Dear Deborah: We’ve tried and tried to train our five-month-old Dobermann, but he still pees in the house. We’re using the “kennel” method, but after he cries and cries, we give up and let him out. We’re rewarded with new stains. Will he outgrow this? -Constantly Cleaning.
Dear Constantly Cleaning: Who’s controlling whom here? Your Doberman is your pet, and he must learn the rules of your house – not vise versa. So ignore the crying jags, be firm and persevere – the results are worth it.
Use the kennel to confine your dog when you cannot see him, when you are out and when you sleep. But also make it his “happy” place: Feed all meals in there, and give him toys and attention inside. Only release your dog when he is quiet, and then immediately take him outside to pee.
Let him in only after he has done so, praising him for a job well done. Don’t worry about standing outside forever – he’ll learn fast if he wants to go back inside or play. If you do catch him peeing inside, scold him briefly, then take him outside to his spot right away.
Tip: Combine one part vinegar with one part water to get rid of the scent of pee.
Dear Deborah: My sister’s eight-month-old poodle pees in his doggie bed every night. He was neutered at six months of age and comes from the best of American breeders. She lives in Reno, so she’s asked me to be the middle-man. -Middle-Man
Dear Middle-Man: Thank you for passing on this poodle problem. Please pass on the following advice to your sister.
Take that stinky doggie bed, with its pee scent, and place it in an area she would like her poodle to consider his bathroom.
Create a new doggie bed but make sure it has no soft surfaces that could soak up the urine. It must be easy to clean and keep scent free. (Later, once he’s been accident free for a month, she can place a cedar dog bed inside, but not until he’s trained.)
Ideally, the new “bed” will be a kennel with a door that closes. The poodle should get all meals in there with the door closed. Poodles are smart and enjoy learning lots of words so teach him a command like “Beddie-bye” or “Kennel-up” with treats and praise. Make the kennel the most fun place in his poodle life with special treats and toys and he will love to go in there. Make it a game. Poodles love games.
Make sure you feed him two meals each day in his kennel with the door closed, at breakfast and dinner, and take him outside to the designated poodle bathroom after each meal. Each morning, march him directly to the poodle bathroom, before you release him from his kennel. ONLY release him when he’s quiet, NEVER when he’s barking out demands. For more kennel training tips, pick up a copy of my book, Good Dog!, available in book stores or online.