Book Review: Puppy Training

Photo Credit: With permission of Alexandra Santos

Recently I read a Kindle book on the subject of house training a dog, written by Alexandra Santos. I recognized her from a Pet Professional Guild webinar I attended on August 6, 2019 titled Fear Learning and How to Work With Fearful Dogs.

Santos is a professional canine behavior consultant who graduated from the Animal Care College in the U.K. with a Diploma of Advanced Canine Psychology. She has previously written Puppy Problems and Puppy and Dog Care books, among other things. During her fearful dogs webinar I was impressed with her force-free philosophy, compassion for dogs, and her deep understanding of psychology.

“Where is the toilet?”
Photo: Happy Buddha Dog Training

Naturally, I felt compelled to read her new book, Puppy Training: How to housetrain your puppy effectively. With my iPad in hand I settled into an easy chair, my dogs resting at my feet, and opened the Kindle app.

The software ran flawlessly, allowing me to easily flip page by page through the book. It was my first experience reading a Kindle version book and I was impressed, in spite of my preference for the tactile experience of turning pages.

Call me old fashioned.

The ebook is only 38 pages long so it was easy to digest in a short time, even while I took notes. It was organized in logical order, as follows:

About the author
Chapter 1 – Physical causes of house soiling
Chapter 2 – Behavioral causes of house soiling
Chapter 3 – Times when your puppy likely needs to urinate or defecate
Chapter 4 – Elimination is intrinsically reinforcing
Chapter 5 – Management at home
Chapter 6 – Training program at home
Chapter 7 – Training program outdoors
Chapter 8 – How and when to stop rewarding

It was quickly apparent that this book was well suited not only to puppies, but to newly adopted dogs or those who suddenly began having house soiling problems. The writer’s prose was clear and simple, appealing both to the typical pet steward and the training professional.

As a certified professional (force-free) dog trainer and behavior consultant, I read this book with a pretty solid understanding of house training a dog…and yet I learned more.

As an example of the comprehensive nature of this book, I had never considered how hormonal imbalance, obesity or physical deformities could affect house training or the onset of soiling problems inside the home. Nor have I read this previously in books or articles regarding house training.

Now I am better able to help my clients.

All other house training topics are also covered systematically, with important points in bold face so they jump off the page and catch the reader’s attention. I think that would be especially helpful to pet guardians who just want some help, without feeling information overload.

They do not want to become training professionals. They just want their puppy to not ruin their carpet.

“I am still learning”
Photo: Happy Buddha Dog Training

Santos devoted considerable attention to the use of indoor puppy pads, and how to make the gradual transition to eliminating the pads and teaching a dog how to only go potty outdoors. Her advice was clear, simple, progressive and detailed enough to keep pet owners on track.

People and their pets are thus set up to succeed, force-free.

In my practice I enjoy helping people with their new puppies or adopted older dogs and provide a comprehensive portfolio full of training materials, including advice on house training.

Today I updated my resource material so each new client has a hotlink to this book, as I believe it provides invaluable solutions to a common source of frustration for dog owners, at the cost of about one U.S. dollar.

How many puppy owners would pay one dollar to protect their expensive rugs from soiling?

If you have brought a new dog into your home, whether a puppy or an adopted older dog, this book will help you make the transition much easier for all concerned. If you are a professional, you may find referring clients to this resource will help them avoid the common frustrations of house soiling issues which occur when things are not done in an optimal manner.

Let’s all work together to set dogs and their families up for success!

Full disclosure:  I have no financial relationship with Alexandra Santos, or Amazon.  I wrote this blog in the interest of helping pet owners and pet professionals, without any expectation of financial benefit to me.

Julián Castro Unleashes Comprehensive Animal Welfare Plan

Images via Julián Castro campaign website

Julián Castro, a Democrat running for president, just unleashed the most ambitious and visionary animal welfare plan coming from anyone running for political office, ever.

His plan centers around making the U.S. a “no kill” nation and calls for ending euthanasia of all domestic dogs and cats in shelters.  It also calls for improving federal housing policy for people with pets, a subject that this former Housing and Urban development secretary is well familiar with. Also, very importantly, he wants to prohibit the testing of cosmetic products on animals, and will make animal cruelty a federal crime and establish minimum spaces for farm animals.

Hide My Deaf/Blind Dog Away?

By Debbie Bauer

© Debbie Bauer

Here is my handsome, clever, fun-loving boy Vinny on our recent trip to Purina Farms.  This picture was taken at their Visitor Center and he is smiling, which is his normal state of mind.  You see, on this day, it was Saturday morning and the Visitor Center was full of children!  In fact, we struggled at times to get a picture, as children were running up to him trying to pet him and say hello.  Vinny loves children!  They are just at his nose height and he thinks they smell divine!If you’ve followed this blog for very long, you know that I love to travel with and do all sorts of activities with my dogs.  This blog just happens to focus on my dogs that are double merles and are therefore blind and/or deaf.  But I do have other dogs too – dogs that can see and hear and aren’t double merles.  I enjoy doing things with them as well.

