Wriggly Dogs, Puppy Socialization, Potty Training. Ask a Trainer! #7


Does your dog’s behaviors leave you scratching your head? Feeling like you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked? Why not ask an expert? Animal Wellness Magazine has teamed up with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers to bring you a Q&A that’s all about training! Just leave us a comment on Facebook. The APDT will address several questions every week! Answers posted on Thursdays.

Q. I have a 5yr old Papillon that I can’t even hold; he gets very fidgety and will not be still. If I try to pet him he gets even crazier. As he gets older he gets worse. I have had him since he was a pup. Help?

A. I’m curious if by “fidgety” you mean aggressive? Or simply wriggly? Either way – your dog is telling you he doesn’t like that. Many dogs don’t enjoy being held, some love it, many simply tolerate it. It is important to listen to what your dog likes and doesn’t like. By forcing pets to tolerate or endure something they don’t like, we are essentially teaching them to not trust us – and the problem will get worse. If he is aggressive, you must contact a professional right away. Aggression is not something to handle on your own. Please use our trainer search http://www.apdt.com/petowners/ts/default.aspx or the IAABC here: http://iaabc.org/consultants to look for professionals and be sure to speak to past clients for referrals – and good luck!

If he is wriggly, try petting him when he is relaxed, but not in your arms (ex: when he’s on the floor, or the couch/bed next to you). As he learns that you’re not going to pick him up, and that petting feels nice, he will eventually learn to enjoy that and trust you. If he’s already fine with this, you can skip this step. Over time, pet him with both hands and, eventually, all over his body where he likes being patted. As long as he is relaxed with that, you can pick him up to instantly feed him a yummy snack (like a bit of hotdog), then put him right back down. Repeat several times until he gets excited to be picked up (over one day, over weeks, or even months – depending on your dog).

Once he gets to the point where he wriggles to be picked up (NOT wriggling to get down!), pick him up, hold him for several seconds, pat his head, treat him, then set him down again. Be sure to give his special treat or pat him before putting him on the ground – as this rewards being in your arms. Always listen to him – if he wriggles in your arms, you’re holding him too long. If he is relaxed in your arms, set him down!! We want to set him down BEFORE he wants to get down. Over time, he will learn:

1) arms are a wonderful place to be

2) my mom is a hotdog dispenser when I’m in her arms

3) I can trust my mom

  • Q. What ideas do you have for a 5 month old Yorkie that refuses to go poop outside. She urinates outside no problem, but will not poop! Any tricks/ideas ? Thanks!

  • It’s not that she refuses to go outside, but rather that she thinks she is SUPPOSE to poop outside. Dogs will always prefer to go where they think they should go. You did a great job with the urination part – kudos! That is often harder to do. But, essentially, consider her non-housetrained and go back to square one. At this age, this is not at all unusual. Teenage dogs often become “suddenly no longer housetrained.” It’s ok – you can fix this!

  • 1) be sure she is fed a measured amount on a schedule. If food is going in randomly, it is coming out randomly. If food is going in on a schedule, it is coming out on a schedule.

    2) crate her or leash her and keep her at your side AT ALL TIMES. Never leave her unattended (unless she is crated) until she has gone 2 weeks without a poop in the house.

    3) if she poops in the crate, make sure it is the correct size and also that she is not anxious in the crate (check out www.apdt.com/veterinary/assets/pdf/APDT_CrateTraining.pdf)

    4) have an extra special treat she only gets when she poops outside.

    5) take her out on a regular schedule, watch closely for sniffing and circling (scoop her right up and run outside!!).

    6) Keep her on leash, and walk around in a small area near the house until she poops. Avoid going for walks until after she poops – she may be too distracted to remember to go! If she hasn’t gone yet, wait longer. Expect to wait for 30-45 mins. If she doesn’t go, she can come back inside – no scolding, but no walks or praise. Take her back out within 15-20 mins. Repeat until you get “results.” As soon as she goes – give her a bit of yummy treat and praise her. Take her for a long walk or play time. Also check out our free housetraining and living with teenage dogs webinar here: http://www.apdt.com/education/webinars/free/.

    Q. Where do I start? too many unknowns with a puppy — I have a 3 month old male Pit Bull pup. He’s a handful! Advice?

  • Get him enrolled in a great puppy class ASAP! Puppy socialization classes are an ideal way to get off on the right paw with your new guy. BUT, be sure the instructor teaches an appropriate class. You should be taught how to handle house training, nipping, jumping, and other issues and also basic manners such as sit, loose leash, etc. Great puppy classes will also cover getting them used to things like nail trims and body handling. Finally, play time should be monitored and controlled. Your puppy should never be allowed to be bullied – not allowed TO bully – other pups in play. All puppy play should be reciprocal: puppies chase and are chased, they are on top AND on bottom, they are the nibblers AND they are nibbled. Think of it like tennis – each puppy takes turns. If you see one puppy constantly being piled on, nipped at, crying, or being bullied – or another puppy being a punk – leave. There are great puppy classes out there, so stick with them! Also check this out: http://www.trainyourdogmonth.com/events/webinars/100136/


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