Help stop my dog's pee colonization on my carpet.
November 24, 2008 6:26 AM   Subscribe

I've read related posts on AskMeFi several times, as I've dealt with this before. I know there's something I'm missing. My dog pees in the house, albeit infrequently...except when she's peed in the house recently. I clean up the spots using Nature's Miracle (now Petastic). I do things to discourage her from peeing again near that area (blocking it off, putting her food nearby, etc.). She pees again in close proximity, but not at exactly the same spot. So, what do I do?

For what it's worth, she does this most often either when I'm sleeping or while I'm not at home. I've thought about doing the following: steam cleaning my carpets, getting a baby gate to keep her in the foyer while I'm not home. I'm also in a rented apartment, which precludes me from tearing up the carpet and padding.
posted by anarchivist to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, looking into Stanley Steemer, it seems like they might be forced to use a portable machine since I'm on the third floor of a walkup.
posted by anarchivist at 6:29 AM on November 24, 2008

Does she have an infection? Is she getting enough outside time? Have you thought of using a crate while you're sleeping/gone?
posted by cooker girl at 6:43 AM on November 24, 2008

Response by poster: Infection: worth looking into; I need to take her to the vet anyway (updating her bordatella vaccine). In the past, I've taken her to the vet when this has happened, and she didn't have an infection.

Outside time: Oddly enough, this sometimes happens after I give her a considerably longer walk than I usually do.

Crate: Tried it in the past. I got her from the humane society; don't know much about her previous owners, but from the way she behaves when she's about to be put in the crate it seems like the crate was being used for punishment.
posted by anarchivist at 6:52 AM on November 24, 2008

I know little about dogs, but from a purely behavioral perspective, you get a bigger payoff by rewarding the behaviors you do want, rather than punishing the ones you do not.

*bratty kid pinches his little sister in the arm* Stop pinching your little sister. *kid starts punching his little sister in the arm* Stop punching your little sister. *kid starts tearing off the heads of her dolls* Stop tearing the heads off of your little sister's dolls ...

There's a near infinite list of behaviors you'd like not to see. Find a way to encourage behaviors you would like to see. Where would you like the dog to go?
posted by adipocere at 7:03 AM on November 24, 2008

The use of baby gates works for my dog. She can stay home for eight hours (and in unfortunate instances, even longer) without an accident when gated into the kitchen/breakfast nook. However, if we forget to put the gates up when we leave, she will piddle in the dining room within a few hours.
posted by wg at 7:22 AM on November 24, 2008

Do you think something like this would work? I think it would work like a crate without the crate anxiety she exhibits. I'm not sure how small you could make it.

Maybe a consultation with a dog trainer is in order.
posted by cooker girl at 7:22 AM on November 24, 2008

What kind (kinds) of breed is your dog? Some are especially fond of marking territory and love to pee a little in places they are normally forbidden to go. My dachshund is restricted from my office space and she will do ANYTHING to get in there and mark. It makes it her property.
Dogs will also pee in places that are already marked with their scent. Try covering the area with a big bath mat infused with fabrize or some other strong smell. Leave it there for a week or so. This will do two things: protect the carpet if she does go, and it will eliminate any lingering scent underneath. Good luck!
posted by Pennyblack at 7:38 AM on November 24, 2008

FWIW, I recently and inadvertently put a stop to my cat's long-standing habit of pooping on my carpeted office floor every morning: I sprayed the whole carpet with Febreze's Pet Odor Eliminator.

So I guess you could buy every pet odor product on the market and see if one happens to work...?

It'd be easy enough to block off the area when you're gone/sleeping. If the dog just starts piddling elsewhere, obviously, that won't work for you long-term. But with my cat, the office was the only area he was interested in floor-pooping.
posted by iguanapolitico at 7:46 AM on November 24, 2008

Many dogs hate crating at first. However, eventually the crate becomes a den. My parents' dog cried bloody murder for the first few weeks of crating. Now, whenever she is nervous about something, wants to relax away from the other dog, or anything else, she goes to her crate.
posted by Pants! at 8:13 AM on November 24, 2008

Response by poster: cooker girl: Possibly - I'll look into it. The word "foyer" doesn't really do that part of my apartment justice - it's a 30-foot long hallway covered in vinyl tile.

