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Training a dog to hold off on urinating until he is walked

 

Last updated 1/29/2020 at 4:37pm

Dear Cathy,

Our rescue dog has been diagnosed with kidney problems. He is only 4 and takes medication for his condition. The vet does not want us to restrict his water. The problem is, when left alone during the day, he will pee in the same spot at the end of the day. This seems to happen as we pull up or he hears us at the door. On rare occasions, he is able to control his bladder.

Is there something we can do to train/encourage him to wait until he gets outside to relieve himself?

- Chris, Rio Rico, Arizona

Dear Chris,

I am not sure if your dog is submissive peeing upon your arrival or it is associated with you being away from the house for too long. If it is submissive peeing, I recommend plugging canine pheromones around your home to ease any stress he might be feeling and toning down your arrival greeting so he doesn't get overexcited.

Walk into the house and out the back door so he can relieve himself (even if he already peed in the house), and then reward him with a treat to reinforce the desired behavior.

If it's not submissive urination, he will learn that you will take him out as soon as you come home and may learn to hold it.

If it's not submissive urination, he also may need some bladder training. Option one is to put him on a schedule. Make sure he is taken outside to relieve himself at the same times every day. It sets a routine, which dogs love and depend on.

If you know your dog needs to pee after five hours, then you should let him outside or walk him every four hours. Of course, you can't be home all the time to do this, so you may need to hire a dog walker to come over at designated times to take him out. Over time, he will come to expect that he can relieve himself at the same time every day.

That might be a bit restrictive on your time and pocketbook, however, so option two involves determining your dog's threshold by noting how long until he has to urinate and making sure he gets outside to relieve himself before it happens. For example, if your dog has an accident after five hours, then you know he needs a break around the four-hour mark. This gets ahead of his five-hour window.

You can let your dog out to relieve himself before you leave the house and know you have four hours to return or for a dog walker to arrive so he can go outside again.

These things can work, but only if you are consistent and aren't confusing him by putting pee pads on the floor of your home. If you use pee pads, it can be difficult to get your dog to understand he needs to hold it until you get home. However, if all else fails and you can't get him on a schedule, then put a pee pad down on his favorite spot and be aware that you might have to refresh it daily.

Dear Cathy,

My calico cat is obsessed with licking plastic bags. It could be a plastic grocery bag, the plastic wrapping covering cases of bottled water or plastic food bags. Is this dangerous for her? Is it OK for her to lick clear plastic, and are the chemicals dangerous to her if there is print on the plastic?

- Kathy, Henderson, Nevada

Dear Kathy,

No one knows for sure why cats like to lick plastic bags. There are many theories, from the taste, texture and smell of the bag to the sound the bag makes when they are licking it. Licking plastic bags is only an issue if a cat ingests part of the bag or it becomes an obsessive behavior that is hard to stop.

Your best bet is to take the bag away from you cat when she starts licking it and say "no." You're not going to train your cat to leave the plastic alone, so the responsibility for halting this behavior lies with you. Keep all plastic out of her reach and use reusable grocery bags and water bottles (which also are much better for the environment) or paper bags (which cats love to hide in), whenever possible.

 

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