You Called Me? A Different Perspective

Uh-oh, Your dog won’t come when called…  A Different Perspective.

Your dog isn’t exactly Lassie, and can be a stubborn SOB when you’re in a hurry.  We’ve seen it, we’ve fixed it. (Although it can be tricky if they’ve been outsmarting your for far too long.) If you’re really stuck, we can help with recall and all those other things… but first, let me explain it from a slightly different perspective, Recall from the dogs’ point of view. Sometimes changing YOUR perspective is what needs to be done.

Let’s start with the basics:  How do you call your dog?

What tone of voice do you use to call the dog?

Shiba Inu Samurai

Samurai shows his tree climbing skills and a bit of attitude

  • Are you happy?
  • Are you gruff?
  • Is there a chance that the dog might get to go and do something really fun if he complies?
  • What is in it for the dog if he comes to you?
  • Does play time end?

Usually by making one or two simple adjustments to your routine, you can fix the problem. Dogs aren’t robots… They’re thinking creatures with hopes and desires, just like YOU.  If your dog comes some of the time or to another family member all of the time;  He knows what is wanted and expected of him. He is simply choosing NOT to do it. We see this all the time.

Typically the dog wants to please us.  Loves the sound of his human’s voice, but over time, being inconsistent, not thinking it through, and via busy lifestyles, we have “Broken” the “Here” command.  As a Nation, we have a very nasty habit of training our dogs,  not to come to us when called.  Sometimes we’re in a hurry. Other times we are angry at something else and use the wrong,  “tense and scary,” tone of voice, or we don’t take 4 or 5 minutes to play with the dog when they do willingly, immediately and happily, come when called.  That’s a blatant, 6th Letter of the Alphabet, screw up.  You pay your contractor to work for you, therefore, you MUST, reward your dog when he works for you too.

I have a hunch that if you think about what I’ve just told you, you can probably fix the recall issue all by yourself.  But just in case you still don’t understand… Read on.  The next paragraph has been an epiphany for Dozens of training clients.

Think about how you feel when your boss is all gruff and calls you into his office. You don’t want to even be near him.  Stress is radiating off of him like radiation from cans of Fukashima Tuna.

Change of pace now:  Annual reviews are up.  you’ve busted your toushie all year long and deserve a honking, big raise. Think about how you feel when it’s review time and the boss is smiling when he calls you into his office.

The reward doesn’t have to be anything more than spending a few minutes throwing a ball or petting the dog, or giving a treat, taking the dog for a walk, or maybe just excitement in your voice… the dog needs to learn that coming to you is a good thing… and when he complies, good things happen! Try that on for a week and see if you have some changes.

If it’s still not working, we can schedule a free training consultation. Our board and train package for one week, one dog runs $800. We typically only take one dog per week, and we can’t tell how much time & effort it will take without meeting the dogs.

Please remember, always vary the reward schedule. It’s far more exciting if he never knows exactly what he’s going to get. (Our attention is also currency that dogs will work very hard for…. so is praise.)

Dog training is not rocket science. It’s building a life long friendship with your dogs. We build trust through communication. Reward the behaviors you want to see repeated and ignore or redirect the ones you don’t like.

An example: if your dog tends to jump on household visitors: Rather than let the dogs jump up, we would train an alternate behavior like sit, or go to your place… but there has to be a reward for compliance… and don’t forget to be happy… dogs love it when we smile.

Hoping this helps to solve a lot of issues  and help a lot of dogs and their people, learn to trust one another a little bit more, even when they’re stressed out or simply in a hurry…

So long for now,

The Alpha Dog’s wife.

Posted in Adventure Dog Ranch, Canine Training, dog behavior, Dog Behavior, Dog Training, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CBD, Seizures and The Dogs We Love!

I received the following link via email this week.

I have several canine clients that visit us periodically that suffer from seizure disorders.  They’re treated with very heavy, barbiturate, anti-seizure drugs like: Phenobarbital.  I’m wary of that treatment long term.


