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Ask Pilar: Potty Training, Large Pups And Dog Fears

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. Potty training: what are the basics? 


Patience is key when it comes to potty training. Understand that your puppy needs to relieve himself/herself in a relaxing way. If they make a mistake, don’t scold them. It will traumatize them, and they may just pee in different areas. First, find a designated spot where you want to do the potty training. Keep a watchful eye; in the early mornings (or whenever they have to go), bring your puppy to the right spot and, when they potty train correctly, congratulate them by giving them a pat or a treat. Every time you see them doing it in the wrong place, bring them back to the correct place. Clean the area where they made the mistake. If not, they may associate that as an appropriate spot. Take your dog outside often to help them associate the outdoors with where they should be doing their business. Puppies are intelligent and, in due time, will recognize the designated place and know to go outside.

2. How do you raise a larger dog like a pit bull?  And how do you prevent them from peeing everywhere and tearing things up?


First of all, a puppy will always be a puppy no matter how big they are. Remember that you are in control because they look to you for leadership. Second, put a leash on the dog and supervise them throughout the whole day. Don’t give them the chance to make a mistake. You are not only a leader but a teacher. When they do things correctly, give positive reinforcement (treat or a pat). Bring them for a walk and reward them only when they are calm or follow your orders. Take them for walks or to a park as often as possible so that they can learn to pee outside (see previous question). Give them flavored biting toys that they really like. To prevent them from tearing things apart, give them a toy that they would love to play with. The “Kong” classic dog toy is a favorite, especially when there is a tasty treat inside. Never pet or reward a dog for bad behavior. 

3. My terrier is very afraid of the TV and skateboards. How do you correct this?


Dogs learn by association. There must be some previous experience that triggered the dog to dislike the TV and skateboards. A good suggestion is to buy a skateboard (or bring yours out) and let the dog see and appreciate it. Safely play with the board with your dog. Store it close to where their favorite toys are, or put some of their favorite treats on top of it. Do not ride the skateboard if you do not know how to. If you fall, the dog will associate that as another negative experience. A little positive association goes a long way. Regarding the TV — dogs hate loud noises. They do not like to hear gunshots or explosions on TV. In fact, they may start barking as if defending their territory. Find a relaxing show on TV that does not create piercing sounds in their ears. My dog, for example, likes to watch Disney Channel especially when it features other dogs playing around. The original Dog Whisperer show is available on Disney Plus! Believe it or not, dogs love to see other dogs on TV. 

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