Q This summer, my family adopted a teacup Shorkiepoo. He was 8 months old when he joined our family, which includes two older dogs. He has mastered peeing on wee-wee pads, but he is inconsistent with his poops on the paper.
He is a happy, playful pooch, but scooping up little poops all over my home is not acceptable. Please advise on correcting this situation.
-- Lisa, Lido Beach, New York
A When you're not home, consider keeping him in an x-pen with his pee pads to prevent accidents. When you are home, focus on training him to relieve himself on a pee pad, which is similar to training a dog to go outside.
After he eats, plays or sleeps — and no less than every two hours — put a leash on him and walk him to the pee pad. Say "go potty," then wait five minutes. He should pee, and when he does, say a reward word like "bingo" or click with a clicker to mark the desired behavior and give him a treat.
After, walk away for a few minutes and return to the pee pad again, this time repeat the process, but this time waiting for him to poop. Dogs usually poop in the morning and after meals. You should know his poop schedule within three days. Once you do, you will know when to take him to the pee pad. Do this until he is trained to consistently go on the pads, which may take a few weeks.
If he has an accident, take him back to the pads. You might even carry the poop to the pad and leave it there for a few minutes before tossing, so there is a smell to attract him. Don't get mad if he has an accident. It takes time for dogs to learn, and they learn as a result of your patient and consistent training.
Q My kitten is about eight weeks old. He's a very playful and energetic cat. He's currently going through the ankle-nipping and scratching stage. On two occasions, my cat was near my face and when I turned to look at him, he slapped me and drew blood with his claw. He hasn't done that before.
Usually when I kiss his forehead, he tends to put his paw on my cheeks or lips in a gentle way as if it's a sign not to kiss him anymore, but when he slapped me, I was not expecting that at all.
Can you advise as to why he did this or how to prevent it happening again?
-- Rebeka, London
A Begin by giving the kitten some space. Tell everyone to stop picking him up and carrying him around the house (just guessing because that is normally what people do). Stop initiating contact with the kitten for now and let the kitten come to you. When he does approach, give a few pets and then stop before he reacts. Over time, he will learn to relax and trust you.
Also, make sure he has a tall cat tree he can climb — a place where he can look down on his kingdom but still be with his family -- and a bed or closet where he can hide and retreat to when things get too noisy. He may benefit from a quieter house for the first few weeks.
During this time, spray feline pheromones (available at pet stores) on your clothing to reduce some of his anxiety when he's around you. You can buy pheromone plug-ins for the house or a pheromone collar for him to wear, so he will feel calmer even when not near you. And you can add a few drops of Rescue Remedy into his water bowl.
Finally, don't play with him with your hands. Get sock toys to play with him up close and teaser toys to get him to chase things. Play with him for 10 minutes three times a day to help him expend some energy.
Given time, space, proper toys, and some pheromones, he should eventually calm down and settle into his new environment. If he does bite or scratch you, be sure to say "no" firmly and then walk away from him. If he continues to nip and bite, give him a timeout in a bedroom for 5 to 10 minutes. Just long enough to let the kitten calm himself from whatever is bothering him.
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 email@example.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.