Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers. You can reach him atÂ email@example.com.
I have two Yorkie boys â€” Patrick and Blue â€” both coming up on 6 years old. They love the family â€” me, my husband, and our two daughters. Everyone takes them for walks, feeds them, plays with them; itâ€™s really a family effort. So whatâ€™s the problem you ask?
If my husband insists the boys go outside to potty, they will often run to my feet. Itâ€™s almost as though they are afraid to go with him. But they clearly love being with him. If I sit on the sofa â€” bam! â€” they are right there with me. If Iâ€™m in the kitchen, Patrick is well known to sit on my feet while Blu likes to join me in the bathroom.
Although he does know to go to the door, if we donâ€™t see him right away, Patrick is known to pee in the house, so we are very vigilant in getting him outside regularly. I just donâ€™t know how to interpret his hesitation when hubby insists they go outside. They are good once they go out, but getting them out for him when they arenâ€™t in the mood … ugh.
Its hard to say for sure, but if I had to wager a guess, I’m assuming you got the dogs as pups and, during their imprint period, you spent more time with them so they bonded more deeply with you. Also, if you are home with the kiddos and your hubby is off working, you are obviously spending more time with them, which can also create a stronger attachment.
The good news is this is an easy problem to fix. But before I get to the solution to the door, you may want to check out this videoÂ that covers how to teach your dog to ring a bell to say it needs to go out to potty.
For your back door, I’d suggest we create a bit of a conditioned emotional response. This is where we create a positive association of an activity or object, and break down exposure to it into small steps.
The first thing to do is come up with a completely new command to go outside, such as â€ťadventure,â€ť â€śyardâ€ť or â€śpatrol.â€ť I prefer using fun command words as dogs can read facial expressions. If you pick a word that makes you smile, every time you use it, the dog seeâ€™s its actions please you, which motivates them.
Have your husband practice this without your presence for the first three to five sessions. You should be gone from the home so there is no conflict about wanting to run over to you.
Have your husband get some high-value training treats. They should have a strong smell (I prefer chicken liver). Have him grab a seat where he normally sits, then toss a treat towards the door. After the dog is going to get the treats at that location right away without any hesitation, then he should start tossing the treats closer and closer to the door. This should take 7 to 15 treats or so.
Once the dog is going all the way to the door, the next step is for your husband to walk over there, open the door and toss a treat outside the door (just two to three feet outside). When the dog eats the treat, your husband should say the command word once in a normal tone of voice. Let the dog run around outside if he wants. When he comes back to your husband, have him repeat this procedure until he has tossed out 5 to 10 treats.
An hour or more later, have your husband go to the door with the dogs in the room and you not present. Let the dogs see your hubby has treats, but tell him not to give any commands to come to the door. If the dogs donâ€™t come on their own, have him go sit down and wait a minute or two before going to the door again. As soon as either dog comes to the door, have your husband give him a treat, then go and sit down. Wait a minute or longer and repeat this process. He should practice this step until both dogs are running over to him any time he moves towards the door.
The next step is to walk to the door, open it and immediately toss a treat two to three feet outside the door while leaving the door open. When the dog eats the treat, have him repeat the command word right after it goes into the dogâ€™s mouth. Ideally he would practice this 8 to 10 times per practice session.
Your husband should then go to the door and toss a treat out as detailed above 10+ times a day (without you present) for three to seven days. After a while the dogs should start running out the door before he tosses the treats. When they do this the first few times, he should give that dog a few treats while saying the command word after he puts each treat into the dogâ€™s mouth.
By the end of the week, your dogs should be racing to the door and running out as soon as he walks over to or opens the door â€” even when you and your feet are in the room!
Good luck and remember â€” everything you do trains your dog. Only sometimes you mean it.
“Say, have you ever thought about getting a larger pool?” Digsby, Simba and Cinerella are owned by Tina Acosta.Â
Toby, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, lets his family, the Elsessers, live with him in Papillion. He loves eating popcorn with his dad and going to work with his mom.
Turtle, a dog, and Faun, also a dog, were rescued by Joel and Aristine Smith in Omaha. Turtle was saved from a dog-fighting ring, while Faun struggled with starvation and illness. Both have grown up to be loving pets.
