I just couldn’t believe it. I was in my basement unloading wet clothes from the washing machine and either flinging them into the dryer or hanging them on the indoor clothes line that’s strung up down there. My dog was downstairs with me sniffing around and keeping me company. Suddenly I heard a strange sound. I looked over and my very well house trained dog was squatting and peeing while she looked me straight in the eye.
She wasn’t being a rebellious jerk. Something was wrong. Any problem behaviors generally show up when she’s scared. But she had no reason to be. She’d been downstairs with me doing laundry hundreds of times and always seemed relaxed. So I made an appointment and off we went to the vet. I described what happened. They took a urine sample, and found that she had a urinary tract infection. She was telling me something was wrong, that it hurt when she peed. The vet prescribed antibiotics which cleared it up and she has never urinated in the house since.
Can you imagine if I had thought she was just being a jerk and started punishing her?
Or even just thought she’d forgotten her house training and tried refreshing her on it? I would have been trying to solve a problem that wasn’t there, leading to frustration for me, and a more serious medical problem for her, such as a kidney infection. It would have also lead to much more pain and upset for her.
It’s not just broken house training that can indicate a medical problem. A dog who’s in pain might start to growl or snap at someone who touches them in the wrong spot or the wrong way. Sometimes people think older dogs are just becoming grumpy if their personality starts to change. They’re not. Something hurts or is uncomfortable. Take them to the vet. Especially if the behavior change is sudden.
This is true for dogs, cats, birds, or any other companion animal you may have.
Always, always, if your animal buddy stops eating or drinking, get them to the vet right away. They’re not being picky or spoiled — there’s very likely a medical problem.
A trip to the vet is always the first step if your animal buddy is behaving differently. Even if it does turn out that they’re healthy and would benefit from some Force Free Positive Training, you can be confident you’re doing the right thing and the kind thing, which is most likely to solve the problem.