Java on a short vacation with the family a few years before the cancer came back

I do know that I was able to keep my dog, Java, alive, for an extra half-decade via using Full Extract Cannabis Oil as a treatment to stave off her cancer. Once I ended the treatment due to her Laryngeal Paralysis, her cancer attacked with a vengeance.

I’m hoping that perhaps this would be a symbiotic treatment to other dogs with seizure disorders or other ailments.  I wouldn’t hesitate to try it.

Read on and let me know what you think.

CBD for Pets

Posted in Adventure Dog Ranch, Canine Health, Danger to dogs, Dangers to dogs, Saying Goodbye to a pet, Separation Anxiety, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where the Bleep have I been?

Obviously, I’ve been gone for a while.  Mr. Alpha Dog and I have had a rough patch, having to say goodbye to all three of our beloved pooches in under a year and I’m still terribly heartbroken.

Java and Maxshadow

Java and Maxshadow several years ago

The ancient one, Maxshadow, was old; Really old. I believe he had some kind of mini-stroke that February morning, as he was very wobbly.  He was also 19 years old.  Ancient for a 55 lb. Lab mix.  He slipped on the ice that week and had taken a hard fall.

After 3 days of carrying him outside and supporting him so that he could do his business, we made the tough but necessary decision to put him down.  He had been losing weight, had a tumor growing in his mouth and frankly had gone pretty darned far down the rabbit hole, into senility. We had been expecting him to pass for a couple of years, but taking after his human momma, he was too stubborn to go on his own. I held him tightly, while muttering happy things into his deaf ears, as he left this realm, with help from the local veterinarian. I had no idea that he would be only the first in a miserable “Trifecta” of loss.

High Octane Java went next, 6 months later.  I knew she was going down hill quickly.  She’d lost her endurance, her zest for life was only in spurts and eventually, she simply quit eating and drinking.  I force-fed her watered-down chicken broth via a pipette and rushed her to the veterinarian who had diagnosed her with cancerous mammary tumors, ( surgically removed,) 5 years before.  I had refused Chemotherapy and other options at that time.  I watched both my mother and my sister succumb to the agony of cancer “treatments.”  I would not put my dog through that misery.  Instead, I went with full extract cannabis oil.  (I never mentioned that here as it wasn’t exactly legal in Washington State at that time.) I credit that treatment with 5 extra, good years with my Java and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. (FECO is now legal in Washington.) The vet found a mass in her abdomen, so we tried a last ditch exploratory surgery. He found her spleen enlarged to 10 times normal size and her liver riddled with tumors.  10 days later, I sang her the dumb little ditty I always sang to her, as she took her last breath.

Not even 2 months later, Dakota, our 14 year old Samoyed started having nose bleeds, his behavior became erratic, x-rays showed a large mass in his head. By January, it was his turn for the veterinarians needle.

It’s been almost 17 months since Dakota went to that dog park in the sky and Steve and I remain dog-less. We both needed time to grieve the pets that had shared our lives for the last 20+ years.  In all honesty, I don’t recall ever feeling more lonely.

Dakota 1 month before the nosebleeds started


We’ve finally decided to get a puppy. (A decision that I haven’t taken lightly as for the first time in my life I have to consider that a dog I get now, may out-live me, morbid as that may seem.)  I’m still wondering if someone will show up at our door to give us a puppy, (which is how we came to have our first dog together, the infamous Starbuck. However, that tale is for another day.) Or if we’ll find the right dog at NOAH or on Petfinder…   I do have a backup list of breeders to consider.

1st step is to puppy-proof the house, a task that is taking far more time than anticipated.  Then again, I’ve been such a wreck, that this place is a total disaster area.

I do promise to tell you more stories of our lives together… Once the newest “Adventure Dog,” joins the pack.  We’re hoping to make the new addition around September, when the busy summer boarding season is over, however, the best laid plans….

I am praying for a new best friend and missing the ones that have gone before.

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The Commandments of Dog Training, Mrs. Alpha Dogs’ Version.

Commandment #1, Never train a dog when angry.

I shouldn’t even have to mention this here. It should be a given. It should be right up there with these other, “no-nonsense” rules, but some people still don’t “get it.”

