TO PEE OR NOT TO PEE
During a talk near Sydney man once told me about his dog peeing at home. I asked him how old his dog was. “11 weeks”, he replied. My first reaction was to advise him to calm down. Just as babies wear nappies in case of accidents, puppies should be given the benefit of the doubt. Of course, there are key times when a pup is more likely to toilet – after waking up, eating or playing – but accidents do happen.
“You don’t understand,” he replied, “My pup looks directly at me and pees.” “What do you do when he does this?” I asked. “Do you tell him off?” “Of course I do,” was the response. “Do you think your pup is successfully getting your attention?”
Even at such a young age, this dog had quickly found a way to press his owner’s buttons. Attention seeking can take many forms, but in every case it is an exercise in influence which can lead to other problems if a dog believes it is therefore responsible for its owner. I advised the gentleman to take the pup outside without a word, then return and clear up before allowing the pup back in and – most importantly – not let this attention seeking behaviour work anymore. Given no good reason to do something, dogs will stop wasting their time and effort (although some dogs can be stubborn so it is crucial to be more stubborn than them).
Peeing for the pack
Of course, this is not the only reason why a dog can pee in the house, but in this case the attention seeking could have led to the dog doing it when the owner was away from home too. Scent marking the “den” when the humans have left is a way for some dogs to try and encourage everyone to come back. Their logic states that if the territory smells of them, their charges will be able to find their way back home. The fact that people don’t have the same olfactory sensitivity (good noses) does not enter their heads. Separation anxiety is one of the most common problems I deal with as a Dog Listener and can be easily solved. The trick is to demonstrate to the dog that the owner can come and go as they please without it being the dog’s problem.
A new arrival
Sometimes, a dog will start to pee in the house upon the arrival of a new baby. The new arrival constitutes the final straw; they could barely cope with looking after “errant children” but this latest addition to the pack is helpless and the dog can start to panic. Again, showing the dog that it is not the one responsible for everyone’s safety is the way to solve this problem. Using sprays, drugs or pheromones does nothing to take the job description away from the dog. Changing its mind about its role works so much better (and it’s a lot cheaper!).
Their golden years
Ultimately, old age can mean a return to loss of bladder control too. If you have a senior dog whose tap starts to drip (so to speak) then a trip to the vets might be in order to see if there is something to be done to stem the flow. However, old age – like the arrival of a child – can be a trigger for a panic attack, so being consistent in the reassurance of your ability as leader helps too. As for a dog that doesn’t want to go outside when the weather is bad, I don’t blame them. If you have to put a lead on your dog and walk into the garden with an umbrella then do it as quick as possible. Once the dog takes care of business, tell them they have done well and head back indoors. They will get the message soon enough.
Remember the dont's
Remember not to tell your dog off if you find yourself “On Golden Pond” when you come home. If the dog did it a while ago it will not understand what you are mad about. Rubbing the dog’s nose in it is bad practice too and can actually make things worse. If you being away from the dog results in you coming home angry, that is proof enough that the dog should worry about you when you leave again – it must have been hell out there for you. The nose rubbing can sometimes lead to dogs defending themselves too!
In short, if your dog is caught short don’t get short with them. I can help you short – I mean sort it out easily enough with a few simple techniques to show your dog that it can relax… but not too much!For more info on how to do that, go to my website www.tonyknightdoglistener.com and you can find out how.