I am a dog person through and through.  My life does revolve around my dogs much of the time.  And I love all my dogs – even the ones that can’t see and hear.  Living with them, those differences fade from the forefront.  I don’t focus on what they can’t do.  We spend our time figuring out how to do more and more together.

I realize that to most people we meet out in public, my dog is an oddity.  I mean, it isn’t every day that people meet a dog that can’t see or hear at all, right?  People think I am some sort of rock star to sacrifice my life to care for this poor dog with such devastating disabilities.  But this is not reality …

You see, that is only their perception.  I have my own perceptions of the situation, too.  To me, my dog doesn’t have any devastating disabilities.  He is funny and smart and capable of doing anything – it just happens that he can’t see or hear.  He loves to play.  He likes new adventures.  He has a personality.  I am not a rock star.  I am just a person, just like these other people, who happens to see past the differences to see all those things that a blind and deaf dog has in common with me.  And I have chosen to make him my friend.

Some people say that me teaching Vinny to do fun things and earn dog sports titles is somehow encouraging people to want a blind/deaf dog just like him.  They think that me enjoying my partnership with my dog is encouraging people to breed more dogs like him or to go out seeking a dog just like him.  I guess they think I should hide him away somewhere where no one will see him – to keep him a secret that I’m ashamed of?

© Debbie Bauer

Again, I don’t do these things with my dog because he’s blind and deaf.  I do these things with my dog because he’s my dog and we like doing things together!  I like earning ribbons and titles with my dogs – all of them!  I like traveling with my dog and watching him explore and learn about new things.

I hate to think about what would have happened had I hidden away all of my differently-abled dogs!  When I started this blog, there was hardly any useful information out there about working with blind and deaf dogs.  So many were killed.  So many people didn’t think they were capable of learning anything at all – not even to be toilet trained!

Without my brilliant dogs showing the world that they are feeling, thinking and learning dogs, there are many dogs that would not have been given the chance to find great homes.  Today, there are many differently-abled dogs out there having great fun doing activities with their people!

I love my dog just the way he is!  But I would love him just as much if he had been born able to see and hear!  It is not his fault that he was born this way.  He wants to play and learn and explore.  I want these things for him too.  I don’t want to hide him away.

Yes, that means we do get a lot of attention.  I use the attention we receive to help share with as many people as I can.  I share about the consequences of breeding two merle patterned dogs together.  I share about the realities of living with a blind and deaf dog – it’s not all a piece of cake!  There are challenges.  There are rewards.

I share with rescues and fosters and shelters how to teach these great dogs and find the best homes for them.  I share to dispel myths.  I share with fellow trainers so there will be more who can help clients with differently-abled dogs across the country and even around the world.

I’m proud of my dogs.  Please don’t expect me to hide them away somewhere.  How would you feel if someone expected you to hide your dog away somewhere?  I know you’re proud of your dog too.

With anything that brings attention, there comes the risk that someone else wants to recreate it for themselves.  If someone makes a movie about Dalmations and the dogs are so very cute, then so many people want a Dalmation whether it is the right breed for them or not.  If someone makes the world agility team with a pyrenean shepherd and it’s super fast, then many people want a pyrenean shepherd.  If people see me working with a blind and deaf Collie, will people want to get themselves a blind and deaf Collie too?

You get the idea.  It’s not the fact that my dog is blind and deaf that may make people want to imitate me.  It’s like this with anything – that is why we have fads.  Someone thought something was cool and wanted it too.  Education and advocating is the way to stop the double merle epidemic.  Hiding them all away just won’t work.

I cannot stop the attention I receive from doing what I love with my dogs.  My wish, though, is to teach compassion and responsible breeding.  And to promote adoption of differently-abled dogs whenever it is the best match for that person.  And always, I promote positive reinforcement training.  This is the message I want people to get when they see me with my dogs.  Don’t create more of them – but for the ones that are already here, make their lives as full as possible!

About the Author

Debbie Bauer, HTACP, operates Your Inner Dog in the Effingham, Illinois area and has over 25 years of teaching and consulting experience working with dogs and their people. She specializes in working with dogs that display shy, fearful and reactive behaviors and also has extensive experience working with dogs with special abilities, including deaf and blind/deaf dogs. Bauer has trained dogs in a variety of fields, including therapy work, flyball, herding, print ad and media work, obedience, rally, agility, musical freestyle, conformation, lure coursing, tricks and scent work. She has over 13 years of experience with custom-training assistance dogs, including medical alert dogs, to match the specific needs of each person.  Her special interest lies in educating the public about dogs which are homozygous merle (often called double merle), and about how deaf, blind, and deaf/blind dogs can live happy fulfilled lives as part of a family.