Puppy Training Diary

Scent and Security Behaviors

Until Kaylee came into my life, I always considered my degree and experience as a clinical, medical microbiologist to be an asset. I also always took some pride in my Japanese heritage and upbringing. The Japanese are well known to be extremely fastidious and clean people. When I was growing up, one could eat off the floor, it was so clean. But as a result, both having a childhood sheltered from dirt and having an education majoring in microbes, I see bacteria, fungi, parasites, yeasts, viruses everywhere. I am a self-declared "germaphobe." Little did I know this trait would pose a problem raising Kaylee.

Naturally I try to provide Kaylee with as clean an environment as possible. Every time something is soiled, it immediately goes into the washing machine or is scrubbed down. This was quite a task during the housetraining process. Kaylee would often pee in her crate. None of my other puppies did that. Just a little bit, but none-the-less, it was urine. So I'd drag out the bedding, wash it, clean her kennel and replace it with fresh bedding. I finally realized, that the more I cleaned her blankets, bedding, towels and pillows, the more she would urinate on them. It didn't matter if it was the bedding in her crate, the blanket on her "tie down" area or the towels and pillows I keep for her in her various pens. I even worried that she might have a urinary tract infection. But she was fine and in perfectly good health and working order.

One day it dawned on me that possibly she was leaving her scent on her bedding so she would feel it belonged to her and make her feel more secure. Well that's the reason I give it, who knows what her little brain's reasoning was, if any. But the point is that the moment I stopped washing off every little dribble, she stopped the dribbling. I "tested" my theory several times and found that when I rewashed one of her towels, she would leave just a few drops of pee on it again.

I finally subverted that problem by putting the freshly laundered item in her crate with the bedding that still retained her scent. So I then rotated cleaning her stuff and leaving just enough of her scented items so that none of her blankets and towels had that "fresh clean" scent to it. Maybe she just didn't like the scent of the laundry soap I used and all I really needed to do was just change brands of soap to something unscented. I'll keep this in mind for the next puppy.

I know someone makes and markets a doggy pheromone just for uses like this. But humanity has been housetraining dogs for eons without the use of pheromones and I wasn't about to have this problem stump me. But in a heartbeat, I would recommend its use to anyone else with a similar problem. After all, we live in an age of modern technology, medical and biochemical breakthroughs, so we may as well indulge in them to make our lives easier and more convenient.

I did try the wee-wee pads only to have her shred them beyond recognition. I do know those pads work wonderfully for some puppies and dogs and I would still recommend that new puppy owners give them a try.

Kaylee had only been away from her mom and littermates for less than 2 weeks at this time so I'm sure it wasn't unreasonable for her to still feel a bit insecure in her new home. It only took another week or so for her to stop "marking" her bedding.

Scent and Security Behaviors

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