Preventing puppy puddles
By JOHN WADE, Special to QMI Agency
I have volunteered to keep two pugs for a week while the owner is away. After being walked for a half hour, the male comes in the house and has a squirt. Every item in the house must have been affected. He's getting neutered next week. Will that help? Thanks. - Irene
There are four basic reasons that a dog eliminates in the house. The first is that it's a medical issue. The obvious problem is a urinary tract or bladder infection. This is usually a puppy issue, but not always. When it's an older dog that has always been house-clean without major issues and suddenly they're eliminating in the house, it's often a pee-mail to the owner that there's something going on internally that may have nothing to do with an incontinence-related ailment. In that case, there's very likely something wrong with the dog, so always go to the vet.
The second reason for household elimination is puppy development, or older dogs brought into the household that were never properly housetrained. Soiling can be kept to a minimum and then extinguished with a little understanding about a puppy's physical development and some structure throughout a pup or adult's day. I have it outlined in my free house training cheat sheet, which I'm happy to send to whomever needs it.
A third reason is anxiety, and if you don't treat the anxiety, you won't solve the house soiling. This is a complicated problem and not, I think, related to yours, so I'll skip going into it with any detail.
The fourth problem, and what I think you're dealing with, is old-fashioned dominance. When a male dog, and sometimes a female, starts marking up against things as opposed to floor puddles, they're stating to all concerned, 'This is mine, this is mine and this is mine and this is definitely mine . . . actually for future reference - this is my house, everyone else just gets to live here.'
Does neutering help? Sometimes, but leadership signals work just as well, and sometimes even better considering the other behavioural benefits you'll enjoy, including a dog more responsive to training.
My dog Odie is not neutered and lives in the house with my sons and me. He has never marked anything in my home, because before he even walked into the house (at two years of age), I made it clear just who was the teacher and who was the student. I made him get out of the truck my way, walk to the house my way (sort of), wait at the bottom of the stairs, popped him right in the crate, let him get his bearings, let him out, but only dragging a leash so I could supervise him. Every rush at the door, attempt to swipe something off the counter, touch something not for him, etc., I was on him like Charlie Sheen on a plea bargain.
It was exhausting, but better than cleaning up Belgian Malinois pee-mail all over the house. I don't think it would be enter his mind. Embrace these two rules, "If a dog can't be caught, it can't be taught" and "If you can't see, then he can pee." Get a leash on him and use a crate when you can't.
John Wade helps dog owners through his books, workshops and telephone consultations. If you have a question email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.