Let’s face it: Inappropriate elimination is not fun to deal with. Though frustrating, we need to recognize that most ADULT dogs do not do this without a reason. Generally dogs truly do want to make us happy, however, they are still dogs. They are pre-wired for certain behaviors and if we do not identify when we are combating instincts, we will lose the battle. Consider the following questions to help you determine the cause of the inappropriate elimination:
- Have you been busier at work or not home as often? Perhaps your pooch is not getting outside at their usual time and is unable to hold out the extra hour(s).
- Not holding “it” overnight? Have you changed your routine which means you’re feeding your dog at a different time? Most dogs need some time for their body to adjust to different feeding time. A later outing before bedtime may be the cure.
- Have you moved? Moving into a house with other pets or to a new house (that may have had pets before us) may not seem like a big deal to you but did you know canines have incredible noses? If there is ANY trace of animal urine or feces, dogs are driven by instinct to “mark” over that scent with their own…hence the urine or feces. I know you cleaned it, right? Guess what?! They can still smell the animal scent in addition to the cleaner. Try to use an enzymatic cleaner or after a traditional chemical cleaner, you can use a 50:50 distilled vinegar: water solution to combat any potential traces.
- Does your dog continue to go in the same spot in your home? Refer to #3!
- Does the urine have a foul smell? Call the vet. Often health issues can display themselves with inappropriate urination. To name a few, diabetes, urinary infections, and kidney issues can all result in an increase in urination. This frequency can cause an urgency that your dog may not be able to relay to you in time to get outside.
- Does your dog seem to be drinking more water and urinating in your home? Refer to #5! Increased water consumption can lead to increased urination. If it is definitely not related to a recent increase in activity, it may be a medical condition.
- Has your dog started peeing on your couch/walls/leg/etc? – Both male and female dogs mark their territory. If the urination is angled to be on a more vertical surface, it is typically marking. Yes, some females do lift their legs. Talk to a trainer, ASAP! Do not walk to the phone, run. Marking can be a challenging issue to tackle due to the difficulty of removing ALL scent when cleaning the surface. Regardless, in most cases the longer the habit goes on, the more challenging it can be to fix. Add to that the instinctual drive to continue marking motivated by residual scent we cannot detect, you often have yourself an uphill battle.
- Does your dog pee on throw rugs? Refer to #3! Sometimes dogs will develop a substrate preference, where they prefer to (and do) eliminate on a specific type of surface. This is more commonly seen in cats. However, I have witnessed it in dogs. Most often this is in regards to an outside surface, grass vs. concrete. You must be sure that you are tackling the possible residual scent and then talk to a trainer or behaviorist. Substrate preferences can be very tricky to master if the chosen surface is not easily removed from the environment. Who wants to replace whole house carpeting?!?!
Addressing medical issues and the instinctual desires of your dog may be all you need to cure this most unpleasant challenge. Never hesitate to contact your veterinary or a trusted trainer to help you address the problem. It is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks……..for either you or your dog!