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I'm at a loss, and desperately need help

May 7th, 2011, 04:43 PM
In August I adopted a dog. He is between 3 - 5 and an American Eskimo Cross.

Things were great, he was house trained, etc.
About 3 months ago he decided to start peeing in the house. Nothing in his diet changed, nothing in his routine changed and I have taken him to the vet and he is perfectly healthy.

1 month ago I moved into a new place and got a cat. The peeing continued which I thought could be stress related. Before I had him he had been crate trained so I decided to try it again. He just started peeing in his crate. Even if I was gone for only 20 minutes. I tried exercising more, cutting down on water, etc, nothing helped. Worried I wasn't doing it correctly and for hygenic reasons I decided the crate idea was just not working and purchased a pen area instead.

He is a male dog and if i leave him even in a room, he lifts his legs on furniture.. tables, couches, never in the same spot. He IS neutered and has been for a long long time. He pees through the pen area regardless.

I"m tired of coming home to pee. I don't know what to do. I'm at a loss. Please help me with suggestions and thank you so much for reading all this.

May 7th, 2011, 04:51 PM
Lots of questions for you :o.

When did you take him to the vet last? What tests were done? Was a urine sample taken?

If he was perfectly house trained, I'm thinking this is more a medical issue than behavioral, especially given his age. Do you have any history on him? Why was he given up? Do you know when he was neutered? Are there any female dogs that could be in heat nearby (or having had visited). Male dogs?

May 7th, 2011, 04:55 PM
He's had no contact with other dogs, though we have seen many (probably male and female) in the neighbourhood on walks. No idea if they are in heat.

We were at the vet ... 3 weeks ago, urine sample, fecal sample done. I know they did some tests on things like worms, etc too. Everything checked out with him.

When I first brought him home, he peed once or twice in the house, but I kinda chalked it up to stress, closed off that area to him and it stopped for a while.

To me, it's almost like a marking thing. But as far as I know he's been neutured for upwards of 2 years though I don't know 100% if that's true as he's rescued.

May 7th, 2011, 04:56 PM
Oh - and he was given up because the people moved to an apartment where they didn't allow dogs. As far as I know at least.

May 7th, 2011, 05:00 PM
What was the longest period of time that he was perfectly clean in your home, ie. no accidents whatsoever?

May 7th, 2011, 05:04 PM
Do you mean hour wise or over the last couple months?

He used to be fine for a typical eight hour day.
And month wise where I never came home to problems? Probably 3/4 months.

May 7th, 2011, 05:23 PM
Since you adopted him. If he had been entirely clean for 3 to 4 months, my first suspicion would be something medical, especially if he's peeing in his crate. I know he's already been seen but, do you think you can take in another urine sample (some vets are ok if you don't bring the dog in for a consult, especially seeing you were there recently)? Preferably the first one of the morning and get it to the vet office within an hour, not longer than that?

If results are still good, are you able to tether him to you with a 10' line when you're home? That way you can interrupt him when he's about to pee and be able to get him outdoors right away. I'd be taking him out every hour and rewarding him with his very favorite treats (cheese, hot dogs, liver, etc) each and every time until he's 100% reliable in the house. How much exercise does he get per day (not just out in the yard but active exercise)? I also recommend you scrub all areas he's urinated on (don't use bleach or anything with ammonia in it), rinse, and then soak with an enzymatic cleanser such as Nature's Miracle to eliminate any residual odors.

Our male was neutered as an adult and, when we adopted him, he peed on ever corner, door, piece of furniture, etc :rolleyes:. What made his house training successful was constant supervision and repeated opportunities to eliminate outdoors. It took about a week before I noticed he didnt' attempt to do it inside anymore but we kept up with the strict supervision for at least a month before he got free reign of the house. If it's not a medical issue, than I hope his training will be as brief for you as well :fingerscr.

May 7th, 2011, 05:31 PM
I will try with more frequent trips outside and more rewards.

I'm taking my kitten in for another set of boosters and I'll be sure to take a urine sample with me at that time again, as well.

As for interrupting him.. he never pees when I'm home. ONLY when I'm gone. Part of me thinks it's just cause he's mad at me for leaving him.. he's a very velcro kind of dog. Likes to be able to see me at all times.