“This is how chairs work, right?” Cooper, a five-month-old Pomeranian, is owned by Julie Jones.Â
There’s probably a country song to be referenced here. Leo, owned by Megan Assmann in Fremont, loves Jeep rides with the top off.
Annabeth, left, and Thalia are named from the book “The Lightning Thief.” Their favorite activity is watching birds, bunnies and owner Anita Ducey out of the window in their Lincoln home.
Annabeth and Thalia were named the Week 24 Pet of the Week.Â
Donald and Bailey, neighbors in Omaha, show their bond by watching each other through windows and barking back and forth.Â
Sometimes it takes getting a little lost to find your true home, as is the case with Lincoln native Midnight. Owner Katie Duff decided one morning she wanted a dog, wandered into Capitol Humane Society and found Midnight, who was then a lost puppy.Â
Quit monkeying around! Chloe, a one-year-old English Springer Spaniel, is owned by Mary Langenfeld in Bellevue.
Snoop loves all things gardens, even if its helping owner Margaret Rosman of Omaha tidy up flowers at the family plot in preparation for Memorial Day. Snoop is described as a dedicated companion who is always by his owner’s side.Â
Roger, owned by Danielle Eckert in Omaha, is an energetic guy who loves meeting new people and animals, and is also very protective of his owner when others get close.
This picture of Madi was taken nearly 13 years ago. She has accomplished a lot in her life, including winning a pancake catching contest at a Nebraska Humane Society event. She knows about a dozen tricks, including high-five, army crawl, walk backwards, role over, play dead, spin, speak, stay, shake, balancing a treat on her nose and wave.Â
This is either a hamster going through a teenage punk rock phase or a longhaired Guinea Pig. Either way, Loki, brother of Thor, is owned by Shannon Bergman.
“If you make eye contact, you give me a treat.” Emmy Rose is owned by Karen Degeorge.
Phoebe, owned by the Stem family in Omaha, is a Pyranees-Border Collie mix rescued from Texas. She loves chasing squirrels and eating pizza crust.
Phoebe was named the Week 22 Pet of the Week!
Mordecai, a quiet guy, can not meow. Instead, the cuddly cat goes “meh,” like most cats wish they could when told of their owner’s problems. Mordecai is owned by Danielle Eckert in Omaha.
Myrtle and I have plenty in common. She is a feisty reptile who enjoys eating shrimp, biting and showing off long, slender legs while simultaneously appearing completely uninterested in anything that might be said to her. OK, maybe notÂ thatÂ much in common. I am very interested in what you have to say.
“Something that loves to lay behind a person and wrap around their neck.” Is it a snake? Is it a scarf? No, it’s Roxy the dog! Roxy is owned by Amber Powell in Kokomo, Indiana.Â
Snots, a 3-year-old beagle from Leigh, is owned by Cole Fisher.Â
Snots was named the Week 21 Pet of the Week!
Trooper, a 12-year-old, loving cat who has lived with diabetes for five years, is owned by Val Green in Bellevue.
“Water you guys doing? Get in!” Max, a 3-year-old, is a “swimming maniac,” who loves the pool. He logs more water time than his family. He’s owned by Deni in Papillion.
Why couldn’t the pony yell? Because it was a little hoarse. Vee, a regular-sized horse, loves to eat bananas, and is owned by Lisa Van Stratten in Fort Calhoun.
Vee was named the Week 20 Pet of the Week!
Pogo is best friend to Paula Hatt in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a 10-year-old Chiweenie, timid among strangers but adores people watching in outdoor settings.
Maggie (May) loves the outdoors, and lives for rides, walks and treats!Â But, according to Nick and Kim Ash in Omaha, Maggie loves her owns the most.
Harper is a loud, vocal tuxedo cat who loves to lounge in high, warm places. We assume he is unhappy on the low, potentially cold carpet. But here we are.
“Just explain to me why the Tiger is trying to play soccer and baseball simultaneously.”Â Cooper is a 6-year-old who was adopted from the Capital Humane Society in Lincoln. He was dressed to help ownerÂ Angela Bohling of Omaha groom him.
