Ask the Pooch Coach

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Baby with Dog

Question: Baby with Dog


We are about to have a new baby. Should we have any worries with our 3 year old dog? He is very possessive of me, and I’m worried that it might be a problem




You definitely have to be careful when it comes to babies and jealous dogs. There are ways to get the dog to be OK with it. One major thing is to pay attention to the dog when the baby is around, and not pay (too much) attention to it when the baby isn’t around. Then the dog will equate the baby with good/attention (as opposed to bad – I get ignored). For more info, see my paper on children and dogs. -Pooch Coach

Our puppy stopped being housetrained

Question: Our puppy stopped being housetrained.


One puppy has been sleeping in my bed for about a month and a half. Potty trained. In recent past days… she has had 3 accidents on the bed. We have also recently gotten a new puppy which is allowed to pee on puppy pads in the rooms. Could the first puppy be possibly copying the newborn puppy?




You just need to work on potty training them both at once. Just figure you’re starting over with your first pup. It’s fairly common for dogs to digress in potty training when their routines change.


If you are unfamiliar with the housetraining process, check out the potty training video on my site:


Good Luck! -Pooch Coach

Dog eats cat poop

Question: Dog eats cat poop


We have many cats in the neighborhood and it seems like they all poop in my yard. My dog loves to eat it, then gets sick, i.e. loose, runny stools for days. How can I either keep the cats from pooping here, or keep her from eating it?




I had this problem myself with one of my dogs. There are a couple things on the market that could help. There are safe products to buy and put in your garden that smell bad to cats, but do not harm them or your dog. So, they stay away. This stuff can be found in gardening stores. You can also try those sonic sound things that make a high pitched noise when something comes into your yard. I have one, but I have no idea if it actually works. Putting the stuff in the garden did seem to help. Now my landscaper is also putting in foliage that cats and raccoons, etc. do not like. Lastly, you can do some work with your dog to train her not to eat it, which is a little more difficult. Good luck! -Pooch Coach

Puppy Nap

Question: Puppy Nap


We are taking our puppy up to Tahoe for the first time this weekend and want to make the trip up comfortable for her. We would like to give her something to help her sleep, possibly Tylenol PM but have no idea if this is OK to do for a pup. Any thoughts, suggestions? Are we way out of line on this one? Thanks for your reply . . .




Have you driven with her before? Is she afraid or something? Most dogs like car rides, so it shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you know you need to do something to calm her down, you can actually get mild tranquilizers prescribed from your vet. That’s the safest bet. The only “people” pills that are safe are children’s aspirin (e.g. J&J’s chewables) and antihistamine (e.g. Benadryl). But your vet should even help with the dosage on that. Also, make sure and exercise her as much as possible before you get her in the car. Tiring her out is half the battle. Hope this helps! -Pooch Coach

Terrified of other dogs

Question: Terrified of other dogs


My mini dachsie is terrified of other dogs. We have another mini dachsie whom she loves but when we take her to the park to meet and play with other dogs she will run until she finds shelter or claw your leg until you pick her up. It’s beginning to worry me. Anybody have any advice on how to handle this? She is 10 lbs so I realize that most dogs must seem huge to her.




You need to break her in gently. For instance, start with introducing her to another friend’s dog (who you know is gentle & friendly with other dogs). Even do this in a “safe” environment, such as your house or yard. Over time, by easing her into it, she should get up her courage. It’s very important that this gets taken care of… i.e. you are right to be concerned. It’s not just for the sake of her having fun and being social, but also because if other dogs sense fear, they are more apt to attack. You certainly don’t want her to be a “victim”. – Pooch Coach

My dog hates it when I go away


Question: My dog hates it when I go away


I adopted a wonderful wonderful 2 year old girl about two weeks ago. She is generally happy and loves to play. I walk her in the morning, evening and take her to one of the many dog parks in my area almost everyday. The problem is that she gets SO upset when I leave for work in the morning. I came home yesterday to find that she scratched the wall by the window so much that her nails bled. I have bought her all kinds of toys and attention grabbers, left the TV on and radio. I don’t know what to do. Please give me some helpful advice. Thank you.




Your dog has severe separation anxiety. If she is hurting herself, then it’s very serious. She needs to be trained into being able to be alone. You should contact a behaviorist in your area to help you. In the meantime, some people use mild tranquilizers to help calm their dogs down while they’re upset so they don’t injure themselves. You can ask your vet for help with that. Also, you can utilize pet walkers and sitters as needed. -Pooch Coach

Introducing 2 dogs


Question: Introducing 2 dogs


I’m about to bring a new puppy home to live with us and our 7 year old dog. How should we introduce them to make it easiest on all of us?