May 7th, 2011, 05:33 PM
Oh right - and exercise.

I take him on 3, 20 minute walks a day at a minimum. One in the morning, one as soon as I get home from work, and one at night before bed. Sometimes the walks will go longer and he's out in the yard quite a bit too.

May 7th, 2011, 05:40 PM
Ohhh, some separation anxiety perhaps? He's not mad, I promise ;). Dogs don't get upset the way we do, they're simply pack animals and some get a little (some a lot) anxious when their family leaves. The only way to know for sure is if you're able to video him while your gone. It'll give you a good idea as to what's happening with his emotional state.

The other thought that comes to mind as you say he only does it when you're not home...does he get in trouble when you come home to find pee in the house? Do you admonish/punish him at all? If so, dogs will associate the object (in this case, his urine), and not the act (urinating), with your displeasure. It's why punishing after the fact never works (best solution is to clean it up silently and keep up with the positive reinforcement). A gentle interruption if you see him going and taking him out with lots of praise when he goes is the best way to house train.

May 7th, 2011, 05:44 PM
I'm going to give your suggestion some tries.

If I discover it could be anxiety.. is there any way to combat that?

May 7th, 2011, 05:52 PM
Absolutely :). It takes time depending on the severity but it can be overcome. If you can get it on video, please share it with us and we can help you from there. I still strongly recommend another urine test. If it's a simple UTI, some meds will clear it all up (and eliminate your frustration too!).

May 7th, 2011, 05:54 PM
Thank you so much for your help.
I"m going to track down a video camera and also look into getting testing done again.

May 7th, 2011, 05:58 PM
You're welcome :). Good luck :fingerscr.

May 7th, 2011, 06:22 PM
If he's suffering from some mild Seperation Anxiety, maybe try some interactive toys for when you're out. A stuffed Kong, hide treats around the house, a treat ball. Take him for a good romp before you leave him alone, teach him some new tricks and have him run through them before you go out.

I don't know if this will help but I've always done it and neither of my dogs have had any issues with SA. I always leave a radio or tv on and a light, if I'm going to be gone past dark. I hate coming home to a dark house. I don't know if it helps, maybe with the human voices, they figure that they're not really alone?

3 Laughing Dogs
May 14th, 2011, 03:43 AM
It sounds to me that the dog is marking. Neutered,or not, they wull continue to mark what they believe is theirs. Without knowing all the details in how you handle the situation it is hard to give guidance to how to remedy the problem but you will have to start "claiming" your house back. Its a relatively easy resolve with just some time,understanding, and patience

June 14th, 2011, 01:27 PM
I agree; medical ruled out, sounds like he is marking to 'claim' the house. That coincides with what people refer to as 'Separation Anxiety'. Which really should be thought of as the pack leader disagreeing with a follower leaving (which in nature would never happen). That is why you need to be the leader in ALL situations. Then he will be content to stay home and wait for the leader to return. Especially if he has been tired by a walk before you leave each day (him walking behind you, even just slightly, as long as you are in front). In nature; it is quite understood that a tired follower be left behind. However the pack leader does not stay behind and followers do not leave with out agreement from the leader. Pack leadership is not established once, it is maintained, when the leader becomes old, weak or whatever it is natural for the leadership to be taken. This is why he could be fine 3 months ago and not today. Take the alpha position (in all activities); You walk through all doorsways, stair ways, gates first. You start and end activities (playing, petting etc...), you invite onto the furniture or to the outside. You lead in a calm, relaxed, assertive manner (no frustration, no anger - dogs will never listen to that; it is considered weak). Try that, whether it fixes the urination or not; it will help to keep your dog happy with less overall anxiety. Rescue dogs need this big time !!

