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The Listen Dog Blog

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I'll be keeping it up-to-date with regular catch-ups on what I've been up to, plenty of original articles on obedience training and behavioural best practice, plus top tips and ideas you can work on at home with your own four-legged friend!


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Why Has My Dog Started Toileting In The House?

By listendogtraining, Apr 1 2016 02:26PM

Most of the time, urine-marking is territorial or sexual. The scent of a dog’s urine contains a lot of information for the next passing dog to pick up, including the reproductive condition of the female and the health or ranking status of the male – leaving their ‘mark’ in a new place, by urinating, is one dog’s way of telling any other dogs in the area of their presence, and sexual position. A female, for example may urinate more frequently when in season, to indicate her receptivity to any males in the area.

Another reason for urine-marking in a new area, however, could in fact be anxiety –a brand new environment filled with completely foreign sights, sounds and scents can seem overwhelming to a dog, so one coping strategy used by dogs is to mark the new place with their own urine, in order to surround themselves with a familiar scent – in other words, they are trying to make themselves feel ‘a little more at home’ by making the alien environment feel familiar.

Bruce Fogle uses the example of the veterinary surgery waiting room – in which otherwise housetrained dogs can suddenly cock their leg against a chair – to further support the idea that it is a response to an anxiety-inducing environment.

So if you are experiencing problems with unexplained house-soiling that you can’t seem to eradicate, try considering whether there is anything that could be causing anxiety for your dog in the locations he is urinating, or perhaps take note of the time of day or night when he is house-soiling, and try and establish whether there is any pattern to his behaviour, that may give you a clue as to whether anxiety is at work.

Remember, NEVER punish your dog for house-soiling – it will only serve to increase his anxiety, and encourage him to find hidden corners of the home to do it in. It will also only serve to make positive toilet training harder, because your dog will be less inclined to toilet in front of you (which you want him to do when in the garden, so you can lavish him with praise!) for fear of your associated response.

Don’t forget that there are many underlying medical issues that could cause your dog’s bladder control to falter too, so it’s definitely worth getting any of these ruled out by your vet first, before you approach a behavioural course of action.

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