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Q. When my dog runs away from a mess he's made in the house as he sees me coming, isn't that proof that he knows he's done something wrong?
A. Once an owner has scolded their dog by bringing attention to the mess, the connection of the mess and the probability of the owner's punishment has been paired. This doesn't mean that the dog understands why he is being punished as the mess occurred previous to the punishment. The dog shows that "guilty" look as he knows that in the presence of the mess, he's in trouble but that may not mean he remembers making the mess in the first place. Punishment creates conflict and typically will not solve the problem and in some cases only make the problem worse.
Q. Is it true that sterilization will cure my dogs aggression?
A. In male dogs that begin to show aggression as they become sexually mature, neutering the dog may be of some help. Those dogs that show aggression as puppies may be less likely to respond to neutering as a surgical cure for their aggression. Most recent studies have suggested that intact female dogs are less aggressive than spayed females as estrogen is the feminizing hormone and may be helpful in maintaining behavioral balance. One should always research the effects of sterilization and speak with their veterinarian for help in making an informed decision.
Q. I was told that my dog would be housebroken by five months of age and he is not, are we doing something wrong? Our five month old Beagle is keeping his crate clean but will soil any carpet in the house. Are we doomed?
A. Housebreaking is a process that takes time and patience. I have found females to be a bit more fastidious than many males but I have seen both genders be slow in this area of training. Human children can take three years to become potty trained and folks tend to have infinite patience when toilet training children. Puppies need patience and a consistent schedule as well as access to their homes while being strictly supervised. Crate training helps teach the body to hold their elimination but might not suggest that the pup hold it when out of the crate and in some obscure room in the house. I tend to expose puppies to the entire house on a leash and only after they've eliminated outdoors and have not taken in any food or water prior to the home exposure. Small breeds that are constantly on furniture may keep the couch clean but rarely keep the floor clean. Puppies should be on the floor until they are fully trained before they receive furniture "rights" as it is the floor that they need to see as living space. Once a tactile association to carpet has been made, it becomes a more difficult task to un-do the association. Have the Beagle chew his toys while lying on a rug or have him eat his meals on the carpet and change his perspective. The carpet has become his kitchen, not his toilet. As with children, positively reinforce all correct eliminations and supervise the puppy in an effort to not allow the puppy to rehearse inappropriate elimination behaviors. In the end, some dogs take a year or more to be fully responsible, and there is nothing abnormal about it.