Unsuccessful housetraining is a leading cause why dogs end up in shelters. House training is not an individual process, all dogs benefit from the same housetraining strategies. However, dogs may independently learn, depending on breed, size, early exposure to acceptable substrates and beginning at the breeding location. I am discussing training a new puppy, not training an adult dog with incomplete housetraining. However, the same strategies apply. If you have potty trained a child, you know, you need to be there during the early stages. Sometimes we are there to encourage, teach the location, patience and perhaps even model the behavior. During this process, the child had to learn to hold it or wait, at some point during the potty training.
This post is actually a sequel of sorts to Housetraining, using a signal to indicate need to eliminate. The main point is dogs have the cognitive ability using simple associative learning to learn to “hold it” given the opportunity to learn housetraining correctly. Keep in mind, since dogs, owners and environments where they live are not all the same, it may be necessary to adapt these basic ideas, to fit your personal lifestyle, rather than relying on some sort of standard procedure. The responsibilities for housetraining a dog can be overwhelming…especially when the dog’s owner is clueless or just plain LAZY. In this case, seriously, thinking about owning a dog should be considered, it is a long-term commitment, and the responsibilities of pet ownership should be given the same consideration as having and raising children. Considerations for owning and raising a new puppy Occasionally calls to board recently purchased puppies are received. The new owners failed to consider upcoming vacation plans, when they need to be home housetraining! It does not happen often, but it does, and caught off guard, I forget to quote double what I charge for boarding a housetrained dog. Why, I’m going to need to devote twice as much time and energy into taking care of an untrained puppy. This is just one of many considerations potential pet owners should consider before purchasing puppies. Consider what you and/or your families’ schedules and demands are for the next few weeks or months, before rushing into a decision that you will live with for 10-15 years; that is if the dog is provided patience and training preventing them from ending up in a shelter/rescue because you failed to train them properly!
Attention is considered the most basic form of behavior and “both classical and instrumental elements closely cooperate” mediating effective “perception and action” (Lindsay, 2000). In a broader view, “attentional activities specify a dog’s intentions, reveal a dog’s motivational state” and sometimes define what he is prepared to learn, thus “attentional activities” are said to “reflect a dog’s overall disposition to learn” (Lindsay, 2000). How we stimulate and control dog’s attentional behavior can have profound effect on training and behavior modification. Lindsay (2000) says “dogs pay attention to occurrences that are significant to them and learn to ignore occurrences that are irrelevant” and stimuli associated with pleasurable events or those associated with fearful events gain the most attention than other irrelevant stimuli.
The Role of Integrated Compliance and Obedience Training - In preventing and treating behavior problems The role of incorporating obedience training or “nonconfrontational compliance training” is commonly suggested in conjunction with treating dog aggression problems. One of the benefits, according to Tortora (1983) is dogs learn cooperative behavior provides safety. In addition, Clark and Boyer (1993), argue “…obedience training promotes a ‘feeling of security’ because “clear lines of communication and social boundaries” using reinforcement and deterrents effectively help establish better behavior. According to Blackshaw (1991), the use of obedience training produced a “…high success rate involving dominance and territorial aggression” using “proper restraint techniques” coupled with obedience training. Even researchers (Cameron, 1997:271) who “discount the preventative value” seem to agree, “…obedience training provides tools for owners to use in modifying pet behavior.” In addition, incorporating simple obedience skills such as sit and stay provide avenues for positive reinforcement facilitating “secondary control” over aggressive behavior (Voith, 1980 a; Uchida et al., 1997). In spite of the overwhelming support and apparent success, the incorporation of obedience and noncompliance training remains controversial. Even though literature suggests the “preventative value” of obedience training is unclear, many authors still insist obedience training does offer a preventative value (Lindsay, 2001). Scientists like Overall (1997) says, “…dogs require rules and need a rule-based social structure” allowing communication and cooperation between parties. Overall advocates a type of “compliance training” similar to Voith’s “nothing in life is free” and says her program “…provides a means for ‘preventing such problems and in treating all forms of behavior problems’ (Lindsay, 2001).
