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My Pet World: Shy cat needs time to build trust in her surroundings

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

I have a 7-year-old male Havanese dog that I am having trouble training to go outside to do his business. I started with wee wee pads and took him outside frequently, but he still does his business anywhere he pleases. When I scold him, he runs around the house and hides. When he goes out, I praise him and give him a treat. I am getting very tired of cleaning up messes. Do you have any suggestions? — Tee, Commack, New York

Dear Tee,

Those training pads sometimes backfire since they basically communicate to the dog it’s OK to go in the house as long as they find the right spot. Make sure he is neutered. Unneutered male dogs tend to “mark” things, and neutering them can often reduce or eliminate the behavior entirely. Also, treat him as if he is a puppy and start training again. Take him out immediately after he wakes up, eats and plays. When he goes outside, say “go potty” as soon as he begins to urinate. Then say a reward word like “bingo” to mark the desired behavior, followed by giving him a treat. If you are persistent and consistent, your 7-year-old dog will eventually get housetrained.

Dear Cathy,

We adopted a 1-year-year old male neutered rescue cat from a reputable shelter. He is active, friendly and a fun cat to have in our house. He enjoys being petted and often will roll onto his back exposing his belly when he wants to be petted, but then he will then nip at our fingers. We know this is how kittens play together but can we stop this biting behavior? Currently, we disengage as soon as he starts that. What else can we do? — Gary, Plainview, New York

Dear Gary,


In addition to disengaging, don’t pet his exposed belly since the response will always be to go after your hands with his mouth and claws. Instead, get a stuffed sock to rub your cat’s belly with so he can play without hurting you. He will love it, and your hands will be safe.


(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)

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