My Pet World: What to do if your dog leaves the bad kinds of gifts

May 24, 2011|By Steve Dale

Question: Baxter, my 6-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, defecates or urinates wherever my new husband is around. The last straw was when Baxter left both "gifts" on our bed at 3 a.m. Before this, Baxter only had rare accidents when I was away too long.

I've tried diapers, rewards, punishment and extra walks, all to no avail. Now, we keep Baxter in the dog run during the day and the garage at night. We're both miserable with this arrangement. Any advice? — S.S., Cyberspace

Answer: Rule out a potential physical issue first with your veterinarian, says Susan McCullough, author of "Housetraining for Dummies" (Wiley Publishing, New York, NY, 2009; $16.99).


You never describe the relationship your husband has had with Baxter from the start, but clearly it isn't so hot. McCullough says that many years ago, she had a similar problem with an ex-boyfriend.

"I took over full responsibility for the dog, and did what the dog enjoyed. We really did have fun," she recalls. "When (my boyfriend and I) broke up, the dog clearly preferred to be with me."

McCullough, of Washington, D.C., adds, "Have your husband play with Baxter and take over feeding him whenever he can. All the treats should come from his hands. And the three of you should take leash walks together."

New research confirms McCullough's plan. If you want to bond with your dog, take a leash walk. It turns out all those exciting smells and all the fun on the walk is apparently associated with whoever's at the other end of the leash.

If your dog seems stressed, ask your vet about a Dog-Appeasing Pheromone Collar or Anxitane, a nutritional supplement that helps to calm anxious dogs.

At the same time, take Baxter out to relieve himself as if he were a puppy. He can certainly "hold it" longer than a pup, but the more times outside, the better. Take him out on-leash, and when Baxter does his business, offer a reward.

If these solutions don't help, contact a veterinary behaviorist ( or dog behavior consultant (

Q: Our nearly 9-year-old mixed breed dog (we think a Shetland sheepdog/terrier-mix) suffered two seizures in 24 hours a couple of weeks ago. Our vet said all the blood work was fine. Should we be worried about more seizures? — D.L.W., St. Paul, Minn.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles