… and puppy dog tails! Or, more to the point, why one should consider adding a male dog instead of insisting on a female.
Growing up in a pet-friendly family in the late ’50s, the mindset was you always wanted a female because the males “marked.” I’m sure they did as neutering, training and responsible pet-ownership (including not allowing the dogs to run the neighborhood at large) were not the norm. Vaccinations were not widespread and distemper claimed many a pet. What a difference 50+ years has made in companion animal care!
“Marking” is the act of releasing small amounts of urine to claim an area as their own. Both males and females will engage in this territorial behavior; however, it’s with intact males that it generally becomes more noticeable … and especially when they bring this behavior into the home. Basically, they’re saying “this is mine and I’m willing to fight for it.” And when one considers the focus of an intact male dog — food, fighting and, ummm, well, fornicating — they generally don’t make good pets for the average owner. Take away the last two parts to that equation … fighting and fornicating … by neutering and you have a dog that’s focused on you. One that’s not climbing over the fence at the first whiff of a female in heat. One that’s totally content being your velcro dog, following you from room to room. Some females will do that as well, but the males are just … sweeter. And, let’s face it. They don’t call ’em “bitches” for nothing. Their job, if you will, is to raise the pups and at all costs.
Many of the male dogs arriving in rescue are intact and with little or no housetraining. First order is business is an immediate neuter. During the recovery period, they’re enrolled in Housetraining 101. We also utilize a tether (a 4-6 foot leash) and belly bands if the dog arriving was previously neutered. Why belly bands? For several reasons — (1) you know exactly if they are “getting” the concept of housetraining (the incontinence pad in the band is either dry or wet), (2) it protects your furnishings during the training period, and (3) many dogs do not like the wet feel and that’s a deterent in and of itself. The tether is used as a means of supervision (he’s right there with you) and as a means of issuing a correction (short, sharp jerk of the tether and a verbal command “no mark!”). With consistency, patience and clear guidance on what is and isn’t appropriate behavior, most males quickly adapt to toileting outside.
Another “tool” for training is the crate. Dogs are innately clean creatures who will not usually soil their eating and sleeping areas. That hardwired behavior can be used to your benefit when housetraining by confining them to a crate when unable to supervise and giving them ample opportunity to toilet in a designated area (with lots of immediate praise/treats for appropriate behavior).
Regarding the belly bands at the link provided above … I find the adjustable bands are much more comfortable for the boys. Just the shape alone is more form fitting and allows for greater freedom of movement. One of the straps is adjustable so it can be used on dogs close to the same size in diameter (for multiple male househoulds). I also find the buckle easier/quicker to use on dogs with longer hair. Velcro and longer hair do not mix. The only “issue” with using belly bands: one must remember to remove them prior to sending the dog outside to potty!
So, if you’re seriously thinking about adding an Apso to your household, don’t rule out a male based on gender alone. They truly are delightful little creatures who easily adapt with consistent training and the right tools … and will become your best buddy in the process.