Kandie may look cute, but don’t let that fool you. She’s a super-sniffing, treat-terrorizing, squirrel-fighting yellow lab that loves to retrieve full branches, not sticks. Kandie even has a Twitter page to keep friends updated on all the neighborhood happenings.
Kandie was named the Week 9 Pet of the Week!
Maize almost had her name changed, but one day after being rescued by owner Lisa in Omaha, it turned out “Crazy Maize” fit too well. She carries aÂ pink stuffed animal kitten around the house, always protecting it. Each night she has the routine of bringing the kitten to each person in the house before putting it to bed.
‘It’s about time you recognize who is king of this house.” Ernie is owned by Rose Mary Hefley in Ralston.Â
“You can say I can’t be on the couch all you want, but I don’t speak human.” Jett is owned by Jill Beckstrom.
Bella loves everything to do with the water, even bathsÂ â€” which she will eagerly jump in the tub for. She’s an Omaha native owned by Lisa Schettler.
Bella was named the Week 8 Pet of the Week!
“Any chance I could convince you to sit in boxes and eat grasshoppers with me?” Calliope (pronounced Kuh-lye-oh-pee) is owned by Omaha’s Sarah Britson, who says her cat is interested in bugs, boxes and manipulation, andÂ alwaysÂ wants to play.
Hemi, a rescue from Hands, Hearts and Paws, lives in Omaha with her “mailmom and maildad,” along with Quincy the cat.Â
Penny, a St. Libory native currently residing in Gretna, loves squeaky toys and cuddling. In this picture, she seems intent on convincing owner AnnaLisa Estrela to help with both.
If there’s one thing Tug loves, it’s riding around in a utility vehicle to check irrigation, according to his owners at Hoffman Farms in Arapahoe.
Millie will carry around her bones and cry because she doesn’t have any place to hide them. She’s owned byÂ Christine Behlen in Elkhorn.
Millie was named the Week 7 Pet of the Week!
Wiggles wants to be a cloud for Halloween. According to owner Kelli in Johnson, Nebraska, Wiggles is found sitting like this around the house once in awhile. She loves to eat, sleep and look prettyÂ â€” but don’t we all?
Harlow, a professional Frisbee player, loves being outside and snuggling with owner Rachel Costello of Omaha.
Mavvy, an Elkhorn native owned by Alicia Hoffman, loves to sit outside in the sunshine.
Bella, a citizen of Newman Grove, Nebraska, loves to chase her own tail, get her belly rubbed and cuddle. She’s owned by Jean Nelson.
“Hello, I would like to be a walk-on for Scott Frost and the Huskers. I’d be an excellent tailback.” Max is owned by Kevin Keeley.Â
Max was named the Week 6 Pet of the Week!
Izzy likes to chase things, especially her tail. She’s owned by Reese Eilenstine in Elkhorn.
“Pardon me? You’re going to have to speak up. Pet Parade, you say? I’m in.”Â David loves to snuggle, especially in the cold, and according to owned Rachel Costello in Omaha, would have his heart warmed up with a Pet of the Week victory.
Lulu and Coco, ages 6 and 2, respectively, share the same mom, but have different dads. Lulu, right, frequently sits on her bottom so you can easily scratch her belly. The two inseparable sistersÂ are owned by Liz Hall in Fremont.
Stella is a very giving cat. She often gifts owner Shea Hoffman of Elkhorn with cicadas, grasshoppers and mice at her back door.
“You know that 45-minute rule is a myth, right?” This is Molly, owned by Jodi Bruce in Omaha.
“Ha! That’ll teach you to get me a white dog toy. Now you have no idea which one I am. Wait, what’s blue mean?” Meet Bon Jovi, owned by Rose Mary Hefley in Ralston.
It’s not often we get beer models submitted to Pet Parade. Moesby R2D2 JFK Cavalieri, Moe for short, is owned byÂ Molly and Tony Cavalieri in Omaha.Â
Chloe is an emotional support dog that is by owner Alexis Christner’s side as soon as needed. The Kearney native is a perfectly healthy double dapple dachshund that loves pickles and bananas.
Paloma often submits audition tapes to America’s Next Top Model, but hit the upgrade button and submitted to Pet Parade. She likes getting her belly scratched and posing for pictures, and is owned by Kayleigh Lewandowski.
