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Companion Puppy and Dog Training (London, Ontario Region)

With John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade

In The London, Ontario Region

If you would be interested in me helping you and your puppy or dog, use the form below to provide me with a few details and I will quickly reply with information tailored to you and your dog’s specific needs.

Alternatively, you can call me, 519-457-9559.

Karla May 21, 2012, 2:39 pm

Dear John,
Our 3.5 yr old lab female is a great house pet. We don’t want a hunter or an athlete, so her calm and cuddly nature is perfect for us. We watch her weight, and almost all of the time she is a happy well adjusted dog who doesn’t have fears of noises or new things. There is one thing we wish for her for fun, and one we wish for all of us: She is afraid to swim (a lab!) and afraid of stairs. She worries every time she has to come up the five steps into the house; it’s worst if we watch. We read that a long run on a leash and a dash upstairs will cure her as she will be in ‘run’ mode and not have time to switch to ‘worry’. However, we both have arthritis, and a run is out of the question. Is this something a trainer can help with away from our home where the problem is?

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John Wade - Ask the Dog Guy May 22, 2012, 9:48 am

Hi Karla,

Is there any chance she has spine or knee problems that might make negotiating the stairs painful? If not, the run and don’t worry approach might work. I’d try enticement via dinner, toys, treats etc. but I expect you’ve tried all that. I’d have someone have a look at her though to get a sense of how much is fear and how much now might be drama that develops when a fear is allowed to linger in our lives. I also like to work with the dog in other ways for a few days that get the dog more focused on me. I build some trust in the relationship and there’s often less for the dog to worry about.

If you have arthritis it is likely best to let someone else do the stair running anyway as you don’t want to tumble on the stairs or ending up reinforcing the fear is she slams the breaks on. I’ll tell you that when she makes it up, you should head right back down and repeat no less and no more than 3 up and downs. Let her recharge her batteries and process the experience and an hour or two later do it again. Keep it up for a few days. You may have to take her to different stairs to make sure the problem is truly resolved.

As to the water, I’ve trained reluctant dogs to swim but I had to use a long lead and get out there in the water treading water. You have to be very careful though you don’t want a dog trying to climb on your head. As above, you need 3 successes in a row and then a big break.

If you are headed out in a boat and she’s agitated because of the conflict between being nervous of the water and being separated from you, a gentle hand over hand with the long line to reel her in and heaved into the boat for some cuddles and treats a few times might help as well. That would giver her an upside better then any treat. If she refuses the treats she may find it too stressful to make it worthwhile. Why do you want her to swim?

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Karla May 22, 2012, 11:27 am

I’m laughing as I read the last line, John – I suppose I want her to ‘be able’ to swim and enjoy it; I don’t need her to swim for any other reason.
As I read your reply, I think I will work on some more leash work first – where we live we don’t need it much, and I think that should be absolutely stable or I may create an additional issue. While doing that I will involve my young neighbour and see if she will ‘do the run’ up the stairs for us – Am I right in thinking this should take place over a few weeks, or should I expect that this, like learning a new routine will happen in a few days of repetition?

I look forward to the newsletter.
Karla

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MJHamish November 11, 2012, 12:07 pm

I have a 12 week puppy (Oreo) who is coming along beautifully with his training (sit, no teeth, etc)…. (He is a male, Coton de Toulear —- this is not my first puppy – we said good-bye to a 12.5 year old Coton last November so I’ve been through the training stages with him)… I am making every effort to crate and house train Oreo. He was not crate trained at the breeders, and became an escape artist from his x-pen so they allowed him to roam outside of the litter (unable to contain him) while in a controlled environment/room. We have tried both x-pen and crate training him. The x-pen (30″) that we have, he can climb out of – so we inserted panels on the inside to keep him in. He really stresses when in the x-pen (his eyes get so wild and stressed or so it would “seem”. So, we abandoned the x-pen and started crate training. He will sleep in a small plastic crate at night (no fuss or muss with him being in the crate at night) and is now going through the night without needing to be taken outside – no accidents in the night-time crate!. We have a slightly larger (but partitioned) metal crate downstairs. He has, on the very rare occasion, gone into the crate and will sleep there while we are in the kitchen/at the table. The problem seems to be when he is left alone. I will put him in the crate for small periods of time while I am home, and “go about my business”. He yips fairly constantly. if I am in sight, he can and will settle down. When I am out of his sight, he yips and gets very upset – and on occasion stresses to the point of vomiting. Taking a shower, for example is a time when I leave him and am totally out of sight. Last week, when I came downstairs after my shower (about 20 minutes away) he had vomitted. When out of the crate he is a very good puppy – but I feel he is too attached to me and I can’t trust him at this stage in his development – I don’t want him to hurt himself in the house!. He has started telling me when he needs to void and go outside (which pleases me – but I still can’t trust him and need to be there to ensure I am aware of his needs – this also doesn’t allow for him to develop the ability to “hold” his bladder/bowels. I will crate him and wait 10/15 minutes before I leave and don’t make any fuss about leaving or coming back. When I return I also don’t make a fuss. Unfortunately on many occasions, upon return, he has soiled in the crate and/or vomited (projecting the vomit outside the crate). I am at a loss on what to do. I am now in the process of trying to get my husband to take over all care/feeding, etc of the puppy – thinking that perhaps his dependance on me is leading to increased anxiety levels. But in the meantime, I am desperate for any suggestions that we can incorporate to ease his anxiety and prevent him from soiling in the crate/vomitting. I don’t know if you respond to these types of enquiries, but my sister regularly reads your column and we thought it would be “worth a try”. I don’t live in London (we are in Ajax, east of Toronto)….. but ANY response/assistance is welcome!!!! I am considering reverting back to the x-pen and housing the crate/pee pad, etc into this zone – I can certainly deal with his yipping/barking/crying – but I am becoming increasingly frustrated by not knowing how to deal with his anxiety/panic attacks….. Thanks!

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John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade January 3, 2017, 6:59 pm

This sort of anxiety is often found in dogs that didn’t experience structured isolation from litter mates or humans before 12 weeks of age. If you don’t actively teach this it can be a real problem life long for the dog as it has imprinted pretty firmly by the time that critical imprinting stage is closed (12 weeks). I’m wondering if that’s what has happened here. There are things you can do but it’s not easy and results vary. Genetics can impact outcome as well.

John

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