Tapping the Golden Stream
Updated: May 18
I currently have a 4-month old pup staying at my house, and suspect he may have a urinary tract infection. Why my suspicion, you ask? Well that’s the interesting bit. During a total of three meals, the pup peed WHILE he was standing at his bowl, eating. (His owners reported a similar event occurring at their home.) In one instance at my home, he had peed outside only 10 minutes before the meal. Interesting and odd behavior, at least to a geeky trainer.
With approval from his owner, I’m bringing him to the vet tomorrow to get things checked out. In the meantime, I need to do a bit of training because I only have ONE chance to catch his first pee of the morning to bring to the vet’s office.
Perhaps this blog will inspire some of you overachievers to do similar training well before you’ll ever need to use it, and then my geeky impulse to write about this will not be for naught. Honestly, I bet you can come up with plenty of other scenarios where preparatory training will make things like grooming, medical, and vet care tasks much easier. For example, you could teach your dog to stand still while you lift his tail up a bit, in preparation for the vet taking his temperature. Or gradually expose him to mouth handling exercises so that it'll become easy for him to permit mouth exams and teeth brushing.
MY DIY PEE-CATCHER!
In this case, the task is relatively easy because it’s a male dog, about 30 lbs., who stands as he pees. The pee-catcher would need to be modified in overall size and height if one has to slip it under the tail region of a small female dog.
Since a dog may find it disturbing when someone sidles up to them mid-pee to snag a sample, a bit of preparatory training is in order. For instance:
Pup must be exposed to the presence of the catcher in my hand until he’s bored with it, rather than thinking it’s a potential toy. (Puppies tend to think every novel object they run into is worthy of grabbing and gnawing.)
He must feel comfortable with me stalking him closely when he’s getting ready to pee.
Pup must remain in place while continuing to pee even when I slide the catcher between his front and back legs.
Step 1 – making the catcher boring:
I’ve begun presenting the catcher to him on and off this afternoon. He can sniff it briefly, but no grabbing. Thankfully, he doesn’t seem to have an interest in grabbing it. Will continue to present until it is of no interest.
Step 2 – stalking the dog:
I have about 4-5 more outings with him today where I can get him used to me stalking closely behind him as he’s moseying around. I want to be sure this doesn’t feel novel or weird to him by tomorrow morning, when the real urine catch needs to happen.
Step 3 – placing catcher below-deck:
I'll do plenty of practice reps with him where he learns to stand still while I gradually place the catcher closer and closer to the target spot underneath him -- between his front and back legs -- and then reward him for handling this calmly.
UPDATE: urine catch was successful! And it’s a good thing, because puppy does have a UTI. Though UTIs are far less common in male dogs, my vet says he sees them sometimes in young male pups, as well as older male dogs. Hopefully after a round of antibiotics, the infection will be vanquished.
By being proactive about training for oddities your dog is bound to experience in life, you and your dog will navigate these situations more easily and with less stress.
Virginia Dare is a certified dog trainer & behavior counselor with decades of experience. Her business offers live video consultations anywhere in the US for training and behavior help, puppy matchmaking services, and pre- and post-arrival counseling for new puppies. She also provides in-home, private lessons and behavior consultations in northern Fairfield and Westchester counties, western New Haven county, Putnam and southern Dutchess counties.
Please visit www.NorthStarCanines.com/services to learn more, or contact me at 804.784.0120
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