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					The Treatment of Aggression in Dogs (1 and 2)

By Peter Neville DHc BSc(Hons) and Robin Walker BVetMed MRCVS
Centre of Applied Pet Ethology PO Box 18, Tisbury, Wiltshire SP3 0NQ, UK

The broad consensus now is that very few dogs are mentally diseased or of evil
propensity but, instead, many are likely to be frustrated or confused by their social and
environmental circumstances. The intuitive response of an exasperated or frightened
dog owner is frequently unsuitable or may even cause or accentuate many problems of
aggression in dogs.

Fear-based aggression
Typically this involves the dog that consistently attacks other dogs or people. The dog
may have started as fearful and discovered that attack is the best means of defence.
The behaviour may have become almost addictively enjoyable. Medication in these
cases may be of help in reducing elements of fear or frustration in the motivation but
this is the opportunity for long, patient rehabilitation by a process of line control and
finely tuned exposure. The owner is taught not to exacerbate the behaviour and to
reward the desirable alternatives, often using clicker and other signalled reinforcement
training (see later), and how to use a canine head collar, such as the Gentle Leader, for
improved physical control of their dog during controlled introductions. This is often the
most challenging area of treatment for the behaviour rehabilitator. Treatment may
require months of carefully organised treatment with a large supply of safe dogs to
present to the patient, but the most (apparently) irremediably savage dogs can often be
transformed into happy sociable dogs as a result.

In certain breeds and individuals the motivation to perform specialised routines such as
retrieving or herding may be so intense that frustration ensues when no opportunities
for work or appropriate play exist. This situation will be made very much worse by
punishment to the behaviour in question. Clear instances abound were retrievers have
been taught to become aggressive by repeated punishment of their innocent
compulsions to retrieve anything and everything. Some very severe attacks upon
owners by their dogs can be explained fully in this way, for example with in some cases
of so-called ‘rage syndrome’ (see later) in Cocker Spaniels and Golden Retrievers.

The most effective use of serotonin enhancing diets seems to establish that some dogs
are deficient in reward chemistry and suffer frustration from the inability to achieve
contentment or learn tasks. The use of serotonin or dopamine enhancing medications
can alleviate severe frustration and facilitate training of rewarding routines and
successful task completions, even in a non-working, ordinary home environment for the

                  ‘Dominance Aggression’– a diagnosis reconsidered
The ability to form a social bond with people is not exclusive to the dog in the canid
family. For example, hand-raised wolves and coyotes can be extremely sociable with
their handlers, yet differ from dogs in the level of distress experienced when they are
isolated from them. Dogs show much more distress when separated from their
humans, a dependency that underlines the ‘perpetual juvenile’ theory. A dog views its
owner perhaps somewhere between a parental figure and a pack mate, from whom to
expect signals of leadership and protection and, since the owner is also the pack mate
who provides food, initiates hunting excursions (walks!) and play, defines sleeping
areas and initiates many of the social interactions, their role as director is regularly
reinforced. Understanding the social structure of a pack animal is relatively simple –
the higher up the ladder you are, the more privileges you are granted, but when dogs
live in a mixed pack containing humans, dogs (perhaps of different types) and cats,
understanding the rules can become confusing. Owners attempt to teach the dog many
of the values and expect them to understand our methods of communication, but the
dog is only capable of learning via languages that he can interpret and can only
understand canine values, and these vary enormously between types, breeds, gender
and the nature of individual dogs.

Different breeds and types of dog organise their social structure in different ways,
suggesting that there is a need for some to organise a social system between
themselves and with their human pack mates. Some breeds seem rather unconcerned
about having a leader of their pack, or alpha figure, but many seem to expect to live in
a group with a parent figure and accept the authority of human parent(s) to direct their
behaviour. This is not surprising given the perpetual time-locked juvenile theory of dog
evolution from the wolf. Owners normally expect to manage and dictate their dog’s
behaviour and lifestyle and so we effectively appoint ourselves as leader/ongoing
parent and expect our dog to learn how to respond to our requests and direction. If we
take a look at some of the rights and privileges that are afforded to the leaders, that is
to say the breeding animals male and female in a similar size wolf pack to a human
family, and compare them with the way we might live with our dogs, we can begin to
see where the communication between the two species may start to break down. We
can also see how we might end up with a problem or disobedient dog, but more
importantly how the question of dominance can be all too easily mis-diagnosed.

