Why we don’t like “Shaker Cans”…

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We have TWO very important Workshops starting this Sunday:
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They run for 3-weeks and can help make a HUGE difference in your dogs behavior!
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I received this email from a client in puppy class. I thought it was important enough to share with you too!

Dear Giene,

We are having a great time in our Dog Face Puppy Class!  I’m really glad you talked about potty training because I was going to ask you about it, specifically this part that you address: “If you find an accident, it’s too late to reprimand him.  He has already forgotten about it, and will

only learn that sometimes you yell at him for no apparent reason.  Just clean it up with an enzymatic cleanser to take away the odor.”

I’ve actually read that already but my husband and I disagree on this topic. If he finds an accident, he drags Buster over and shakes a penny can at him. Buster looks clearly scared, but from my research I’ve told my husband that Buster will not associate having the accident and being scolded, but he’s persistent – because his dad used this technique on their family dogs growing up. I’ve told him that all dogs (breeds and individual dogs) are different and what worked for those dogs might not be the best for our puppy.  Can you elaborate on this so I can share with my husband? And anything on the effectiveness of the penny can? I’ve never seen this or used this before (and my parents HATE it).  We both really want to do what’s best for our puppy’s learning, whatever that is.

Thank you so much, Jenny and Buster

Hi Jenny –

Oh sure, no problem! Well, everyone (even among dog trainers) have their own techniques and ideas.  The way that I would describe the “shaker can” technique, or putting the puppy’s nose in it, is an “old school” way of training.  This is how people trained dogs when I was a kid. We have learned a LOT more about dog behavior since then!  What we have found, and of course this is not with every single dog every single time, is that the dog does understand that this is wrong.  WHAT they understand to be wrong is not always what WE want them to understand is wrong. Let me explain:

If your puppy goes potty on the floor and you take them to the spot where they peed and yell at them, or rub their nose in it (or shake a can at them, etc.), they start to understand a few things:

1. It might be scary to have their owner come over to them because they don’t know if they are going to get yelled at (this is where you start to see dogs that have very unreliable recalls).

2. They understand that randomly they get yelled at (they don’t remember what they did in order to get yelled at, especially when they are puppies and their attention spans are like butterflies).

3. They sometimes become hand-shy (they don’t want to be grabbed and pulled somewhere).

4. They can sometimes become noise phobic.

5. They start to “get it” that you don’t like it that they peed in the house, but since they HAD to go, it doesn’t train them to do anything.

6. The biggest problem we see with this is dogs that understand that you don’t like seeing their pee. So, what they do is start to go potty behind a chair, or in a room that you don’t use very often, or a basement. They understand that when you see it, it’s a bad thing, so they try hard to make sure you don’t see it.  Plus, if they still have to go, and do not have immediate access to outside, they’re going to go in the house. They’re puppies!

7. Some dogs take it to an extreme and start to actually eat the evidence so they do not get yelled at (makes me sad!)…

8. Some dogs try to hold it for too long and develop UTI’s.

9. Shaker cans may tell the puppy that you are unhappy, but they don’t understand *why* you are unhappy with them, and they certainly don’t understand what they should be doing differently.

10. Dogs are really great at offering appeasement behaviors.  This is when people look at the dog, the dog is cowering, lowering it’s head, turning away, etc. The owner looks at him and says “Look, he knows he’s been bad”.  Well, the dog may know that you’re really upset with him, but he may not actually know why. And, he really doesn’t know how to make you *not* mad at him!

11. Positive reinforcement, as well as correct management of puppies (vs. adverse training techniques) is much more effective and has actually been proven to work faster and creates a more reliable puppy!


Puppies have such teeny little bladders. I would expect to take him out every 30 minutes or so when you’re home and he’s out of the crate. I have had puppies and countless foster puppies in my home…  When my dogs are puppies we are CONSTANTLY taking them out.  Then putting them in the crate when we can’t watch them – even if it’s for a moment!!

Here are some additional articles that may help. Have fun, and don’t worry; the potty training part, if done effectively, should only last for a couple weeks to a couple months!

Correct Potty Areas
Crate Training
House-Training Puppies and Adult Dogs

As always, thank you allowing us to be a part of your family, your dogs learning and growing – We love what we do and we’re honored to help!

Giene Keyes and the Dog Face Behavior Team 

About Dog Face

Giene Keyes, CPDT – KA Owner & Founder of Dog Face, LLC & Shooting Star Portuguese Water Dogs Giene started working with dog behavior in 1990 when she adopted a 4-year old Greyhound from the racing track. To date he is the most severe separation anxiety case that she has seen. He taught Giene about the psyche and learning process of dogs. It wasn’t until Giene was training her little pot-bellied Labrador puppy in 1995 that she really became interested in the actual training process of canines. Starting her small training business in 1997 she developed her own methods and ideas of positive reinforcement. She took what she had learned from her Greyhound, as well as positive methods she used to train horses, to create what is now the base of our training methods in the classes we teach today. Giene is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist in Southern Wisconsin. After winning Best of Madison for two years in a row, Giene sold her Madison Dog Daycare to devote her time to dog behavior and helping owners create harmony with their pets in their homes. Specializing in aggression and difficult dog cases, Giene also works with rescue groups and shelters, evaluating dogs for adoption, developing Canine Aggression Management programs, and educating staff on dog language and behaviors. She has provided behavior consultations for service dog organizations, rescue groups and dog daycares throughout the Midwest. She is often contacted by police departments to work with individuals that have dangerous dogs. As a mother of 3 young children, Giene also realizes the importance of family dog training. She incorporates realistic training methods and helps to incorporate dogs into the family. She is an Instructor with the American Red Cross in Pet CPR and First Aid, a Certified Canine Good Citizen Evaluator with the American Kennel Club, and a Licensed Judge with the WI Dept of Ag, Trade & Consumer Protection. Giene routinely presents seminars on Dog Behavior, Training, and Operant Conditioning as well as educating her staff on dog body language and pack mentality. Giene is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Giene has been a regular guest on popular Madison radio shows and interviewed on numerous evening newscasts. Giene has also been featured in a number of local magazines, including the cover for Wisconsin Woman in 2010. Giene has also been highlighted in the Wisconsin State Journal for her work with Chicken Clicker Training, improving dog training skills along with timing and observation, and recently interviewed for a Nationwide Podcast. She enjoys holding training workshops across the state. If you would like to learn more about Giene, Dog Face and the services they offer, please go to the Dog Face web site at www.DogFacePet.com. Please feel free to contact Giene of any member of the Dog Face Behavior Team anytime!
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