Q: I’m the proud mama of a 2-year-old schnauzer, and we’ve just welcomed a 6-month-old cocker spaniel into our home. She’s a beautiful pup, and is very loving and playful. She wasn’t properly taken care of at her previous home, and needs A LOT of work when it comes to potty training and walking on a leash. When we walk, she pulls non-stop, to the point where she chokes herself. How should I work with her to help her walk properly?
Most importantly though, she’s still peeing in the house quite a bit, and isn’t shy to do it in her own space. I take her out every 1.5 hours. We are crate training her, and she NEVER messes in the cage. Yet, she’ll pee on her doggy bed, and I’m ashamed to admit, on my bed, and then curl-up beside it. Is this a sign of devient behaviour? Or could it be a health problem? What should I do? Thanks for your help.
Thanks for writing in with some great questions! First off, I’d like to congratulate you and your family on your new addition! Getting a new puppy is always an exciting time! I’ve previously addressed both of these issues that you’re writing about, which you can find in my archives. I’ll gladly give you a quick overview again, hoping it helps!
It usually takes pups some time to become house trained, but if you stick to a strict schedule, and have routine feeding and watering times, then training a pup to go outdoors shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The trick is to never give the pup a chance to do her business in places that are unwanted. Pups should be fed at the same time(s) each day, and they shouldn’t be allowed to free feed.
If they don’t finish their meal within 10 minutes, then remove it from the floor. Within 5 minutes of eating, the pup should be taken outside. If she eliminates within 5 minutes, then she should be praised after she does her business, not during. (You don’t want to distract her while she’s going.) If she doesn’t go within those first 5 minutes, then bring her back inside, but keep her on a leash, or put her back into her crate. Wait another 5 – 10 minutes, and try taking her back out again. If she goes, praise her, and then stay outside, letting her sniff, or playing with her. If she doesn’t go potty, bring her back in and repeat until she has done her business.
Do not give her too much time on her own if she still goes in the house. Either crate her, or keep her on a leash with you, so that she is always under control, and not able to do her business in the house. The key here is to set your dog up to succeed, and by controlling her environment, you will control her and her behavior. Puppies can generally ‘hold it’ for one hour longer than how many months old they are. So if she is 6 months old, you can expect her to be able to ‘hold it’ for up to 7 hours. For all other times during the day, the pup should be taken out every few hours at least. Again follow the same routine. If she doesn’t go, then bring her back in. If she does go, then praise her, and play with her outside. Don’t bring her in as soon as she has done her potty, as you don’t want her to think, or to learn that going potty means back in the house time!
It is possible that she may have a medical condition, but seeing as I’m not a vet, I’d recommend taking her to see her vet, for a check up. From the sounds of it, you are doing the right thing, so perhaps it is something physical. Some female dogs can become incontinent once they are spayed. The dog may trickle some urine, or ‘leak’ while they are resting, or sleeping, and they are not aware of doing so. ( My 8 year old female has this problem, and she is on medication for it.) But you should check with your vet, just to be sure. If this is the case, it’s usually easy to treat.
Now for the pulling, it is pretty straight forward, and not that complicated, but it takes some serious dedication and patience on your part.
Most puppies don’t even need a leash until about 8 months of age, because all they want to do is to be around you, and they should follow you everywhere. But you need to keep in mind that dogs will always choose whatever option pays off best for them. So in her mind, pulling until she chokes is the most rewarding for her. Why, you may ask? Because she has learned that pulling gets her what she wants. It is a very self rewarding behavior for your puppy. So if she wants to go over there NOW, or wants to meet that other doggy NOW, or wants to sniff that flower NOW, then all she has to do is pull harder, and she knows that she’ll get to it sooner.
The key here is to not give in to her. Do not let her pull. As soon as she does, as soon as there is ANY tension on the leash, stop. You can either refuse to move, or you can even change direction. But do not let her move one foot forward if she pulls.
Do not chide her, don’t tell her NO, just don’t move. You will only be allowed to move forward if there is NO tension on the leash at all. That is the only time your pup will be able to move forward. And you will need to pay close attention to this, and to be super diligent about it as well. If you want, you can also bring somehigh value treats with you, and only treat her when she is walking lose leash with you. Praise her when she is doing what you want. Don’t say anything when she’s not doing what you want, rather stop all together. She will soon learn that it pays much better to walklose leash, because that gets her yummy treats!
You can also try using a head collar if like. This is a great way to control your dog’s movements, as when you control their heads, then you control their bodies. It can help teach her, but it will not train her. It’s more of a training tool, and one that I use.
Like I said, I have covered both of these topics in greater detail in previous posts, so feel free to check out the archived posts. If you’re patient, diligent and consistent, then you should be able to accomplish what you want.
Good luck and happy training!