  • Never hit your dog.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in a hot car.
  • Don’t forget about those other 10 Commandments, written by somebody else, millenia ago.  Most of those are worth reviewing too, even if it’s just to make certain you’re on the right track with the rest of your life.

Dogs have real feelings and emotions and they are far better at reading your emotions than most people I know  Even though I have never seen a Rottweiler with PMS, (and for that I am extremely grateful,) it doesn’t mean you can’t hurt their feelings. Their cognitive and emotional responses are nowhere near as developed as those that you and I share, but those emotions are still there and they play a huge role in how the dog will respond to you. A dog that loves and trusts is a lot easier to work with than a dog that fears you. Luckily, Dogs tend to forgive and forget a lot quicker than their human counterparts. Keeping this in mind, I spend a fair amount of time in my own head, getting out of my own way and getting grounded.

I use a combination of deep breathing and meditative techniques to eliminate stress and regain my focus. I have discovered over the years that dogs really respond better when I am “all there;” Focused, attentive,  in-tune with nature and the dog that I am working with. If I give the dog I’m working with 100% of my attention I rarely receive less in return.

I am only human and I do become angry and frustrated on occasion. When I do, I quickly excuse myself, take a break and spend some time rethinking my methods. If the dog isn’t getting it, it means that I haven’t done my job correctly. I need to adjust myself or try a different method to motivate the dog into responding, with the desired behavior. 


I will not apply corrections to an animal that doesn’t understand WHY it’s being corrected. I strive to make certain that the subject understands why corrections are applied and more importantly, how to make the corrections stop and what behaviors to avoid in the future.

Sometimes it’s simply break time. If you are uncertain in your methods, it is definitely time to take a break. It’s far better to err on the side of caution than
make a dog not trust you.

Commandment # 2: Mean what you say and always, follow through:

Be a leader. Your dog doesn’t want the responsibility of analyzing every potential threat. As the big dog, (the one with the higher brain function and the opposable thumb,) it is your responsibility to protect your dog; Not the other way around. Every minute that you are not actively training your dog, he is training you. Keep that in mind next time you tell Fido to sit and he looks at you as though you’ve lost your mind.

If this scenario sounds familiar it’s likely that you are a command repeater. You say sit. Your dog doesn’t even look towards your face, he simply ignores you. You say sit again. Maybe just a little bit louder this time. He actually favors you with a glance and cocks his head a little bit, but his butt doesn’t go anywhere near the floor. By the third time you give the command, you’ve started to get a little irritated and the 3rd time is the charm.

Do you know why your dog finally sat?

It’s because you began to sound angry. Your dog has likely learned over the time you’ve spent together, that the angrier you sound, the more likely he’s going to suffer consequences. (Maybe he’ll be grabbed by the collar and given a healthy little shake. Maybe he won’t get his Wednesday trip to the dog park like you promised.) The dog has learned that this is the right time to comply. If he doesn’t listen now he will be in trouble. Now there are consequences.

If you always repeat a command 3 or 4 times before your dog complies and actually performs the command, (which is usually after you get angry and he knows you are serious.) If you are doing this, you are actually training your dog NOT to comply the first time.

Keep in mind that One of the most basic principles of dog training is: If a behavior works for your dog, he will repeat that behavior. If it doesn’t work he will try something else.

DSCF0117Commandment #3: Be Consistent!

Consistency is key. How many times have you watched a frustrated dog owner repeat the same command 1/2 a dozen times, only to watch his dog pretend to be completely deaf? 

If you enforce the behavior the 1st time the command is given, the dog will quickly realize that it is much easier to comply than it is to ignore you. Do not give a command unless you are ready and able to enforce it.

Do: Use the same commands day after day. Don’t use “come” one day and “here” the next day. Over years you can get to that point, but if you’re reading this, chances are, you’re nowhere near the level in your relationship where you can change the verbiage and expect consistent results.

