Preparing Your Dog For the Winter
October 10, 2013
Do you want to bring your dog indoors for the winter, but are hesitant because you believe he might destroy your home? Does your dog still have “accidents” in the house? Does he/she chew furniture when left alone? Did you recently go hungry after he stole your Holiday roast from the countertop? Does he embarrass you amidst company when he raids the trash seeking food, paper, or feminine products? Does he exuberantly barrel into visitors and jump on children? Or even worse, is he inappropriately aggressive when guests come to the door?
The stereotypical “outdoor dog” is a vanishing cultural preference. In today’s society, an increasing number of pet owners desire to integrate their dogs indoors within the household, especially during the colder winter months. However, many pet owners remain apprehensive when bringing their dog indoors or leaving their dog indoors unsupervised outside of a crate, due to their dog’s insubordinate or destructive behaviors. Fortunately, a well-designed training program combined with a little time and patience will evolve almost all dogs into model household companions.
When CPT constructs a behavioral training program, we first interview the owner to obtain a history of the dog’s upbringing and his/her problematic behaviors. We next view the dog in an unadulterated manner to evaluate firsthand the behaviors specified by the owner(s) as primary issues. After obtaining pertinent information and observations, we design a training program using a trifurcated (three-pronged) approach. The three prongs are: 1) Origination, 2) Prevention, and 3) Symptomatic.
The origination prong focuses on why your dog performs the behavior. Is he simply unaware of what you prefer or is he satisfying an inherent need or desire? For instance, does he chew the sofa because he does not understand which items are categorized as dog toys, because he is not sufficiently interested in appropriate chew items, because he has oral pain from emerging permanent dentition, because he is orally fixated, because he is bored, or because he is anxious when left alone? By treating the root cause of the behavior, we can most effectively extinguish the problem positively while concurrently providing a higher quality of life for your pet.
The prevention prong focuses on curtailing bad habits from continuing. Thwarting present behavior provides time for us to successfully implement origination and symptomatic training programs. Frequently, we hear customers say, “Every day when I come home from work I always find a lake of urine in my dining room.” When clients use the words “every day”, “always”, or similar words or phrases that connote a high probability of repeat behavior, they need to first prevent current habits from continuing before we can effectively enable the dog to adopt new behaviors. Remember, your dog is performing the behavior either because he/she is unaware or uncertain what you prefer or he/she is fulfilling an internal need or desire. Your dog may not understand yet that the dining room isn’t a toilet. On the other hand, your dog may urinate in the dining room mostly because the act relieves an uncomfortably full bladder. Perhaps your dog is marking from dominance or stress or losing conscious control of his/her bladder due to high levels of separation anxiety. By preventing entry into the dining room via a crate, baby gates, or boxes, we can prevent the undesirable behavior from continuing. Consequently, we raise the probability of success when we attempt to teach and encourage an alternative behavior, such as waiting until a regularly scheduled time to urinate outdoors. Similar preventive measures are applicable when addressing a variety of household behavioral problems.
The symptomatic prong focuses on making the present habit or behavior undesirable, usually through some form of mild passive or active punishment, which in turn allows you to better prompt your dog to seek an alternative behavior as a replacement. For instance, if you want your dog to relax on a dog bed and not the sofa, you could place aluminum foil on the couch (which most dogs don’t like) as a form of passive punishment or commence mild active verbal reprimands or leash corrections when he starts to rest on the furniture. However, optimally symptomatic punishment should be accompanied by positive, cognitive training. Concurrently praise and treat your dog every time he uses the dog bed. With consistent implementation, along with prevention when your dog is unsupervised, your dog will eventually surmise that the couch brings discomfort and the dog bed brings comfort. When he/she arrives at that conclusion, he will no longer desire to climb on the furniture and will instead use the dog bed independently, without requiring any human intervention.
The preceding is a simplistic synopsis of CPT’s behavioral training methodology. We hope that you now understand your dog a little better and feel more confident that you can successfully bring your dog indoors during the colder winter months.
If you desire professional assistance, please contact CPT either by phone (404-236-2150) or by e-mail via the Contact link at the top right of this web page. A trained dog is a happy dog and belongs to a happy owner. CPT’s elite professionals have trained the pets of over 50,000 Atlanta families. We would love to add you and your dog to our list of satisfied clients.
© Copyright Mark Spivak and Comprehensive Pet Therapy, Inc., January 2006, Revised February 2014. All rights reserved.