Pennyblack: She's lab/beagle, as far as I know.

Also, I'm curious about the cleaning - I don't want my living room smelling like dog pee! Is Stanley Steemer the best way to go, given that there's a good chance that they'll have to use a portable?
posted by anarchivist at 8:25 AM on November 24, 2008

I lost this war with mine. Now I just put a pee wee pad down so that the floor doesn't get damaged.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:41 AM on November 24, 2008

Best answer: This is what we did (it took several months):

Make sure your dog doesn't have a urinary tract infection. Ours on occasion still soils the floor (maybe once a year), and it's usually because of an infection.

Our trainer instructed us to treat her like a puppy when she lost her housebreaking after a move. Start from zero. Slowly build up. Reward the good behavior. Make sure she has ample opportunity to do that good behavior.

Crate-train the dog. Feed the dog in the crate. Dogs don't soil where they eat. All dogs hate crates at first. Once they associate the crate with safety and food, your dog will love the crate. It will take a few weeks. Be patient. When you're busy, asleep, or away, the dog goes in the crate. Just remember that dogs love to burrow and like small enclosed places (ours loves hiding under the coffee table). Make sure the crate is just big enough for the dog to turn around in and lie down. Any bigger, and it means the dog can urinate in the crate, and then "get away' from the mess. We made the mistake of getting her a too-large crate.

Move the crate is near you when you sleep if your dog whines. Our trainer also suggested putting a blanket over the crate at night if the dog whines because she can't be near you. If the dog can't see you, they might stop whining and settle down. Our trainer also suggested keeping a frying pan nearby. Sometimes a single, sudden whack of the pan will shut them up. This is only temporary. It startles the dog.

Take her for frequent walks. Triggers for "need to go" include excitement, feeding, playing, exercise, and walks. There is often a delay between the activity and need to urinate (20 minutes or so). Set your dog up for success. Give her lots of opportunities to do the right behavior.

Frequent, frequent walks. We did once every 1-2 hours for a while. As soon as you get home, in the crate the dog goes if she didn't urinate outside. Wait a little longer, and then go back outside, and try to get her to go outside.

You can try to fake your dog out if your dog goes immediately upon returning home. Take her out for a long walk. Going home, and as soon as you get in the front door, take her back out again.

When the dog goes inside, it needs immediate disapproval because urination is a self-rewarding behavior. Urination feels good. Dogs don't have a good memory. Yelling at your dog hours later means the dog just learns to fear you, and the dog won't make the connection between the behavior and the discipline. As soon as your dog urinates inside, it needs to be told a stern NO. Don't hit the dog or physically threaten it. You just need to be stern and make sure the dog immediately understands that urination inside the house is bad. Otherwise the connection will never be made.

If things get really frustrating, you need to make sure the dog is wherever you are, all day long, so you can discipline immediately if there is an accident. This means getting a short leash and attaching the dog physically to you.

When the dog goes outside, it's a party. Verbally affirm that it's a good dog. Do this as your dog is urinating outside. Do this every time your dog urinates outside. "Jack pot" the dog: give it a single treat, then a second treat, then a third, so it appears as a cascade of treats. Your dog will learn to associate going outside with a big reward.

This is what our trainer recommended, and what worked for us. Patience! It takes time. Lots and lots of time.
posted by kathryn at 8:44 AM on November 24, 2008 [4 favorites]

When you take her for a long walk does she come home tired and hot and drink a gallon of water? That'll do it.
posted by fshgrl at 9:24 AM on November 24, 2008

Response by poster: kathryn: Thanks - I'll look into this in terms of behavior modification. The thing is that it doesn't happen when I'm awake in the house. It only happens when I'm asleep or away from home.

fshgrl: Nope, not so much now - I'm in Brooklyn, and it's cold.
posted by anarchivist at 10:37 AM on November 24, 2008

Best answer: Giving your dog free reign of the house when it is not housebroken and you're not home is not the best idea. Not only can it soil your carpet and furniture, but it can do hazardous things, such as chewing up electric wires.

