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My Pet World: When your dog alerts, let him know you 'got this'

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Pamela,

Yes, it is; that is why you must always add a command or two between the undesirable behavior and the treat. For example, if your dog barks, call him to you, then ask him to sit. He is getting the treat for coming when called and for sitting. If you are at the window and encouraging him to come with you, make him sit for the treat when you get to it. If you do this, your dog won’t connect the treat back to the undesired behavior.

Dear Cathy,

My 16-year-old female cat urinates on my bed and poops on the bedroom floor during the night. During the day she uses her litter box. My veterinarian believes this is a behavioral problem. I use incontinence pads on the bed, so I am not washing the blanket and sheets, etc. She actually pees on the incontinence pads and thankfully not on the blanket or bedspread. Anything else I can do? — Judy, Naperville, Illinois

Dear Judy,

Certainly animals can develop behavioral problems at any age, but she is 16-years-old and using the litter box during the day so this is curious. I wonder, could she have been scared around the litter box at night and so is afraid to use it after dark? Could she have mobility issues that keep her from jumping up on and down off the bed easily? Or could she have incontinence and when she wakes up doesn’t have time to get to her letterbox?


Make sure she has a clean bill of health. Then, make sure her letterbox is cleaned before you go to bed and add a litter box attractant to encourage her to use it more. Add a second letterbox to the bedroom to make it more convenient for her to get to at night. And, put some sort of ramp or footstool near the bed to see if she gets on and off it easier.


(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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