June 15th, 2011, 07:32 AM
Dogs are not wolves and wolf packs do not function as you describe.
There are 2 reasons that wolves form packs: to raise cubs and to hunt.
"Packs" are family units, they are made up of a breeding pair (the "alphas"), their juvenile or adult offspring, and the next generation of cubs. Alpha status is all about breeding rights. Alphas do not seek to control the actions of other pack members - this is a human construction. We see the necessity of controlling all of our dog's actions because they live in an artificial environment and many of their natural behaviors are undesirable to us - we therefore erroneously assume that "leaders" within the species attempt to do the same thing, when in reality it is all co-operative. No attempts are made to usurp the alphas because every wolf in the pack is related - adults and their children will not attempt to interbreed (remember, its all about breeding). When the children come of age many leave their pack to start a family of their own.
Wolf pack size is directly dependent on the size and abundance of game. Wolves in areas where the primary food source is large herbivores form large packs for successful hunting. Conversely, wolves in areas with plentiful small game, like rodents, don't form packs at all. Their ecosystem cannot support it.
Dogs, unlike wolves (who are monogamous hunters) are considered non-monogamous scavengers. They do not form family groups to raise young or hunt game. Wild populations of feral dogs do form what are called "loose associational groups" but they only do so around human settlement to raid garbage dumps - food is an abundant resource, there is no competition or need to co-operate to tackle large game. They do not raise young in these groups, and the social structure is far more fluid.

The dominance reduction exercises you describe (while they won't do any harm) have been proven in laboratory experiments to produce absolutely no change in behavior, especially behavior like SA.
A dog's fear of being left alone has nothing to do with how much of a leader you are, just as if you are afraid of heights, it has nothing to do with how much you respect your parents. Both are subjective feelings.
I do think that when a dog knows that all good things come from you (i.e. access to resources) and that all are conditional on good behavior it does produce excellent results. But things like eating first and always walking ahead of your dog are just smoke and mirrors.

I agree with LP:
- A bit more medical testing just to rule out all possibility of infection.
- Preventing the dog from being anywhere unsupervised when you are home and limit their access when you are not.
- Never punish the behavior, always reward heavily for successful toileting
- Leave lots of good things around for them to interact with when you do leave (i.e. daily diet frozen into kongs) and up the exercise when possible (leashed walks really aren't enough to tire a dog)
- videotape the behavior
- if other signs of SA become apparent, consult a certified behaviorist and do a bit of reading

Good luck!

June 15th, 2011, 08:55 AM
If all else fails, buy a belly band for him....He will not like getting wet.

June 15th, 2011, 01:04 PM
All I can tell you is that I had 2 unruly bulldogs with some bad behavouirs, one of which being the 'marking' of my drapes, couch, chairs, walls, shoes etc.. (yes he was neutered). They rushed the door to greet guests, they pulled me when walking, they did not come when called. I did take them to obedience training which worked (for sit/stay/ etc...) but had no effect on our home situation. I looked for resources, came across the 'pack leader & pack' type dog pshycology made famous by Cesar Millan, but there are many other proponents of the philosophy. I had successes on the very first day of implementation. My marking male no longer marked, they visibly appear more relaxed, they no longer rush the door when the bell is rang, they look to me to see what I am doing about it, they walk with a relaxed leash. I am now a proponent of the 'training' because it worked great for me and share the ideas with others to try and see if it helps them or not. If it doesn't then they can move along and try something else. My major concern is they don't try what is out there, and don't have success, become frustrated and give up on their dog and it ends up as one of the millions of dogs discarded every year.

June 16th, 2011, 08:16 AM
First, I want to say that I'm genuinely glad that this training has worked for you and improved your relationship with your dogs. :)

In my experience, dogs do what works. Behavior is directly related to rewards. It is your job as a trainer to recognize all of the rewards in your dog's life so that you can encourage the behavior you want by adding or controlling a reward or discourage the behavior you don't by removing the reward. A reward is anything that encourages behavior (some behaviors, like barking, are self-rewarding, that's why they are so hard to extinguish). Dog jumps up? Your attention (even negative attention) when they jump on you is re-enforcing because jumping is a greeting or excited behavior. Teach them to offer a sit and ignore them until they have all 4 paws on the ground. Your dog pulls on leash? Their reward is moving forward. Stop moving forward on a walk when they pull. Ever.