How old is your dog? A two-month-old puppy can hold it for up to two hours. A one-year-old dog can go for about 8-9. The first thing you have to do is write down each time your dog eliminates so you know roughly when it has to go.

Two solutions, from my very excellent dog trainer:
1. Crate training. Use a thin crate cover but no bulky blankets or padding. If your dog hates the crate, you have to teach it to love it. Put all its food, water and treats inside the crate. Buy a large Kong toy and fill it up with sticky dog food (Try Dick Van Patten's Natural BalanceĀ® -- dogs love it.) Your dog is not going to eliminate in its crate unless it has a medical condition or cannot hold it physically. Dogs do not like to eliminate where they sleep.

2. Buy a tall X-pen that your dog cannot jump over (I used two for my puppy). Place newspapers all along the side that's the farthest from the dog's bed. That's where you are going to train your dog to eliminate until it is old enough to hold it between walks. Ultimately, your dog is going to prefer to eliminate outside but an X-pen is a good solution if you work long hours or do not have a dog walker. Keep an eye on your dog and if it eliminates anywhere but the newspapers, carry it immediately to the newspapers while it's still eliminating. Change the newspapers regularly.

For both solutions: Ignore its barking or cries when it's inside the crate or X-pen. The minute it's quiet, praise the dog and let it out. Repeat this many times. Let the dog out for walks (again, make note of when it has to eliminate) and play time. Keep the dog in its crate and X-pen even when you are home, in plain sight of it.

Also, use one word to signal that it should enter the crate or pen (like.."crate" or "inside".). When you put the dog inside, say the word every time and give it a treat. Eventually, it should learn to go inside on command.

One more thing -- to eliminate pet stains and odors, pour -- don't spray, pour -- something like Oxy Solution on the stain and do not scrub. It will remove both the stain and the smell as it evaporates.
posted by bondgirl53001 at 2:54 PM on November 24, 2008

Oh one more thing -- if you keep your dog in an X-pen on a carpet, I suggest getting rubber mats for makeshift flooring. Home Depot has some. Note that your dog may chew on them, so get some dog toys. Dogs have a short attention span and go by a process of elimination -- this toy looks fun, but this one looks more fun, and oh, hey, here's a treat, that looks best of all.
posted by bondgirl53001 at 2:58 PM on November 24, 2008

Response by poster: bondgirl53001: She's 8.

I should also say that this isn't a constant problem - it has flared up again recently, which makes me obviously lean towards taking her into the vet to see if it's an infection.
posted by anarchivist at 7:16 PM on November 24, 2008

The thing is that it doesn't happen when I'm awake in the house. It only happens when I'm asleep or away from home.

This might be because your dog has figured out that peeing in the house in front of you is naughty, but peeing in the house when you're not around is fine -- in the former case, she always gets yelled at, but in the latter case she never does. If that's what's happening, you'll have to follow kathryn's advice very carefully so that your dog is always reprimanded when she pees inside (meaning that, until she's re-housetrained, you have to watch her like an eagle whenever she's out of her crate).
posted by pitseleh at 4:05 PM on November 26, 2008

Response by poster: pitseleh - Thanks! That's a good point, and I'll definitely bear that in mind. However I don't think I've ever actually caught her peeing inside in front of me, at least not for several years.

Anyhow, an update - I've taken her to the vet, and I got to experience the joy of having to take the urine sample myself because she was empty from the long walk over to the animal clinic. I'm waiting to hear back about the results. In the mean time, I've been keeping her in the tiled hallway, and she's had no accidents while I've been away so far. If it's not an infection, the vet said she'd be willing to go over some of the behavioral stuff with me.
posted by anarchivist at 7:33 PM on November 26, 2008

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