For sure, some dogs regard the acquisition of control of certain aspects of their lives
with us as indicating a high rank in their pack, may take advantage of their position and
become difficult to manage or direct – perhaps these are the dogs which view their
owners as parents which may be disobeyed or ignored without challenge rather than
leaders who may only be ignored only at risk or reprisal or rejection from the group.
But dominance status in a wolf pack is about determining the participants in
reproduction and ensuring their success, not power for power’s sake in terms of
controlling every aspect of a pack mate’s life. Dogs are not destined for reproduction in
the human social group so acquiring status is not relevant, even if controlling the
actions of others may in itself be rewarding for some. Additionally, dogs are
permanently arrested juveniles, irrespective of specialisations of hunting, guarding or
fighting behaviours in any type or breed, and so lack the perception of repertoire of
dominance motivation and behaviour patterns of their ancestor, the wolf. If this hadn’t
been lost in the course of domestication, then maintaining, breeding and controlling any
dog, but especially the fighting breeds, would never have been safe or possible for

In short, dogs cannot be dominant and so old fashioned, broad-ranging dominance
reduction programmes have little meaning to them, although if they encompass control
of any particular resource that any particular type, or any particular individual of any
breed has learned to monopolise, then they may have some positive remedial impact
on the dog’s behaviour. But targeting the specific problem and managing that resource
or teaching the dog through motivational techniques to behave in a different way
around that resource, will be more accurate and more likely to succeed than a broad
ranging spread of plausible but often pointless suggestions to ‘reduce rank’. And then
only dogs sensitive to certain elements in social order may respond. For example,
Huskies may respond to owners interacting with their dog in a ritualised and controlled
manner while Norfolk Terriers, and indeed small dogs in general, may be unconcerned
if they are ignored but respond better to owner control of toys and management of toys
in games. Similarly, managing a Husky’s toys may have little impact on his behaviour
and so applying both of these so called ‘dominance reduction’ techniques to all dogs
inevitably leads to a wide variation in response and a lot of wasted time!
Dogs which seek, or are given control of resources by their owners that they see as
rewarding, and which they then learn how to acquire and control through aggressive
behaviour directed at their owners are not constructing their behaviour with a view to
acquiring sufficient status to reproduce in the human family. But they may be excellent
opportunists that learn how and when to apply aggression or threat of aggression to get
what they want and then generalise their use of aggression to other interactions.

Reinforcement Training with Clickers
Clicker training is often a vital part of such training although it is now already widely
used for all aspects of normal dog training from teaching a 6 week old puppy to sit, to
teaching an adult dog tricks, walking on a loose lead, competitive obedience, agility,
working trials etc. The usual commercially available ‘clicker’ is a small coloured plastic
box containing a strip of flexible metal which makes a double click sound when
depressed and released with the thumb. Initially the clicker produces a sound that is
meaningless to the dog but, conditioned correctly, he will quickly associate the sound
with something rewarding and so the clicker becomes an audible conditioned reinforcer
- a Pavlovian signal of success. The click is so quick that it marks the correct behaviour
at the split second it is offered or performed by the dog, thus telling the dog exactly
what he did to earn the reward. Emotionally the click gives the dog instant feelings of
pleasure probably because dopamine is released as a pulse in the brain each time he
hears the click.

After only a few repetitions of ‘click and treat’ the dog will focus completely on the
owner and work hard in an attempt to make the owner click again. In effect, the dog, by
altering or shaping (improving) his own behaviour tries to train the owner to make the
rewarding click - an interesting role reversal to traditional training techniques where the
trainer is encouraging the animal to perform new behaviours.

