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Old 01-12-2010, 05:40 PM
aerodave aerodave is offline
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Advice, please: House trained dog starts peeing in the house

My wife and I have a (roughly) 6-year-old spayed female dog named Laika, who I've posted about before. She was a shelter dog until last summer, when we brought her home. From day one, she has been well house-trained. My wife and I both work, so every weekday for the last 19 months, Laika's been left alone for 8.5 hours or so. She has the run of the kitchen/dining area of our house (the tiled part, just in case). Not one time has there been a problem.

...That is, until last week. Suddenly, Laika seems to think it's okay to urinate where she never has before. I think there are two recent events that have combined to create a behavioral problem (though we aren't ruling out a medical issue just yet):

1. For a few days over Christmas, while we were traveling, we left Laika with a friend to dog-sit. We thought that was a good alternative to boarding her in a kennel. Unfortunately, the dog-sitters have a pooch that has poor bathroom habits herself. We learned that Laika took a cue from that behavior and treated the basement of that house as an occasional restroom in addition to being taken out somewhat regularly. If this is part of the problem, it probably didn't manifest itself until last week when we returned to work, because in the intervening time, someone was always home to let her out very often.

2. One morning last week, poor food bin security measures allowed Laika to have about 10 unencumbered minutes to inhale as much kibble as she could eat. And as fast as she eats, that's a LOT. The same day, she had the first "accident"...we chalked it up to a very full belly. The next day, another accident. We noticed by this time that her water consumption was way up (digesting all that food, no doubt). We tried to stick to the usual routine, and figured that when her digestive system returned to equilibrium (marked by a normal volume of poop production) that she'd be okay. To be fair to her, the amount of urine in the first couple "accidents" was considerable. After three incidents in three days, we were glad to have the weekend to keep an eye on her, hopeful that this behavior would stop.

No such luck. A week has passed, her "system" seems to have simmered down...but the pissing continues. My guess is that recent history has taught her that pissing inside is fucking sweet. Or, at the very least, that there's no reason to wait until the humans get home. Two days this week, two puddles. And not even vast oceans of piss like last week. A fairly moderate volume each time, and nothing she shouldn't have been able to hold if she wanted to.

I'm aware that a sudden change in toilet behavior can be a sign of something like a urinary tract infection. And if things don't shape up quick, we'll go to the vet just to be sure. But what leads me away from that cause is the fact that she can go just as long without being outside at other times of the day, and does not seem to be compelled to leak all over the place. 8-9 hours overnight is no problem, for example.

So, what can people who aren't home for a third of the day do to re-housetrain a dog that's forgotten where the bathroom is? We don't have a crate, nor any interesting in getting one, but we can use a baby gate to confine her to a *much* smaller area of the kitchen. I don't want that to be a permanent solution, though, because there's no reason it can't work the way it has for a year and a half.
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  #2  
Old 01-12-2010, 06:48 PM
Caprese Caprese is offline
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I would take the trouble to rule out a UTI.
You say she had a freebie in the food bin?
Sometimes there are a lot of salts at the bottom of a food bin, which might make for more water intake.
Crating can prevent a lot of problems.
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:54 PM
Red Stilettos Red Stilettos is offline
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Occassionally, Stella will have a period where she won't hold it overnight (though she's fine all day). I revert back to limiting her movement during the night and that seems to reset her. She sleeps in the bedroom, but I normally leave the door open. When she's in a re-training mode, I leave the bedroom door closed. If that hadn't worked, my next step would be a crate.

So, my suggestion is to confine her to a small region of the kitchen for a few days. It shouldn't take long. Two or three work days with no accidents would be enough for me. I would also be religious about bathroom breaks during that time. It couldn't hurt to also get her tested for a UTI, but my gut instinct is that it isn't that.

Good luck! And I love "food bin security measures". Stella doesn't need them, but my cat Rosie certainly does. She'd be considered a high threat level risk.

