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Peeing inside is about protecting you

Living

PEE IS FOR PRAISE  Never punish or shout at a dog for urinating in the house; praise him when he pees outdoors, and keep doing this for as long as he lives.

Ask the vet
Esther Van Luipen

Learning to live in harmony with our furry friends can take time to perfect. When we bring dogs in our home to share our lives with them we often expect them to behave like humans. If they do, then we have a great relationship. However, when a dog does not adapt fully to the way we humans want him to be, problems can arise.
Urinating in the house is one of those problems. This is also one of the biggest reasons why people decide to ‘get rid’ of a dog and bring him to the pound. Peeing in the house is most common among male dogs, especially smaller breeds like terriers, but female dogs can occasionally wee indoors too.
Urine marking is a normal, instinctive dog behaviour. A dog marks his territory by urinating in several places. It can also mean that he will step up and offer his protection to the pack (himself and your family) that lives in his territory. If your dog urine marks in your house, it will never be in the middle of the kitchen, but more often at the doors going out of the kitchen or the living room, which he sees as his ‘pack’s den headquarters’. Amongst dogs it helps keep the peace, providing boundary signs for a pack, telling other dogs to stay away and protecting the pack living inside the urine markings.
Dogs get a lot of information from urine scent. We don’t exactly know how much, but they can certainly tell a male from a female dog, a neutered from an intact dog, a female in heat or coming into heat and whether the other dog is sick or well.
So what can you do to help your dog resist urine marking inside your home? The most effective thing you can do is to neuter, whether male or female. This can be done at any age, but it is more effective when it is done as early as possible, before the marking habit is formed.
Neutering will not magically stop indoor urination; when a habit is formed it is hard to curb. Training and management will still be needed. However, if you do not neuter a tiny male dog, your chances of ever fully house training him will be greatly reduced. Larger dogs have bigger territories and are more likely to do their urine marking outside the house.
Keep in mind that there may be a medical problem underlying the urine marking. There are a lot of different diseases that will cause your dog to drink more and urinate more or to lose urine. So do have your dog checked out by a vet if it happens.
When training a dog to urinate outside the house, make sure you never punish your dog for urinating in the house. Punishment will make him or her hide away from humans when urinating, making training even more difficult. Punishment teaches your dog to distrust you and possibly all humans. This can create aggression against humans.
When a dog urinates in the house clean it up straight away. Normal vinegar is a good thing to use because it will kill bacteria and it also gives a strong smell until it dries, which will discourage the dog from urinating on the same spot. If the urine is left too long it will have to be removed with a bacterial enzyme odour eliminator.
When the dog is caught urinating in the house say ‘no’ in a low voice and try to get him outside the house before he has finished his wee. Do not shout at him. If he wees outside praise him, and keep doing this for as long as he lives.
We take the ability of dogs to adapt to our lifestyle for granted. Some dogs are so talented to find out what all humans want them to do that we don’t even notice it or give them credit for this incredible adaptation. If you have a male dog who does not urine mark in your house take a moment to thank him for this, because he is truly amazing!

Esther van Luipen is a veterinary surgeon in Claremorris Small Animal Practice. She can be contacted at 094 9373955 or at living@mayonews.ie.