Paloma was named the Week 1 Pet of the Week.
Cooper, you might be taking Halloween a little too far. Please get out of the pan. He’s a five-year-old Cavachon, owned by Chuck Sinclair of Lincoln.
“Watch me shine,” says Munchkin, a 7-month-old lab that enjoys antagonizing her big brother and sister, Bubba and Betty. Nicknamed MuMu, she is owned by Paul and Michelle Ackerman in Bellevue.
Well, this is a first. Kitty is a dog. She greets everyone with kisses, loves rolling in the leaves and chasing after squirrels. The most unique aspect about her, owners Kari and Lyle Hamrick of Omaha say, is that she is a good listener who will respond to a story with a bark.
“You. Will. Feed. Me. Treats.” Gracie, a 12-year-old, was rescued from Little White Dog Rescue by Linda Gencarelli in Omaha and is “one heck of a dog.”
Blue, a four-year-old yellow lab owned by Jake and Chelsea O’Connor in Omaha, loves eating bread loaves off the counter, stealing guests’ socks from their suitcases and turning her head away when one tries to give her a kiss. Still a good dog.
Blue was named the Week 2 Pet of the Week!
Yoga master Gracie, owned by Jill Wicht in Plattsmouth, specializes in downward dog.
Gracie was named the Week 3 Pet of the Week!
Wesley Dean was rescued from a shelter in Athens, Texas, by owner Mary Angeline Kava.
Gnomeo loves to “eat food and enjoys to hang out with the pretty ladies when we have people over,” owner Michaela Norman of Omaha said.
Sierra and I have a lot in common. We both smile like this and will stand on our hind legs to dance when invited.Â She is owned by Dan and Courtney Carver.
Tigger takes a daily three-mile walk, enjoys long games of fetch, plays with the garden hose and has learned to unlock and open the sliding glass door to let himself outside. He also has dug a hole in the backyard that can “rival the Grand Canyon.”
Ollie, as you can tell, has quickly learned to enjoy the outdoors. He’s owned by Matt Kroll in Omaha.
Ollie was named the Week 4 Pet of the Week!
Bootsie, a 12-year-old, was adopted from the Nebraska Humane Society by owner Mary Angeline Kava.
OK, that’s a lot of love. Asher enjoys chewing on his bacon flavored T-Rex and sitting in a window like his cat siblings. He’s owned by Chelsea Taylor and Katie Kros of Omaha.
Gunner, who must have some sort of sponsorship deal, never has his birthday forgotten. He was born on Oct. 11, 2012. Or 10/11/12. He’s owned by Tyler and Traci Horning in Lincoln.
From left to right, Digsby, Simba and Cinderella are two-year-old Chow Chows that are siblings born in Dallas. The trio have already experienced Internet fame, being featured on popular blogs and Instagram. They are owned by Tina Acosta in Council Bluffs.
The Grinch clearly hasn’t had his heart grow three times its size yet. This is Digsby, who loves to pop balloons.
“I double dog dare you not to give me a treat. Can’t do it, can you?” Jax is owned by Jill Wicht in Plattsmouth.
Mila is always keeping a watch over his family. He’s owned by Adam and Jessica Sass in Fremont.
“Puhleeeeaaaase give me some of that steak. I need it!” MacDuff loves walks, car rides, treats and being friendly. He’s owned by Joanna and Mark Fisher, along with daughters Sarah, Emily and Molly, in Omaha.
Gus just joined his family after being adopted from the Nebraska Humane Society by Josh and Shelly Vandenberg.
I mean, not that we play favorites, but this is some pretty good product placement by Duke, a Millard native owned by Linda Van Dyke.
Duke was named the Week 5 Pet of the Week!
“Look at me. I’m Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Revenant.’ ” Copper, owned by Lacey and Chris Kincaid in Omaha, loves jumping off the arms of furniture and right on top of the other two dogs.
Copper was named the Week 13 Pet of the Week.
Which of these three dogs is not a statue? Darcy is the cutest Frenchie in Omaha per her owners Joshua and Madeline Howell.
Brevik, near, and Augie love to go on the boat, but they always stay alert. The duo is owned by Kurt Brown.