Do: Incorporate hand signals along with the command. When you’re certain your dog understands what that hand signal means, you can practice by whispering the command and displaying the hand signal. When compliance is automatic, try it without the verbal cue and keep practicing until you’re confident that your dog will respond in most environments. Trust me, hand signals are invaluable in many situations. For example: LOUD Environments, when you’re sneaking in, (or out,) after curfew or when you are separated by long distances from your dog.

Commandment #4: Pay for services rendered.

Make it worth their while: Attention, Affection, Food, & Play are all currencies your dog may be willing to work for.

Most of us don’t go to work simply because we love the work. Many of us can’t stand our bosses but we go to work anyway. Why? For the paycheck! Don’t forget this important part, pay up! Especially if your dog is new to the household, until that bond forms, and long afterwards, you need to find ways to make your dog feel, valued.

For many, a game of fetch, a pat on the head, a walk around the block are all great currencies. I’m not a big believer in doling out endless treats as if that’s how you show your love.  Too many treats and you’ll end up with an overweight pooch with bad shoulders / knees or other health issues like pancreatitis.  That being said, your undivided attention is probably the #1 thing your dog craves. Make certain they get some of it now and again.

Now this is the hard part: Don’t give your attention/affection away for free. Your Dog craves a job, a purpose, a way to earn their keep, this job with proper praise and attention rewards is a pathway to developing confidence and pride. (Especially important with a shy or skittish dog.  If you give everything away for free, these rewards will lose their value and your dog will begin to act and feel, entitled. This often leads to demanding behavior. Endless “demand” barking, bumping your arm while you’re eating, reading or trying to watch the playoff games on TV.  Demanding your attention and affection. (We all know dogs that do these behaviors.) Giving it away for free and /or giving in, is an easy way to ruin a good dog.

Dogs need to feel that work drive and the good feelings that go with success. Don’t take accomplishments away from your dog, pay for services rendered with your love, affection and give valued attention for a job well done!

That’s it for this time,

The Alpha Dogs wife signature




Posted in Adventure Dog Ranch, Canine Training, dog behavior, Dog Behavior, Dog Training, Obedience, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

RIP Gypsy. How De-Icing our roads, can kill our pets.

RIP Gypsy… You were a beautiful girl, who’s life ended far too soon. Due to indifference and lack of shared knowledge, you paid the ultimate price. I’m hoping this blog post will save dozens of dogs just like you..

Wake-up Call #1:

Never assume that Just because you don’t use nasty chemicals on your property, that those chemicals won’t flow down stream in to your mud puddles and streams. Just because you don’t use these poisons yourself, doesn’t mean that the State in which you reside or the County that you vote in and their overworked, Department of Transportation, won’t come by and poison your land, your pond, or your only beloved dog.



That’s exactly what happened to Gypsy. Some well meaning, DOT worker, De-Iced the road.  Gypsy paid the ultimate price and because Gypsy’s owners were not  home at the time the road was treated, they had no idea what Gypsy might have been exposed to.

This breaks my heart.

I had one of those, too close to process, events, with Java in December. Scared the holy S%@t  out of me.  I’m not ready to write about it yet. When I am, I’ll let you know and we’ll bawl our eyes out together.  I’m the lucky one.  My dog made it.  Gypsy didn’t.

Please don’t let your pet near chemical de-icer’s.   Chemical De-Icer’s are typically Propylene Glycol or Ethylene Glycol, based. (This is very similar to the chemical make-up if antifreeze, often having the sweet flavor that many dogs are drawn to.)

The other common versions of De-Icer’s consist of combinations of Rock Salt,  (NaCl,) Sodium Chloride or Magnesium Chloride, (MgCl2. )  All of which can cause irreversible, terminal, kidney damage if ingested by your BFF (Best Furry Friend.)

I am posting this today because I realize the disconnect in information here.  If I haven’t thought about the harm that could come to my dogs because the icy road was cleared, then who is advocating for the innocent dogs of the world? 

I’m not suggesting you boycott lifesaving, de-icing services provided by your State or County, but I am suggesting that you keep your dog away from those area’s, until well after those chemical de-icer’s have done their “thing,” and until all potential toxins have been cleaned up..

