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Dogs/Puppy nightmare :(


Oh my goodness, it's hard to stop crying long enough to type.... I am a sleep-deprived mess. My husband and I have had our mini-dachshund puppy Mal, male, 10 weeks old, for only 11 days but I already feel like I won't be able to handle him much longer. I feel so incredibly stupid. He's a mess. I'M a mess. Crate training is not working AT ALL; he whines and shrieks all night and there is nowhere we can put him that we won't hear him. Refuses to be paper-trained, pees in his crate, bites me, my husband, the children I take care of-the nipping is just atrocious!! I have tried everything from saying no, yelping like another puppy would, shoving a chew toy in his face, shaking a can of coins, giving time-outs in his crate.....everything. He just refuses to LEARN. I thought having a puppy would be wonderful, I did everything right!!! Went to a reputable breeder, got a great vet, bought all the right equipment, toys and food, signed him up for puppy training.....and just 11 days later my home reeks of urine, my hands are covered in painful bite marks and I haven't slept, to the point where I am having auditory hallucinations and forgetting the ATM pin # I've had for ten years. I am in desperate need of HELP. The puppy seems to love me and likes sitting on my lap and cries when I leave the room and all that but I can't bond with him properly unless he starts obeying me and just being more manageable! Everyone I know with dogs say their pups were crate trained in a couple weeks, with better success every night. Mal has had ZERO success. 11 nights later he cries for just as long and has just as many accidents. I'm losing my mind. I don't want to give him back to the breeder (though she has stated that she would take him back) but I feel I may soon have no choice if I am to sleep and be able to function at work and be happy again; that's what makes all of this so hard, I thought the puppy would bring joy, not misery and stress. :( It's 3:13 a.m. and after soaking his crate pad with pee and pooping on the floor while I tried to clean it, then howling for two hours, he's all curled up asleep on my damn pillow while I huddle at the end of my bed. This is SO not fun. I have approached this with a sweet, gentle attitude and have been exercising and feeding him properly, playing, petting, everything. I'm not cruel and I don't yell. He has everything he needs and all I am getting out of this relationship is terrible stress and stomach pain. Please tell me....what can I possibly do to take back control of this???!! I WANT my dog, but I need to have him act like a normal puppy and actually LEARN!!! Please please please help me. :(
thank you,

Hi Laura,

Thank you for writing to me about your puppy.  Keep in mind at all times that he's a puppy and not to expect too much from him yet.  Your puppy can feel your stress and irritability and whatever is going on with him, it amplifies it.  Did you have your vet do a full checkup to make sure nothing is medically wrong with him? Bloodwork?  Was he checked for hearing?  I don't get the feeling that it's a hearing problem but I do recall a client of mine with a deaf Frenchie that thought he was a willful dog until they found out he was deaf.  It's important to look for causes.

That being said, some dogs never take to the crate.  I'm going to send you a protocol for puppy housebreaking.  You will need to experiement to find out what works for your little guy.  In the meantime, if you buy what's called an X-pen and use that instead of a crate it might work better for you at this point in time.  Put a tarp down under the X-pen then layer it with newspapers.  Cover ever inch of it.  Don't be surprised if he shreds the paper..that might happen.  You may just have to use tarps in the beginning with some wee wee pads inside the encloseure.  Give him a raw marrow bone to chew on at night and a kong filled with a bit of peanut butter inside.  This is to keep him occupied.  Make sure his area is very dark at night.  You might also speak with the breeder and your vet about calming herbs.  I have used Tran-quil for my dog who has anxiety issues.  Put his crate inside the inclosure and try putting his food inside the crate with the door open. You want to have him associate the crate with something positive.  Put a couple of toys inside between meals.

I don't know if you keep food down all the time but this could cause your dog to go to the bathroom all day.  It's best to control the food and water (read the protocol) so you can control when he uses the bathroom.

There is also something called a Pee-Keeper.  Try using this.  It will prevent your dog from soiling your home. You also have to get rid of the odor so he doesn't go to the same spot to pee again.

Do NOT give him run of the house...that is a sure fire way to have it soiled.

I'm concerned about what's going on with the children and the dog.  If the dog is "mouthing", do not let him near the children.  They may be rough housing with him and making him very nervous.  Until you have the situation under control, make the dog off limits for anyone but you.  Explain to the children that the puppy is getting too confused and nervous and only you are to handle him until he's a little older.  Make sure they respect this.

