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Ask Pilar: Eating Poo, Raising A Deaf Dog And Peeing On Floor

Welcome to our “Ask Pilar” series! Professional dog trainer and groomer Pilar Garrido will answer questions you have about your pup. She is only providing a basic overview. For more information, please consult a trainer, behaviorist or groomer in your area, who can directly work with your dogs.

For this round of questions, our readers asked:

1.  I have an eight-month-old Shar-Pei and he seems to be doing well at home. However, if left unattended, he has the habit of eating his feces, which I find disturbing. What can I do to prevent this from continuing?  

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This problem is widespread in many puppies, especially among those that grew up in a cage with their mother, where care was not adequately provided. The same applies to puppies who have been improperly scolded while learning to potty train the right way. When this happens, we need to ignore the dog’s bad behavior and positively reinforce the correct ones. We don’t want the puppy to get scared when he keeps making mistakes. Sometimes, a puppy will eat his feces to keep us from getting angry. It is his way of cleaning up the area.

Here is what we can do to help the puppy: 

  • Supervise the dog after each meal since he will eventually need to use the bathroom afterwards. Immediately remove the feces when he goes. This will prevent him from eating it.

  • Teach the dog the command “drop it.” We can start by doing this while the dog is playing with a toy. A puppy will typically drop the toy, and when he does that, use the cue words. Later, when the dog associates the word with the action, we can say “drop it,” and he will know what to do. Whenever we see something inappropriate in his mouth, use the command.

  • Always reward the dog with praise or treats when he ignores the feces nearby. Make sure that we remove the feces right away.

  • Add a small amount of pineapple, seedless papaya and salmon oil to the dog’s food. These foods are beneficial to the dog’s health and also make the stool less tasty for him.

  • Be consistent on the meal schedule for greater control. The dog should eat a diet high in protein and fat, and low in carbohydrates. This is a recommendation but consult your veterinarian first; each dog is different and their diets should vary depending on their age and health condition.

  • Develop a strong bond with the dog by taking him for long walks and only patting or caressing him when he is calm. Never leave the dog alone for an extended period of time. When he gets bored, he might engage in behaviors like eating feces or destroying things. It is a way for him to get our attention. Try to get him some useful toys like Kongs or any interactive games that can help eliminate boredom.

2.  I just adopted a deaf dog. I thought it would be an easy task since there is no sound to distract her. Now I realized it is quite a challenge. How can I train her to do simple tasks like come, sit and eat?

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During the first two weeks of a puppy’s life, her eyes begin to open. A few days after that, the dog hears and learns to associate sounds. Hearing continues to develop until she reaches eight weeks. A deaf puppy is unable to hear, but the rest of her senses are fully developed.

She knows how to orient and defend herself. Whenever we need to teach and guide her, we should do it through her sight, smell and touch. Always guide her by carrying food or treats, and teaching her orders by pointing or making hand gestures. Gently touch her body to guide her as well.

By using hand signals, visual order becomes part of the dog’s training routine. It’s essential to teach her to look us in the eyes to read commands. It is not as difficult as we may think. Many trainers prefer teaching dogs using hand movements because dogs are more attentive to the trainers’ hand signals. 

Don’t think of it as a disadvantage if we cannot say the command words. There are many good references available at bookstores and online on how to train our dog using just hand signals alone. I have even seen trainers teaching their dogs to start and stop barking to the raising of their eyebrows. Dogs are very observant with body language and can learn very quickly through hand gestures alone.

Here are examples of hand gestures that we can teach our dog:

  • Pointing towards our eye = Look at me

  • Pointing downwards = Lie down

  • Open hand palm down = Sit

  • Open hand palm outward = Stay

  • Swaying the palm towards us = Come

3. My four-year-old Border Collie is always fun and loving; when I arrive home, she comes to greet me at the door. She is never aggressive, but every time someone gets close to her, she pees and lays on the floor. Why is my dog doing this and how can I help her stop?

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It seems from your anecdote that you have a dog that tends to be overexcited or leave a puddle of pee as a result of submission. It is a physical response whenever a dog feels shy, excited or scared. When this happens, the first thing we need to do is bring our dog to the veterinarian to rule out any incontinence problems. Once that has been ruled out, we should try to correct her behavior by following certain rules:

  • Never punish, scold or shows signs of anger when the dog pees unintentionally when she gets nervous or becomes submissive.

  • Maintain calmness when you approach her. Tell others to do the same.

  • Avoid staring at your dog directly in her eyes. When talking, we need to speak in a soft voice and avoid the use of a higher pitch tone that can be misconstrued as anger or excitement. In some cases, it better not to speak and instead communicate using hand gestures.

  • Avoid creating any unanticipated or sudden movements that can scare or overexcite the dog.

  • When entering the house, don’t talk to, stare at or touch the dog. Come into the house and do the things you need to do first. After a while, call the dog calmly when the stimulus that causes the dog to become overexcited has subsided. If she still gets overexcited, ignore her until she calms down.

  • Always clean the area thoroughly when she pees unintentionally, use dog-specific products to remove the odor. We don’t want this to be her marking spot, which may become her new favorite peeing area.

Have questions? Follow us and ask on our IG @dogwhispererhq or through our website here.

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