TYSON'S CORNER, VA -- These selected questions were answered by experts attending the BlogPaws Conference 2013 here May 16-18. Over 500 pet bloggers and writers gathered to learn more about using social media to educate pet owners.
Q: My 1-year-old Dachshund is lovable, but won't stop peeing in the house, no matter how many times a day I take him out. The veterinarian says when the dog pees indoors, I should give him a 'time out' in his kennel. Alas, I never catch him. But when I do find the pee, all I have to do is look at my dog and he runs to his kennel. He even closes the door behind himself! If he doesn't stop peeing indoors, I'll be looking for a new home for him. I hear your radio show on my way to work, but can't call in, so email will have to do. -- J.C., via cyberspace
A: You act as though your dog is peeing indoors on purpose, which can't possibly be true, notes certified dog behavior consultant Darlene Arden. "Either there's a medical explanation, which I assume your veterinarian has ruled out, or your dog is simply not quite housetrained," says Arden.
The problem with giving your dog a time out in his kennel is that there's no way for him to associate going in there with what you DO want him to do. Clearly, your dog is smart -- smart enough to know that when you're angry he should head for the kennel. Your dog piddles in corners of the house because he's learned that it makes you mad when he pees indoors -- but that doesn't mean he knows to pee outdoors.
Arden, author of "Small Dogs, Big Hearts: A Guide to Caring for Your Little Dog" (Howell Book House, New York, NY, 2006; $25.99), explains, "Take your dog out on a leash to the same place at a time when you think he's got to go. When he goes, jump and down like an idiot. Your neighbors will think you're crazy, but your dog will love the attention and the special treat you use only for this purpose. If he doesn't go, then return in the house and put him in the kennel for 10 or 15 minutes, then try it again outside."
If you must leave all day and you're still unsure of your dog's housetraining, leave him in a bathroom or behind a gate in the kitchen with a pee pad (a manufactured pad which has a certain smell that encourages dogs to piddle there). Arden understands your frustration, but points out that most house training errors are operator errors. You are the operator.
However, if your dog only piddles when you're not at home, then we're potentially dealing with an all together different issue; see a dog behavior consultant or veterinary behaviorist for advice.
Q: Feral cats are common in our area. It's disheartening to think that no one is giving these cats a pill or something to add to their water to sterilize them. Will something like this ever be done? -- A.R., St. Petersburb, Fla.
A: Becky Robinson is a co-founder and president of Alley Cat Allies, a national non-profit with supports care of all cats, especially community (or feral) cats. Robinson explains that there is a pill, which is not on the market because of concerns relating to safety and how well it works. That's not to mention the practical issues if, for example, if the pills were hidden in food, how do you then determine which cat(s) in a colony had actually swallowed them? A vaccine is another possibility, but also not ready for market.
Meanwhile, trap-neuter-return is the most effective means to control feral cat colonies. Volunteers trap individual cats and take them to participating veterinarians or animal shelters to be spay/neutered and vaccinated for rabies (some communities also microchip). Any friendly cats or young kittens are adopted from shelters, while any very sick cats may be humanely euthanized. Most cats are simply returned to their colonies to live out their lives.
Q: I know when you walk your dog, the dog is supposed to be on the left. I have a bike hookup so my dog can run along with me, but I think it's better if she runs on my right so she can run on grass and not pavement. Will running on my right (when I ride a bike) and walking on my left confuse her? Also, I'm worried about her getting bloat if I run too soon after she eats. Any suggestions? -- S.J., Montreal, Quebec, Canada
A: New York City dog trainer Andrea Arden, host of Animal Planet's "Underdog to Wonderdog," says, "There's no law about walking a dog on your left side. The idea (of dogs walking on the left) began years ago with obedience competition. Of course, a dog can be taught to run and/or walk on both sides; that's not a problem."
Bloat actually refers to two conditions. The first is gastric dilatation, when the stomach distends with gas and fluid. The second is volvulus, which means the distended stomach rotates on its long axis. The spleen is attached to the wall of the stomach, and therefore rotates with the stomach. Bottom line, without immediate treatment, bloat is deadly.
Larger breeds with deep chests may be more pre-disposed, but no one knows the specific set of circumstances which cause bloat. It's thought by some that one factor may be vigorous exercise immediately following a meal. Knowing this, it's a good idea not to take a chance and wait an hour or so after a meal before you go running with your pup.
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services
Tags: Alley Cat Allies, Andrea Arden, Becky Robinson, community cats, Darlene Arden, dog accidents, feral cats, housetraining, marking dog, outdoor cats, Small Dogs Big Hearts: A Guide to Caring for Your Little Dog, stray cats, Underdog to Wonderdog