I would also hand feed him for a short period of time so he associates your hand with something of high value.  Start training with him..only positive reinforcement.  Forget the can with the pennies and putting things in his face. He's already a nervous should lean more towards clicker training with a dog of such a high stress personality.  Look up Karen Pryor for Clicker a video and learn how to do this. I think that your puppy will respond to this approach. Start working with a trainer who uses Clicker.

Another option to try is keeping the crate next to your bed at night or where he can see you.  He may have separation anxiety which could be emotional or based on something medical like a thyroid imbalance.  Again, this is where your vet comes in..possibly doing a blood profile.  Could your dog have allergies that are making him high strung?  What are you feeding him?  Try a grain free diet and a high quality food such as Zeewee Peak.  Something without additives or by-products.

Give your dog a ton of exercise..long walks, play time with a ball, etc.  A tired dog is a good dog. Play soft music like Mozart to calm him.  At night you can try using a ticking clock in his X-pen or crate.  Develop a bedtime protocol so he knows what to expect and it will be a calming protocol..maybe a massage and special small treat before bed.

If all else fails, and you have to give the dog back to the breeder, your next dog could be a rescue from a rescue group where temperment testing is done and it doesn't have to be a puppy.  Mature dogs are housebreaking to do, etc.  Many dogs are given up due to landlord issues, death, illness of the owners, divorces etc.  It doesn't mean they are problem dogs. Please keep this in mind. You will also be saving a life!

I will follow up with the housebreaking protocol.

Best of luck with your puppy.  Be very patient.

Shelley Davis

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Your puppy is exactly that, a puppy.  One would not expect a 4 month old infant to have bladder control so we can't expect a puppy to either.  Once your puppy has found a place to pee, she will return to that place so prevention is the key to success.  Below find a protocol for puppy housebreaking.

There's no such thing as an almost housebroken dog. Either your dog is or isn't housebroken.  When a dog is housebroken it never uses the house for its toilet, so I suggest that you introduce basic puppy housebreaking immediately:

Many people do not understand why their dog does not know what to do when taken outside. Just turning a dog out in the back yard by itself a few times a day for a few minutes is not the way to house train a dog.

Merely taking pooch outside also does not mean your dog knows what it's being taken outside for. The biggest problem between your dog and yourself is that your dog would love to please but doesn't know that you are displeased with it going to the bathroom in your house.

Housebreaking in theory is very simple. It is a means of preventing your dog from doing its business in the house and only giving it the opportunity to do it outside. It also means that your dog learns to communicate with you about going when told to go and about letting you know when it has to go outside.

A dog is a creature of habit and because it learns by association, if its training is consistent it will quickly learn there is no other place to relieve itsself other than outdoors.

We take advantage of a very natural instinct of a dog - its desire to keep its sleeping quarters clean - i.e. not to mess its bed. We offer a dog a den in the form of a dog crate or if your dog at this age is not crate trained, then offer pooch a restricted are or else you will have to leash your dog to a door knob or table leg.  Make sure that there is nothing around that your dog can get entangled in. This area becomes  its bed that your dog cannot get out of. If its dog crate or restricted area is the right size your dog will not soil it.

Dogs are and always have been den and pack animals. Canines naturally and instinctively prefer the shelter of a den. In the wild the young are raised in dens. They spend a great part of their first year very close to their den. In homes, dogs often choose their den. They will get under a desk, behind a couch, in a closet. ect. etc

A dog crate is a perfect, natural bed for a dog and a safe, natural spot to put your pet whenever necessary for the dog's safety or the owner's peace of mind. However, if a dog isn't initially crate trained then you would have to do it with the assistance of a trainer so as not to traumatize your dog for life.  This is extremely important.

Keep a bowl of all-natural dog treats near the crate. Every time you put your pup in the crate or restricted area give a "CRATE" or "BED" command and toss 3 or 4 liver treats into the crate or area. It gives your dog a nice reason to go in. You will be surprised how quickly he expects to get a treat when he goes into his area. Going there becomes a positive experience.

As your dog ages and learns, give the "CRATE" or "BED" command before tossing the treats in. Expect your dog to go in on its own. This exercise is the beginning of teaching your dog to go to its area when people come to the house. Dogs that bark and act stupid when they hear the door bell need to be told to go to their crate or bed. This is how that training is started.

When thinking of the size of a crate needed for your dog, think small. Think den not condo! The use of too large a crate for a dog will encourage your pet to use a small portion of it for a bed and the remainder as a relief station! Your dog, if using a crate should be able to stand up and turn around with a bit of room to spare.

Your puppy should only be allowed to relieve itsself out doors.

A crate or restricted area is never meant to be used as a place of punishment for your dog, so a couple of safe toys would be welcome for down-time. A kong filled with peanut butter or cream cheese goes a long way towards keeping a dog quiet in a crate. Be careful of the toys you choose to leave - soft squeaky toys with bells are not healthy for dogs. Too often dogs chew up these soft toys and get parts of them stuck in their bowels which often kills them.

Start crate training while you remain in the same room with your crated dog, frequently praising pooch and letting it know clearly it is pleasing to you that your dog remains in the crate, quietly. Frequent trips out of the room with quick returns with a treat through the bars will condition your dog to your comings and goings.

Gradually extend your absent periods, and in a short time, you can be gone several hours. While in the crate, your dog should not be scolded.

Crate confinement works so well that most dogs soon choose the crate for naps and, in general, consider it their own private domain. They learn that they can go into their crate and sleep and no one will step on them or jump on them. Feed your dog in his crate as well.

If you are in a protected area (a fenced back yard) let your dog go free of the leash. Be sure to stay out there with your dog. Lavishly praise your dog with GOOD BABY when it has completed its duties. Take your dog inside at once and put it in its restricted area.

A puppy or untrained dog is NEVER ALLOWED TO HAVE FREE ACCESS TO THE HOUSE unless you have your eyes on the it. If pooch poops on the floor because you turned your back for 45 seconds - you made a mistake, not your dog.

The only time pups can be loose inside is just after they come in from going outside and then only for short periods of time.  NEVER leave a dog unattended and loose in the house until it is completely housebroken.

Pups must go out first thing in the morning (and I mean first thing) take your dog outside. Your dog's been clean all night - and holding it all night -it will do its business in a hurry because it HAS TO GO. Now bring your dog in and give it freedom, but in the kitchen only.   A child's gate at the kitchen doorway is an excellent barrier to the other rooms in the house. Give your dog freedom while breakfast is being prepared and while you are eating breakfast. After your breakfast, and when you have time to take your dog out, feed it breakfast - and take it out immediately. Remember the rule - outside after each meal. Do not leave food or water down or your dog will do its business immediately afterward, when you aren't there to take it out.  Dogs relieve themselves after SLEEPING- EATING AND HAVING EXERCISE.

Now bring your dog in and put it in the restricted area and go about your normal routine of the morning. Your dog should stay in the crate until about 11:00 to 11:30A.M. Then out of the crate and outside. Bring your dog in, and while you are preparing and eating lunch let it have the freedom of the kitchen but only when you have "eyes on your dog".

At dinner time as soon as pooch has finished its last mouthful - take it outside. After munchkin has completed its business, bring it in and again give it the freedom of the kitchen while you are preparing dinner and during the dinner hour. Give your dog another trip outside about 8:00 P.M. - and again just before your bedtime. Some pups need to be exercised more than others to get them to relieve themselves. Exercises always increases the urge to
pee or poop. Keep your dog outside for up to 30 minutes to insure that he will go.  Prevention is the key to success.

The bottom line is you cannot take your dog outside too much. If you take your dog out every few hour then it learns that it is going to have a chance to go outside to do his business. So when someone tells you to wait for 4 hours - I would ask WHY if you can take it out more often? Why wait that long if you are home. We want to establish a pattern and what better way than to take your dog out all the time. Also do not underestimate how important it is to ask your pup if it WANTS TO GO OUTSIDE just before going out and praising GOOD BOY when YOUR DOG DOES GO.

One last point on your dogs house breaking. A commercial kibble diet takes 14 to 15 hours to go through a dog. An all-natural diet goes through the dog in 5 to 6 hours. I strongly recommend that you consider doing your research on all-natural diets.

