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Dog Aggression And Genetics Plus Housebreaking A Poodle

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Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2006 Time: 12:00 AM
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By Adam KatzDear Adam:

I purchased and read your book and it as helped me immensely in a number of areas.

[To read more about the book he's referring to, please see: http://www.dogproblems.com/newvideos.htm]

However there is one problem I am having with my 5 month-old Standard Poodle: I realize he is still a pup and I may be jumping the gun but I did want to check it out to make sure I am doing everything correctly. I realize dogs are different and go at their own pace, but this is unusual for me since normally I would have my dog housebroken by now. FYI he has responded well to the other training tips in your book and is well on his way to being a well trained dog. Thanks for your help.

From the day we brought him home at 9 weeks, we have been feeding him on a schedule and taking him out of the same door to his spot in a dog run. Our house has a doggie door that leads outside. Once outside we give him his command to eliminate- he goes and we praise him. He will consistently go out there once he is there and I am sure he knows this is his place to eliminate.

However he will not go outside on his own. He has had a couple accidents in the house- both when I was away and my daughter was watching him and I know that sets us back. However we have been consistent otherwise from July until now. Here are my questions:

1. How do we get him to go outside on his own? (when we take him out, he waits for us to go out first and will not go through the doggie door on his own)

[Adam responds]: Just be consistent. At 5 months of age, the dog is too young to expect him to start going out on his own. I take a dog out at regular intervals until he is at least 1 year-old.

2. How do we get him to go on command when we are outside?

[Adam responds]: Just like I mention in the book, repeat the phrase, "Get busy," every time you go out to the elimination area, and continue saying it, as he eliminates. However, the dog (obviously) is not a robot, so we cannot expect him to eliminate on command as such every time. The most important piece of the puzzle is that the dog receives a negative association every time he tries to eliminate in the house.

3. How do we get him to go on different surfaces?

[Adam replies]: I'm not sure why it would be so important to each the dog this, but you basically need to figure out when the dog needs to eliminate, and then take him to the area repeatedly until he does. But for housebreaking, I recommend you only use one area. Keep it simple for the dog: This is where I eliminate, and everywhere else, I don't. He'll figure out on his own, for example, when you travel... that it's okay to eliminate outside as long as it's on the grass.

4. How do you know when he is housebroken- just let him go and watch him? (I do not want to allow him another accident- that would set us back again)

[Adam responds]: Accidents don't set you back. They are just more learning experiences and opportunities for the dog. What sets you back is not attaching the desired association with said behavior.

5. Would electronic training collars be helpful or harmful in housebreaking?

[Adam replies]: Definitely not. You've got a puppy. He's still young. Be patient and be consistent.

Thanks again for your help and I will await your response.

Alfred

Dear Adam:

I know you probably get a ton of e-mails from people needing help but I hope you have time for this because I have tried to follow the videos and information as closely as possible to not ask a question you have already answered.

[To read more about the videos he's referring to, please see: http://www.dogproblems.com/newvideos.htm]

I have been working with my girlfriends 30lb mix bread female dog (2 1/2 years old) for about 4 months now. Gabby has problems with aggression towards people and other dogs. She can one minute be fine with a person and the next minute go crazy snarling and biting (but she has never actually got a hold of anyone).

The dog fights are the same one minute fine the next attacking but never really drawn blood. Some of these incidents might be attributed to situational things like food or toys but put in the same situation 10 times - the reaction may only happen 1 out of 10 and sometimes the reaction happens with nothing causing it that I can tell. There is plenty more as far as detail into these events that I can go into if you need it.

We have seen improvement since starting Gabby on the loose leash training and the down stay training. The structured discipline has helped as well as setting the tone for who is in charge. But sometimes I just feel like she is totally void of knowing what is going on - it's like a switch is flipped and no amount of correction can bring her out. In addition she never seems to relax - almost like she is always afraid or needs to know everything going on - hence we hardly ever get to relax.

Like I said I am seeing improvement but it is slow going 4 months now of strict discipline is wearing on everyone and the results aren't exactly as good as I hoped. I totally believe in your training methods - I'm not questioning that - but my question for you - is it possible to have a dog that can't be trained out of aggression or does it just take a really long time?

Thank you for any and all suggestions you might have.

Phil

Dear Phil:

Thank you for the e-mail.

First, I get the impression that you're letting this dog interact and play with other dogs. This is a big "no-no."

As for your question about aggression: With some dogs, aggression can be controlled but never eliminated. A lot also has to do with the temperament mix of owner and dog.

But there are always triggers.

For a dog like you've described, I would recommend using an electronic remote collar. The correction can be matched exactly to the dog's temperament, you don't need to be at all physical with the dog, and the texture/sensation of the correction tends to be more "strange" feeling to the dog--which creates a "break in her state." However, since it's an aggression issue--and sounds like a pretty serious one--I'm going to recommend that you work with a professional instead of trying to use the e-collar by yourself, as there is a greater possibility that you may be misreading the situation. (And I can't tell by e-mail). So, I'd prefer to error on the safe side and recommend professional supervision. Although it may take some searching to find someone who is competent.

Just remember: As long as the options for the dog are clear, the dog will not continue to do a behavior that has a negative association linked to it. When you teach her that it's a lot easier to stay calm and get the praise than it is to be aggressive and receive a negative association--you're on the path to recovery.

As for her never feeing relaxed: This is one of the problems with adopting a mix-breed from unknown genetic stock and unknown puppy imprinting. If she has poor nerves, you can use the obedience exercises to make her more tranquil, but you'll never overcome her genetics.

That's all for now, folks!
Adam
Dogproblems.com

About the Author

Adam G. Katz is the author of the book, "Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer: An Insider's Guide To The Most Jealously Guarded Dog Training Secrets In History." Get a free copy of his report "Games To Play With Your Dog" when you sign up for his free weekly dog training tips e-zine at: http://www.dogproblems.com Source: www.isnare.com


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