I'm not exactly sure where to put this...
Gabby has had a series of UTIs over the last year (four or five).
She also has been very difficult in the last four months or so about going to the bathroom. We live in a second floor condo, so it's getting frustrating to take her out, have her wander about, and come back in.
This is what we do: Often times, potty times are connected with a walk/trip to the dog park. Those "go" fine. We make sure she is out every three hours - or at day care or with my mom. The problematic trips outside are when we just want to go outside, have her go potty, and come back in.
We have been randomly rewarding her with Cheerios (at 14 months!) when we tell her go potty and she does.
We also never bring her back inside immediately after she potties- we throw a stick for her, we let her sniff, roll, etc.
However, some days she will "refuse" (for lack of a better word) to urinate more than three times- and she is a heavy drinker/heavy exerciser. Last night for example, she urinated at 7- but then I took out at 10 and she didn't go, and Luke took her out at 1:30 am and she didn't go. However, she was then dancing at 6 am when I got up.
I am very concerned that this 'behavior' is contributing to the UTIs. Any thoughts?
If I were a dog that sure wouldn't be enough to convince me that peeing on command was worth my while. And I suspect that with just a variable reinforcement ratio Gabby hasn't even made the connection between command, peeing and reward.We have been randomly rewarding her with Cheerios
I suggest you go back to the beginning. Every time you see Gabby start to squat, give your pee command. Then reward her with lavish praise in a happy voice (make a fool of yourself! ) and a high value treat. You want her to get the idea that peeing when you tell her to is the most wonderful thing she can do. Once Gabby is peeing every time you tell her to - and that can take 80-100 trial pairings of command, pee, reward - then you can start gradually reducing your reward ratio.You are right! With a dog who is prone to UTI's you want her to drink a lot and pee a lot so bacteria are flushed out of the badder and don't get a chance to grow in there. You might also talk to your vet about giving Gabby a cranberry supplement. It seems to help prevent bacteria from latching onto the bladder walls.I am very concerned that this 'behavior' is contributing to the UTIs.
HTH Good luck.
Thanks for the reply.
She is on a daily cranberry supplement and has just finished up a course of antibiotics. We are taking a urine sample in on Tuesday to be tested. We also wipe her vaginal area two to three times a day with a baby wipe.
She is a 14 month old dog (not a puppy)- we used high value treats to associate the potty word when she was a puppy, and now have weaned back on to diet treats (her food, and cheerios, and her ball) and random rewards. She does get praised every time she goes potty though.
I'm wondering if there is a medical reason for this behavior.
Since you said Gabby's had a lot of UTI's, it's certainly possible that she's learned urinating = pain and is therefore holding onto it as long as she can.
No matter what her age, though, it still sounds to me like she needs a refresher course in peeing on command but I think I'd wait until getting the all-clear (i.e. infection free) from the vet before starting. You do want this to make this as positive an experience for her as you can.
Edited to add: Yes, there are also a host of organic things that can go wrong with the whole peeing process. For example, if the bladder muscle is frequently subject to over filling, it can loose it's muscle tone and become unable to empty. Or the sphincter muscles at the bladder opening can become paralysed (that happened to one of my old girls), or the dog may loose her ability to sense when her bladder is full because of some neurological problem, etc., etc. If Gabby is able to pee on her own sometimes, and it sounds like she can, those are probably not issues for her but they are something that you might want to discuss with your vet.
IMO, Casey's Mom is 100% on target. Smelling a spot where other dogs have peed also helps to initiate the process.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":