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Friday, January 21, 2011

ASK THE DOG TRAINER, with Terry Lynn Cuyler:
Help with Fear Incontinence

by Terry Lynn Cuyler, APDT, CPDT-KA
Fearful Dogs
Need a Patient Introduction to their World

Dear Dog Trainer:

We got a new dog a couple months ago, and although she is generally well behaved, there is one problem that we can't seem to get past. When she gets scared, she runs onto one of the beds and urinates all over it.
Dear owner:

That's a messy problem for sure. To begin we need to manage the problem and then start with some training to give your girl more confidence. 

I suggest a product called Urine-Off sprayed on the mattress and pad and left for 10 minutes BEFORE you wash it, to help rid the bed of odor which might attract the dog again. I also suggest one of the mild essences called Rescue Remedy which may take some of the edge off of her fear. You can put drops in her water or right on her tongue when you expect some fearful things might be about to happen. 

Another natural method is using a collar or plug in diffuser of DAP for Dog Appeasing Pheromone. These odors are undetectable to humans, but have a soothing effect on dogs. There is one for cats as well. DAP is available through vets, some pet stores, and the links above; call ahead to ask if you're going to try a vet or a store. 

The products above are helpful when you don't know what is triggering her fear. And they will help her calm down enough so that she can attend to some of the behavior modification I'm going to suggest. Also the management tool of restricting her access to your bed, ie close the bedroom door, confine her to a 'safe' area with tile etc. and give her an appropriate place to feel secure, such as a dog crate. 

There is a CD called Through a Dog's Ear (learn more about this here) which is music therapy to calm and soothe an anxious dog. I believe in this enough to carry some in my retail lineup. There are also two dog wraps which have helped many dogs: the Anxiety Wrap (learn more here)  and the Thunder Shirt (learn more here). Both of these wraps come in a variety of sizes to fit most dogs.

I'm guessing yours is a dog adopted as an adult and not a puppy, in which case we need to gradually introduce her to the things that scare her, and help her feel more comfortable with them. A trainer's help is recommended here, as proceeding too fast can make the problem worse. 

Puppies need to be acclimated to things when they are younger than 16 weeks, and allowed to explore and see new experiences as safe and wonderful, instead of scary. Puppies who are not carefully exposed often become fearful adults. She may never become bold, but we can help her become more confident. I recommend Nicole Wilde's book, Help for Your Fearful Dog.

Terry, the Paws Prof
(c) courtesy TLC
Our ASK THE DOG TRAINER Column can be reached at

For more information on Terry Lynn Cuyler and her training, you may find her at Paws ProfA personal appointment with a trainer will likely provide more specific information on your dog's issues and your questions.

The PawsProf's advice does not replace an actual consultation with a qualified trainer.

Need help quick? I'll give away 1 copy of the Through a Dog's Ear CD to calm your canine companion. Enter with a blog comment or a Facebook comment. The winner will be announced next Friday.
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