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Dog Training/Adult English Bulldog Marking

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Question
Hi,

We have a wonderful old english bulldog, Bubba, about 5 yrs old. We have been taking care of him for over a year for my son. He's a great dog and we love him dearly. He has a habit of occasionally marking his own sleeping areas. He will paw up a quilt or blanket that is there for him and lift his leg and have at it. I just watched him do it right in front of me and after he had already been out several times this morning. I saw him do it another time on our bed (where he sleeps at night with us) and we have found other areas where he has done the same. We've had several dogs in our lives and never seen this kind of behavior before. Can't find any breed-specific information to explain it either and don't know how to correct it. He is neutered. Can u help us?  Thanks

Answer
I would treat this as incomplete house training to see if I could change the behavior.  Doing it that way takes about 4-5 weeks with constant and scrupulous supervision.  If this is sudden behavior, he needs to be checked by the vet first, if it isn't, just go ahead and make believe he's a puppy;-)
Here's the regimen we use:
“HOUSE TRAINING 101”

1.   Keep your eye on the dog. Any time the pup is out of his crate, you need to be watching, and not from a distance!  Use a waist leash or tether the dog to your belt.  If Spot looks like he’s looking for a “spot”, say “Outside?” and gently, but quickly, take him out to the “approved area”.  Learn your dog’s signals – does he sniff?  Does he circle?  Some pups are subtle and don’t ask in obvious ways – act preemptively and take him out.  Use the same words all the time for the same functions.  They can learn to do pee or poop on command!  Your neighbors will be jealous in January when you aren’t standing outside for a half hour waiting for your pup to poop!

2.   No scolding for accidents - ever.  Mistakes are nothing more than lack of human supervision. (See rule #1 )  If you scold, an unintended consequence might be that your puppy learns that it’s dangerous to pee in front of the human.  That’s how dogs learn to “hide” their “accidents.”
Accidents are the human’s fault for not watching the dog!

3.   Crate the puppy, or tether the pup to your waist, when you can’t watch directly.  Most dogs are reluctant to soil the “den”.  Be sure that the crate is only large enough for puppy to stand, turn, and lie down.  Any bigger and he can “get away” from the mess, so he might soil one end and sleep in the other.  Buy a small crate, or partition off a larger one.  Make the crate a happy place to be!  Use treats to get him to go in willingly.  How to crate train your puppy: http://www.ddfl.org/behavior/crate-train.pdf or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI8b_xfEuPA
     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzXXfKzZ2oc&feature=fvwrel  

4.   Reward for quick results outdoors.  Have a few treats in your pockets all the time.  Tell puppy “hurry up” or “go pee”.  When puppy piddles in the right spot, wait till he’s done (or he might think he’s being rewarded for shutting off the stream), then quickly say, “Good pee” and offer a treat. If he doesn’t go, crate him and try again every fifteen minutes until he does.  Reward!!! Soon, you will have your pup pee’ing when you cue him to “Go pee”.

5.   Important: Don’t just put the pup outside to do his business, he won’t be learning anything! Stay with him.  Reward him for a good performance and teach those cues!  
Once he gets it, start rewarding every other time, or every third time.  Start using praise intermittently, instead of food for every single performance.

6.   Don’t clean accidents in front of Fido – Dogs are interested in what you are interested in – don’t accidentally train your dog to be interested in poop!  He may start snacking…

7.   Use an enzymatic cleaner to remove all trace of odor from indoor accidents (Trail, Petastic, Simple Solution, or Nature’s Miracle).  Dogs return to the aroma – you need to get rid of it.

8.   Times to take Fido out:  Very soon after he wakes, eats, drinks, or plays.

9.    How long can he really hold it? One hour longer than his age (in months) if he is awake.  Small breeds have small bladders and may need more frequent trips outside.  Pups that can sometimes hold it all night may still have to go if they awaken, and may not be able to hold it for the same length of time during the day.  If he does go out in the middle of the night, put him quietly back in his crate when you come in, with no treat, no fuss, and no play!  He will learn that nighttime is sleep time, even if there’s a brief potty break.  If you are a 9-5’er, consider hiring a dog walker until puppy is house trained.

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Anne Springer, B.A., Dip., CTDI, CLWI, CAPCT, VA

Expertise

I'm happy to answer questions on behavior and training. I prefer a training philosophy much like your physician might adopt when treating patients - first, do no harm. Dogs are generally best trained using humane methods that make sense to them and put you in control, not necessarily by physical means, but by controlling the dog's access to resources, such as food, toys, access to the outdoors, etc. I want your dog to behave, but also to trust you and rely on you for guidance.

Experience

Professional trainer, owner of Paws for Praise, in Danvers, MA. We use positive training and behavior modification techniques, and are committed to having the dogs that come through our center be both as well trained and behaviorally healthy as we can help their humans make them.

Organizations
International Positive Dog Training Association (Regional Director for Massachusetts) APDT Therapy Dogs, Inc. Truly Dog Friendly

Publications
Gloucester Times, Ipswich Chronicle, Examiner.com, and more

Education/Credentials
B.S., Cum Laude, Salem State College Diploma, Dog Obedience Training/Instruction (Apprenticed also) Graduate, New York School of Dog Grooming Pet CPR/First Aid Certified Certified Pet Care Technician AKC CGC Evaluator Therapy Dogs Inc. Tester/Observer

Awards and Honors
Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society

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