Dogs peeing in formal living room - which approach to take

lkplatowNovember 17, 2009

We have two dogs and an elderly cat. All were rescues - the dogs were adopted at about age 2 and have been living with us for 2 years. Both were pretty much housetrained when we got them - one needed a refresher course, the other came from her home where she seemed to be housetrained just fine.

Alas, somebody is peeing in my formal living room. - mostly on the rug, but I just found pee on the sofa, which is the final straw! It doesn't happen very often (we can go months without an accident) and I'm not sure who it is. I have seen both dogs pee in there in the past so it could be either one. My male dog (Digit) wasn't neutered til we got him and he has a tendency to "overmark" in the yard - whenever our girl dog (Lily) pees, he pees over it. So I suspect he may be doing it either because he smells something or perhaps our cat (who has a bit of incontinence) leaks a little and he feels like he needs to overmark it. Then again, Lily hates to go outisde when it's raining and she never really asks to go outside (she was raised on a farm and for the first year of her life, was an outdoor dog). If I forget to take her out for a few hours, she just skulks off somehwere and pees (she looks for a nice soft rug). So it could have been her as well (we took the rug out of the room to have it cleaned so the only soft space would have been the sofa.)

Anyhow, I've gone back to basic housetraining principles (walking them every few hours, treating them when they potty outside). But the problem is so sporadic that it could be months before I find another puddle and again, I won't know who did it.

Since the problem seems to be confined to one room (and it's a rarely used one that probably doesn't smell like "us" to the dogs), I was thinking I could take one of two approaches.

Option 1 - move the dog crates and food bowls into the formal living room and make the dogs spend more time in there. Then maybe they'll start considering it part of the "den" instead of their potty spot.


Option 2 - keep the dogs out of the room permanently. Right now, we are trying to do this with baby gates and such but because I have kids who don't always close the gates, the dogs are still getting in there. Plus the gates are very cumbersome and kind of hideous and I'd like to get rid of them before the holidays, as we will be using that room a lot more over the holiday season. So I was thinking of buying some indoor units for their electric fence collars that would give them the warning beep and then a shock if they enter the room (there's a whole training program for this that comes with the indoor units - you put the flags up and teach the boundary and the whole bit). The indoor units are costly and I'd really have to commit to the training and such, and then, of course, the dogs wouldn't be allowed in that room at all (which is kind of a bummer for Christmas morning and all). And my big fear is that if they can't go in that room, they'll just move their indoor potty spot somwhere else.

So anyway, before I spring for the indoor electric fence units, I was wondering if you guys had any feedback on which would be a better approach to take. I think it would be confusing for the dogs to pick one then switch because they're such opposite approaches - I'd hate to start encouraging them to eat and sleep in there for a few weeks then suddenly forbid them from entering the room at all. So I want to pick the right approach right off the bat.

WWYD? Thanks!

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A lot of dogs are trained just to stay in one section of the house. You would just need to be consistent about which parts of the house they are allowed. If they are just allowed in one area, it would be a lot easier to catch the guilty party.

Have you thought about if it is your cat spraying opposed to being a dog. Sometimes elderly cats will spray as they age. Also, if the cat is marking the dogs will probably come behind and remark the area. Hate for you to spend all that time training the dogs and find out it is really the cat.

And do some serious odor cleaning. Just because you can't see or smell the spot doesn't mean the scent is not there.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 11:25AM
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Yeah, I thought about the cat. But the cat pee has a totally different smell - much stronger and nastier. The sofa is definitely a dog -- not sure which one, but not the cat.

The cat has gone in the house in the past though, and I think that may be what triggers the dog (at least one of them) to start marking.

I've been trying to clean the odor - using natures miracle, odor mute, and a spot cleaning machine. I have a pretty sensitive nose so I usually have to clean it several times before I can't smell it anymore. But I know the dogs' noses are a million times more sensitive than mine, so who knows if I'm really getting it all out.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 4:28PM
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Here goes - first thing in the morning, you should be taking both dogs for AT LEAST A 15 minute walk. If you are home all day, another 15 minute walk in the afternoon and another walk then again before dinner and again right before you go to bed.
My dogs have been trained with positive reinforcement, when I take them out I do not have an agenda. When they pp I give them the command to pp, when they are just about finished, I praise them. I take my pets out to different places as much as possible. No matter the weather we stay out until everyone is empty. It takes about 2 weeks to train dogs to go number one and number two on command. If I am in need of meeting an appointment, I can take the dogs outside, tell them to pp outside or make a meadow muffin or touchdown and I can put them back in the car for a later walk which I will do as soon as possible.
I change up their routine, taking them to a local park, dog park, open space area, fire road or beach, does not matter as long as they get new smells and a new place to explore. I have had dogs in my life since birth and have never had an accident in the house after the 2 weeks have gone by and my dogs all come with issues.
Walking your dogs often and for at least 15 to 30 minutes costs nothing, keeps you and your dogs healthier and keeps you aware of things going on in your neighborhood...a win win win situation. Good luck

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 5:58PM
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Since the problem is the peeing and not the dogs entering a forbidden room I would forgo the second option all you said they may just start peeing in another room. Generally I don't go for the whole shock therapy thing. I find positive reinforcement much better for both me and my pets.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 8:33PM
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