There are several important differences between clicker training and traditional training.
Clicker training is based on the principles of operant and classical conditioning and
teaches a behaviour before introducing words (signals) of command from the owner.
Clicker trainers break behaviours down into small stages that are taught one step at a
time, the process of ‘shaping’. Each step in the direction towards the goal is rewarded
whenever a good attempt at it is achieved but then delaying the click until closer
performances are offered to the behaviour desired. Only when the dog has understood
what is required and performing the behaviour is the cue or verbal signal added.

While the dog is being taught a behaviour he is initially given rewards for every attempt
(fixed schedule of reinforcement), but once he has grasped the exercise, the reward is
given on a random basis i.e. he sometimes has to perform the behaviour twice for a
reward sometimes three times, others just once. This variable schedule of
reinforcement strengthens the dog’s response as the loss of an expected reward
induces frustration in him, frustration increases vigour in trying harder to earn his
reward. The clicker trained dog is able to resolve his frustration, and he will remain
calm, happy and confident while trying to earn his reward – a vital mood change in the
treatment of frustrated dogs compared with the vagaries of owner-based reinforcers,
positive or negative. It is clear that by the time an owner has said ‘good boy’ or ‘bad
dog’, the dog may have moved on to performing another behaviour, which may be
unacceptable and even unintentionally rewarded by any verbal praise. By contrast, the
dog soon learns which behaviours gain a click and which ones do not. By rewarding a
behaviour a trainer increases the likelihood of that behaviour being repeated, and by
not rewarding it, the likelihood is decreased. Eventually the dog will stop performing
any unrewarded (unacceptable) behaviours, and they will, in time, become extinct from
his behavioural repertoire and replaced by the desired alternatives. Some of the most
dramatic and satisfying results of combined medication and training attend these types
of frustration problems.

Signalling frustrative non-reward (failure)
The withdrawal or omission of an expected reward is known as ‘non-reward’. This
causes frustration in dogs and other animals and, as one would expect, the greater the
expected reward, the greater the frustration. But when a sound or other signal is
introduced as a signal of non-reward, this, in itself, does not induce frustration. The
animal withdraws from the warning signal and this action actually becomes a reward
because it reduces their frustration. This is known as ‘passive avoidance’ and, through
it, dogs learn to refrain from behaviours that will lead to unrewarding or unpleasant
prospects. Dog Training Discs were developed by canine behaviourist, the late John
Fisher to enable owners to signal ‘non-reward’ and therefore encourage calm
resignation in a dog when confronted with something that previously made him over-
excited or behave ‘badly’ from his owner’s point of view.

Dog Training Discs are five brass discs on a fob which, when shaken, make a rather
unique sound. However, it is not the sound itself but the introductory process of the
Discs that makes them so effective in training dogs and treating problem behaviour.
The introduction involves presenting the dog with an expected reward and then calmly
removing it as he approaches it, usually by dropping a few favoured titbits on the floor
and waiting for the dog to try and take them, an intended behaviour which it sees as
potentially rewarding. The trainer then drops the Discs near the dog fractionally before
lifting the titbits away as the dog stoops to eat them. After four or five repetitions, the
dog learns that the sound of the Discs is a signal of ‘frustrative non-reward’ or failure of
his intents to take and eat the titbits. The dog may look a little confused and frustrated
at his failure to gain the titbits and usually turns to his owners for reassurance. This
should be offered immediately, as comfort from the owner is a safety signal that
relieves the dog’s frustration at having failed in his previous intentions. This introduction
procedure teaches the dog a passive avoidance response - in future, he will not even
attempt to move towards the titbits whenever he hears the sound. But this is only the
introduction procedure. The sound of the Discs can now be used to help to interrupt
any unwanted actions on the part of the dog, such as jumping up at people in
enthusiastic greetings and to overcome a variety of previously learned unwanted
behaviours, such as chasing joggers. When the dog hears the sound, he avoids
completing the behaviour he was intent on and returns quietly to his owner. Because
he is automatically in a relaxed state, he can be encouraged to perform a different
behaviour, such as coming to them and walking by their side when joggers pass; calm
interactive behaviour which can then be rewarded. After a couple of interruptions with
the Discs, as they leap up, dogs soon learn to approach people more calmly and are
easily persuaded to sit and wait to be patted instead.