Chlorides can irritate paws causing redness, irritation, swelling and rashes.. Irritated paws get licked, if it lingers on the tongue, it’s heading for the bum. I suggest that you keep some baby wipes near the front door and  wipe your dog’s paws nightly, especially during winter months or any time that they may come in contact with de icer’s, fertilizers, pesticides or other toxins.

After ingestion, a dog may act drunk and very thirsty.  Anytime your dog is not acting “normally,” (especially if they’re lethargic or lazy, or acting intoxicated,) don’t hesitate, RUN,  these are the behaviors a dog owner never wants to see. Get thee to the Vet, pronto.  More symptoms in the attached link.

A dog’s system, simply cannot process these glycols or chlorides safely.  At a bare minimum, if your dog ingests this stuff, he or she is going to be very ill. This illness will cost you hundreds of dollars if you catch it within the first 4 hours.  24 hours or Later, chances are not very good. as organs are likely already shutting down. 

Please share with friends and family in the “Cold Weather States.”  All pets are loved family members and if this helps to save just one dog, then my friend and her BFF are already changing the world..

RIP Gypsy.  Stay safe C’elleace and thank you for bringing this to our attention.  I pray that Gypsy is the last dog that will succumb to these toxins..

Symptoms of De-Icer poisoning in dogs:

Additional information and other, de=icing options.


Posted in Adventure Dog Ranch, Canine Training, Danger to dogs, Dangers to dogs, dog behavior, Dog Behavior, Dog Training, Saying Goodbye to a pet, Traveling with Dogs | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dogs, Chewing and Rawhides. What’s the Stink About?

Danger Will Robinson! (Aka: Dear Reader.)

Rawhides… Disgusting, gooey, slimy things. They’re fine before a dog gets a hold of one, but 10 minutes in… Uck.

I have avoided feeding these things to my dogs for years. I have one dog, Max, that always vomits repetitively if he chews on one for mere minutes. My other dog tends to bite off big pieces and try to swallow them whole. Rawhides are no longer allowed in my home. That decision came long before I read about how they are manufactured.

Maxshadow's crocodile smile

Maxshadow in 2009 when he was a spry 11 years old. He turns 17 this year and he’s still going strong!

IMHO, no one’s dog needs a chemically treated, bleached, basted, painted, titanium coated or dyed, a piece of long dead, probably contaminated, bloated and decayed, animal dermis to CHEW on. To top it off, these things have absolutely no nutritional value. But apparently, they offer a very satisfying chew. Don’t underestimate the appeal of a “Good Chew,” to a canine. More on that later.

Rawhide Chews were developed as another way for the leather industry to dispose of byproducts they didn’t want to pay to have hauled away. A good portion of corporate America (including the dog food industry itself,) is founded on this very principle; someone looking to turn a business expense into a revenue-making marvel. When I find a way to turn dog poop into dollars, I’m an instantaneous millionaire! (Fluoride in our drinking water is another one of these profitable scams gone horribly wrong.)

I’ve expressed my personal opinions on rawhide chews. Now it’s time to tell you how to pick the best ones for your dog. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my opinion, just know it’s conceived with love and move on with it.

Choosing a good chew.

If choosing a rawhide to feed your dog, Pig based rawhides are more digestible than beef rawhides and probably the way to go. Pig rawhides digest at least partially in the stomach, cutting down on the risk of intestinal blockages and expensive surgery. Rawhides sourced and manufactured in the USA are likely to be thicker, due to climate and less chemically saturated, due to processing, than rawhides from other countries. I still think there are better options out there for a dog in need of a satisfying Chew, but I have no desire to rule your world, just educate you a tiny bit. Maybe someday you can return the favor.

So Mrs. Alpha Dog, what are these satisfying and safer options?

Let me preface this by saying, “Anytime a chew toy or treat gets too fragile, breaking apart easily or breaking into small enough pieces to be swallowed whole, it’s time to take it away.” This rule applies to plastic dog toys like Kong’s and Nylabone’s, in particular. That stuff WILL NOT DIGEST. Any damaged ball or chew toy should be taken away, even if it’s a favorite. Your dog’s life is worth more than any toy and for the cost of a surgery to remove an intestinal blockage, you can buy a dog a lifetime’s worth of toys.

