Dogs peeing in formal living room - which approach to take
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.