Dogs do not get used to the sound or learn to ignore the Discs provided they are
introduced properly and away from any particular problem behaviour to establish them
as a clear signal of non-reward. Because the sound is consistent, any member of the
family can use it effectively. Once the dog is conditioned to respond to the Discs, he
will react in a similar prompt way that he reacts to a signal of reward, such as the
rattling of the biscuit tin, irrespective of which member of the family rattles it. For deaf
dogs, a camera flashlight, introduced in the same way as the discs, yields just as
effective results, although its scope outdoors during daylight is obviously limited.

‘Dominance aggression’ is non-diagnostic term which has broadly and erroneously
come to be used to describe almost any behaviour that a dog may or may not perform
that it’s owner disapproves of! Using Dog Training Discs to interrupt unwanted
behaviours followed by a Clicker to reinforce and then shape a desirable alternative
often has a far more profound effect than either signal alone in the rehabilitation of
many problems, such as some cases of dog-dog aggression, because of the power
that these signals have in managing a dog’s mood directly. Many instances of
aggressive or threatening behaviour by dogs to their owners can also now be targeted
and removed specifically, rather than being globally diagnosed as ‘dominance
aggression’ and subjected to albeit plausible but non-specific and ineffective
‘dominance reduction’ programmes.

Explosive Rage
There seems to be little doubt that some dogs show behaviour that could be associated
with something like ‘kindling’ in humans. These dogs will have an array of signs that
are variously described as ‘pyschomotor seizure’ or ‘partial complex temporal lobe
seizure’. The symptoms may be hallucinations, sudden panics, and repetitive licking,
circling, pouncing routines. Apparent inability to recognise their owner's faces or
obsession with reflecting surfaces may be observed. A growing body of research is
illuminating the effects of kindling in opioid enhancing and receptor up regulating, auto-
addictive events in the brain. The various manifestations rapidly become stimulus
bound and can be evoked by the environment or movements of the owners. But, the
interruption of the seizure triggering may leaves the individual in ‘withdrawal’ literally
and frustration and anger can ensue. The use of phenobarbitone, frequently prescribed
for the treatment of grand mal epilepsy in dogs, often reliably also controls the
hallucinations, bursts of fear, and strange vocalisations associated with ‘kindling’
seizure-like conditions. The crucial element is the discovery of all the cues and
avoiding or removing them rigorously so that extinction of the learned (auto-rewarded)
behaviour patterns can proceed. The feasibility of rehabilitation and the long-term
medication that may be needed and the determination to organise the extinction
process are severe tests for an owner, veterinarian and behaviourist.

Paradoxical effects of Medication
The effects of medications upon mood and pleasure must be considered carefully as
the tendency of a drug to increase or depress reward intensity may have a greater
relevance in any given therapy that might be expected. In terms of ‘resting
contentment’, a reduction of reward intensity might cause depression or even
frustration and increases in reward intensity might induce euphoria or even manic over-
reward. Where an unwanted behaviour is intrinsically rewarding the action of a reward
enhancer such as clomipramine or fluoxetine can therefore make matters worse. On
occasion, such a response to a medication may even be diagnostic. For example,
aggression or solicitation of contact in a dog on phenobarbitone might reveal a
frustration that promptly responds well to serotonin enhancing diet and clomipramine.
House Training Problems in Cats and Dogs

By Peter F Neville DHc BSc(Hons)
Centre of Applied Pet Ethology, PO Box 18, Tisbury, Wiltshire, SP3 6NQ, UK

