "rough" with them. Ill get on the ground and roll around with them. I was worried about if they would still view me as the "pack leader", but so far, that has not been an issue.

I hadn't tried any mental games, and would definitely take some suggestions. I saw a video where a guy put some treats in a 2 liter bottle, and put a dowel rod through the middle. The dog would hit it, and as it spun a treat would fall out the top. Is that what you are talking about?
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If the behaviors are new since their experience with your friend and your moving to a new place, I'd say they are the result of stress and changes to their living conditions and routine. Once you get settled and back to a regular schedule, they may be fine as long as you continue careful supervision and management.

In general, dogs like food and will eat voraciously given the chance. Again, if enthusiasm has increased since their experience, it may be stress. If they are generally "grabby" with food and treats, you can play games like doggy zen or it's yer choice (both explained here, I believe Impulse Control and Calmness).

For both house training and reducing undesirable behaviors, supervision is key. They don't need to be kenneled necessarily, but actively watched and redirected when out. You might try teaching a positive interrupter.

I wouldn't worry about being a "pack leader." Domestic dogs don't form packs and they don't think you're one of them. Dominance in dogs

Mental games can be almost anything. They interactive toy you mentioned is good (I want one for my dogs). My dogs eat all their meals out of food-dispensing toys (bob-a-lot, tricky treat ball, kongs). It slows their eating and gives them something to do.

Training - even silly tricks - is good mental exercise for them, as is visiting new places. The youtube channel section in this post has good trick training resources: Web Resources

Hope that helps!
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