Behavioural Problems in Puppies and Adult Dogs (Part 2) Deliberate Fouling Indoors
By Rickie Haughton
Why is my dog dirtying and wetting indoors and what can I do about it?
Your dog has been house trained for some time and you were confident that this challenge had been overcome. You and your family have been away for the day visiting relatives and your dog has been left at home. On your return, the dog greets you as normal and then goes into the youngest childâ€™s bedroom, or worse still the master bedroom and wets or dirtys in the middle of the bed.
This is another common problem that some dog owners are faced with. The first thing that we have to look at is why has this happened? There are a few root causes for this type of behaviour, which can be very distressing for the owner.
First of all we must look at the dogâ€™s natural behaviour in the pack. Dogs use urine and faeces as a means of communication. A dog will scent mark his territory, a bitch will often squat near the same spot to signal her presence and status within the pack. Few dogs will soil their own bedding, but it is not uncommon for a pack animal to soil anotherâ€™s bed in order to show its disapproval of a particular action or to try and dominate that animal.
In the case of our soiled bed, the dog is showing his displeasure at being excluded from the pack outing. This is, of course, totally unacceptable and as pack leader it is your job to address the behaviour. So what to do? Should you rub the dogâ€™s nose in the mess and then throw it out, or maybe beating it will cure the problem?
NO, NONE OF THESE IDEAS WILL WORK!
Your dog does not know that it has done wrong, it is behaving perfectly naturally. However, there is a solution to the problem. In order to re-assert your authority you must exclude the dog from the pack for a period of time. I suggest shutting it in another room for 15 minutes and then letting it rejoin the family. On its return it must be ignored and treated as if it is not there by all of the family members, even the youngest child must be told to ignore it. Do not make eye contact with it.
About 10 minutes later you, as pack leader, may call the dog to you and make a fuss of it. This is followed by each member of the family, in order of seniority, repeating your action. Take note that the pack leader is always the Alpha Female followed by the Alpha Male (this is true in human society also, but we men just wonâ€™t admit it).
The reason that this type of reaction to the dogâ€™s behaviour works is because the dog is a pack animal and there are very strict rules within that pack. One of the worst things that can happen to a pack animal is to be excluded from the pack. Why? Because on his or her own the dog is very unlikely to survive in the wild where it will either be killed by some type of predator or, without the rest of the pack, be unable to hunt sufficient food to keep itself alive. Any injury will result in the animal being unable to defend itself or hunt to its full potential, thus weakening it still further.
When you exclude it from the family it does not know that this is only temporary and will feel very insecure. On being allowed back into the room but ignored it will consider itself an outcast watching the pack from afar. Then when you welcome the dog back into the pack it will be overjoyed and fawn around you and the other family members, licking you all and rolling over to signal its submission.
The dog will remember this lesson and should it repeat the offence then the next exclusion will make it realise why it is being banished. Very few dogs will persist in this offensive behaviour after they have been banished from the pack.
Rickie Haughton is a Kennel Club of Great Britain registered dog trainer and has bred, shown and trained dogs for over 35 years. His expertise covers all aspects of breeding, rearing, showing, training and behaviour in breeds of all sizes. Together with his wife, Lesley, they own the Bassmas Basset Hound and English Mastiff Kennels in Somerset, England. Occasionally they have puppies for sale to approved homes only. They can be contacted at Bassmas@northmoor.plus This article can also be seen at http://www.poodle-lovers.com.
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