Behavior Tip of the Month
Dog Lifting Leg In House
My dog has started lifting his leg in my house. I thought he was completely house-trained, but I guess he's not. I punish him but nothing seems to help. We love him but we can't have a urine soaked house. Please tell us what to do.
A urine soaked house---- that is a disgusting image, at least to us humans. However, to dogs, urine is fascinating. It is not only a bodily function, but tells other canines that your dog owns that spot. Marking their territory by lifting a leg and urinating is programmed into wolves. Since our dogs are domesticated wolves, they share this instinct. However, you don't have to live with a smelly house if you follow these suggestions:
1. Neuter, Neuter, Neuter. This simple procedure stops marking in 50% of cases if it hasn't become a habit. Your dog will also lead a healthier and happier life.
2. Don't punish! If you haven't caught him in the act, don't drag him back to the scene of the crime. He'll be frightened of you and more stressed. Stress is another cause of marking. You'll just increase his marking behavior if you punish seconds later. Instead, try the next suggestions.
3. Use an enzymatic pet cleaner on all urine spots.
4. Try to change your pup's association from alien object that has to be marked, to "this is already mine". One way to do this is to sprinkle his favorite marking areas with dry dog food. You can also try putting pie tins with dog treats over the areas.
5. Throw your canine's toys and chewies over his favorite anointed areas and play with him there. Inactive, bored dogs may mark so give your pup a job. Put ½ of your dog's dry meal in a Buster Cube or activity ball. Teach him to paw the toy and food will fall out! Keep the ball in the area he has marked.
6. If you can't put food and toys in those areas, try making them unattractive. Your K9 has to stand somewhere when he sprays. Put an upside down vinyl carpet runner there, nubby side up. He should stay away. (Needless to say, have all humans walking in that area wear shoes.)
7. Play the "Say Please" game with your pet. It will enrich his relationship with you, he will respect your territory and you will have a better-behaved dog. To do this, make a list of everything your dog enjoys; car rides, walks, petting, playing, etc. Ask him to sit and then reward him with something on the list. Do this until he stops marking.
8. Use "a wrap" or bellyband. Dee Ganley, CPDT of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the Upper Valley Humane Society www.uvhs.org and her good friend Nancy Lyon who is a SAR dog handler, write about this approach in their excellent web article, "Retraining Marking Behavior in Dogs":
"When the dog is in the house, vehicle or crate he will be wearing "the wrap". You make the wrap by securing a piece of toweling around the dog's middle covering his sheath/penis. The wrap is only removed when the dog is anyplace where it is appropriate for him to urinate. To make the wrap, take a small towel cut lengthwise in half and wrap around dog's waist/groin area once (or twice if you can). Then use Vet Wrap to secure into place. (Vet Wrap sticks to itself and works really well, it's cheap and can be bought through your vet or any Tack Shop.)
Only take the wrap off when dog needs to relieve himself. If the dog does mark with the wrap on he will soon realize that he isn't getting anywhere, and is only peeing on himself. Replace toweling but allow dog to live with soiled wrap for a little while."
9. Meticulous Management. This is the MOST important step. As Certified Pet Dog Trainer Dee Ganley and Nancy Lyon also point out:
"Don't allow the dog to be free without supervision for a second. He should be attached to someone in the house for the next month. Otherwise the dog should be in a crate or put outside if he has a kennel. The dog should not be outside, free, and unsupervised. When in the house, car, or crate the dog should also be wearing the wrap."
Try all of these suggestions. It will make a reMARKable difference and your home will be sweet smelling once more.
Best Friend Behavior Counseling and Training
San Diego, Ca.
"Positively teaching pets and their people since 1977"
Do you have a question for Carole? You can reach her at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org Perhaps she will use it in an upcoming article on this Web site.
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.