July 26, 2011 Issue #13 Published by Sue Skiff


Another week has come and gone. I am endeavoring to focus my attention on greater and greater acts of service. This means that, in my day to day life, I am paying more and more attention to people that I encounter by chance, so that I can notice if there is some way that I can be of service to them. This service could be simply in the form of a smile and a verbal greeting that acknowledges their presence. I am hoping that this practice will aid me in providing better and better service to my clients. I invite you to try it yourselves.

This week I have written an article on potty training a dog. In keeping with the format of many of my previous e-zines, I have included a story. I wrote this story 3 years ago. It is about an aggressive dog that I worked with in Livermore.

And, in the spirit of service, I again ask you to submit comments, questions, and articles, so that I may better serve you.

Have an awesome week!



Someone asked me about house training adult toy breed dogs the other day. There is no question that this is a difficult issue. Toy breeds are notoriously hard to house train. However, it is possible to do, if you are willing to confine your dog. Be aware that it will take lots of patience, consistency, and willpower to help your dog through this issue. And, it will take time; possibly 4 months, or more.

The actual dog house training procedure that I recommend is the same for any dog. It starts with confining your dog. Dogs won’t usually mess where they eat and/or sleep, so, to reduce mistakes, leave your dog in a space just big enough for its food and its bed. You can use a dog crate, or “fenced” off portion of a room. It is important that your dog never have access to making a mistake. You will need to confine your dog, when it is inside, until you are absolutely sure that it knows where to go to the bathroom.

If you can’t stand the idea of always having your dog confined, then you can use what is called “close tethering.” To close tether your dog, tie your dog’s leash around your waist, and attach the leash to your dog. Close tethering will allow you to be right there to stop your dog if it should start to eliminate in the house.

Next, you need to teach your dog where to go, by taking it outside at regular intervals. There are some obvious times to take your dog out; like first thing in the morning, ½ hour after the dog has had a meal, and at bedtime. To determine how often to take your dog out other than those times, consider your dog’s age. Expect that a puppy will only be able to hold it about one hour longer than the number of months old it is. For an older dog, start with taking it out every couple of hours. Regardless of its age, learn your dog’s elimination schedule. Then, you can anticipate when to take your dog outside.

Next, set up a potty routine. Put the dog on a leash before taking it outside. Initially, carry your puppy, or small adult dog, to the yard to avoid accidents along the way. Take your dog to the part of your yard you want it to use. When you get there, give your dog a command like “go potty.” Wait only long enough for your dog to sniff around for the right spot and do its business. If nothing happens in that time, take your dog back to its confinement place for 15 minutes, then try again. Keep bringing your dog outside every 15 minutes until the dog does its business, and note the time, so that you’ll know when to take it out the next day.

As soon as elimination starts, praise your dog. Give it a treat as it’s finishing up. Once your dog has done its business, and gotten its praise, allow it to play outside. Immediately after your dog has been outside, and done its business is a good time to then close tether your dog to give it some time in the house, and out of confinement.

Do not give your dog freedom within your house, until you have had a minimum of 12 weeks of no accidents. And, after that, keep taking your dog outside at the times that it has gotten accustomed to going. Your dog may not independently develop an effective strategy for asking to be let out. In that case, you will have to teach it how to do so. But, that is the subject for another column.


The message was on my home voice mail. It was from a woman who was fostering a Pomeranian mix that was showing signs of aggressive dog behavior. I returned the call. That’s how I came to meet Parky.

Parky had spent the first two years of his life alone in a backyard and garage. At the time of his surrender to a rescue group, he seemed rather indifferent to people, although not unfriendly.

Parky started showing biting dog behavior towards strange dogs and people while living with his first foster family. He was then transferred to the woman who had called me. At the time of our meeting, he had bitten one man on the finger.

When I first met Parky, I allowed him to check me out on his terms. On our on-leash walk around his yard together, he showed that he was willing to learn, and that he could pick up new things quickly. He showed no aggression towards me. I told his foster that I thought there was hope for Parky.

On my second visit, I observed that Parky was least likely to be aggressive if he was given time to get used to the presence of the stranger before having to meet her/him. Starting that day, and utilizing Parky’s front yard, I had him meet a variety of people and dogs in positive, non-threatening situations, taking my time with each new meeting. Since he reacted most when someone tried to offer her/his hand for him to sniff, I instructed people to let him initiate meetings while they kept their hands at their sides. Then, when he was more used to them, I’d let them offer a hand.

Parky’s guardian lived on a rural street, and was unable to walk him where he was likely to encounter other dogs and people. So, I took Parky out on the paved trail that went by my old house, and taught him to look to me for a treat whenever anybody passed. Once, we went hiking, and he learned to deal with off-leash dogs running up to him.

Parky’s greatest achievement happened when he happily cuddled with a strange male house guest. This was particularly significant since Parky was more likely to react to men than women.

I am happy to report that Parky was adopted by a couple in Fresno who know all about his history. Parky has a real home at last.


It’s part of life in the 21st century. You get the kids off to school, work all day, pick the kids up at daycare, make dinner, and collapse. But, what about the dog? How do you find the time to train it to be a good citizen? Maybe, you managed to get your dog into a puppy kindergarten class, and then a basic obedience class. But, you really didn’t have time to practice the way the instructor wanted you to, and now, well now, it’s all kind of fallen by the wayside.

You know that your dog can do better. Perhaps, your dog has some behavior issues. Whether or not they’re serious issues, they make your life harder, don’t they?

So, what do you do when you’re already stretched, and you know your dog needs more? The answer is “day training.” Day training starts with a meeting with me where you describe your dog training needs, and your dog’s behavior issues. I then come to your house for an hour or so, on agreed upon days, to train your dog. You get to get on with your life, while your dog gets training and attention from a professional. And, that training and attention is customized to your and your dog’s exact needs.

Maintaining what your dog learned is also built into the day training program. At the end of each week of training, I meet with you to go over what your dog has learned, as well as what you need to do to maintain the learning. After the agreed upon number of weeks has elapsed, I return for a follow-up or two, to make sure that you and your dog are on the same page, and everyone’s happy. For more information on day training, visit my dog training website

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Silver Linings is a publication of Silver Linings Pet Services, and is published for the purpose of marketing services. The current address of Silver Linings Pet Services is: 5555 Merritt Drive Concord, Ca 94521