Dexter, owned by Brendon in Omaha, loves to meet other dogs and people.Â
“Hello, we will not be watching television today. Instead we will be giving me attention. Thank you.” Ben, a 3-year-old loves to cuddle and give kisses. He’s owned by Brendon Schweers of Omaha.
Presley, left, and Penny are always together, even when sleeping through owner Derek’s percussion practice.
Lexi, a Phoenix native who moved to Omaha, has yet to get used to the snow, and even has to get used to the grass. She’s owned by Brian in Lincoln.
Ben’s favorite game is tug-of-war with his 35-pound friend, which consists of him laying on the ground while the opponent pulls with all his might and Ben doesn’t budge. He’s owned by Sarah Morris in Omaha.
Ben was named the Week 12 Pet of the Week.
“Tag, you’re it!” Elli and and Kate, owned by Kathy Foster in Lincoln, are having a good time getting rid of excess energy in the snow.
Milk, owned by Sarah Carr, and Romeo, owned by Makenzi Carr, were adopted from Omaha Wags to Riches. They are always cleaning each other or play fighting.
Snow Petunia, sporting some corrective lenses, is a low-key queen of her Omaha household owned by Sydney Kellen. She loves to cuddle from time to time and also enjoys playing with yard.
Snow Petunia was named the Week 11 Pet of the Week.
At one point, Luci had a fish friend in this tank. Unfortunately, Luci murdered the fish. Luci is short for Lucifer, according to owner Ella Knight in Omaha.
The only thing Howells native Bailey loves more than chasing rabbits and chewing golf balls is kayaking. The puggle (half pug, half beagle) just celebrated her sixth birthday with owner Makenzie Polacek.Â
Hooper native Leia loves belly rubs and long walks on the beach. Or long walks anywhere, really. She’s owned by Rachel Purcell.Â
Future WWE superstars Sophie and Charlie are small but pack a punch. Owner Kim Lynch says they sound like a herd of elephants running through the house.
Brutus, a Southwest Omaha native owned by Phillip Schmidt, loves playing tug-of-war. He has yet to be convinced he is a dog.
Brutus was named the Week 10 Pet of the Week.
Lokai, cared for by Jennifer Hillman in Castana, Iowa, loves to rest peacefully on her owner’s face at 2 a.m.
“Do you think this would work as a campaign photo for Pet of the Week?” Copper, a McCook native, is owned by Ethan Hardin.
“Hahaha! Good luck using your computer now. I ate the mouse!” Edna, owned by Barb Hughes in Lincoln, doesn’t meowÂ â€” just purrs.Â
Harley may not have any hair but still loves the snow. She is training to be a service dog one day and is from Paris, Maine.
“Do you have ANY idea what time it is? I am very hungry.” Hank gets angry at owner Jen Dominguez if he is fed dinner late.Â
Hank was named the Week 14 Pet of the Week.
High-jumping Lando, born May the 4th, appropriately has a Star Wars-themed name. He’s owned by Stephanie Burkholder in Omaha and loves every creature he comes across.
Meera Grace overcame a lot of difficulty in her life. Born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, she was rescued by Heartland German Shepherd Rescue. She was treated for heartworm, fly strike and malnutrition, but now lives happily with owner Tennille Renee in Omaha.
Buddy,Â owned by Jean Mayberry, loves to climb things that aren’t meant to be climbed.Â Â
Cricket, described as “nine pounds of love,” is nevertheless fearless. She’s owned by Candi Puren.
Oreo and “Little Guy” are best buds who are always together. Oreo loves to play fetch with his toys and taught Little Guy how to play. They are owned by James Thompson and his family.Â
Spooky, a South Sioux City resident who was adopted in Omaha by Lisa Ong, loves to eat hair ties.
Hipster dog Spencer, who is surprisingly from Bellevue and not Benson, loves to make sure his family focuses on him instead of their phones. He’s owned by Renee Pineda.Â
Daisy, owned by Blake and Maria in Omaha, loves to people watch, play catch with toy mice, follow her family around the house and relax in the sun.
“Ice cream, Lieutenant Dan!” Forrest Stump, on his back, and Lieutenant Dan â€” members of the Omaha Corgi Crew â€” love chasing each other, stealing food and meeting new humans.
