July of last year I got married and my daughter and I moved with my husband to Kansas. A few months later we found out I was pregnant. I know this probably has something to do with her behavior now. If I am in the room and able to watch her 24/7 then she won't mess on the floor, but will sleep all day and not even ask to go out if I don't have her go out. However, we have had to keep her in the basement at nights because we are renting a house and cannot have her upstairs. I don't like this, but I can't allow her upstairs if she is going to be messing on the floor at night while we sleep and even keeping her in the basement she will mess on the floor. Every morning we have to clean up pee and poo off the floor. I have let her out between 11pm and 12am at night and go down to let her out at 7am in the morning and she has messed.
It is very frustrating because I know it isn't medical and I do not like having her down there even though I do let her upstairs for awhile during the day when I can sit there and watch her, but I can't leave her upstairs because as soon as we go to bed she messes on the floor.
Also, my 4 yr old daughter loves her and enjoys trying to cover her up with a blanket or holding her. She hasn't done anything to hurt Maggie, but Maggie refuses to have anything to do with her. She is always trying to hide and get away from my daughter and at one point snapped at her (she did not leave any marks though). And last of all Maggie has now stopped listening to any commands like come or quiet anymore. I have tried to go back over those commands like if she was just being trained, but she seems highly uninterested. It was thought maybe she is going deaf and having physical problems, but recently she spent the night with some neighbours and did just fine with them. She didn't even mess on their floor. When we tell her to come you can see her ears pointed back to us, but she just continues on with what she is doing. I have always liked to teach my dogs at least basic obedience and enjoy training dogs, but have never experienced this. I know what I shouldn't be doing, but am running short on ideas to stop this behavior. I want my dog back. Any ideas?
By Dessy M.
"Frugalsunnie's" sentiments seem right on the mark. You and your family may be dealing with all recent changes just fine, but your faithful companion might not be able to process them as easily, especially since she "knows" she's disappointing you and feels your frustration.
Please give her some slack as well as a whole lotta loving to get things back on track - she needs to know she's still an important part of your life, and that she means the world to you. Good luck!
You write that you know it's not a medical problem so I feel safe in assuming that you have had her checked out by a competent vet. (If not, you'll want to do that ASAP as she may be breaking her house-training due to a medical condition common to elderly dogs like her. If she's ever had a litter of pups, too, she may be suffering some health issues common to elderly dogs who've whelped)
She is elderly-the accidents in the house are very likely a combination of age and anger. Anger because in the past couple of years you've put the family through some huge changes and she isn't happy at the commotion and additions to the pack.
Shame, too, because any dog that has been a well behaved inside dog for 13 years is mortified (and scared) when their body refuses to cooperate by holding it in until getting to an appropriate spot to eliminate. All that adds up, and too, she is likely practicing selective hearing because she's mad, embarrassed, and scared.
Try spending some dedicated 'Maggie and Me' time with her-walks, massage, cuddles. At a regular time at least once a day although better would be twice or even three times a day so she knows she is still extremely important to you. Even though in the past she hasn't been very 'needy' of these sorts of things, as she's aged and gone through these household changes with you her needs have very likely changed. With all the new people in her life, and the move to a new home, plus the basement bedroom, she's probably grieving and acting out in that grief. Dedicated time that she knows is yours and hers will go a long way to reassuring her.
She's more than likely experiencing some arthritis with her age as well, and that's why she's snapping at your daughter. You might try to explain to your daughter that Maggie is an old, old lady and needs to be handled very carefully now-soft words and stroking without touching anywhere lower than the neck to avoid accidentally jostling aching shoulders and body. I know that isn't an easy thing to explain to a young child so you will likely have to restrict your daughter and Maggie's interaction to only times that you can supervise.
A nice new bed in a safe and peaceful spot will go a long ways towards making Maggie feel safer and more secure-maybe you can organise a spot close to where you spend a lot of your down time so that Maggie enjoys the closeness. Is it in the lease that she has to be in the basement? That banishment is probably breaking her heart. After 13 years as your beloved and faithful companion all she gets is the cold dark basement is probably the way she is looking at all of this.
I've had to watch beloved canine companions cope with the aging process, it's so painful to watch if the aging process is causing incontinence and other issues. One thing you can do if the basement thing isn't in the lease is spread cheap plastic drop cloths under the dog bed so that when she has a late night/wee hours of the morning accident it hits the easily picked up protective plastic instead of the carpet in a rental. At her age expecting her to 'hold it' for more than a couple of hours is an unreasonable expectation, frankly.
How is your husband taking all of this? Shih Tzus are extremely sensitive and intelligent dogs, she is probably picking up the stress there too.
Good luck, I hope everything works out!
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