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11/05/2009 11:13:24 AM by Dr.Greg   Send Message to Dr.Greg  3554  views, category: Pet care, safety and insurance view all blogs


My little terrier cross, Maisy has gotten in a very bad habit of pooping in our upstairs hall. Our big, need-to-please Yellow Lab, Tucker, would never do this. He knows the proper poop place is outside near the garden. Dogs will usually never poop in their nest or bed area. Sleeping with your poop spreads disease, and most species know to do this away from their living area. However, when nature calls, some dogs can't hold it, or aren't afraid of a nighttime deposit in our homes.

I know that to stop this behavior, I should crate Maisy to reduce her nest area and make her wait. But she is 8 years old, and loves to snuggle in the bed. We just can't bring ourselves to torture her in that way. So we're taking alternative measures: First, I am feeding her less in the evening feeding, and second, I'm closing our bedroom door to close off the previous poop area. When she really has to go, she jumps down and rubs her body on the rug, pushing with her rear legs and making growly-groan to let me know it's time. I dutifully get up at 2:00-2:30 am to take all three to potty, and reward her for waking me up and ruining my sleep.

Clients always ask me the easiest way of training puppies to potty outdoors. The best coach is another dog who can show them "the ropes" about where to sleep, eat, drink, pee, and poop...all the essentials. If a canine coach is not available, maybe one can be borrowed to "mark the spot." In extreme cases an "alpha male" human type can do the same thing. In the field of dog psychology, you have to think like a dog. All the talking and waiting in the world isn't as fast a teacher as going "live" with the sounds and smells that dogs live by. It sounds gross, but it is a fact. Crating puppies when they are not being watched is a great idea, too. They are pooping and peeing machines that will break you. Some trainers have them on a leash when out of the crate to learn discipline and patience. This is also a great way to keep an eye on them.

This is a little off the subject, but puppies need to learn the etiquette of being with other dogs. Some vets and breeders advise to keep them away from all other dogs and public places till they are 12-16 weeks old and have had 2-3 parvo shots. If friends or family have older dogs that they are certain have not been exposed to sick puppies, it is fine to put your pup in with them. Adult dogs rarely carry parvo; it is a disease of young puppies and spread in public places like parks and schools where an unvaccinated pup may poop parvo virus on the grass. Being with an older "uncle" or "aunt" will show young pups behavior that is acceptable and not. Jumping on a sleeping dog's head and being a general nuisance is frowned upon by older dogs. They will often let the youngster know it by a growl or snap. Dogs have boundaries, too, and puppies need to learn this. Fights at dog parks occur when dogs do not respect these.

I've spent my life studying, living with and enjoying dogs. It is my concern for their good health (as well as experience in my veterinary practice) that led me to spend the last 10 years studying the connection between dog nutrition and their health. And believe me, it's a powerful link. My new book due out November 13th will show you exactly how to use nutrition to give your dog the gift of good health. I hope you'll visit my blog site Dog Dish Diet to learn more about my approach and order my book.


About the author: I love animals and their bond with us. My new book Dog Dish Diet: Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog's Health is out and available on my website ( ). I have been an animal lover my whole life. As a teenager, I worked at a pet sh... more >>

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