A common question I saw at the vet – and one I see on message boards frequently – is people asking why their dog is peeing in the house. It could be several reasons, but the most common one is a dog behavior problem. If your pooch is urinating on furniture, and even people, then you most likely have a dog behavior problem on your hands.
Related: How to Get Rid of Dog Smell
Understanding Your Dog Behavior Problem
First thing’s first. Don’t get mad at your dog. It doesn’t solve anything, and it’s completely unwarranted. There’s something everyone should remember about dogs. No matter how smart they may be, and no matter how quickly they may pick up on training commands, they are still driven by instinct.
Urine marking is such a common dog behavior problem because it’s a purely instinctual reflex. Essentially, your dog cannot control it. The trick to stopping urine marking is to remove the stimulus that is causing the marking. Almost any dog behavior problem can be approached in this manner.
For instance, my vet used to do work on wild animals like bobcats and the like. She came home one day and stripped off in her bedroom to take a shower. Her dog came in and freaked out at the odd smells coming off of her clothing. Not knowing what to do, he just hiked his leg and peed all over the clothes, and of course, the carpet. This wasn’t the dog’s fault. The clothing shouldn’t have been there. That’s a perfect illustration of the instinctual nature of this and almost any dog behavior problem.
What’s Causing the Problem
If your dog is urine marking the house, the first thing you need to do is figure out the root cause of the new dog behavior problem that has taken over your pooch and your home. There can be a few reasons, but they all lead back to one thing: territory.
A New Person
One question I found on the forums was a woman asking why her dog was peeing on her new husband’s clothing, tools, and other objects. This is actually very simple. The dog is marking its territory. The new husband is a fixture of the house, and as such, he must be marked as the dog’s in its mind. Once you get past the inconvenience of dog urine on everything, it’s actually a very sweet sentiment.
A New Pet
Another common cause of this dog behavior problem is a new pet. When you introduce a new animal – whether it be a dog or cat – your dog is going to feel that its territory is being encroached upon. In your dog’s mind, it needs to let the new animal in the house know that it’s not in charge. Everything in your house belongs to your first dog, and it will make sure any newcomer knows it.
Addressing the Problem
Addressing your dog behavior problem is more difficult than finding the reason for the problem. It’s generally extremely easy to see what’s causing your dog to urine mark in your house. The trick is getting it to stop. That can be a difficult proposition for even a seasoned dog owner. How can you explain to a dog that it has nothing to worry about?
Don’t Neglect Your Dog
If a new person or animal moves into the house, the biggest mistake you can make is to reduce the amount of attention you give your old pal. Remember, your dog will feel threatened by any new additions to your home, no matter how friendly they are. That’s why you have to continue giving your dog the same amount of attention – maybe more – when a new addition arrives. It’s the best way to avoid a dog behavior problem completely.
Don’t Yell at Your Dog
That doesn’t solve anything. A dog behavior problem is generally seated in apprehension. Yelling only increases that feeling of stress. If you already have this dog behavior problem in your house, you need to do everything you can to reduce your dog’s stress and reassure it. Yelling is not a good way to do either of those things.
This goes hand in hand with attention and with no yelling. Positive reinforcement is the only way to remedy your dog behavior problem. When your dog goes potty outside, reward it generously. If your dog shares a toy, reward it. If your dog plays with the new person or animal in the house, reward it. Make the new person or animal a source of joy for your dog.
A Common Dog Behavior Problem That Can be Remedied
If your dog is marking up the house because of a new addition to the family, you CAN get it to stop. It just requires patience and perseverance. Remember, this type of dog behavior problem is pure instinct, so you need to do everything you can to take away the reasons for marking. Be patient, gentle, upbeat, and make it all fun. If you do that, you should be able to prevent or address your dog behavior problem in no time.
Have you ever dealt with urine marking issues with your dog? Tell us how you eventually resolved it. Have any more dog behavior problems you’d like us to address? Feel free to let us know in the comments!