Now to the nitty gritty steps
to put pack leadership in action! You may be saying, “So, I went ahead and got a crate, dominant dog collar and drag leash. It’s on my dog all the time he is not in his crate. I make him Sit/Wait when I feed him. But he still messes inside! And this is after he has been outside in our huge, fenced-in yard for an hour!” You may be still frustrated beyond the sky after a full week of taking the steps suggested by this crazy lady online at Pup Stop 😉
But trust me! You are already on the way to be pack leader and stop your dog peeing inside!
Foundations are Built with Pieces and Work
It’s fully understandable that you may have come here after you have tried everything to get your dog to do his business outside and are still frustrated. Most folks do not connect the fact that everything in dealing with dogs works out of a relationship with the dog. If your relationship–as he sees it–is more of a buddy, you’re the coolest one in the pack, he is not going to take you seriously. Not even when you blow up from frustration at his antics. The importance of a solid foundation as pack leader (PL) cannot be stressed enough. And I use the term “foundation” intentionally to get across the point that, just as building a house, a solid, sound foundation is essential. Unless you want the house to sink or fall apart in time? Exactly.
The coinciding point of using the term foundation is to give the full picture. Foundations are not something you can buy at the store, pull it intact out of the box and begin to use it. Foundations are built by rigorous work, digging the footer, laying gravel, measuring, leveling and all sorts of tedious work. It is a lot of work! But look at what you can enjoy when a solid foundation is laid. The fabulous thing about laying foundational work with dogs is that any work with dogs is fun! If you’re doing it right 😉
Ready? There may be many methods to address the specific issue of messing in the house, and some of those methods may work, but this will give you an idea of what your day should look like. You can revise along the way, according to your work schedule and anything else. I will start here with your day off spent at home, so it provides a fuller picture for you.
- If you are taking this advice seriously, when you wake, your dog will be in her crate with no collar, leash, etc. You get out of bed after hitting the snooze button a couple times on a lazy Saturday. Or maybe the “lonely” whine of your pup from her crate wakens you. If you’re like most people, you use the bathroom first. When you do finally mosey over to get her out of her crate, tell her “Good morning!” (exclamation point infers a happy, excited voice). That will later be her cue, if used consistently. Before you let her out, tell her “Wait”. Open the door and put the dominant dog collar (or soft harness) on her with drag leash attached.
- If she bolts out of the crate, retrieve her and put her back in. She needs to know that she does not make a move until you give the okay. For the first few days or week (some may take more) you may have many do-overs. But keep on it! The work will pay off!
- Once her collar/harness and drag leash is on, take a hold of the leash and let her know it is time to do her morning business outside. Any command (or cue) you usually use for this is fine, as long as you are consistent. In my house, we tell my girls, “Let’s do it outside!” Sometimes I just ask, “You have to do it outside?” Then take her, by the leash and lead her to the door–if she’s not already there!
- Right here is a crucial point in laying a solid foundation, and you can catch two birds with one net, so to speak. When she is at the door, leash in hand, give her “Sit/Wait” command. Do not open that door until her bottom is firmly on the floor and she is looking at you! When you do open the door, remind her to Wait. I usually add an open hand gesture to reinforce the command (this also teaches them hand signals to associate with the command). Absolutely crucial is the fact that she needs to remain in Sit/Wait UNTIL you are out the door first AND then give her the “Okay!”
- This procedure reinforces that you are in control–you are pack leader. It also instructs your dog that she is not to go out any door that opens whenever she feels like doing so. Too many dogs are lost or worse just because they were never reigned in at the door from the beginning. But do not fret! It is not too late to instill this vital point with your pooch!
- Now, it is up to you whether you want to go outside with your dog or not at this point. I strongly suggest you do, but you may want to make your coffee first 😉 It is also up to you if you leave the drag leash on while she is outside. Simply for practical purposes, if you just let her out by herself take the leash off. This way she will not end up messing on the leash. If you do go outside with her, keep a hold of the leash and walk around with her. This will reinforce the purpose of going out at this time. It is not time to just run around, but it is time for business! Still, be upbeat, with a light voice and give her no reason to feel intimidated.
- You may have to take or let her out several times before she actually does her business. Once she does it outside immediately praise her. And I mean make a really big deal about it! Repeat to her the cue you used to tell her it’s time to do her business outside to reinforce the words with the actions, along with your response to her doing well. For example, when my pups were at this stage I exclaimed, “Yay! You did it outside like a big girl!” and would rub her belly. Yes, I have been known to do “the happy dance” with my dogs on such occasions 🙂
- Also crucial is to bring her inside right after she does her business outside. This further reinforces the action (doing her business) with the location (outside) and how great it is to do so–you are excited with her and invite her back in to spend time with you!
- If she does come inside and poops or pees like she has had the habit of doing, ignore the fact entirely. Do not even acknowledge that your dog did it. Obviously, you will need to clean it up, but say nothing to her about it. You may want to calmly just take her outside again and then clean it up.
- Repeat these steps each time you think your dog needs to go outside for business purposes.
If her messing inside is a fear-based issue, as discussed in the previous post (Be Pack Leader II), then anything you say or do toward her in relation to what she just did will reinforce that fear. If she is messing inside because of dominance, ignoring her willful “accident” will cause her to recalculate her methods. We’ll discuss all that in a later post, but here we are focusing on PL foundation for house-training issues.
So How Long?
You may be wondering, “So how long do I have to do these steps and act like an idiot over dog poop outside?” Sure, it does depend on the age and health of your dog, but it depends mostly on you.
Be consistent in all this, all day, every day!
You may be amazed at how quickly your dog responds well enough to get beyond the basics. In my experience, most take only a few days (for dogs older than a year). Soon this will become so routine with your pooch, she will just do her business where she ought, so she can get on to enjoying her day with her favorite two-legger!
Even if your dog has several issues, it is best to focus on one issue at a time. As you see him growing out of one issue, then start on the next, while keeping intact the pieces of the foundation you already laid.
And always remember the #1 Key in all things dogs: Have FUN with your pup!
Please share your experience, questions and whatnot below! We are here to help!