I found a website yesterday, specializing in dog boarding. What alarmed me was they stated, “our camp counselors” are, “certified in dog behavior.” When I inquired, which I did, I was told they go through an in-house training program lasting a couple of weeks or less! The problem I see with using the designation “certified in dog behavior” is, it makes the study of animal behavior, appear to be no more than friendly dog advice obtained from anyone, while marginalizing the very individuals who can and are educated to help the most. This is a disservice to the dog owner and the industry. This should be a concern for the public, as well as those who are degreed individuals, specializing in animal behavior. Aside from the obvious differences, between those who actually studied behavior at universities, there are some of us who have spent a great deal of time studying on our own, taking courses on-line and/or using qualified mentors, that may include veterinarians who themselves specialize in behavior. What I’m wondering, is will the careless and continued use, eventually inculcate the public, into thinking that understanding and treating behavior related problems, can be accomplished by anyone referring to themselves as a “behavior expert.” I can see it now; these “camp counselors” will be delivering advice on how to solve anxiety problems and aggression. This marginalizes those of us who are qualified, and it most definitely affects the welfare of dogs. The alternative is referring owners to qualified individuals who really can help Given the fact that most dogs end up in shelters because of behavior problems I view this as a serious problem for the public. If unqualified individuals continue providing uneducated advice, rather than referring dog owners to someone, who is qualified, through appropriate and acceptable training, we will continue to see more and more dogs in shelters. The alternative is our communities and dog related businesses, need to seek out qualified individuals and refer pet owners to them. In turn, these professional behavior consultants will utilize dog day cares, dog walkers, and other dog trainers if they fit into the behavior modification program, designed by the behavior consultant, and fitting that individual dogs needs. The needs of the family and dog must be addressed first; this means the behavior consultant identifies the underlying problem/conflict as defined by the family. This means bringing the family together in agreement how best to solve the problem, then putting together a plan that works for the entire family, to solve the problem and/or conflict, as well as making sure the dogs needs are met as well. A good place to find qualified behavior experts are these organizations, the International Association of Behavior Consultants http://www.iaabc.org , the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists http://www.veterinarybehaviorists.org/ , the Animal Behavior Society http://www.animalbehavior.org. When your business uses the right individuals, it creates a win-win situation for everyone, most of all you are ensuring the pet gets the best care possible. Much of the problem is there are no regulations in the dog training, or dog behavior industry, so businesses are not required to seek out professional behavior consultants. So those of us who specialize in the behavior industry need to educate businesses about these differences, otherwise, the continuing result will be, more and more dogs, will either be given up to shelters or euthanized out of frustration, and potential dog owners , will be less likely to purchase and/or adopt dogs in the future.
Coprophagia Coprophagia is classified as an appetitive problem and is considered so distasteful by many dog owners that in many of the more unresponsive cases euthanasia if frequently suggested especially when the “owners bond with their dog [is] irreparably damaged” (McKeown et. al.,1988) cites Lindsay (2002) who suggests this is a “rather extreme and questionable practice.” In spite of the distasteful connotations this repulsive behavior may cause dog owners; coprophagia is considered ‘normal” among puppies only representing small health risks (Hubbard, 1989) however, we can risk exposing puppies to “viral pathogens” such as parvovirus and “parasitic infections” that may be shed in other dogs feces (Lindsay, 2002). A study conducted by Baranyiova’ et al., (1999) using a 305 dog owner survey indicated “36%...ate feces” and found to be more common among female dogs (45%) with males representing only 30% cites Lindsay (2002). Unfortunately, dog owners are quick to punish this behavior in spite of more acceptable means such as training, management and in some cases adjustments to diet and exercise. Owners who are experiencing this problem should get a thorough veterinary examination to rule out any medical or dietary causes before implementing any behavioral training or modification. Coprophagia can be a serious problem due to associated health risks and its effect concerning the human-animal bond therefore, it is suggested by Lindsay (2002) that it not be “summarily dismissed as a normal” behavior or something the owner should “get over and learn to live with.”