It’s always best to try to introduce 2 dogs away from home at first in neutral surroundings. A park is usually a good place. Make sure there are no toys, bones or food in the space, so there’s nothing to fight about. Then, introduce them on leash at first and let them sniff away. Praise them for all good behavior. If one dog gets testy, tell him “no”, and pull him off for a little time out. If it’s safe to let them off leash to play, that is a good next step. Once they are getting along in neutral territory, then introduce outside the house first and then bring them both inside together. Continue monitoring them closely – especially around bones and toys – and look for any problems. If they get into skirmishes, separate them immediately for a few minutes. If they seem to be having real trouble, contact a professional for help. There is almost always hope for getting two dogs to live together peacefully. One hint: Its typically easier if the dogs are not the same sex. -Pooch Coach

Heartworm medication

Question: Heartworm medication
Should I be giving my dog heartworm medicine? how often ? Do you have to buy it from the vet ? How necessary is it ? I never recall the vet going over this with me when I brought my new pup home.




For some reason, many vets do not mention heartworm when puppies are getting their vaccinations. However, it is good to get some meds. You dog should be tested every year as well. You need to get the meds from your vet. The dosage is by size of the dog. I recommend the chewable ones – dogs seem to really like them, so it’s better than giving a pill. You only need to give the meds out monthly. -Pooch Coach

Proper Correction?

Question: Proper Correction?


We have a dog trainer for our cocker spaniel. Our cocker is 16 months old. We are told by our trainer in order to correct him we need to get our dog Charlie up off his feet by swinging him around in the air with his leash. Is this proper to do this? I feel that it is cruel and leaves a mark on his neck.




This is not proper and can cause neck and back injuries, let alone emotional scarring for the dog. There is no need for such harsh corrections. I’d suggest finding a different, more gentle Trainer. -Pooch Coach

Hump, hump, hump, hump

Question: Hump, hump, hump, hump


hump hump hump. That’s all it seems like my male dog wants to do anymore. He’s a healthy, neutered, well-socialized 6-year old, with plenty of experience at dog parks, but lately what used to be a five-minute activity is now his *only* focus at the park. His day-care person says the same thing — that he’s stopped romping and fetching, and now hunts down each and every dog in his group until he’s made his move. I know humping is normal behavior, but it really is getting a bit extreme. He’s becoming an instigator, and I’ve noticed other dog owners in the park becoming uncomfortable about it — my dog won’t leave a dog alone if he’s decided to make him or her his bitch. Any thoughts? I hate to discourage normal hierarchical behavior, but I’m beginning to think people are giving us the stink-eye when we arrive to play.




You need to teach him that it’s not OK. You can try both positive reinforcement (e.g. giving him treats when he doesn’t do it), or negative (e.g. putting in him in a sit-stay by himself as soon as he starts). For a dog with an ingrained bad habit, which this sounds like, you probably will have to do both to get him to stop. But it is just a matter of training. Good Luck! -Pooch Coach

Puppy biting: What is the best way to teach puppy to not bite?

Question: Puppy Biting


What is the best way to teach puppy to not bite?


He is 12 weeks old and even when he is playing he is getting nippy. I don’t want to make things worse by using the wrong discipline.




You need to tell them “ouch” in a strong, high pitched voice, and stop play immediately. This is what litter mates and other dogs do, so it is “speaking his language”. Then you need to redirect them to a proper toy to bite. This usually works by itself but, if not, applying more negative reinforcement, such as spraying your hands with bitter apple, is fine as an added step. -Pooch Coach

New Puppy Help

Question: New Puppy Help


I just brought home a new puppy last night and it broke my heart this morning to hear her crying when I left for work. She stays in the crate at night and does OK, she will cry when she needs to go potty. I’m curious to know if anyone has any ideas on how to make the transition for me leaving for work so where she won’t cry.




It would help to ease her into you leaving. Try going for only 5 minutes, wait until she stops whining, and come back. Do not make a big deal about coming back, just say “hello”. Then go for 10 minutes, 15 mins, 1/2 hour, etc. She will then get used to being alone, know you will come back, and learn that whining does not get you to come back. Also, make sure she has plenty of safe chew toys to keep her busy. It also might help to give her an old item of clothing that smells like you to comfort her. Lastly, you should play with her and exercise her in the morning before you leave, so she gets rid of some of her excess energy. She should also have someone exercise her every few hours(i.e. she shouldn’t be home alone for 8 straight hours with no company). If you can’t be home, consider a dog walker. Hope this helps. Good luck! -Pooch Coach


Hates car rides

Question: Hates car rides


We recently purchased a nine week old puppy and he is terrified to ride in any of our vehicles. Do you know why this would be and what we could do to help him?


Another dog owner: I rescued a 3-yr old Westie about 2 months ago from a family of 5 who didn’t want him any more. He’s a sweet dog, but definitely has some problems. I’ve talked quite a bit with the previous family. They told me he barks when he’s in the car. He does. Not knowing what to do, I have taken a spray bottle of water along and squirt him when he barks and say “no bark.” It does help, somewhat, but I wonder if there’s an alternative. Any suggestions would be great.




Try exercising him first (to tire him out a bit), and then just sitting the car without it moving and get him used to sitting quietly. Keep doing this until he can sit and relax in the car for at least 15 mins with the car not moving. (Of course, he needs to be trained to sit and stay very well in the house before he can be expected to listen and control himself in an excitable environment.) Then, once he can sit and stay and relax in the car without it moving, drive around the block. Keep building it up until he can stay for any length of time and relax. You can also drive around empty parking lots where it’s safer for both of you. Feel free to dole out plenty of treats when he is sitting quietly & relaxing to reinforce that behavior. -Pooch Coach

Eating Blankets

Question: Eating Blankets


Hello! We have two grown dogs, pretty well trained. Except they love eating up our blankets! We’re tired of buying new ones. We point it out to them and tell them it’s wrong, but they just give us dumb looks so we feel stupid. What can we do? HELP!?!?!