Sunset over the dog ranch

Dreaming of good eats

Unlike the human goal of eating, (a full tummy,) the fun in recreational chewing, for the dog, is in the chewing, not the swallowing. Chewing releases all kinds of feel-good chemicals: Serotonin, Dopamine and maybe even some Oxytocin. The first two are hormones that keep Heroin addicts searching endlessly for their next fix. Oxytocin is the hormone that in humans is the bonding hormone. All 3 hormones help to shave the rough edges off of high adrenaline levels, diminish Cortisol levels and in other words, decrease stress in both species.

Mothers of newborn babies ooze Oxytocin, (the love hormone,) as do newlyweds. Gazing into the eyes of either humans or canines will profoundly improve your emotional connection with the other party, provided it’s not a stray dog intent on ripping your face off. (A whole different technique is prescribed, in that case, which includes avoiding eye contact, turning slightly away, never turn your back on an angry or fearful dog, and backing away slowly. )
Providing your dog with a good chew at least every once in a while, be it once or twice weekly or monthly, may just make them love you, even more.

Now for some better suggestions:
Pig ears are an inexpensive option. Other dried tendons, ligament, and bone products tend to cost significantly more. Choose these products wisely, taking care to avoid those that can rapidly become a choking hazard, depending upon the size of your dog. Salmonella is a concern if there are small children in the household, whom may handle the toy without immediately washing their hands afterward.

Deer or Elk Antlers are great, IMHO, (Especially if naturally harvested.) Deer and Elk shed their antlers annually and there are enterprising folks that wander through the wilderness and pick these up and turn them into everything from dog chews to knife handles and intricate, artistic carvings.) Unfortunately, antler bones don’t seem to fascinate my dogs the way something a little stinkier, does. Your mileage may vary.

Pizzles and bully sticks are probably fine for the most part, especially if sourced and manufactured in the USA, but can be high in calories and these also have the same salmonella/bacterial concerns that I expressed earlier. If given, they should be used as an occasional treat, not a daily one or saved for times when your dog is really stressed out and in need of a good chew. I tend to shy away from these pizzles or bully sticks out of respect for the male species. (If you don’t know what a Pizzle is, Google it. I’m not telling.)

Raw Turkey Necks, Beef Kneecaps and carefully sliced marrow bones are other nutritious options. Raw Turkey necks and raw chicken wings or chicken backs can be a regular part of a healthy dogs’ diet! Turkey necks and Chicken backs are intended to be eaten in their entirety, but can be messy. Raw chicken can harbor salmonella although it is not likely to harm a healthy dog’s digestive track, (the acid in their stomachs kills salmonella,) but the 2 legged members of your family can easily pick up salmonella or other nasty bacterial infections. Please keep this in mind and feed these kinds of things in an area that is easy to swab down. Don’t allow children to give doggy kisses for at least 20 minutes after feeding.

Feed these items only under direct supervision and with dogs that don’t tend to swallow things whole. Consult your vet if you have concerns, and always introduce dietary changes on a slow, graduated and metered transitional diet schedule.
Finally, I wanted to suggest that not all chew treats need to be animal based or commercially manufactured. Granted our canine best friends are carnivores by nature and need a certain amount of protein, (traditionally, animal proteins,) to survive. A good chew doesn’t always need to be an animal product. I know a few dogs that love to chomp on carrots. (My dogs? Not so much. Java will eat a carrot, but only if it was cooked next to a pot roast or dipped in ranch dressing.) Although a bone will generate a big toothy smile on every dog that I know. Certain treats like a Kong stuffed with frozen Mac n cheese will also get you a big wag. Dehydrated Sweet potato treats seem to be popular here at the dog ranch. I’ll post a link to creating your own in the links section below.

Keep your minds and hearts open until next time…

Kerri   aka “Mrs. Alpha Dog”

For more info: here’s a couple of links I used to formulate this article


A yummy DIY dog treat for the senior crew… not necessarily a good chewy.

