Q: My 1-year-old Dachshund is lovable but won’t stop peeing in the house, no matter how many times a day I take him out. The veterinarian says when the dog pees indoors, I should give him a “time out” in his kennel. Alas, I never catch him. But when I do find the pee, all I have to do is look at my dog and he runs to his kennel. He even closes the door behind himself! If he doesn’t stop peeing indoors, I’ll be looking for a new home for him. I hear your radio show on my way to work, but can’t call in, so email will have to do. – J.C., Cyberspace
A: You act as though your dog is peeing indoors on purpose, which can’t possibly be true, notes certified dog behavior consultant Darlene Arden.
“Either there’s a medical explanation, which I assume your veterinarian has ruled out, or your dog is simply not quite housetrained,” says Arden.
The problem with giving your dog a time out in his kennel is that there’s no way for him to associate going in there with what you DO want him to do. Clearly, your dog is smart – smart enough to know that when you’re angry he should head for the kennel. Your dog piddles in corners of the house because he’s learned that it makes you mad when he pees indoors – but that doesn’t mean he knows to pee outdoors.
Arden, author of “Small Dogs, Big Hearts: A Guide to Caring for Your Little Dog” (Howell Book House, New York, N.Y., 2006; $25.99), explains, “Take your dog out on a leash to the same place at a time when you think he’s got to go. When he goes, jump and down like an idiot. Your neighbors will think you’re crazy, but your dog will love the attention and the special treat you use only for this purpose.
If he doesn’t go, then return in the house and put him in the kennel for 10 or 15 minutes, then try it again outside.”
If you must leave all day and you’re still unsure of your dog’s housetraining, leave him in a bathroom or behind a gate in the kitchen with a pee pad (a manufactured pad which has a smell that encourages dogs to piddle there). Arden understands your frustration, but points out that most house training errors are operator errors. You are the operator.
However, if your dog only piddles when you’re not at home, then we’re potentially dealing with an altogether different issue; see a dog behavior consultant or veterinary behaviorist for advice.
Q: Feral cats are common in our area. It’s disheartening to think that no one is giving these cats a pill or something to add to their water to sterilize them. Will something like this ever be done? – A.R., St. Petersburg, Fla.
A: Becky Robinson is a co-founder and president of Alley Cat Allies, a national nonprofit which supports care of all cats, especially community (or feral) cats. Robinson explains that there is a pill, which is not on the market because of concerns relating to safety and how well it works. That’s not to mention the practical issues if, for example, the pills were hidden in food, to determine which cat(s) in a colony had actually swallowed them. A vaccine is another possibility, but also not ready for market.
Meanwhile, trap-neuter-return is the most effective means to control feral cat colonies. Volunteers trap individual cats and take them to participating veterinarians or animal shelters to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated for rabies (some communities also microchip). Any friendly cats or young kittens are adopted from shelters, while any very sick cats may be humanely euthanized. Most cats are simply returned to their colonies to live out their lives.
Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can’t answer all of them individually, he’ll answer those of general interest in his column. Send email to email@example.com. Include your name, city and state. Steve’s website is www.stevedalepetworld.com.