Last edited by Red Stilettos; 01-12-2010 at 06:55 PM..
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:55 PM
LVBoPeep LVBoPeep is offline
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I definitely would have her checked first- UTIs are fairly common place and the most common indicator is a dog that was formerly very housetrained suddenly having accidents. It most likely is a coincidence that you took her to the sitter- dogs are very situational and it would be rare that such a minor change would carry over when she's back home. It makes sense that in a new place, she'd get "outside" and "basement" confused. The other possibility, also common in spayed females, is that she has lost some bladder tone and may need a hormone supplement to help replace it. I have two dogs that have been on PPA for several years. They are much older (both 15 now) than your dog but I've seen it occur in very young females, even 3-4 years.

Barring that, if it is a behavioral thing, a few weeks of confining/crating might do the trick. Just remember, if it is medical in nature, it very well may become an ingrained habit once she's done it for awhile. So, I would definitely rule that out first.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:21 PM
aerodave aerodave is offline
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Thanks for the advice so far...I think we will give her a lot less space to roam around in for a couple days and see if that helps. She has 400 square feet to herself now, and I think cutting that down to 25 or so is a good idea.

I'm not seeing any other symptoms of a UTI. No insatiable thirst, difficulty urinating, blood or unusual amount or urine. And again, I see no reason why a UTI would be "off the clock" 16 hours a day. So all I'm going to do for now is put in a call to the vet for some advice, but give the virtual "crating" a few days before I bring her in for an actual appointment (if she doesn't show any other symptoms, of course).

For now, it's just fortunate that we're only dealing with cleaning up pee on tile, as opposed to the carpeted areas of the house. That makes it easy to follow the usual advice of thoroughly cleaning accident spots so the dog doesn't think the smell means it's a bathroom. And as for our reaction to the event, we know that dogs can't associate punishment with past actions, so we just act like normal when we come home to it. But while it doesn't do any good to punish the bad behavior, there's also no direct way to reward the good behavior...because the good behavior is the absence of an event, and we're not home when it doesn't happen! I can't say I'd see the incentive if I were her, either.
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:48 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aerodave View Post
And as for our reaction to the event, we know that dogs can't associate punishment with past actions, so we just act like normal when we come home to it. But while it doesn't do any good to punish the bad behavior, there's also no direct way to reward the good behavior...because the good behavior is the absence of an event, and we're not home when it doesn't happen!
Dogs are oriented most by their noses. They live in a 3d world of smells and are unaware of nearly anything else, but which dog peed where, when, and why, are the only three questions they can answer.

We know our collie has entered her last couple years living with us because she, like her predecessors, has realized that our displeasure is trumped by the unpleasantness of dipping her business in several inches of snow.

Last edited by dropzone; 01-12-2010 at 10:48 PM..
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  #7  
Old 01-13-2010, 07:04 AM
aerodave aerodave is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
our displeasure is trumped by the unpleasantness of dipping her business in several inches of snow.
There may be something to that bit. We do have several inches of snow on the ground right now, which fell last week and hasn't melted one bit. I'm not saying that's what started it; the first accident was just before the snowstorm started. But it may be a complicating factor in getting her back to a normal routine.
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Old 01-13-2010, 11:11 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Originally Posted by aerodave View Post
But while it doesn't do any good to punish the bad behavior, there's also no direct way to reward the good behavior...because the good behavior is the absence of an event, and we're not home when it doesn't happen! I can't say I'd see the incentive if I were her, either.
You can't punish usefully, as you have said -- and you can't reward the absence of a bad behavior. But you can show her what you expect and reward that.

Here's my post on how we housetrained a feral puppy pretty quickly. The main thing that applies to your situation is to move the accident outside -- dip a paper towel into the urine, take the dog outside, put the smelly paper towel on the ground, and show it to her/let her sniff it (no punitive nose-running!) and PRAISE HER while she sniffs it. Then stay outside a bit with her and give her a chance at least to go (praise again if she does).

This shows her what she gets rewarded for in the pack structure.