A couple of points on how to housetrain your dog:

1. Do not vary your dog's diet.

2. Snacks or treats are forbidden.

3- Bring him in as soon as he does his business.

4- Praise every time you see him pee or poop. Do this forever. Reinforcing good behavior never hurt anything.

5- Dogs who go out and just dink around and then go in their crate need more exercises when they go outside. A long walk will often cure the problem. BE SURE TO PRAISE   -then when you have your dog in the house and say "DO YOU WANT TO GO OUTSIDE" he will learn what you mean.

6- Older dogs are house trained exactly like young pups.

Using An Odor Neutralizer And Indoor Spray Repellent.  I like using Nature's Miracle, peroxide, vinegar and alcohol.

When a handler makes a mistake and allows a dog to pee in the house, you have to get rid of the odor. This is accomplished with an odor neutralizer, which is available in pet stores or you can try using straight vinegar. (Do not use household cleaners as they contain ammonia and will attract him back to the same spot.) When used properly it will completely eliminate these odors, discerned only by the dog, by neutralizing the scent. When areas previously used by your dog have been neutralized the incentive for using the same spot will be eliminated. You can purchase a black light to find old pee spots in your house.

Proper Correction

Under no circumstances should your puppy be punished for relieving itself in the house, unless you catch it in the act. The punishment should be a verbal scolding not physical harm.

A dog has no mental capacity to connect your wrath with whatever it did wrong, even a few minutes earlier. If you cannot get to your puppy while it is doing its business then you have screwed up. Pups simply cannot put two and two together to understand why you would be mad about it peeing on the rug. It is confusing to your dog and you only get a puzzled whimper.

Catch pooch in the act or scolding is no good. I don't recommend scolding at all but only prevention as it is not its fault at all.

The old adage of rubbing a dogs nose in it is stupid. We don't do this to our kids and we should not do this to our dogs. Anyone who recommends this needs a good swift kick.

Many people are mistakenly convinced that a dog messes in the house for spite or revenge, usually for having been left alone. This is incorrect. It is for reasons of anxiety, nervousness or fear that it behaves this way...or simply that it is not properly housebroken. Very often the owner comes home and finds the dog behaving in a fearful, shameful, or generally guilt-ridden manner. It is because of this that the owner is convinced the dog has messed in the house for spite. It's simply not true. The dog cringes when you come home because he associates your arrival with punishment. YOu have conditioned your dog (and it only takes ONE TIME) to be afraid when you came home in the past.

Are you picking the water up at 6:30?

Are you giving your dog enough exercise to make it tired before it goes to bed?

Are you putting your pup in its restricted area all the time and not just bedtime. Your pup needs to learn that it must go in its area and calms down.

If you are convinced your pup just wants to come out and play after a few hours , then ignore it or take it out for some exercise. If there is a mess in the crate later on - then YOU MADE A MISTAKE - not your dog.

With a little effort on your part and the use of this method your dog can be housebroken very quickly. But remember there is more than peeing and pooping in the house that goes along with housebreaking.

House Training :

House training should only take approximately two weeks to establish as a routine provided;

a) you must be consistent and committed
b) you are prepared to train your pet. Have a leash, collar, a designated area and are prepared to maintain a

Retraining a dog that has already established bad habits can take six weeks or more.

As soon as possible get your dog to the vet for a complete check-up. This will assure you that you have healthy and alert you to any medical complications that can make house training more difficult.

Situations such as intestinal upset, intestinal parasites and urinary tract infections can make house training difficult to impossible.

The designated toilet area can be as general as outside of the house or as specific as a particular corner of the backyard.  You must have a specific plan as to what the designated area is going to be.  You can not teach your dog what is acceptable if you are uncertain.

Your attitude is one of the most important ingredients in house training your dog.  Your puppy does not know what is wrong.  If there is a mistake tell it "no" but do not discipline too severely.  You only want him to know that you are displeased, you do not want your pup to feel that you are the source of pain.

When your pup has done well, pat it, praise it, let your dog know that you are very pleased.  Your pup will want to do things that please you.

House training can be a foundation for all future training.  Affection and praise as a reward for proper response - "no" signaling displeasure and guidance to show your dog what you do want.

1. Create a schedule that is practical for you to maintain.  If you can not stick to your schedule - you can't expect your dog to adhere to it.

