High Rise Potty Training

Michael Baugh, CPDT-KA, CDBC

Dear Michael;

I just got a little furry baby from the rescue in my area. She is a mix of who knows what, cute and cuddly with curly fur. I live in a high rise apartment building and am starting to use puppy pads for training. I know there will be times when I cannot be there to take her out. How would you suggest I use puppy pads and crate training together? We are just starting and already unsure as to how to get the message across.
Thank you, Jess
Dear Jess,

Great questions!  Potty training a puppy is a pretty straight forward process, regardless of where you want the puppy to “go.”  Most dogs seek out absorbent surfaces, like grass.  Unfortunately some seek out carpet as well.  The potty pads are absorbent too, which is good news.  I can tell you, they are most effective if used in an area with hard flooring.  Don’t put them in a carpeted area.  If you want to train your dog to use the potty pads some or most of the time in your apartment, then lead her to the pad right after letting her out of her crate.  As soon as she’s done doing her business, praise and treat her.  Repeat this process often and she will learn the pad is the preferred indoor potty area.

(read more on All Things Dog Blog)

Something to Chew On

Michael Baugh CPDT-KA, CDBC

Dogs chew.  It’s not just a puppy thing either.  Dogs actually chew throughout their lifetime.  It helps pass the time, keep their teeth clean and diffuse stress.  More than that, it appears to be fun and satisfying for most dogs.

A lot of folks ask, “How do I get my dog to stop chewing?”  We should probably ask a different question.  Perhaps, “can I teach my dog to chew something else other than my stuff?”  Now we’re on to something.  The idea is to teach your dog to chew this and not that.  Here’s a straightforward two-step process.

Step one:  limit choices.  Make it more difficult, if not impossible, for our dog to make the wrong choice.  If your dog is chewing furniture, keep him away from his target.  If he’s tearing up clothes, make sure all the clothes are out of reach.  Woodwork?  Safely confine and carefully supervise your dog.  Some trainers call this management.  I call it good common sense.  Don’t set your dog up to lose time and time again.  The truth is your dog doesn’t live by a moral compass.  There is no right or wrong; there is only available or non-available.  Make the wrong choices hard to find.

Stewie and Stella enjoying elk antlers

Step two: make it easy to make right choices.  Give your dog chewing options which are both allowed and better than the other options (like furniture).  I’m a huge fan of fully packed Kong Toys.  Don’t just smear peanut butter in there with a measly treat.  Load that bad boy up with a meal.  Then revel in watching your dog solve the puzzle of unpacking it.  Of course, there are tons of other chewing options.  My dogs love elk antlers.  Stella, in particular, really enjoys cardboard paper towel rolls.  Of course, I give these to her and we always supervise chewing.  Avoid putting out too many choices for chewing.  Remember, we want to make the choices easy.  A room full of toys and chew sticks doesn’t make for easy choosing.  Everything looks like a chew toy in that setting, and then we’re back to square one.

Changing your dog’s behavior is all about making smart changes in the environment.  Left to their own devices dogs will do the best they can, but they won’t always make the right choices.  With just a little help from us, they can win every time.  Make it harder for them to chew on the stuff we don’t want them to chew on.  Make it easy and rewarding to chew on the right stuff.  Keep that up for a few months and watch what happens.  You’ll be so happy watching your dog chew up something you gave him that you’ll wonder why you ever wanted to make him stop.

Originally published on the Houston Pet Talk blog.

My Dog Climbs the Fence

Michael Baugh CPDT-KA, CDBC

Dear Trainer:

Our dog, Zora, keeps climbing the fence! We live in a rented house so we don’t really have the option of changing or upgrading the fencing. We’ve lived here for over a year and she has just recently started doing this, since mid July. How can I prevent or change this behavior?

Cynthia D.


Dear Cynthia,

Don’t fence me in!  The old Cole Porter song is a bit dated now, but your dog obviously has a case of old fashioned wander lust.

The good news is, this falls squarely into to the category of “dogs will be dogs.”  Left to their own devices dogs will do doggie things, and that includes busting out of this place (wherever this place may be) to do a little exploring.  Here are some things to consider.

Manage the behavior.  If you’re not already, you really need to closely supervise Zora in the back yard. That means that you never leave her out there unattended.  You have to be there with her to make sure she’s not up to no good, or up and over the fence.   If she’s hopping the fence right before your unbelieving eyes, take the extra measure and put a leash on her for potty breaks out back.  We don’t want to leave anything to chance here.

If Zora is an “outside dog,” might I suggest you make her an “indoor dog” in a hurry?  It’s not as hard as you might think.  Most of the time, it’s just a matter of teaching potty training and some basic doggie manners.  The effort is well worth it.  Backyard dogs get in trouble; they get out, and sometimes they get hurt (or worse).  Don’t take that risk.

(Read more on All Things Dog Blog)