Some dogs spell relief differently
Dear Dr. Spiegel,
A week ago I adopted a wonderful Labrador puppy. She is six months old. The previous owner said she was housebroken. This is partially true. This dog goes to the bathroom outside and inside!! She goes to the door or whines and I let her out. She does her business. Sometimes after she comes back inside, she will go again! Many times this happens when she gets excited. How can I break her from this practice? I have only had her a week, but this is getting old quick. She is wonderful in every other way. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Dear Lab Lover,
The first thing I would do is call her previous owner and find out what their experiences were with this particular dog and how they handled her housebreaking. She might just have some unusual quirks.
Not too long ago my mother-in-law adopted a four year old female Scottie who was supposedly housebroken. For two or three days she could not get this dog to go to the bathroom outside. She took her for frequent short walks, but the dog would never go while they were out together. When they were in the house, the dog would occasionally wander off into another room and do its business, to my mother-in-law's dismay. When she called me to report her troubles and get some help, I rattled off a whole list of basic housebreaking tips, and had her call the previous owners for any additional information.
We were both shocked and amused to find out that this little dog was simply bashful. She had to have her privacy and would under no circumstances eliminate if someone was around her. Her problem was solved by putting down papers in the garage. Now, whenever this Scottie has to relieve herself, she waits by the garage door till she's let out. The door is closed behind her, she uses her papers, and then barks to come back in.
Your Lab may actually be so excited to be with you that after relieving the more pressing urge to urinate, she rushes back inside to be with you and then it hits her that she's not quite finished. Many dogs will urinate when they get excited. Their minds are so focussed on the object of their excitement, that they forget about other less pressing issues, until those issues become truly pressing; and by that time, it's too late.
When she sees you first thing in the morning, or when you come home from work, these are likely to be the times when she is most excited. Instead of just letting her out, take her for a walk at these times or go outside in the yard with her, and don't rush right in after she's gone once. Give her ample time to be outside so that she may eliminate appropriately. Don't fuel her excitement by playing with her or interacting too lovingly with her at these times. Eliminating her strong desire to rejoin you inside should overcome the uncompleted duties resulting from her haste.
Dear Dr. Spiegel,
I am a concerned grandmother. The reason is my granddaughter was given a newborn kitten. Being that their bathroom is being remodeled, she has the litterbox and the kitten sleeping in her bedroom. First of all, I don't think she should breathe the cat litter, let alone the kitten's mess. It's not healthy. What would you suggest? The kitten even sleeps on her chest, and she doesn't move all night so she won't disturb it. Help!
Mrs. E.R., Wilmington
Dear Mrs. E.R.,
As long as the kitten has been effectively treated for worms (parasites) and has received a clean bill of health by a veterinarian, you needn't worry. Scoop out the litter box daily, change it completely every week and allow her to sleep with the kitten if she likes. This is a behavior that most cat owners engage in. It will strengthen the bond between your granddaughter and her kitten, and help to foster a lifelong compassion and love within her for all animals.
Dear Dr. Spiegel,
Just a note of thanks for your attention to our letter last fall. We wrote asking if you had info on a Golden Retriever rescue group. You called us with the info; we wrote them, and as a result Hoover, nine months, joined our family 12/28/94. He's beautiful and just full of himself! He's a great love.
Thanks for helping us.
M. & K. F.
Dear M. & K. F.,
There's nothing like a happy ending!