Friday, March 20, 2009
Dog pee will not kill you or the baby.
That is not to say that marking or pissing all over your house is acceptable, but it's not the end of the world. Let's take today to talk about why some perfectly housebroken dogs suddenly start peeing in the house.
1. Urinary tract infection. Yes, just as we humans are prone to them so are dogs. Any time a dog suddenly starts peeing in the house, a trip to the vet is warranted. UTI's and other issues such as kidney stones and kidney infection can be fatal if left unchecked and untreated.
2. Your dog is feeling insecure and anxious. Think about possible big changes in the house that could be causing the stress. Is it the new baby? Is it the unveiling of all the new baby gear? Did you alter the dog's schedule too much too soon? Did you move your dog's safe place (crate, ex pen, bed) etc... thus causing anxiety?
3. You never got around to neutering your male dog and now he is marking his territory.
4. Your neutered dog feels competitive with another dog in the house and they are in a pissing match for dominant ranking.
5. Your unspayed female is letting all the boys in the hood know she is available for mating. What a hoochie!
6. Your dog doesn't like the new smells on something unfamiliar so it marks it- this could be a pair of shoes you wore to volunteer at the animal shelter, a shopping bag, or new furniture.
Now lets talk about some of the possible solutions. None of these will be a magic bullet, but used in combination you can hopefully find the one that fits your situation.
1. Spay and Neuter your pets- it is never too late. In males testosterone plays a large role in marking. It most likely will not cure the marking habit, but it will make breaking the habit easier for you. If you are a parent as well, you should know that intact males are much more likely to bite than their neutered counterparts. It's also no wonder that 42.8% of dogs relinquished to shelters are not fixed and 96% had no prior obedience training. http://www.petrescue.com/library/relinquish-pets.htm
2. To properly break the habit, a dog must be caught and corrected in the act i.e. mid stream. Yelling, hitting, and rubbing your dog's nose in it is not going to work. To do this, you must keep all eyes on fido at all times. I know you don't have eyes in the back of your head so I suggest crate training or using the umbilical method. To do this, your dog is on leash and attached to your waist at all times for constant supervision. This method of training is really effective for correcting many undesired behaviors, so keep it in mind for any other challenges you are facing.
3. Use the most effective house breaking method- praise. Become a cheerleader when your dog pees outside and in the appropriate place. Treat them like mad for "insert your pee catchphrase here" with a high value treat such as freeze dried liver. My catchphrase is "go pee, go poop" and by training and rewarding them using this phrase, mine will do their business on command. Very useful when juggling the demands of a baby, dogs, and work. It's also easy so Becks can give it to them as well.
4. Don't kid yourself into thinking that a dog marking while having the run of the house while you are gone is going to stop. For some dogs, confinement is the only answer. Mack resides in a 4'x4' ex pen daily while we are at work. While he doesn't pee, he does ingest inedible things that could kill him when not supervised (see my previous post). Trust me, it's safe and is not cruel. If it keeps your dog alive and your house in one piece then it's a win win situation. Look into crate training, it is literally a life saver.
5. Thoroughly clean any areas with an enzymatic cleanser. I blot the area first, flood it with enzymatic cleanser, re blot, then re flood the area and let the enzymatic cleaner air dry. If for some reason I can still smell pee, I repeat the process but use my steam cleaner loaded only with enzymatic cleanser to soak and then suck up the mess. Using products like carpet shampoo will only mask the smell since your dog has a nose 100x more sensitive than yours, not to mention they leave a sticky residue that will trap dirt and create a whole new stain. To seek out old and hidden stains use a blacklight. You can find black light bulbs at most home improvement warehouses or online places that carry hand held devices like this: http://www.sitstay.com/dog/supplies/servlet/product_10001_10001_41570_-1_Urine-Finder+Black+Light__13902_
6. When all else fails, there are prescription medications than can ease anxiety in dogs. These are also not a magic bullet, but could help smooth things over enough to make training easier on you all. Examples of medications are Amtriptyline, Buspar, Prozac etc... Be your pet's advocate and ask your vet about them. Many vets are not up to speed on their uses as they fall into the realm of behavior and most vets are busy staying on top of more health related subjects such as heartworm treatment. If your vet doesn't consider them an option, find a new vet, perhaps one that specializes in behavior and or one that has a holistic practice. Information on these medications and more can be found here: http://www.marvistavet.com/html/pharmacy_center.html
Lastly, for anyone who freaks at the thought of their baby maybe crawling over some random wet pee spot in the carpet, urine from a healthy animal is sterile. It is only as the urine sits that it turns into alkaline salts feeding bacteria and thus giving off an odor. If you think that's nasty, just wait until your kid comes down with Rotovirus...