Ask AKC with Lisa Peterson
November 2005

All dog owners need expert advice from time to time to meet the challenges of caring for their canines. The American Kennel Club aims to provide you and your purebred dog with the help you asked for.

Dear Lisa : I have two 5-month-old Pug brothers who are almost house broken. One of our Pugs periodically jumps onto the coffee table and urinates on it. He will also urinate on a chair. I've never had a dog do this before and my husband and I are at our wits' end. Do you have any advice for us? — Piddlin' Pug in Pittsburgh

 Dear Piddlin': Any dog that jumps on a table and leaves his mark, is not "almost" house broken. It sounds like your male dogs are having some sort of "contest" between the two of them for either dominance of each other or maybe some other dominant figure in the house, such as your husband. I once had an intact male Schipperke who would pee on every pillow where the male head of the household slept. I'd recommend neutering your boys if they are not yet fixed as this will help with the dominance issues.

I would suggest you start their house-breaking all over again and crate them while unsupervised. If your dogs do this in front of you, then one dog may be doing it to get attention as well. Make sure you spend equal time with each dog. You may be inadvertently creating jealousy in one of the dogs. Since the dogs are young, I would urge you to take them to obedience training (find a class near you) if you haven't already. Give the dogs an outlet for their energy and taking them to class will teach them you are the boss not them.


Double Trouble

On a related note, raising litter brothers is always risky because they tend to stay in that pack mentality and look to each other for guidance rather than the human member of the pack. When breeders keep two from the same litter, many times they send the pups to separate homes until they are much older, maybe even a year old, before reuniting them. They need the "alone" time to focus on training and to develop independently of the other one for better temperament and much needed socialization with other dogs.

In my experience many times puppies outgrow such antics, but a firm "pack leader" must step in and show the dogs exactly what you expect of them, which is not to mark the furniture or try to dominate each other or the human members in the den. Through training and establishing a happy routine full of exercise, fun time and training for the dogs, they will get your new message loud and clear.


Dear Lisa: My three-year-old Beagle came down with some weird unrelated symptoms like not being as playful as usual and somewhat lethargic, drinking more water than usual, peeing on the carpet in the mornings, sporadic limping in the right hind leg and eventually seizures. I begged my regular vet to test for Lyme disease, since my dog's breeder suggested it might be Lyme, but could not get satisfaction until I went to another vet who did test and diagnosed for Lyme disease.
How did a city dog get a country disease?
— Ticked Off in Times Square

Dear Ticked: It's the height of tick season, especially in the Northeast. Even if you visit the country only once, your pet could pick up a tick that you don't see, which could cause Lyme Disease. The real threat comes from the bacteria transmitted from a biting tick to your dog. Right now, local veterinarians are finding dogs infected with Lyme and Ehrlichiosis, another tick-borne illness.


The longer the tick is attached and biting, the greater the risk of transmitting the bacteria, or organism in the case of Ehrlichia, which causes disease. Fortunately, not all ticks carry bacteria so not every bite results in disease. But be on the lookout for early symptoms such as leg limping, swelling of the lymph nodes, especially near the lameness and a temperature of 103 or above. If left untreated, dogs can suffer kidney and bone marrow failure, chronic bouts of symptoms brought on by stress and even death.


If you do find a tick on your canine companion opt for immediate removal. Simply grab the tick body as close to the dog's skin as possible and gently pull straight out. Using Vaseline®, alcohol or burning the tick is pointless. If you should leave the tick head in the skin along with those nasty barbed-teeth, fear not. The dog's immune system will fight back and form a small bump of granulation tissue around the tick mouth parts to protect it from infecting the rest of the dog. If you suspect your dog has Lyme, even if you didn't see a tick, insist upon proper testing by your veterinarian. It could save your dog's life.


Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at and she may select it to be answered here in Ask AKC.

© 2005 The American Kennel Club, Inc.