Secondarily, hedge your bet by cleaning the carpets with a pet odor remover (should be several brands in any pet store) every time, and shovel out the snow in an area she used to use, so she's more comfortable going there.
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  #9  
Old 01-13-2010, 11:17 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
(no punitive nose-running!)
Late edit: no punitive nose-rubbing.
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Old 01-13-2010, 11:20 AM
elbows elbows is offline
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Trying to diagnose a UTI without a test is foolish, take them to the vet.

Think about it, when you get sick, how often do you actually exhibit all of the symptoms?
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  #11  
Old 01-13-2010, 11:21 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
Secondarily, hedge your bet by cleaning the carpets with a pet odor remover (should be several brands in any pet store) every time, and shovel out the snow in an area she used to use, so she's more comfortable going there.
Definitely agreed with these points, especially the shoveling part. Dogs can get very distracted by the snow being on the ground, in more ways other than "not smelling their pee any longer." I grew up in a household that owned dogs, and depending on the snow at the time and the particular dog, you might see one dog forget about peeing and happily romp and dig in the snow, then need to pee upon being let back in. Another might look outside, look up at you, confused, put a hesitant paw out, quickly withdraw it when the foot instantly becomes cold and wet, and generally show a lot of apprehension and general discomfort with being so cold and wet. Plus since female dogs squat rather than lift their legs, they may get unexpected backsplash if they end up peeing directly onto ice/an ice-crusted snow mound/etc., and that may cause reluctance to continue peeing outside.

Also check the area outside/check your dog's feet for salt buildup if you've been salting. Some dogs can find it irritating to their paw pads or even experience some skin damage there.
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Old 01-13-2010, 11:38 AM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
Late edit: no punitive nose-rubbing.
My mother was into that procedure for training dogs. She had an Elkhound . She saw a squirrel in the back yard. She ran up to us, peed , stuck her nose in it and went to the back door.
My beagle lost if for a while when we got a puppy. She thought OK for him, OK for her. So we went through a short training for her. She has been fine since.
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Old 01-13-2010, 02:10 PM
Poysyn Poysyn is offline
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My dog is a little, short, teeny thing. The first small dog I have ever owned.

We have to clear a long path for him in the yard, or he'll go right outside the door as he obviously hates the snow against his bare belly and dangly bits.

Can't blame him, I wouldn't want snow there either!
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Old 01-13-2010, 04:52 PM
aerodave aerodave is offline
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I called the vet today, they asked a few questions, and said that it didn't sound serious because of the lack of symptoms. They recommended keeping en eye on her for couple of days. That makes me feel vindicated, since I had already decided that was the sensible approach...but I'll let them think they came up with it. This advice came after I told them of our "crating" approach. The vet seemed to agree that it would be a good litmus test to see if she is honestly incontinent, or if she's just a being a pain in the ass. If it's the latter, I blame the beagle half.

Today was the first day of that new approach, and it worked well. She was given a roughly 4x6 area of the kitchen to spend the day in (complete with a window!). We came home to a dry floor and a normally behaving dog (that is, she just woke up to the sound of the garage door). Then we let her outside, and praised her profusely as soon as she finished taking a leak. This would seem to confirm that she's not incapable of holding it for 9 hours. We'll continue the limited space approach for a couple weeks, along with lots of praise for proper bathroom procedure. Hopefully that resets her training, and we can get back to normal.

