Dr Isabelle Resch, behaviour vet at Inner South Veterinary Centre answers some questions from a couple of our clients. These are common everyday problems that people experience with dogs, with some simple solutions.
Question from Georgia in Canberra. Our ten-month-old Spoodle, Charlie is adorable; however, we have a problem. Whenever he gets excited, especially when my grown children and grandchildren come over, he pees on them and on the floor. We try very hard to give him lots of attention and everyone greets him on arrival, but the peeing is quite extensive. It also occurs when I bring him to their homes. As soon as we walk in, he leaves a trail of urine.
Are there something we can do to avoid the embarrassment and damage to the floors, shoes and pants?
Answer from behaviour vet – Dr Isabelle Resch
Never fear, your pup’s peeing problems will soon disappear. While your puppy’s bladder control or lack thereof leaves much to be desired he’s in a phase that most puppies pass through. This is a problem that many puppies go through, and it is likely to go away as he matures. In the meantime you can take several steps to speed the process along.
You’ve identified that he piddles when first greeting family and friends, when REALLY excited. So the solution is simple. Don’t get him so excited. When family and friends come to visit, instead of petting and playing with the excited pooch, they should ignore him for a few minutes or until he has calmed down. Once he’s standing or sitting more calmly, they can try some placid petting. They should start with slow, even strokes paired either with silence or a soft, soothing voice.
If Charlie the pup lets loose at this stage, the petting session started too soon, was too exuberant, or lasted too long. If he starts to wiggle and squirm in excitement they should quickly remove their attention and treat him as if he doesn’t exist. Then as soon as he’s still, they can reward him with gentle petting.
Expect immediate accidents the first few times because he is used to his old routine—see friends, greet excitedly, and urinate. But, surprisingly, if all greeters stick to the new routine, the piddling problem might be solved in only a handful of sessions. Meanwhile, if you fear for the safety of your family’s floors, you can hold the first few sessions outside!
Question from Louise in Canberra. We own a beautiful whippet cross, named Matilda, that we got from the pound when she was 7 months old. When we got her, she was frightened of most people. We took her to dog school and have kept up with her training. She’s wonderfully behaved and very happy and sociable. Our problem is that she’s 4 years old now and she often pees when saying hello to people. There are a few people who Mattie loves to see but greets them every time by peeing and then flopping down into the pee and wanting to be petted. We really want to stop the peeing! What can we do?
Answer from behaviour vet Dr Isabelle Resch
Matilda’s not overexcited like the last case. By flopping down and piddling, she’s letting them know she is no threat. Gesturing this way to other dogs and to people who read fluent “dog” sends a clear message that she’s no threat to them. As with the piddling pup, we need to change her routine, but in this case, instead of teaching Matilda to be calm when petted, she’ll needs to learn to sit. Although she undoubtedly knows to plop her backside down on command, we need to teach her to sit automatically in certain situations.
First, at home, take some treats and ask Matilda to sit. As soon as she sits, offer her a treat. When she learns to automatically sit for treats or a pat on the head, she’s ready for her new greeting routine. You’ll need to enlist some friends to help.
When she runs to greet them they should ignore the flopping Matilda. That means silence, not touching or talking to her and no commands to sit. Any petting or talking will reward her for that undesired behaviour. When she finally sits on her own they can give her a few pats on the head or a treat. Like Charlie the pup, start with short petting sessions and stop before she flops down again. Consistent follow-up and before you know it, she’ll have a piddle-free greeting routine.
Sounds easy! If you would like some behaviour advice please make an appointment to see Dr Isabelle Resch – behaviour vet!