Inappropriate elimination in companion animals is one of the main behaviour problems
experienced by owners worldwide and hence one the main causes of referral to
behaviour counsellors. The aim of house-training is for the pet to perceive the entire
house as an extension of its sleeping area or den. The maternal nest is an area that
kittens and puppies are physical unable to eliminate in without cleaning stimulation
from their mother for the first couple of weeks of life and so they usually become
conditioned to not eliminating in their den for life. After this period the kitten and puppy
will usually become conditioned to using specific substrates outdoors, or, in the case of
many cats, in cat litter in specific litter trays indoors. For most cats, house-training
begins at around 3-4 weeks of age, when kittens begin to dig in substrates such as soil
or cat litter when provided by a breeder, and to eliminate there. Most cats instinctively
play, scrape and dig in any loose rakeable material, without observing or being taught
by their mother and the behaviour soon becomes more firmly established once a
learned connection is formed between urinating or defecating and the toileting area and
substrate. House training can be completed in some dogs if their breeders and owners
ensure that they are always positioned on the right outdoor substrate from the age of
about 6-8 weeks, but most puppies take rather longer to become conditioned in this
way, often because their learning is confused by owners initially tolerating indoor
elimination onto newspaper, for example.

Before devising a plan of treatment for any individual case of house-training
breakdown, it is essential to determine the type of urination or defecation involved.
Inappropriate elimination can result from one or more of following causes:

   1. Various medical conditions, e.g. cystitis, FLUTD, gastric, kidney and bowel
      infections etc that may cause a sudden breakdown in house-training in
      previously clean animals. Treatment clearly lies in the hands of the veterinarian,
      although house-training problems can persist after successful treatment of
      clinical conditions in some cases as conditioned behaviours, and sporadic
      breakdowns may occur in some cats prone to stress-related episodes of
   2. The failure to house train is most commonly seen in young animals. The young
      dog or cat urinates or defecates normally, but in a place unacceptable to the
      owner, either indoors for a cat or dog expected to eliminate outside or, in the
      case of an indoor cat, away from the litter tray. Urine or faeces is deposited in
      normal amounts, usually on the floor, though there is often a location or
      substrate preference: carpets in the corners of rooms or under tables, or
      doormats are often favoured. Failures may be caused by lack of readily
      available appropriate indoor facilities being offered to kittens. This behaviour
      seems to occur with equal frequency in males and female cats (Olm & Haupt
      1988, Neville 1990), but is more commonly referred in the United Kingdom in
      longhair breeds (Neville 1991). A few kittens, among which longhair strains
      seem to be over-represented, do not spontaneously exhibit the digging
      behaviour, which initiates house-trained behaviour, and long-term management
      and containment of the problem may be the only prospect for those with patient
      owners. For others, treatment may involve their confinement in a pen in which
      the whole floor area, other than the bed, is covered with cat litter; preferably fine
      sand. The kitten is therefore forced to eliminate in the litter and a learned
      association should then be formed. The area covered with litter is then
      gradually reduced. The space where the litter used to be may initially be filled
       with tubs of dry food to discourage further elimination there. Eventually a small-
       sided tray is used to contain the litter and a more suitable container can be
       substituted later. Some feral cats that have been captured and tamed are
       difficult to house-train because they have been accustomed to eliminating on
       concrete or hard packed soil since kittenhood, yet they may also become
       house-trained using this method.

   3. Breakdowns in house-training. Most cats and dogs presenting a house-training
      problem have been successfully house-trained at some time in the past. In
      these cases, it is necessary to determine the cause of the breakdown. An
      animal with a gastro-intestinal or urinary tract infection may be forced to
      eliminate before it can reach a litter tray or go outside and this behaviour may
      persist as a learned habit even after these functions have returned to normal.
      Where there is a possibility that increased frequency of urination or defecation
      may lead to loss of house-training, it may be advisable to confine the cat to a
      more restricted area (e.g. a small room such as the bathroom) containing a litter
      tray to ensure quick access until the association has become re-established.
      Other physical disabilities may make the trip outside or to a litter tray too
      uncomfortable or tiring for the cat. Where this is likely to be a permanent
      problem, for example, with an ageing cat, the solution is simply to provide more
      litter trays, or to take an older dog outdoors more frequently or give older
      animals easier access to the outdoors via pet doors. For outdoor cats and dogs,
      any influence that makes the animal afraid to leave the house may result in a
      failure of house-training. Similarly, indoor cats may be deterred from using the
      litter tray and some degree of experimentation may be necessary to determine
      which aspect of the facilities provided is aversive. The following possibilities
      should be considered:

a) Location of litter tray.
Cats are often reluctant to eliminate in a litter tray that is too close to their food dish.
They may also be unhappy to use a tray in a public or busy area of the house. If such a
tray cannot be moved through lack of space, a covered tray may help make the
existing tray more acceptable. Conversely the cat may form a location preference for
the habitual site of the litter tray, a preference that persists when the tray is moved, and
so the cat continues to eliminate on the floor at the spot where the tray used to be and
the tray will need to be put back.