A simple, chewier sweet potato treat.

For additional horrifying information on rawhides and dog treats, you can read this link too.

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Housebreaking 101

Since many of you brought new fur-monsters home for the holidays, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite housebreaking tips.

The essentials:

  • Your Time & Attention
  • A good quality Dog Crate / Crate Training
  • An Enzyme based cleaner for carpets
  • Consistency as in a solid, regular feeding, sleeping & exercise schedule.
  • Baby gates (not a neccessity, but helpful in many cases.)
  • Praise!
Adventure Dog Max 4 month old Beagle

Max a 4 month old beagle puppy

If you are like most American’s, you’ve got your hands full. Between your job, the kids and your puppy, there simply doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to handle everything. Don’t give up.  You’ve got a bad case of the puppy blues. If you follow some of my suggestions, develop some daily routines and provide your dog with adequate exercise and mental stimulation; I am confident that we can make some headway into the soiling issue. At the age of  12 weeks, your dog should be able to hold it for up to 4 hours… some can go all night without an accident at this age.

Toy breeds can also be notoriously difficult to housebreak. Breeders, especially those of the puppy mill variety, rarely provide enough room for puppies to learn proper elimination etiquette from the beginning. The limited size of their whelping boxes, does not allow sufficient room for mama to teach them that there should be a designation between feeding, sleeping and potty areas.

Keep in mind that while you’re trying to train your dog, your dog is also trying to train you. They rely upon puppy-like gestures, cuteness and a vast array of other incredibly manipulative strategies to get their way. Seriously, at this stage in the game it can seem like a battle of wills. I can guarantee that if you take it seriously, develop consistent daily routines and creatively manage your puppy’s environment, (especially when you can’t give her 100% of your attention,) you’ll be way ahead of the game.

As far as housebreaking goes, it’s not something that is easy to address in group classes or in one-on-one sessions. We have had some success housebreaking puppies during our board and train programs. That has more to do with the puppies witnessing all of the boarding and daycare dogs eliminating outside, than our intervention. Puppies like to imitate the adult dogs, so often this is helpful. We also praise the young dogs for going “potty outside.”  This helps to reinforce a good, desired behavior.  We also crate train puppies as part of the board and train package, since it’s never too early to teach your dog that a dog crate is a special, safe place.

Housebreaking  is something that you need to be able to manage at home and something that you can master if you keep to a feeding schedule, use night-time crating and limit your dogs’ access  to areas in the house that have easy-to-clean flooring. This is especially critical when you don’t have the resources to give the puppy your full attention at all times.

Proper communication is key when developing new behaviors. There is a very big difference between what is considered “acceptable” human behavior and what is “Normal” dog behavior. As dog owners, we have to be very aware of this. Your dog doesn’t come into your home knowing what we want him or her to do. The best method for teaching your dog wanted behaviors is praise. Praise her when she does something you want her to do again.  While you’re in this housebreaking regimen, I suggest taking your puppy outside on leash and developing a designated dog potty spot. Wait until she begins to eliminate and say “Go Potty.”  When she completes the act, tell her “Good Potty.”

Crate training can also be highly effective. We recommend that you crate train your dog as well as implement a combination of other strategies, (i.e. implementing the combination of dog crates, baby gates & enzyme based cleaners.) It is critical that you completely and quickly clean up any accidents using an enzyme based cleaner or else your dog will continue to mark in the same locations due to scent markers. Also, don’t let your puppy see you clean up the mess, most of us act a bit disgusted when we perform such tasks… it’s only natural. You do not want your puppy to feel like they’re the reason we are disgusted or unhappy.

Keep a consistent feeding schedule. (There must be virtually no variations in this schedule.) You must also develop keen observational skills. Each and every dog gives some kind of warning that they need to eliminate. However, we humans as a species, tend to have so many other things going on in our heads that we’re not very observant so we tend to miss these subtle signs.

