All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Awful Affenpinscher Can Learn Good Behavior

Dear Marie:
I have an Affenpinscher that is crossed with a Pekingese. He's really sweet and cute normally with me, but he can get really aggressive and mean with other people. I got him from a neighbor who was moving and could not keep him anymore when he was one year old. He's six now, and I've been giving him a lot of affection all these years, but it doesn't seem to calm him down.

Another strange behavior problem that he is wetting the sofas. He's been doing this ever since I moved three months ago to a new apartment. I really don't know what to do anymore. I use sprays, I scold him, I hold him down to show him that I'm dominant like I've seen TV trainers do, and put his nose in the pee spot. I never hit him; I punish him by putting him either on the balcony or in another room for about half an hour. But he still marks all the sofas—especially the ones that absorb ! Please give me some advice.
Thank you,

Dear Helen:
First of all, you need to know that Affenpinschers NEVER settle down. They tend to bond with one person strongly and are very possessive and defensive. He loves you and it is fabulous that he adjusted so well after losing his first family. However, this can be a problem if you want visitors during his lifetime! So, you need to use the fact that he will do anything to please you to your advantage.

First, have you had him in basic obedience classes with other dogs??? If not, this is a good initial step. It will help him socialize better with both other dogs and with people. While attending these classes, have other dog owners trade dogs with you during training. This will help teach your dog that ALL people need to be respected.

Take your dog many places and have him meet as many people as possible. Initially, don't have anyone pet him. Instead, just sit near other people and read a book or play some games on your phone while you watch him out of the corner of your eye.  Be very nonchalant about the whole situation.  It needs to b no big deal to you so that it is no big deal to him. If he makes any negative motion towards other people or animals, give him a job to do.  Tell him to site.  Or lay down.  Make him look at you.  And give him a treat when he does. As time goes on and he ignores people and animals that approach near to you, move closer to the others. Use the same corrections if necessary if you have any problems. With a little more time, ask friends to talk to your dog. Again, use corrections as needed.

Finally, while on your excursions, and ONLY if your dog has made significant progress wih his behavior, have your friends pet him while talking to him (with their understanding about what you are doing and with their permission.) Eventually you should have them take him from you (on the leash) and go for a walk.

While they are gone, you should return home. They should walk the dog back to your home and come inside with him. (While on the walk home, your friends must use the same corrective measures if necessary.) Anytime progress is made, praise your dog thoroughly.

After a couple of weeks of this, have your friends come to the house and let them take him for a walk without you. Dogs love going for walks. By this point in time, your little guy will look forward to and love to see people come to the house and then go out with them.  Once he arrives at this point, he will love any kind of visitor,

To be completely successful, have as many different people as possible come to the house and take him for a walks...that way, he will believe that everyone is coming to give him a special treat.

As for the sofa wetting all stems from him adjusting to a new territory. He wants to make sure that everyone knows that this new home is his. Have him neutered if he is not already. Also, invest in a dog crate and use the crate training techniques I have outlined in my previous Orange County Register columns.(www,


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