b) Litter aversion.
Cats learn by classical conditioning to associate the act of elimination with the feel
underfoot of a certain substrate. Perhaps because of the cat’s semi-desert ancestry,
litters with fine grain sand-like particles are preferred. (Borchelt 1991, Neville 1990).
Some establish specific litter preferences and their learned association to eliminating in
the litter tray may be broken if a new brand is introduced. Some may dislike brands
made of compressed wood pellets or those that release deodorising scents when damp
or which contain chlorophyll. Some of these deodorising agents can also cause
inflammation and cornification of the unhardened paw pads of cats kept permanently
indoors and lead to an aversion to using the litter. (Neville 1991). Trays may also
become aversive if they are not cleaned often enough, though cats vary enormously in
their tolerance of tray hygiene. Smells may also build up to an unacceptable level in a
covered tray and deter cats from using it. A cat with a mild aversion to the litter may still
use its tray, but stand on the edge or fail to dig and cover in the litter, or it may abandon
the tray altogether as the aversion increases or if a more acceptable substrate presents
itself, such as a carpet.

c) Learned aversions.
A cat may stop using its litter tray after having had an unpleasant experience there,
such as being startled by a loud noise while in the act of elimination. Sometimes
another family member or the family dog may take advantage of the cat’s temporary
immobility to trap it on the tray or an owner may pick it up from the tray in order to
administer a medicine. An aversion may be further compounded if the cat is bodily
placed or even gently chased onto a litter tray that it has ceased using. Quick and
successful removal of the cause of the aversion is a necessary condition of treatment
but not the only one in most cases as the cat may have learned new preferences in the
meantime. The litter tray should be made as attractive as possible by incorporating
some of the features of the learned preference. Thus, if the cat has formed the habit of
urinating in a certain corner of the room, the tray should be placed there. If it has
learned to prefer carpet as a substrate, a piece of carpet should be placed in the tray
initially and then covered with an ever increasing layer of fine litter until it is thick
enough for the cat to use it preferentially, when the underlying carpet can be removed.
The tray should also be made more attractive by making it smell like a tray in regular
use, perhaps by adding to it a little of the inappropriate substrate containing the cat’s
own urine.

Discontinuing punishment
In many cases owners may have tried to deal with the problem by punishing their dog
or cat, directly or remotely. These measures are likely to increase the cat’s general
level of arousal and anxiety indoors. Even if effective as a deterrent at the site of some
soiled areas, such actions usually, at best, only cause the cat to eliminate or scent
mark as well elsewhere in the house. A cat or dog should therefore never be punished
for elimination or indoor marking problems, even if caught in the act.

Action at soiled sites
Placing food or a bed at the base of spraying sites is often helpful at protecting those
areas, as cats are extremely reluctant to eliminate on their own key resources,
although they may simply move to other areas and eliminate there instead. A newly
preferred substrate such as carpet might be temporarily covered with plastic/stones etc
to deny access and make the surface less comfortable for the cat or dog to walk on
and so deter it from further unwanted elimination there.

Effective cleaning
Eliminatory behaviour can become classically conditioned to the smell of previously
deposited urine and faeces and their presence may prompt a cat or dog to eliminate
repeatedly in the same place. Soiled areas should therefore be thoroughly cleaned in
all cases. Scented or ammonia based cleaning agents are not recommended.
Ammonia is a constituent of urine and its scent may attract the animal back to the
same place and unfamiliar scents added to many proprietary cleaners may be
interpreted as deliberate and challenging scent ’over marks’. A damp cloth should be
used to remove any fresh urine and, while some commercially available ’urine digester’
products have been found to be effective at removing urine odour to the sensitivity of
the human sense of smell (Beaver et al 1989), no data has been published on their
relative efficacy from the cat’s point of view.

Cats and dogs, of course, have a far more acute sense of smell than people. An
enzymatic or biological clothes washing powder or liquid might be just as effective at
removing proteinaceous compounds and other residues, followed by agitation using a
light brush with a low-grade alcohol to remove any resilient fatty deposits. The fastness
of colour dyes of carpets and furnishings should be checked in a hidden corner before
using such cleaning regimes. Sodden carpets, furnishings and floorboards cannot
realistically be cleaned with these approaches and disposal and replacement, or
rigorous cleaning and covering with plastic sheeting may be the only options. Once
soiled areas have been treated and dried, food or beds should be placed on top or
close by as cats especially are deterred naturally from soiling near their food or
bed/rest areas.

Canine Retraining
Breakdowns in house training in previously house-trained dogs often arise as a result
of being forced to soil in a confined area close to their bed, such as during short stays
at boarding kennels or at veterinary surgeries, or as a result of involuntary indoor
elimination due to illness or anxiety or fear, for example in some cases of separation
related disorder. In treatment, their owners need to be much more directly involved with
retraining the dog then with a cat. Essentially the therapeutic treatment is the same as
the usual approach to house training a puppy, with owners having to ensure that the
dog is taken out frequently to the outdoor substrate where it will be expected to relieve
itself, usually on a grassed area. This may mean excursions outdoors every two to
three hours, including through the night, for a few days and whenever the dog wakes
after sleep/rest, after meals, after games sessions indoors etc when he is more likely to
need to eliminate. Once outdoors, he should be played with or let off lead to run and
rewarded effusively for any elimination and the act itself first paired with a command
such as ‘busy’ so that he can be asked to eliminate on command later and be rewarded
for doing so. It is important to continue to play with the dog for a few moments after it
has eliminated so that the act doesn’t become paired with the unrewarding prospect of
being taken indoors again. By being in the right place at the right time and always
rewarded for elimination there, with no indoor eliminations possible for a few days, the
dog should soon become conditioned to viewing his home as non-soiling area again.

Crate training
In some cases, a more extreme form of re-training may be necessary, perhaps
involving confining the cat or dog in a small den area, e.g. by using an indoor kennel
(crate), to provide a fresh opportunity to build on their early established conditioning
and learned unwillingness to soil in their own bed. Cats can be offered a litter tray
containing litter or, if to be allowed outdoors, sand or soil in the crate that they should
use preferentially to their bed. Such treatment is unlikely to be successful in isolation,
however, unless the cause of the problem has also been addressed and may, in some
cases, be inappropriate if the cat becomes distressed as a result being confined. Once
the habit of eliminating in the litter tray only has been re-established, it can be steadily
moved to a more appropriate location by degrees and more convenient litter introduced
in increasing proportions, for example by adding Fuller’s earth commercial litter
gradually to replace soil or sand, which is heavy and often difficult to transport to the
home. At the same time, the cat may be allowed access, again on a gradual basis, to
the places where inappropriate elimination previously occurred and can be helped to
view them as non-elimination areas by being fed meals or treats there. The dog is
confined similarly, but whenever allowed out, is first taken immediately outdoors and
encouraged to eliminate there (see above).

Beaver BV, Terry ML and LaSagna CL (1989) Effectiveness of products in eliminating
cat urine odors from carpet. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association,
194, 1589-91
Borchelt PL (1991). Cat elimination behaviour problems. Veterinary Clinics of North
America. 21, 257-265.
Neville PF (1990) Do Cats Need Shrinks? Sidgwick and Jackson, London England
Neville PF (1991) Do Dogs Need Shrinks? Sidgwick and Jackson, London England
Neville PF (1996). Scent marking in cats and its treatment. BNP Publications, PO Box
1735, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP2 0NQ, England.
O’Farrell V and Neville PF (1994) Manual of Feline Behaviour (ed C St C Ross). British
Small Animal Veterinary Association, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
Olm DD and Haupt KA (1988). Feline house soiling problems. Appl Anim Behav Sci.
20, 335-345.

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