The One Thing Your Dog Needs to Know for Hurricane Season

Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

It’s the one thing all of our dogs need to know for hurricane season – where to poop and pee.

But, wait. Don’t all our dogs already know where to potty? Yes, maybe. And, maybe not.

Most of our dogs know pretty well where to do their business near our home on a sunny or mildly inclement day. Things can get a bit iffy, though, if the weather is really bad (some of us already know that). And lots of dogs forget potty training altogether if they are staying in a different home or (worst case) in a hurricane shelter. It’s up to us to teach them specific potty instructions that will hold up under lots of circumstances.

The core of potty training remains the same:

  • Praise and treats for going in the right spot. We need to be there to pull this off. Practice in lots of places and in all kinds of weather. Pro tip: teach your dog to walk with you under an umbrella. This is so important for puppies, but it can be taught at any age (we can show you how).
  • Supervise your dog inside.
  • Safely confine the dog when you can’t supervise. These last two points are extra important if you are staying at a family member’s or friend’s house, in a hotel, or at a shelter.

And here’s a hurricane hack for folks who already have dogs who are sensitive to pooping and peeing in the rain. You can actually purchase a box of grass and teach your dog to do his business there – maybe in the garage or under a patio. All the same rules of potty training apply. But, remember, you’ll want to practice this now not in the throes of a storm. It may take a few weeks to nail it.

  • Guide your dog to the spot
  • Wait for the poop or pee
  • Praise and treat
  • Pro tip: Gather a bit of pee from your dog (you can use a saucer for this). Put it on the sod in the box. The scent will attract him to go there again.

 

  • Fresh Patch is one brand of grass sod in a box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build excitement around going potty in the designated spot with a special cue. I use “let’s go potty” or “go outside go potty.” That’s always a sure bet for my dogs. If they hear that cue and go out to poop and pee, they are getting a treat for it. This is video of Stella and Stewie peeing outside during a Hurricane Harvey downpour (so proud of those two).

Related resource: Teaching Your Dog Behavioral Flexibility.

Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA specializes in aggressive dog training. He lives in and works as a dog trainer in Houston, TX

How to Choose a Dog Trainer – The Most Important Factor

Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

We love our dogs. We want nothing but the best for them. And, when their behavior is troubling or even dangerous we want competent professional help.

The trouble is dog training is an unregulated profession. Lots of professions require state licenses, including exterminators, hair and nail professionals, plumbers and electricians, and veterinarians and vet techs (of course). Dog training is not on the list in any U.S. state.

We are self-regulated. Anyone can call himself or herself a dog trainer. So, what should you look for when choosing a trainer or dog behavior consultant? What’s the most important factor?

Education is certainly very important. Competent dog behavior professionals invest a lot of time and money into learning their profession. The very best engage in hours of continuing education every year. They focus on learning Applied Behavior Analysis, best practices for teaching humans and dogs, as well as dog handling skills.

Experience is great, so long as the trainer is practicing sound techniques backed by reliable behavior science. Anyone can do things wrong for a long time. Quality experience requires learning the profession well and putting it into practice effectively year after year.

Credentialing is essential. Excellent dog trainers and dog behavior consultants look to their peers for standards of excellence and accountably. This is different than winning ribbons at dog shows. While that may prove a trainer can effectively teach a number of skills to his own dog, it does not speak to how he teaches his human clients with a variety of dog behavior issues. Professional certification, however, requires that the dog behavior professional prove his or her breadth and depth of knowledge and skills. The two most honored certifications are the Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) and the Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC). Each is rigorous in its requirements to achieve and maintain.

Education, experience and credentials are all important. But, none is as key as this last factor when choosing a dog trainer or dog behavior consultant.

Transparency. Your trainer or behavior consultant should be able to answer your questions before you hire him or her. How will you treat my dog if he does something wrong? Challenge him or her to be specific. What will you do when my dog does something correctly? What training tools do you use? And yes, what is your education, experience, and what credentials have you earned? Look for clarity in the answers, offered freely and without hesitation. Qualified dog behavior professionals should have web sites rich with information and modest in their promises. Sure, a bit of marking is fine. But, we all know what it means if something sounds too good to be true. Look for authenticity. Behavior consultants and trainers who value transparency will post videos of their work. They will seek and share feedback from clients. They will write blogs about their cases; publish their knowledge; put themselves out there to see.

Excellent trainers and behavior consultants celebrate positive reinforcement learning. They are eager to teach it to you. Beware the trainer who wants to take your dog away and won’t disclose what happens behind their closed doors. Remember transparency. The dog trainer you are looking for has nothing to hide.

Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston TX. He specializes in fearful and aggressive dog training.

Related video: The World Dog Trainers’ Transparency Challenge

 

 

Long Term Behavior Care

 

Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

Congratulations! You’ve completed a multi-visit training regimen with your dog trainer or dog behavior consultant. You’ve made excellent progress with your dog. The behavior you wanted to modify is under much better control. Maybe it’s even “fixed.” Kick back and relax. You’re done now. Right?

Um, no.

But, don’t worry. The hardest part is over. Behavior change is difficult. Maintaining your dog’s improved behavior is a bit easier. It still takes attention and work, though. Here’s how it looks. All this should be very familiar to you.

Manage your dog’s behavior. Always set your dog up to succeed. Be aware of his surroundings. Watch to make sure we aren’t loading up too many stressors for him to handle all at once. Give him quiet time in his crate or in a safe place behind a baby gate. Use his muzzle and leash as needed. Maintain distance from triggering events when necessary. Protect your dog from making a mistake.

Stick to the plan. Over the past weeks or months you’ve learned an excellent plan for helping your dog. You’ve taught him new ways to behave. You’ve taught him that he is safe in various situations that used to upset him. Stick to your plan. Your dog is relying on the predictable patterns you’ve set up. Varying from the routines you’ve taught him can be confusing. At worst, they can trip him up altogether and cause a regression. Stay consistent.

Reinforce good behavior.  This is always a good idea. Keep noticing all the times your dog does something right. Support his good choices. Praise him. Give him treats. Play with him. Do this for the rest of your lives together. Really, keep doing this forever.

Help your dog navigate change. Behavior is always changing. Our world is always changing, too. Over the course of your dog’s life there may be a lot of changes. You may move to a new home. You may meet a new soulmate. Your work schedule may change. You may meet new friends and have them over to the house. With each change, help your dog by reviewing and adjusting his training routines. Teach him the skills to navigate these new experiences. In many cases you’ll be reinforcing old skills. This is a good way to remind your dog that he’s safe and that you’re there to help.

Flag trouble early. If you see a recurrence of your dog’s old unwanted behavior patterns, call in help. Don’t wait for it to occur several times. Call your trainer or behavior consultant right away. It doesn’t mean your efforts failed. It doesn’t mean your dog is doomed. He’s simply communicating the best way he can, with is actions. Most of the time, with some help, you can get things back on track.

Here’s a quick review:

  • Manage behavior (you’ve been doing that all along)
  • Stick to your training plan.
  • Practice – Reinforce good behavior.
  • Help your dog navigate changes in his environment.
  • Flag trouble early. Call in help as soon as you notice any unwanted behavior.

You’ve come a long way already. You’ve learned so much and so has your dog. I suspect you two are closer to each other than ever now. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Better communication. More trust. Happier times. And a lifelong commitment to keep learning together.

 

Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston, TX. He specializes in dogs who are fearful and behave aggressively.