The idea for this column was a direct request from CandysDirt.com founder and publisher Candy Evans. Since the arrival of her new Goldendoodle, Butter Belle, she’s got more questions than answers when it comes to raising a high-energy, insatiably curious pup.
For advice, we turned to dog behaviorist Brad Bevill. With a wait list stretching out eight months for his in-demand dog training services, he epitomizes the phrase “Man’s Best Friend”—and vice versa. The acclaimed dog expert not only loves pets. He’s built his highly-successful business, Bevill Dog Behavior, on a model designed to educate humans, train dogs, and build trusted, gratifying relationships.
Are today’s homes designed purposely to be the “anti-dog trainer”?
Like so many others, we have an “open floor plan” concept: Our kitchen is open to the family room and breakfast room, which is open to the loggia and living room at one end, the dining room, and bar at the other. And oh yes, another doorway takes you to the laundry room—which is now, also the pup’s room.
We have a precious four-month-old puppy, and every book says, “confine them to one or two rooms in the house” for the first year.
Well, how do you do that without reconstructing your home? I have her on a leash, but she loves to get free and explore… which often results in a potty accident at the other end of the open area!
Help! Do we need to seriously re-think home design when it comes to dogs?
Absolutely not. Home design doesn’t matter at all. Instead, it’s taking the time to teach a dog what behavior you expect. Anytime there’s a pup exploring or pottying where it’s not supposed to, there’s a human that’s not watching or directing.
Simply put, you can’t give a dog free rein of the home. Inevitably, they’re going to do stuff you don’t like. It’s the same principle as raising a kid. If I gave my three-year-old son complete freedom, I guarantee he’d break something or hurt himself.
Boundary training is like any learning process.
It means teaching your dog patience and impulse control. The good news is dog’s development cycles are much shorter than humans. By age two or three, they’re fully grown. But as an owner, you can’t be lazy. While boundary training isn’t difficult, it does requires time, effort, and commitment.
To start, have your dog on a leash with some treats handy. Step toward the entrance of the room where you want them to stay and stop just before entering. Reward your pet for stopping with you. Do this several times in a row. Continue over several training sessions until your dog follows your direction on where you want it to stop.
Keep their bed in that same room or area. Give them a reward for staying put. Don’t let them leave until they’re invited. The idea is for our dogs to connect with us, look to us for direction, and to think of their beds as a safe, comfortable place. (Likewise for crates.)
Exercise is essential. Take your dog on long walks. Give them plenty of time to play and explore. If those needs are fulfilled, they’ll be ready to chill in one spot when they’re at home.
The bottom line is you need to raise your dog: Supervise. Crate. Leash. Teach place. Exercise. Fulfill. Reward calm behavior when you see it.
Patience is good for both dogs and their owners. Instead of pets feeling frustrated by their need for instant gratification, you want them to feel relaxed and accepting of their environment. Plus, they’ll learn behaviors that get them what they want, instead of struggling against you.
Send Brad your pet-related questions: candysdirt.com/contact/