Try using “bitter apple” or other spray deterrent that tastes bad to them. And still tell them “no”, so they learn to listen to “no”, because things taste bad when they don’t. (From Petsmart website: “Bitter Apple Spray leaves an unpleasant yet harmless taste on your dog’s fur to discourage licking, chewing and biting. Keeps dogs from licking wounds and hot-spots, so they have a chance to heal properly.”) -Pooch Coach

Still sleeping in crate at night

Question: Still sleeping in crate at night


I’m trying to decide if my dog is ready to sleep on a dog bed at night. (There really isn’t space for her large crate in my bedroom.) She willingly goes into the crate at night, but she doesn’t “love” her crate like other dogs. I would prefer that she sleep on a dog bed. However, I have given her mixed messages about getting on my bed. Any thoughts?




I know that some training books recommend not letting your dog sleep on your bed, but, other than non-house-trained puppies, I have never seen any problems come from it. It’s usually best to designate a spot on the bed for the dog so they don’t crawl all over you, and so they still know they “have their place”. Some people put the dog’s bed on the foot of their bed. -Pooch Coach

Help with 6 yr old Male lab with Dependency issue

Question: Help with 6 yr old Male lab with Dependency issue


Hi! I need help! I have a 6 yr old male lab. He’s a purebred, ex-stud dog I adopted 1.5 yrs ago. I take him to work with me and we recently moved. He is WAY too attached to me! He has begun to act up on the rare occasions he is not with me. Usually involves spraying somewhere in the house. Any tips on how to keep him liking me…but not freaking when he’s not with me? Up till this recent move, there were never any issues when I would leave him alone in the house. He’s very sweet but this is beginning to bother me! Any help/guidance is appreciated!




It sounds like the move might have affected him as well. It’s probably why he’s marking in the house – to mark his new territory. Some of this is just time to adjust, but he does need to be trained to not go in the house ASAP. You also can slowly get him used to your being away by breaking him in gently. Do it it increments that he can take. Maybe only 5 mins at first, then 15, then a 1/2 hour, etc. Show him that you will return – but only when he’s not barking or misbehaving at all. Lastly, you can intro him to other people – have your friends hang with him, feed him, give him treats, etc. Let him know other people can be his buddies, too. If this stuff doesn’t work, you can always try a trainer/behaviorist. Good Luck! -Pooch Coach

My dog hates his crate

Question: My dog hates his crate


How do i crate-train him? his crate is the right size, he can turn around and stand up in it. but he gets so scared every time. i tried tossing treats inside but he just pokes his head and runs out.




The treats are a good start. Keep using them, with a command “get into your bed (or crate)”. Reward for just going in at first, and then for longer and longer stays. Also, tie a favorite toy or delicious chewy in there so he has to stay in to chew it. Just keep doing these things until he gets used to it and sees it as a rewarding, good place — and he goes in on command. -Pooch Coach

Dog urinating in house

Question: Dog urinating in house


Can you help? We have a 2-1/2 year old Wheaton Terrier. He has recently started peeing in one spot in the house. He seems to be doing this every couple of days. We have not caught him in the act. The dog is crate trained and we have started putting him in there when we go out and at night. He does not pee in his cage. He likes his cage and we have no problems in getting him to go in. All we have to do is say, it is time for a lie down and he will go directly in. We think he is doing this when we just step out side for a few minutes to do something and we don’t let him out with us. He is able to watch from the door. Do you have any ideas? We can’t keep watching him 100% of the time and my husband is getting fed-up with having to clean up our stereo each time.




The first thing you might want to try are the following steps:


1. Clean the area thoroughly with something like Nature’s Miracle (gets rid of odor).
2. Then, apply a housebreaking aid such as “No Go” (No-Go Housebreaking Aid : Teach pets to stay away from certain areas by spraying this safe, natural repellent directly on the off limits spot. Spray on carpets to neutralize pet odor, eliminating your pet’s desire to resoil it.).
3. If those 2 steps do not work, then I would get a beeping device or a shock pad and put in in front of the area to keep him off:


Scat Mats: The Scat Mat issues a harmless, static correction to keep cats and dogs off of furniture, countertops and vehicles and away from dangerous areas.
Tattle Tale Audible Repellent: Tattle Tale uses a super sensitive vibration detection system to keep pets from restricted areas. Sets off a three second alert that keeps pets off furniture, counter tops or any other taboo area.


Also, take a look at my Potty Training video for many helpful hints.


If all those fail, then you probably need a behaviorist to take a look at the dog and the situation. Especially if he just finds another spot to in which to relieve himself. I could help here with techniques to train him to stop. But they will take longer than these devices. And, we might need to use the devices as part of this training as well.Pooch Coach

Go to YouTube for more training videos.

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