2. Do not allow your dog to free feed until house training is well established.  Be very careful of your dogs diet - avoid foods and/orsnacks that can be upsetting to his digestive tract.

3. Schedule your dog's bed time and waking-up time.  Adhere to these times as closely as possible.

4. Remember that your pup will need to be taken outside after each feeding or drinking.

5. Emotional intensity - after intense emotional stimulation (badly scared, frightened, or a particularly rowdy play session) your pup may need to relieve himself.

6. Within two to three days, most dogs will be able to "control themselves" for eight hours during the night.  You must keep in mind that your daytime schedule will need to be somewhat flexible.  

Supervise in the House :

1. By knowing where your dog is at all times, and what he is doing, you can avoid mistakes. When a pup stops playing and starts to look around for a "good spot", he needs to go out.  By observing your dog you will quickly learn to tell the difference between the pup's exploring his universe and his searching for a "good location".

2. If your pup starts to make a mistake, firmly but quietly say "No" and take him straight to his toilet area.  Do not yell at your dog.  Do not chase your dog.  At this point it is up to you to be observant of your dog. Any mistakes that are made are due to your not paying attention.

3. If you can not supervise your dog for a period of time, put your dog in a confinement area (prepared with papers) or confine it to the room where you are.

4. When you are relaxing (watching TV, reading or on computer), have your dog with you.  Give pooch some of its toys to play with.  Have your dog on a leash or confine it to the room where you are, so that pooch doesn't wander out and have an accident.  Teach your dog that it can be enjoyable just being with you. When you can't be with your dog:

1. Provide a small area confinement area (bathroom with all "chewable" items removed, fenced off area of the garage, or a crate).

2. Do not leave food and water with your dog, or fill its area with cookies or snacks before you leave.  You should schedule your pup's breakfast to be at least 2 hours before your planned departure time.  That way he can
eat, digest his food and relieve himself prior to your departure.

3. Ideally, if you are going to be gone for more than eight hours, someone should give the dog a drink and an opportunity to relieve itself several times during the day.

Taking your dog out:
1. Take your dog on leash to the designated toilet area.  Stand quietly, so that it can find the right spot.  Do not distract your dog.  Do not praise your dog during its search.  If after about a time your dog hasn't gone to the bathroom, return it to the house (keeping a close eye on it) for about 1/2 hour, then try again.

2. When your dog does go, calmly praise it.  Use a chosen word or phrase (good potty, etc).  This phrase will only be used for praise in going potty.

3. When your dog has finished relieving itself praise it very enthusiastically.  Let your dog know that you are very proud of it.

4. Remember your dog's routine. Some dogs will "potty" two or three times per outing in the morning, but only twice per outing in the evening. Urination is often followed by defecation, while other dogs will do the reverse.

5. Even if the weather is foul, do not let your dog know that you don't want to be going outside with it.  By teaching your dog that even in bad weather going outside is "the thing to do", to please you, then it will be
more willing to convey its needs to you.

6. While you are learning your dog's "time table", take it out immediately after it wakes up, after it has eaten and after all play sessions.

Catching your dog "in the act" :
1. Without yelling, firmly say "No".  If you still don't have your dog's attention, clap your hands.

2. Get your dog outside, to the designated latrine area.  If your dog relieves itself outside praise it.  Proceed with the potty routine.

3. Clean the mess with a deodorizing or odor killing cleanser or vinegar. If your dog smells its own scent as having been used as a bathroom area, it will continue to use the area.

If the cleanser is not able to eliminate enough of the scent so that your dog can not detect it, you can help mask the scent over with vanilla extract.  Just one or two drops will make it impossible for your dog to smell any lingering odor.

Some dogs never take to the crate no matter how gently they are introduced. In this case you can use x-pens to contain your dog.


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Shelley Davis


Cageless Country Boarding, Holistic Health Concerns, Behavorial Concerns.


Crusader in the founding of Dog Runs in NYC Parks, instrumental in changing the law in NY State which allows Pet Facilitate Therapy into Acute Care Hospitals, accomplished artist and craftsperson, certified by Red Cross in pet first aid, pioneer in Children Reading To Dogs program in Ulster Co. NY, founder of Bed & Biscuit:Where Dogs Run Free,

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