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Ask Pilar: Pulling On Leash, Fear Of Transportation Box 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 issue with our two-year-old female Deutscher boxer at home. My husband is a pilot, and when he is at home, he walks her every day. However, when he is out on the job, I try walking her, and it seems impossible. She disobeys my commands and always bites and pulls at the leash, so I end up letting her play in the yard.  Am I doing something wrong?

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Don’t give up on walking your dog. You want to build a strong bond with her, and here’s what you can do. Try using a Halti or gentle leader collar. It is a way for you to exert control over her. First, begin with training her to get used to it. Giving treats is excellent positive reinforcement, but give it to her when she is very calm and begins walking. Keep in mind that walking is essential for her and for you too. It is an excellent way to keep her relaxed and happy, and you bond with her. Remember that whenever you feel unsure of yourself or get frustrated when walking her, she will immediately begin to feel it, and start to pull on the leash. Naturally, puppies follow their mothers, and she sees you as an extension of the family. Training her on the leash will take time, and once you have done it correctly, she will walk as if she does not have any leash on. I know you can do it. You need to trust yourself and practice.

2. I have a one-year-old female Shih Tzu and she loves sleeping in a pet transportation box perfectly her size in my room. I always leave the door of the transportation box open so that she can come and go. One day, I had to bring her to the vet inside the same box, and she panicked and was hyperventilating. I have never seen her like that before. Now, she does not want to sleep inside the transportation box at all. Instead, she is now sleeping on the floor next to my bed. I would like her to sleep in a transportation box like before, and now she does not want to go near it. Can you help, please?

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I had a client with the same problem in the past, and finally, we were able to address the problem — the dog is now happily sleeping in her favorite transportation box. We need to keep in mind that the transportation box was your dog’s most secure place, and we should as much as possible avoid intruding in her area. We violated her personal space by using the box to take her to the vet. Whenever we bring her to places she has never been before, encourage her to go out by giving her a tempting treat or a toy that she really likes, and let her make a choice. She will go out eventually, and we need to learn to be patient. Because of her bad experience and association, she does not want to sleep inside the box. This is just temporary; however, we need to clean the box well to not smell like the veterinarian’s clinic. Once it is clean, put a blanket inside with your smell, then add her favorite toys with goodies in them. The moment she walks inside the box again, speak in a soft voice and congratulate her without patting her. Respecting her space inside the box is essential. Keep in mind the correct handling of the transportation box when you bring her outside of the house and let her make the move of going to avoid the same mistake. She will enjoy having the box to herself once more.

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…however, we need to clean the box well to not smell like the veterinarian’s clinic. Once it is clean, put a blanket inside with your smell, then add her favorite toys with goodies in them. The moment she walks inside the box again, speak in a soft voice and congratulate her…

3. We have a three-year-old female Beagle that we have just adopted from a nearby shelter.  She is adorable and not aggressive at all. However, she always pees on the floor whenever we have a male visitor coming into the house. Also, whenever we bring her to a friend’s house with people she knows, she freezes and begins to pee on the floor. Can you give us any suggestions on how to solve this problem?

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We can tell from your story that we have a dog that pees as a result of fear and stress, which can create anxiety/excitement and submissive behavior. Usually, when people surround a dog, she will get stressed if not trained to be in this situation. Stress will provoke her to pee. The same problem can happen when she meets new dogs or people and is unfamiliar with this type of environment. She will become excited, leading to submissive behavior and ending up peeing on the floor. Training her to be calm and relax whenever she is in this type of situation is so essential. Try doing these simple steps.

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She will become excited, leading to submissive behavior and ending up peeing on the floor. Training her to be calm and relax whenever she is in this type of situation is so essential.

(1) Whenever you have visitors in your house, tell your guess to avoid eye contact with the dog (because it is a sign of dominance) and to avoid approaching her directly.

(2) If they want to pet her, tell them not to do it from the top of the head but somewhat under the chin. It is better to wait and let the dog approach people. Let the dog come to them on her terms.

Remember to always reward your dog for good behavior and, in due time, she will learn to feel relaxed and think that seeing new people in the house or going to new places is just a typical event. 

(3) The moment you notice many people talking or playing loud music in the house or other people’s houses, take the dog out for a walk so that she does not get overexcited. She can also relieve herself properly outside.

(4) I would also recommend seeing your veterinarian and talking to them about your dog’s problem. It is a good way of ruling out any medical issues that she might have.

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