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Most dogs and cats settle in very well but occasionaly they can cause problems - who can blame them - after what some of them have been through. This is a small selection of some of the questions adopters ask us about their pets.

I recently adopted a dog from you and it is not yet clean in the house what should I do?
This has got to be our number one problem with rescued dogs. The problem stems from the dogs past and the probably inappropriate methods used to house train the dog.
The golden rule in this, and indeed many other training problems is - make it possible for the dog to be good and then praise it for being so.
This might sound a trite answer but it is the basis of a really successful outcome. Firstly you need to have a routine that the dog can recognise and therefore rely on. For instance you should always walk the dog at roughly the same times of day. If the dog gets used to being walked at around 7.30 p.m. he will be able to eventually regulate his bowels and bladder to your routine.
Additionally, especially with a young dog you need to recognise when he is going to need to 'go’. For instance - when he wakes up from a sleep, when he has had a good play with you or another dog, when he has recently finished a meal. These are all among the circumstances that will put pressure on his bowel and bladder. Therefore if at these times you take him outside (yes, I said take him don't just put him out! at these times and just talk to him gently with encouragement he will, eventually have to relieve himself. You are then on hand to praise him, tell what a good boy he is and generally make a fuss of him. This will turn his need to relieve himself into a happy occasion rather than what it has perhaps been in the past.

My dog spends a lot of his time in our back yard and enjoys the freedom that gives him. But he has taken to barking when he is bored or someone passes the back gate. My neighbours are complaining. What should I do?
This is a fairly common problem and you are lucky that he does his barking out of doors. What is needed is for him to get a disagreeable shock every time he barks inappropriately. As he is out of doors this is easily achieved by setting up a hose pipe in such a way that it can be used to deliver a spray of water whenever he gets too loud. Presumably he does his barking by the back gate, if so the hose pipe is focussed on this area. He does not know that you are connected to the hose at the other end, he just knows that he gets wet whenever he barks. He does not like that and will usually change his behaviour after a short period of this treatment.
This short sharp shock can work very well for inappropriate behaviour within the house also but don't use the hose pipe, it does not do the television and video much good! Instead you can use a water pistol or alternatively something that will make a very loud and startling noise. This could be a rape alarm or even a tin can with pebbles inside. Where you do this when you are in sight the shock should be accompanied by a firm but not loud command. For instance "Henry NO''.

I have recently adopted a cat and she has not yet learned to use the litter tray she prefers behind the T.V. and behind the settee. What can I do? Guests are starting to hold their noses when they come in.
Cats are basically very clean animals. They do not like to foul near their nests this is why your cat is hiding her deposits behind the furniture. Many cats do not like to use the litter tray more than once or twice before it is changed. Some basic rules to help her learn to be clean are:
1) Never have a closed door between the cat and her litter tray
2) Remove anything that she does in the tray as soon as possible
3) Watch the cat very carefully for a - whole weekend, whenever she goes to one of her forbidden toilet areas catch her quickly and put her in the litter tray. Do not at this point scold her! You should put her in the tray and talk to her soothingly so that she knows that she will not be in trouble for doing her toilet in this area. Remember that at this point she does not understand the difference between the litter tray and behind the settee.
4) When accidents do occur, make sure that the cleaning fluid you use does not contain ammonia. This is because ammonia smells of urine, which to a cat is the same as putting up a big sign "This is the place".
After cleaning up accidents spray the affected area with a dilute solution of white vinegar and water. This is very unattractive to cats and will encourage her to not use this area in future.

When I allow my dog to run about on the fields he does not come back when I shout him.
You do not say what type of dog you have. This can be very relevant as some breeds need a lot more exercise than others. These include Border Collies and many of the working breeds. If you have one of these or a cross of one of these types you may be giving him less exercise than he needs. For instance the Border Collie needs an absolute minimum of one hours exercise per day and most trainers would say that this is still not enough. Shortage of stimulation, both mental and physical will cause your dog to become disobedient
Other than making sure your dog is getting enough exercise there is a virtually foolproof method of teaching recall. You have to make him want to come back! There are two things that are guaranteed to please a dog. They are food and your attention, not necessarily in that order.
First get yourself a whistle, preferably with an unusual tone so it cannot be mistaken for everyday sounds. Then for a period, probably 3 to 4 weeks he must get used to the whistle being inseparable from food and vice versa, he never gets fed without you first blowing the whistle. Once he knows that the whistle means food (and definitely not before) you can start to take the whistle out with you on your walks.
Now that he associates the whistle with food it can be used to bring him back to you. However if you blow the whistle he must get a small treat to eat or he will soon see through you and and worse still start to distrust you.
It is important that you don't blow the whistle only when you want him to come back in order to put his lead on and take him home. Once again he will soon see through your scheme and not respond very well. Rather you should blow the whistle at least 5 or 6 times during his free run and then give him the recall command e.g. "Benji Come". On each occasion he comes back to you, you praise him, tell him that he is a good boy and give him a treat then let him go back to his playing. This way he will never know which is to be the last whistle and his signal to be taken home.
This method is very successful and you will not have to continue with the whistle for ever because after a while he will be in the habit of coming back when requested. You will eventually be able to miss out both the whistle and the treat as he will come to your command just for a friendly word and a cuddle.