Forrest and Dan were named the Week 15 Pet of the Week!
“No, I’m not listening. My ears are always this way. Let me sleep.” Taco, a 6-year-old Chihuahua, is owned by Michael Murakami.
In a galaxy far, far away, Wolfy perches atop the couch. He’s owned by Holden and Shawnee Armstrong in Lincoln.
Wolfy was named the Week 16 Pet of the Week.
Don’t go into the light! Spaz, right, enjoys chasing any light he sees, while Oliver enjoys being mean to his bigger brothers. The Omaha natives live with owners Chris and Lacey Kincaid.Â
Well-identified Kya, a 7-month-old golden doodle in Papillion, enjoys running, having her paws massaged and eating peanut butter by the spoonful.Â
Iggy, named after his “dad’s” favorite hockey player, Jarome Iginla, loves to watch “cat TV” through this window and bask in the morning sun. He’s owned by Charise, Travis and Maykala in Omaha.
Bruce, seen her being eaten by a shark, will make anyone near him pet him, is training to be an emotional support dog and loves to howl. He’s owned by Emily Suhr in Omaha.
Bruce was named the Week 17 Pet of the Week.
Mittens, who passed away in May 2017, has her name on a brick at the Durham Museum. She’s owned by Cheryl Halda.
Wrigley, owned by Megan and Kevin in Lincoln, loves to cuddle up and snooze, and sometimes chase leaves outside.
Fashion-icon Oliver is owned by Josh Howell in Omaha.
Come on, Millie, learn to recycle. The Bellevue native owned by the Bugay family loves to steal and crunch on plastic bottles.
Rosie, who lives with fellow dog Ryder, is owned by Crystal and Andrea in Bellevue. She loves long walks in the park.
Rosie was named the Week 18 Pet of the Week.
But why don’t you say it to their face, Owen? The Omaha native, owned by Liz Davenport, is obsessed with barking at horses on TV.
Lola, owned by Lula West in Omaha, loves to hang out on her swing and keep an eye out on what’s going on in the kitchen.
Princess Bailee lives in her Omaha castle with two kitten sisters. She has a strong reputation of defending against mailmen, garbage trucks, dogs, squirrels and bunnies. Her owners, David and Ann Nichols, should be very grateful.Â
The 24-pound Toby was a stray found by Cheryl Halda. He helped his newfound owner through a loss of a loved one.
Maggie, a golden retriever, helped fill the “empty nest” of owners Todd and Mary Johnson of Omaha. She’s pictured cuddling with her best pal, Carl.
Maggie was named the Week 19 Pet of the Week!
Panther, who is only a few hundred awards from catching The World-Herald,Â has his name on a brick at the Durham Museum.Â He used to compete in cat shows and did pretty well until deciding he had enough and got fat.
Ryder, who lives with Rosie the dog and owners Crystal and Andrea of Bellevue, loves cuddling on the couch.
Brodie, who is affectionately called “Bear” for his love of cuddling like a teddy bear, just moved to Omaha with owner Christina Powers. He often jumps around his older brother, who is very unimpressed.Â
Minnie, seen here with Minnie, is owned by Amber Rush in Bellevue. Minnie (the dog) loves to climb on things like a cat.
Boomer, owned by Rosa Vallecillo in Omaha, is an 140-pound Rottweiler looking for a girlfriend. He is very protective of Lulu, a pitbull mix, along with two cats in the house.Â
Jose Jalapeno, a 9-year-old Chihuahua, loves to burrow in soft blankets, snuggle, chase tennis balls, bathe in the sun and play with his stuffed dinosaur, Fred. He’s owned by Ali Roby in Omaha.
“Do you frolf, bro?”Â Hallie is a 12-year-old lab who loves to play Frisbee with owner Bobette Lerner in Omaha.
Hallie was named the Week 23 Pet of the Week!
“Hey, this chair doesn’t fit. Please get a new one right now.” Frank, adopted from the Nebraska Humane Society, demands breakfast every day at 6 a.m. from owner Audrey Jensen in Omaha.Â
Cece is an Australian Cattle Dog owned by Joslynn and Brandon.Â