Our 8month old puppy is suddenly a demon dog!

by Julie
(NW PA)

I work during the day but my husband is home with our 8 month old Havanese puppy all day. He is in a wheelchair but has an attendant who comes every day and takes Cujo for a walk so he is getting some exercise.


He was so easy when we first got him (12 wks). He slept in his crate, never woke us up at night, held it all night long...

Then it went to him just sleeping in his pen, the crate is in the pen. Then he started barking every night when my husband came to bed. So we brought him in bed with us and everything was great - we all got some sleep.

Now he jumps out of bed, wants to play, makes noise (we keep our bedroom door closed).
I would love to transition him back to his pen but not sure if that is possible.

He does all of these:

- nuisance barking
- chewing things like shoes, kleenex, furniture and even baseboards or chair legs
- he is 99% house broken but just suddenly is having accidents
- stealing objects or not letting go of objects

Please help me get my beautiful Havanese baby back. We miss him ;)


Answer:

Thanks for asking these great questions! It can definitely be frustrating when training seems to be regressing for no apparent reason.

As you probably know already, taking him into your bed at night was a mistake. He's trained you! :)

Most of the issues that you listed can be helped by getting him back into the routine of sleeping in his crate at night, and using the crate at any time that you need to leave him alone or can't have an eye on him.

It's definitely possible to get him transitioned to using his pen/crate again, but it may take a little longer second time around. Before I get into dealing with the other issues, I'll run over this.

First of all, never use the crate as a punishment or "time out"... he's a dog, and can't understand the connection between being put in his crate and chewing your shoes. His crate should be a relaxing, enjoyable place for him.

One way to reinforce a positive association with the crate is to toss in a small treat when he goes in, or give him his favourite chew toy or a kong with a little peanut butter inside. Keep this toy or kong treat only for crate time to make it even more of a novelty for him.

Start by having him in the crate for small periods of time (5 minutes or so), with a toy/bone to keep him busy. Do not let him out if he's barking or whining. Doing this will only teach him that to come out, this is all he needs to do.

When he's quiet, let him out again. Gradually, build up the length of time that he spends in the crate. It's a good idea to do this during the day. What you're doing is showing him that he doesn't always have to be right beside you.

Be sure that you've let him out to pee/poop before putting him in the crate. If you're finding that he's soiling in there, remove all bedding until this stops, otherwise he'll just cover it up with the bedding. Most dogs won't soil where they have to sleep.

Now, a bit about house training. Don't ever scold him for going in the house after the fact - he won't understand and will be afraid to go in front of you. You can try to interrupt him in the midst of peeing/pooping by clapping your hands or saying "EH!" sharply, then rush him outside to finish.

Always take him to the same potty spot outside. I would start back at square one, and take him out every hour or so. Praise immediately when he pees/poops outside (don't wait til he comes back inside to praise him or he won't understand).

If he does have an accident in the house, how you clean it up is very important. For poop, take it outside with Cujo on leash, and place it in the designated potty area. Let him sniff it on the grass.

For pee, use a virgin sponge to clean up the puddle, and take it outside with Cujo on leash and wipe it on the ground in the designated area. Again, he needs to smell it outside.

For both accidents, clean it thoroughly using an enzyme based cleaner, NOT bleach or anything with ammonia in it. Ammonia will trigger him to go again in that spot, and a dog's nose is waaay more sensitive than your own. Odour Out from Walmart works well.

The best way to prevent accidents is to consistently let him out every hour, and crate him at night and when you are out or can't keep an eye on him. For at night, cut out his water and food by 6 or 7 p.m. so that he will have an empty bladder/bowel at night.

To prevent chewing items, again, use the crate when unsupervised! You should also teach him an "Out" command to drop what is in his mouth. To do this, have a leash and collar on him and get him to pick up one of his toys. While it's in his mouth, say "Out" in a firm, level tone and wait 3 seconds. If he drops it, praise him. If not, loosen the leash, pop straight up fast and firm for 1 second, and loosen the leash again. The goal is for him to spit the toy out as quick as he can.

A good idea is to have a leash and collar on in the house for a few weeks so you always have something to grab onto if you need to correct him for chewing, etc. Most important thing to remember...

You need to correct within 1.5 seconds of an inappropriate behavior for it to make sense to him! If you find a chewed up shoe, and then correct him, he has no idea what he did wrong!

For nuisance barking, the best thing you can do is get an anti-bark collar for him. You can try a citronella spray collar, or an electronic collar. If you go this route, you can also put it on him at night in his crate/pen. He can wear it all day or night as long as you take it off for 8 hours at some point during the day.

I hope this helps you, and sorry for the length of it! Let me know if you have other questions, and how things go. It may mean a few sleepless nights as he gets used to being in the crate again, but if you can wait it out, it will get back to normal.

Shannon Pennings

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