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I have a 5 1/2 year old male Bichon Frise who started peeing in the house about two year ago. I had him thoroughly checked for various things at the vet and all possible things were ruled out. My feeling is it is his way of showing he is unhappy when we leave. He is now peeing in other places. If he is caught in the act, he is sprayed with a water bottle and given a time out in his crate. He is treated like royalty - sleeps on the bed, etc., just so you don't think he is neglected. It's actually just the opposite!-Julie
I'm not getting why you think he's "acting out" because "he is unhappy when we leave", as you're indicating it happens when you're home as well. I'm wondering if this isn't more connected to his being treated like royalty rather than a family dog.
I think a lot of dogs see their humans at best as college roommates, rather than leadership figures. This often devolves into behaviour issues and always makes them harder to resolve. Your dog might be just wondering why you're not saving yourself a walk to the bathroom too. It's hard to say, so it's worth hiring a balanced trainer to come in and have a look at your particular scenario.
I know there are dog trainers that think a "time-out" in a crate is more humane then actually saying, "No!" in a manner meaningful to the dog. I'm not one of them. In nature, a "time-out" is something a mother dog, wolf, ape, gazelle, etc. might do to her young if she wants something to eat them. It just isn't used as an "educational" tool. I'm not saying that time alone is not something that a dog might perceive as discipline, but it's an unnecessary workaround and makes it harder for a dog to connect the dots. In the animal kingdom, if discipline is required, it happens on the spot in a clear and fair manner.
Contrary to the more politically correct - but I think sadly misguided - dog trainers, discipline and abuse are not the same thing. Just because they can't see the dog when it feels bad doesn't mean that's more humane than addressing the behaviour in an immediate manner.
Besides, crates aren't for punishment; they're for rest, sanctuary and moments of the day when diligent supervision is required but isn't practically possible.
The water bottle is another piece of new-wave bizarreness. It's another illogical connection using weak science to define what a humane "correction" is. Some dog trainers think that making a dog feel bad about something by spraying water at it is more humane than a well-timed, fair correction.
The truth is that both are useless if the dog isn't making the right connection. Some dogs might just think that water bottles are horrible. One might say that's better than the dog thinking their human is horrible, but I don't agree that is even possible in a normal human/dog relationship. We're all wired well enough to cope with fair discipline provided by the teachers in our lives, and the overall time a dog spends with its human companion is far counterbalanced with love, keeping the discipline component in context.
Send me an e-mail requesting a free house training program to help get your dog back on track, but I still think hiring a balanced trainer is a better first step.
John Wade helps dog owners through his books, workshops and telephone consultations. If you have a question email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.