No worries about the floor holding smell. It's ceramic tile, and it's gotten a thorough mopping after every incident. And as for clearing the snow in the part of the yard she likes to use...that's a bit tough. She's never been one for having an specific area. The whole quarter-acre is her domain. But the weather is warming here, and a lot of that snow will be melted by the end of the week. The roof is already mostly clear...the yard won't be far behind.
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Old 09-13-2012, 10:44 AM
Sarah2012 Sarah2012 is offline
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We have a 1 1/2 year old housetrained female Rottweiler who is fixed. In the year we've had her we've had no problems with her peeing in the house until recently. She holds it all night and all day when she is inside, then she started peeing when we let her outside to go, that was understandable, maybe she really had to go. When she started doing it every morning immediately before putting her outside, I'm talking like right at the door I started trying to train her out of it again but it hasn't been working, now she is peeing after we let her back in as soon as she gets through the door. She was given a clean bill of health this past spring when we had her fixed. I am at my wits end now. She doesn't seem to be wanting to cooperate. She knows she's not supposed to do it because she looks at me, hangs her head and tries to run away. Yet she won't go while she's outside and if she pees in the house we immediately put her outside to train her to go outside as was reccommended to us but that isn't working. I am having my parents up for Christmas and so I can't lock her in a bedroom overnight and I'm worried to leave her unattended overnight as she tends to get on the carpets and furniture when we're not looking and I don't fancy spending the rest of my life cleaning piss off the furniture and out of carpets. She has never done this before and it is getting annoying. I just want her to follow the house rules. She hasn't been around other dogs who pee in the house so she isn't picking up bad behaviour and my husband and I certainly don't pee on the floor in the house so she isn't getting that from us. I'm ready to pull out my hair from frustration. If anyone has any other possible solutions or advice or maybe a cause for her behaviour I'd love to hear it. Thanks.
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Old 09-13-2012, 11:03 AM
saje saje is offline
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It sounds like maybe something happened outside while she was peeing that frightened her and made her think it was wrong. That's my guess off the top of my head.

Does she poop outside?
Is she crate trained?
When is her last evening walk, and will she go outside then?
Are you really taking her out to pee, or just putting her out in the yard?

Without knowing those answers, my suggestion would be to take the stress off going outside, and make it fun again. Take her from wherever she spends the night to the door on a leash so you have control, and have a super special treat in your hand so you really have her attention as you get to the door to go out. Once you are out, give her the goody, then play a bit - toss a ball or play a tug game. Then stop and let her sniff around and see what she does. Hopefully she'll pee, and you can throw a happy party for her, give another treat, the whole 9 yards. watch her demeanor though, see if she looks uncomfortable or worried out there. You may have to take her to another spot to go for a while if her usual has become scary for some reason.

And as hard as it is, try not to make too big a deal of it if she goes in the house, but really ramp up the praise when she goes outside.

You might also do a check w/ your vet about spayed female incontinence, there are meds that might make it easier for her.
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Old 09-13-2012, 06:51 PM
kirk1168 kirk1168 is offline
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My old dog (sadly missed) started having accidents at about 7 years old. The vet said that when female dogs are spayed before the first heat, about 10% will develop a hormone problem that causes loss of control of the urinary sphincter. Hormone replacement (pill called PPA, one per day) worked wonders.
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:10 PM
j666 j666 is offline
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Originally Posted by aerodave View Post
And as for our reaction to the event, we know that dogs can't associate punishment with past actions, so we just act like normal when we come home to it.
I think that is a very bad idea; she may not be able to associate punishment with a past action, but she most certainly can associate it with a puddle of pee (or a chewed shoe, or knocked over trash, or stolen carrot cake ...). How else is she going to know it's still not allowed?

I have found the standard "What did you do?", and insisting the dog come over to the offending area very effective. The dog will probably be very reluctant, before slinking over with her head down and her tail wagging low, before settling down on her belly and rolling over ... possibly directly into the puddle. A final firm "No. Bad girl." usually does the trick.

Well, that and not leaving the carrot cake on the counter.

But, yes, the vet and the crate come first.
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Old 09-13-2012, 11:41 PM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
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Put some treats in your pocket. Take the dog for a long walk. Reward the dog with treats every time they pee outside. Unless there is a medical reason the dog cant hold its pee, sooner or later the dog will figure out it's worth it to hold their pee until they can get outside and get rewarded for it. This also eliminates the need to try to punish the dog - the " punishment" is that they don't get the treat if they pee inside.
That's how I trained my dog out of submissive urination. I think most dogs respond much better to rewards for doing the right thing than they do to punishment. Punishment can backfire if the dog doesn't understand what you want it to do. They learn fast when you reward them for doing the right thing.

Last edited by lavenderviolet; 09-13-2012 at 11:43 PM..
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