Why Did He Do It?

“Last Thursday, my sister came to visit. No, it was Wednesday actually. I remember clearly because I had to pick up Jake from soccer practice and drive him to cooking classes. The traffic was horrendous. Actually, it was Thursday. Yoga. Jake was at his Dad’s. Anyway, my sister doesn’t like dogs and so we put her in the non-dog guest room.  She says she’s allergic to dogs, but I don’t believe her. I mean for goodness sakes, she lives with six cats. But anyway… we put the dogs away while we had dinner and after clearing the dishes, we went upstairs and saw that Bandit had forced his way into her room… that door never closes properly… and he had ruffled the bedspread and urinated on the sheets. They were a wedding present. Egyptian cotton with a beautiful rose pattern. Do you think he sensed that she didn’t like him? Or did he smell her cats? You know, he always does get very tense whenever he sees suitcases. Or was he just being vindictive? Do you think dogs can be vindictive? I mean, why did he do it?”

You know Lois, I haven’t got a clue. Maybe he had a full bladder. How long were you eating dinner? Maybe he wanted to pee somewhere that soaked up the urine so he didn’t get his paws wet. Maybe he had a scary dream. Maybe he was trying to communicate his thoughts via p-mail. Maybe he didn’t like the floral sheets. Maybe he doesn’t like pink. Or, maybe he doesn’t like your sister. The truth of the matter is, I don’t know. And neither does anyone.

Now, some folks may pretend they can read dog minds and might tell you that he is being territorial, or dominant, or vindictive even. But that’s just there opinion. People don’t even know what their spouse, child, or best friend is thinking, let alone the motives for things they have done. So, I very much doubt that people are adept at inter-specific mind-reading. All we know for sure is that Bandit peed on the sheets. That is, if you checked that it was in fact dog urine and not water leaking from the bottle that your sister had on the plane. Perhaps the bottle rolled under the floor as Bandit tried to nestle in the bed after being banished from the rest of his house. Never forget the blood at Beth Gelert.

But really, “Why did he do it” is the wrong question to ask. Perhaps a better question would be, How can I teach him not to do it a gain? I would suggest first, fix the door to the guest bedroom and then back to step one with the housetraining. 1. Management, 2. Show the dog what’s right, and then 3. Repeatedly reward him for doing the right thing in the right place at the right time. Back to crate training so that you can accurately predict when he wants to go. The rest is easy.

Products from Dr. Ian Dunbar

Do you work in a dog rescue/shelter? Sign up for the Dog Shelter Behavior & Training Program – Free on Dunbar Academy