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Turning room into pet’s play area might teach her it’s not ‘bathroom’
Dear Dr. Spiegel, I have a six and one-half month old spayed female cocker-beagle mix. She has two problematic behavioral traits. I would say that she is housebroken; she will ask to go outside, and she has one area of the yard that is hers. There is, however, one spot in the dining room which she seems to have claimed for herself whenever she can get to it. In the rest of the house she is very well-behaved. If I give her run of the house, she invariably makes a mess in her spot (not en route to a door). She also eats her stools occasionally; and always when she messes in the dining room (there's always some evidence left!). B.N., Newark
Dear B.N., I would say that she is not housebroken. She exhibits very strong location preferences in her eliminatory behaviors. We want to change the significance of that particular location/room for her. Here's the best way to do that: Twice daily, play with her in that room for ten minutes. Use a special toy that she really loves. Let her play with it and with you only during these sessions. At other times leave it in a basket near ?her spot" in the dining room. Her access to this room should be restricted at all other times. For the first week have these play sessions at regular times; then start to vary the times, but continue twice daily. After one month, start giving her free access to the dining room. If she goes in there, watch her. If she goes to eliminate, scare her with a loud, sharp, startling sound (your voice or a 3-inch diameter air horn, available at marine supply stores). Though that shouldn't be necessary if she now strongly associates this area with play. For dogs that eat their own stools, use Forbid (sold through veterinarians). Sprinkle it on her food. It creates awful tasting poop, though I couldn't tell you personally.
Dear Dr. Spiegel: I have a dog and a parakeet. One question is with the parakeet. I clean her cage, then she takes a bath in the water dish. I have a bathtub I hang onto the cage, but she won't use it. Any ideas? G.A., Wilmington
Dear G.A., Your little ?tweet-heart's" preference for using one container of water over another for bathing is really just that--a preference. It doesn't pose any real problems. There could be any number of reasons she doesn't use it: location, depth of water, height of water relative to perch area, water temperature, and stability of the tub on the cage, among others. You can try changing the bath's location on the cage, the depth of the water and/or removing any food from her cage for an hour and then float some tasty morsel that she loves in the tub to get her interested in it. And make sure to give her fresh water daily in her dish and the tub, as well.