How do I discipline a Frenchie, if she already feels guilty?

asked 2017-02-23 22:06:13 -0600

My Frenchie is 3-- I've had her a month, I adore her. Not sure what her last situation was but she has some bad habits.

I am new to dog ownership and am unclear about training cause-effect/psychology. And cannot find examples of specific situations I've been experiencing.

A recent example of behavior is; I left for a few hours and put her in my room (with open crate, food and water bowls and chew toy where she spends a majority of time). When I got home, I found one of my sleeping ear-plugs in the middle of the floor. I picked it up and before I put two-and-two together, I noticed she was in the guilt position (ears back, head-down, big watery eyes, and shaky legs, submissive urination, et al). I realized what had happened. So I calmly asked her if she had eaten the other one. Her groveling led me to believe she had.

This is where I get stuck-- I never raise my voice, nor am I violent, and I never even acknowledge the submissive urination because she isn't in control of that really. I have only given her a sense of disappointment really, even thought-- in this case it is my fault for not keeping the earplugs in a safer place. But at the heart of it, I want her to know she shouldn't make a habit of eating strange things because one time it could be something that will hurt her.

She knows she did wrong-- but I feel like petting and consoling her gives the wrong message--? But "punishing" her with a time out also feels harsh. But not acknowledging it feels irresponsible.

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answered 2017-02-24 08:33:12 -0600

Dogs can not feel guilt the way humans can. Your dog isn't displaying that body language because she is guilty, she is displaying it because either she is used to a prior owner coming home and "disciplining" her, she's picking up on your body language and knows you are angry and it is stressful for her,or she has inferred that when a person looks at or picks up an item she's chewed, it's followed by a negative interaction.

When you're around her, you can guide her away from chewing behaviors by gently interrupting her and redirecting her to a toy. When you're unable to supervise, she should be in a closed crate or a puppy proof area, with nothing she is able to chew up.

If you notice after the fact that she's chewed something while you were gone, there is no way you can discipline her. She will not associate the discipline with her previous actions.

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answered 2017-02-23 22:44:14 -0600

Hi there and congratulations to your new family addition! First, I would say if you didn't see the crime, you shouldn't punish her. What if that ear plug turns up under your bed in a few days? Some suggestions; - Don't use her crate as a place to go to when punished. Make that her sanctuary and until you two have gotten into a rhythm of life together, place her in her happy place aka the crate while you are not home. - "No" is over used, watch how often you say it in a day or pay attention to how others use it with their pets. I like "leave it" and "drop it" for milder situations or when caught in the act and "No" for serious scenarios. - In the case that she has destroyed something she shouldn't have, replace it with the thing she CAN destroy/chew on; kong, toy, etc. - It's time to puppy proof the hell out of your place; the trash, the counter tops, basically as if you had a baby. If you wouldn't want a baby to put it in its mouth, time to rethink how to store it better. - Dogs with separation anxiety need to be stimulated while away and kept calm. Kongs are a good choice as long as it's large enough for them to not choke and mellow music playing.

I hope this helps! Best of luck <3

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answered 2017-02-23 22:30:47 -0600

Hi there! Here's my two cents: you can't discipline a dog for something that happened a long time ago. If your response isn't very quick after the behavior you want to modulate, they won't get the message. She is probably responding to not feeling well, seeing your stress, or anxiety from being alone, and that's why she's acting stressed. I would recommend trying some luxury crate training for awhile. For example, get a large enough crate, put her bed or favorite blanket in there, and allow her to sleep in there for a while- this makes her think of it as a relaxing place. Try giving her something to chew on or a kong toy with treats in it when you have to leave her. Destructive behavior is directly related to separation anxiety, and if it's not possible to puppy-proof the room, the next best thing is to leave her safe and comfortable so she can't hurt herself! When you're home, you can certainly take away any inappropriate items and give her a sharp "No" to tell her the behavior is inappropriate, but it sounds to me like you're having more of an anxiety issue than a destructive behavior. I hope this helps!

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answered 2017-02-24 01:01:25 -0600

I don't think discipline is what you should be thinking of. When you came home, your dog's "guilt" was, no doubt, a reaction to YOUR behavior, rather than an acknowledgment of his. They're very sensitive and read our body language much more clearly than we read theirs. Their sense of time is so different from ours, that to chastise him for something that happened even 5 minutes ago is useless, since he would have no idea why you were displeased with him. It sounds like separation anxiety is probably the culprit. As a new rescue in turmoil, YOU are his lifeline! There's no "one paragraph fix", as in this forum, but there is plenty of good reading material on canine behavioral issues. It will take patience and commitment on your part. Whole Dog Journal is a great monthly publication (no advertisers allowed, so unbiased good information on all things DOG) and especially helpful to people new to dog companionship. As an aside, I don't believe "punishment" is EVER appropriate, even if caught in the act of doing something WE deem wrong. There are much more positive ways to show them a particular behavior is just unacceptable. Which, again, brings us to mom having to get out the book(s) and do some homework. There's just no easy way around it, lol. Welcome to doggy motherhood! The good news: if all he did was chew on some earplugs and NOT shred your furniture, it doesn't sound like a serious case of anxiety...time alone may end up helping him feel more secure in his new home.

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