… that is the question, when you’re a little adolescent male dog. An entire male dog, that is. My little Chinese Crested Dylan is mostly good when it comes to not doing his business in the house, but, on occasion, he falters. Whether that is due to hormones, due to his not quite having grasped what house training actually involves, or the little tussles he sometimes has with the other male dog of the household, is not entirely clear. But sometimes he marks in the house.
I’m hoping, of course, that our little problem will disappear once he’s been neutered, but meantime, we need to do some training when I can, meaning I observe him closely and whisk him out when he looks like he might want to widdle somewhere. Works like a dream. Bestest, cleverest dog in the world. But at night I can’t observe him, and sometimes he seems to get bored and then it happens. Crating Dylan is not an option, as he really dislikes being confined in a small space.
A friend mentioned belly bands to me as an damage limitation and training tool. Basically it’s a type of belt with a pad inside. You strap it over the dog’s privates and the wee goes in the pad. The theory is that the dog doesn’t like the wet feeling of having peed himself, and that he will stop automatically. The same contraption is also used for incontinent dogs, so I’m not sure sure about the training effect… or we make our elderly dogs feel uncomfortable at least some of the time.
I didn’t want to spend lots of money on a device that I’m not 100% sold on, nor did I want to buy disposable pads based on the truism that everything that’s called ‘disposable’ isn’t really. So, I decided to upcycle a belly band just to try it out, making pads from old towels, t-shirts, and absorbent dishcloths.
Here’s my first pad – the ‘filling’ and the ‘cover’.
I sewed a pouch, stuffed the stuffing inside, and sewed the whole thing shut. I later found that the stuffing just balls up inside the pouch in the washing machine, so later versions were ‘quilted’ in order to keep the various layers in place.
The pad just rests on the belt, which is tied round my dog’s belly.
And here’s my tired boy wearing it. Astonishingly (to me) he really doesn’t mind. Apparently it’s not uncomfortable. But he really doesn’t like having a wet belly. The few times when wee went astray, he was complaining loudly. My cut-price belly band has one crucial downside: it’s not exactly waterproof. If there’s quite a lot of wee or if I haven’t positioned it right, it seeps through. But it’s a lot better than noticeable wee marks in the kitchen, even if my floor is wipeable.
The crux is, though: is he learning not to wee in the house? I’m not sure. I can’t quite see the belly band as a training tool. He might just get used to having a wet belly every now and again, which would make a mockery of all my attempts at teaching him that the right place to ‘go’ is outside. He’ll shortly be neutered, and maybe that’ll make a difference. We’ll just have to persevere with training and see…