Dominance and/or alpha theory training has several problems for me:
- It is based on some pretty bad science. Even the original researchers have released statements rescinding their conclusions (for example, David Mech, who's article I have linked to below, was the scientist who coined the term "alpha" in regards to wolves).
- It equivocates dog behavior with wolf behavior and the two are actually reeeeally different (they have diverged evolutionarily for at least 14,000 years, some argue much longer - fossil evidence vs. mitochondrial DNA).
- It often misinterprets dog body language and social signals (many behaviors that are actually fearful or submissive are labeled as dominant)
- It missuses dominance. Dominance either refers the individual in a group who has priority access to resources (again, almost always tied to breeding right - to prevent inbreeding but also to ensure priority access is given to offspring) or a totally ritualized set of greeting or diffusing behaviors. It is never a personality trait.
- It equivocates dominance with control and submissive with passivity. In fact, many dogs practice what is called "obnoxious submission" to gain access to resources or to control social interaction. One of the most assertive dogs I know practices obnoxious submission and she can get any resource from any dog regardless of how "dominant" they are.
- It encourages a moralistic view of dog behavior. Dogs are a-moral. They have no understanding of what behavior is "right" or "wrong" only what makes you or the situation around them "dangerous" and "not dangerous."
- It encourages an antagonistic relationship with your dog. Any problem behavior is interpreted as your dog's perceived lack of respect for you. This encourages you to become frustrated and punish the dog because they are "actively disobeying you" (see previous point on moralistic view of dog behavior).
- It tends to rely on corrections rather than rewards to teach behavior. Dogs taught this way are proven to learn more slowly, show higher signs of stress, and have the potential to develop other seemingly unrelated behavioral problems (google "learned helplessness" and "fallout" in regards to dog training).
- It gives the dog no room to have their own personality or opinions of the world around them because, again, all behavior is apparently related to you.
- It equivocates dominance with aggression. In fact social displays of dominance and submission exist expressly to prevent real aggression.
- Finally, the solution to the failure of dominance methods is always the escalation of dominance and/or is your failure of applying dominance correctly. There is no room for re-evaluating weather the approach is working on its own merits.

I know there are people who practice leadership with their dogs and do it properly - with a good understanding of learning theory and without ever getting angry or resorting to punishment. The problem is that most people only pantomime what they see on television. This creates really inconsistent training (because t.v. only shows a fraction of the actual training performed), gives the average viewer no real understanding of how dogs learn or why they are reacting to stimuli, and it tends to set both the dog and the person up to fail. My major concern is that people will try these methods and create more behavioral problems then they had to start with - leading to the surrender and euthanasia of more dogs.
We are working with a foster right now who was scheduled to be euthanized for aggression because his previous owners tried to solve his behavioral problems with "dominance."

To the OP: sorry for hijacking your thread. I am now removing the soap box. :P
Let us know how your videotaping goes

June 17th, 2011, 08:42 AM
I had a similar problem with my dog. I adopted him and he was peeing in the house cause the woman that owned him before me never walked him. She actually had him using a cat litter in the kitchen. You can do it, but it does take time and effort.
First of all, when you are in the house, have the dog on a leash at all times and tied to you. This is called umbilical training. Whatever you do, the dog is there with you, attached to you. This allows you to both know what he is doing and to create an alpha position with him. Do not allow the dog on furniture as the peeing can get worse with that. At night, I used to tie my dog to the bed so that he did not have a free roam of the house. He could still move around on the leash but would not pee on his bed. And of course, plenty of exercise. Walk him at least 1.5 hours a day. Preferably, split it into 2 or 3 walks. And teach the dog basic training, such as sit and stay. All of the above keeps the dog's brain busy and establishes and alpha position for you, which will eventually resolve your peeing situation.
There is an amazing trainer called Brad Pattison. He has his own website where you can find many tips. Here is a link to it: He also has a TV series called At THe End Of My Leash. You can view them all for free at I read his book, watched his tv series and solved the following problems I had with my dog: peeing in the house, running away when not on leash, obedience training and much more. He was my miracle guy. Give it a try.

June 17th, 2011, 12:21 PM
Brad Pattison advocates harsh corrections to change behavior and has no understanding of learning theory or ethology.
Please read the previous post on alpha-dominance.