Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
House training problems continued, noisy dogs and Neutering
The second of our cases from last week had nothing to do with house training at all. The dog fouled the house and no matter how much training he received it continued to use the house as a toilet.
No matter what the behaviourists suggested the key to the problem was attention. The dog now has so much attention it craved for more. It has become part of his hierarchal badge or trophies. The dog was addicted to attention so much so that if it was not forth coming it learned to get it by defecating or urinating indoors. The owners would then show some reaction towards it, which the dog interpreted as attention even if yelling at it the dog it only assumed the owner was barking at it.
Children do the same and soon learn that doing certain things brings about the parents attention. It does not take long to learn that even if you try to follow the nurse’s advice and do not go to your baby every time it cries when baby goes to the toilet you come running.
One of the normal reactions for dogs that encourage them to go to the toilet is to make them run around. This gets the system moving so if a dog is playing and then goes to the toilet it then gets chased because it had fouled the house it will soon learn it is all part of the game. Even if you catch your dog, this has little effect unless the punishment is very severe.
I often walk on the rough ground at the Arenal and call on a German gentleman who lives in a mobile home. We let both dogs play, whilst my German friend can have his breakfast, and I can read the paper. Our two dogs literally run themselves into the ground exhausted. This saves us as owners a great deal of effort in having to exercise our dogs: we can relax.
Anyone watching our two dogs may think they are fighting but it is still the puppy game of chase-me and this game includes some very rough play but they never bite one another. They do knock each other over and they do not react to this as major pain. If you imagine chasing your dog for stealing your jeans off the washing line and you chase him round the garden it becomes a game. You will eventually corner the dog and even if you hit the dog, it is unlikely to react to this as severe pain. It will though learn to keep away from you next time you play the same or a similar chase game.
I know of many owners who have dogs that walk up to them and then wee right in front them in the room. To correct this situation you must just ignore it as if it had never happened. Then without looking at the dog you should go outside with the dog following you. Still not looking at it, walk back in again shutting the dog out. It is then the owner cleans up the mess with a proper Enzyme cleaner obtainable from any supermarket or pet store. This will ensure that the dog does not foul the same spot again.
The dog may then of course try some other attention getter like stealing an article of your clothing and running around in front of you with it.
Most dogs want attention and owners think it is unfair not to show any but it still needs to be when you decide and not when your dog decides. However, if you know, your dog is looking for attention by pestering you then you ignore it for a while until it settles. When the dog is settled and you are ready only then may you give the dog some attention.
The important thing about toilet training is to learn the dog’s normal routine. I have learned that Winston’s timing is approximately nine in the morning and five in the afternoon. I try to stick to his routine, which is now possible to move either way according to my schedule.
If a dog has been toilet trained then reverts to defecating and urinating indoors it is possible your dog is unwell in which case you must discuss this with your vet. Should there be no health reason for this then a retraining programme will be necessary.
Older dogs can loose control of their routine and may need more supervision than younger dogs. Here you just need patients and there will still be a routine but try not to vary it at all because the older dog may well have lost the ability to wait.
Dogs do not use your house as a toilet out of spite for the owners, so count to ten and try to understand what is happening and why. Has the dog been for a walk before you went? Did it go to the toilet? Were you late home missing his evening walk? If the answer to the first two is no and to the last is yes then the risk of you dog fouling your house is more likely.
Once your dog learns not to foul inside the house then it is possible for him to wait longer on order to go to the toilet when you return.
I read the interesting letter to the Editor last week regarding noisy dog. After writing over 100 articles there still does not seem to have been any improvement so why bother writing if no one takes any notice and lets their dogs continue barking incessantly.
I do sympathise with this gentleman and know of many others who could just have as easily written the same letter. They too have reached the point of anger where with the right product they could now kill the offending dog. I know of English people who are appalled at the widespread use of poison here in Spain, yet feel that some dogs are becoming an exception and they would gladly use it on them.
To have a decent sleep at night is a right by law. It is not for us as dog owners to force other people to put up with our noisy pets. I would never allow my dog to bark all night for no reason.
To say that your dog is barking to protect you from criminals is not a valid excuse, because statistically dogs cannot tell the good guys from the bad guys. A dog that barks all night will not get me out of bed to see the cause.
On the other hand, a dog that normally never barks then starts to bark in the night is a good reason to look out to find out why.
In all these articles, I have described many methods and the equipment owners can use to solve the problem of noisy dogs. I would be very pleased if I could write these articles and in few months, there is peace and quiet everywhere but sad to say that this does not happen. I only receive a very few people actually asking for help as they are upset at their noisy dog or they have a Denuncia and need urgent help.
Would it not also be better if leaders of urbanisations instead of laying down the laws to residents regarding peace and quiet they offered owners a method of helping solve the problem? Harmless compressed citronella air collars are available and if each urbanisation purchased one or two if any one has a noisy dog they can then rent them a collar from the committee until they solve the problem. Some Council offices are doing this back in the United Kingdom. It appears that some of the cheaper versions that simply go beep when the dog barks also work in time.
Many owners are aware that their noisy dogs are creating a problem and are prepared to do something to correct this.
Unfortunately, there are many owners letting their dogs bark all night long. When neighbours complain they offer threats and feel they need do nothing about it. The question must be does their dog not bother them. I know Winston barking at nothing would certainly bother me.
Spaying or neutering before becoming sexually mature
I have written a number of times that when you wish your dog or cat neutering then to do this before they become sexually mature as this is now considered medical beneficial. The following advice is the sort of advice you will now find on any web site if you were to enter a search regarding the question of neutering.
* Your pet will live longer and be healthier. Spaying your pet before sexual maturity virtually eliminates the risk of uterine, ovarian and breast cancer. Neutering your male reduces the incidence of prostate cancer. Not being pregnant or giving birth greatly reduces the strain on your pet's body. They won't have to suffer through possibly dangerous childbirth, cesarean sections, endometric pyometria, eclampsia or other pregnancy and birth illnesses.
It seems many vets here in Spain still try to persuade owners to wait until their first season as they think they will not mature correctly. This is no longer the established belief and not supported by the scientific information. Why let them find out about reproduction only to then take it all away again. If you tell your vet that it is now considered good policy to neuter pets as soon as they are fit enough to have the operation he should accept your wishes.
The problem case I had the other week is the dominant bitch is very tiny and a new larger bitch has now entered the household. If the owner waits until the bitch has had her first season it will open up the rules that govern Alpha females and the larger bitch like in another case I wrote about it may well try to make the little dog submit to her new role or leave the pack or last she may well kill the smaller bitch. For this reason alone, I would advice neutering before her first season.