Some dogs breathe heavily when they have to “go.” Some dogs sniff around as if they’re experiencing the living room for the 1st time. Some immediately become disobedient as all they can think about is going potty.  I tell my clients to look for a behavior that is out of the “Norm.”  When they show an unusual behavior like spinning in circles, it is time to leash them up and get them to the acceptable potty spot, fast.

If your dog normally wants to be right under your feet and all of a sudden starts hiding in other rooms, it’s a sign that they’ve been punished for eliminating in the house. They’ve simply started to hide it from us because our reaction to a wet spot or a steaming pile is unpleasant.

One other thing you’ll need to do is to praise the puppy when she does go potty outside or on a potty pad. Praise is probably the most overlooked aspect of housetraining a dog, but it is of paramount importance. The reason we use reward based training in dogs is that it really works. If we reward the behaviors that we like or behaviors that are “good” in our minds, we are associating a positive result with the desired behavior. Every time we reward a good behavior, we are increasing the likely-hood that your dog will repeat the wanted behavior.

Are you with me so far? Here’s a simple list of Doggy Do’s and Don’ts.

Potty Training Do’s and Don’ts:

Do Not Rub Your Dog’s Nose in it.                                                                                                                                  This serves no purpose for the dog.

Do Not Punish your dog unless they’ve been caught in the act.

If you’ve caught your dog in the act say, “NO!” (Loud enough to startle them, hopefully stopping the flow,) then quickly get them outside or to an appropriate elimination spot to finish the job. When they complete the job, tell them “Good Potty” or “Good Potty OUTSIDE” 

Do not get in the habit of carrying your dog outside to go potty.

This may sound ridiculous to people with large breeds, but often owners do not want their puppy to have an accident in the house, so they carry them outside. Your dog is learning that it goes potty outside ONLY WHEN CARRIED THERE… We are also missing out on teaching the dog one of the simplest markers they can show us that they have to go, walking to and or waiting by the door!

Do not let your dog witness the clean up.

Your dog will note that you find this task unpleasant. We don’t want them to think that the frustration is because of them.

Do not allow yourself to become angry about the whole thing.

Your dog will begin to hide her messes to avoid your weird reaction to his/her biological functions. Or worse, may make your puppy afraid of you.


  • One of your best training tools for housebreaking is the dog crate.
  • If your dog is crate trained properly, she will learn that not only is it comfortable, but it’s the one place in your home that is totally hers and totally safe. (No one can accidentally step on her and she can rest undisturbed.)
  • Most dogs will not eliminate where they sleep and eat, (this may not be the case with rescue’s that have been abused, neglect can seriously damage their instinctive behaviors,) however in most cases, the crate is a very valuable tool.
  • Another thing that is of critical importance is timing. If you feed your dog at regularly scheduled intervals, you can plan it so that you can get her outside when she needs to go. The dog should be taken outside (or to her approved potty spot,) immediately upon awakening, and again about 30 minutes after each meal. (I’m assuming that you’re still feeding 3 times a day due to the age of the puppy,) and again at night before bedtime.
  • Properly clean up all accidents. Dogs will continue to mess where they’ve already gone unless you use an enzyme based cleaner to get rid of all traces of potty odor.  Some name brands are:   PureAyre or Natures Miracle.
  • If using training pads, put a little potty on the pad, as a puppy will be more likely to go in a spot that already smells of urine or feces. (You can also use this method to help establish an outdoor potty spot.)

I hope this has helped de-mystify some of the questions you may have about housebreaking your new puppy.

If your puppy continues to have issues after following these tips, you may need medical help. (Urinary tract infections are not common in dogs, but they do happen.)  A really anxious puppy may have issues with submissive urination. (A behavioral problem that presents in adult dogs too.) Keep in mind that In nature, there is no larger sign of respect than urinating a tiny bit. It’s a puppy’s way of saying, “I’m little, don’t hurt me.”  In a human world, it’s unwanted, and for today, outside the scope of this article, however it’s something all new dog owners should be aware of. If your dog is dribbling a little bit every time you come through the door, it may be submissive urination.. so don’t punish or it WILL get worse.

Until next time


The Alpha Dogs’ wife.

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