Why does this dog pee in his crate?
April 12, 2010 3:13 PM   Subscribe

How can I keep a healthy, adult male doberman from peeing in his crate 2+ times a day? I'm at my wits end!

I am fostering a 3-year old adult male doberman. I have been fostering and rehabilitating dobermans for almost 10 years, but this guy really has me stumped. He pees in his crate constantly. Like, 2 or 3 times a day. I've had him here for about a month, but he was with another foster home before me for about 9 months, so crating is not a new concept to him. He was neutered as an adult, so he is a marker, but otherwise has been given a clean bill of health. I have never in my 10 years of working with dogs had a dog that just couldn't understand the crate training thing. I am all out of tricks here, so I'm hoping someone has something up their sleeve that maybe I haven't thought of.

Things I've tried that haven't worked:
- Putting him on a strict schedule for going outside
- Letting him out as often as humanly possible
- Limiting when he has access to water
- Putting him in the smallest crate he can squeeze into (he's currently in a 500-size plastic kennel)
- Putting him in a larger wire crate (disaster - there was pee all over the walls)
- Taking his blanket out (this leads to a dog covered in pee)
- Leaving a blanket in the crate for him (this leads to 3 loads of laundry a day)
- Giving him a specified amount of time outside (ie. you better do your business now because you won't be allowed out again for another few hours)
- Leaving him outside for up to an hour at a time
- Praising the hell out of him when he pees outside

The peeing is not limited to weekdays when I am at work - he will happily pee his crate on the weekends when he's just been out and I am 10 feet away. He doesn't seem to be a terribly stupid dog, and other than the fact that he (and the area around his crate) stinks of pee constantly no matter what I do, he's a really nice dog that I like a lot.

I am concerned not only because it's terribly frustrating to be cleaning pee as much as I do, but this is a dog that needs a home. It's hard enough to find homes for unwanted dobermans - finding someone to adopt a doberman that can't figure out not to piss on himself will be next to impossible.

Other details:
- He is estimated to be about 3 and came from the local animal shelter. He was initially very thin and heartworm positive, so we can assume he was probably an outside dog that received no veterinary care.
- He has been treated for heartworms and neutered
- The amount, color, and odor of his urine seems completely normal
- He is not drinking excessively
- I have 3 other dogs of my own in the house. Initially he was crated in a room alone so I could see if maybe he was peeing in reaction to nearby dogs. Since that had no effect, his kennel is now next to my 7 month old puppy's kennel (who figured out the no-peeing-in-the-crate-thing in about 2 days).

posted by tryniti to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
Oh wow. You deserve some kind of award for that, seriously!

If he's lived his whole life outside, he may never have actually been house trained. The concept of "not peeing" may not have been relevant to his life.

Have you tried going back to basics, and starting with him as if he were a brand new puppy? Crate him for N minutes, take him out to pee, then crate him for N + 15 minutes, take him out to pee, gradually escalating the amount of time between potty breaks?
posted by ErikaB at 3:19 PM on April 12, 2010

Kudos for being such a patient foster parent! I agree that it sounds like maybe this dog has never been house broken, but I would bring this issue up with the vet to rule out possible health problems.
posted by gumtree at 3:31 PM on April 12, 2010

A trip to the vet to rule out a UTI is a good idea, but you or the other foster has probably already done that.

I have heard that belly bands can sometimes work in this situation, but maybe not with this dog. Perhaps worth a try, though. :) I mean, it sounds like nothing else is working.

I assume you have used Petastic or Nature's Miracle or some other enzymatic cleaner to clean the crates, the blankets, the walls, the room - though this would not make a difference if he has just been doing this from the instant you got him.

You should get a medal for your patience!
posted by AllieTessKipp at 3:37 PM on April 12, 2010

We used to foster dogs. Occaisionally you come across a dog that is just not right in the head. That's probably why he's a foster dog in the first place.
posted by Crotalus at 3:50 PM on April 12, 2010

Possibly, he is protesting being cooped up. Was he kept in his crate during the day by his previous foster family? Our (male) dog used to pee on the rug when we left him at home, with carers coming in and walking him several times a day. He just picked up on the fact that it irritated the heck out of me.
Try catching him in the act and tell him no. Give him a treat (in the crate) to reward him if he stops. Let him out, even if it is only a few minutes after he went out before. Our newer adopted dogs did not relate going out and peeing at all. We had to train them to associate the two things by praising them and using the expression "Go potty" (which I hate) when they peed outside. Eventually, they got the idea that they were expected to pee when we said "Go potty" to them. It took a while, though ...
posted by Susurration at 3:53 PM on April 12, 2010

He was probably never housebroken and is used to just peeing whenever he wants. If he's been on a chain he won't have the same aversion to peeing in his own space that a normal dog would have. I'd train him to pee on command (clicker training is great for this but you can also teach him to go when you whistle, say "potty!" etc). Establish a pee place outside and take him there multiple times per day. If he pees in his crate you will probably have to tell him "No!" then take him outside to the peeing spot and wait until he goes there. It might take a while, bring a book.

Another thing he probably needs to learn is to ask to go outside. If he's older this might take a while because he's probably never thought to do it. Again you will probably have to spend some time teaching him a regular method to ask to go outside, like sitting by the door, that will always result in you letting him out. I know some people who've used bells hung on the door to make sure they pick up on the dog asking right away. A dog door might help too if that's feasible.

This must b so frustrating, kudos to you for working with him for so long on this.
posted by fshgrl at 4:15 PM on April 12, 2010

I had a retired greyhound that had a similar problem, although mostly it was limited to when we weren't home. At the foster house, she was known to be a "secret peer;" she'd sneak off to another room if you weren't paying attention and pee there. I crated her, tried different kinds of crates and bedding and everything you describe. Nothing worked. The adoption group offered to take her back but who would give up on this sweet face?

Eventually I gave up and started using a baby gate to keep her in an easily cleanable area of the house, because a quick mopping of a puddle (granted, a large puddle given her size) was easier than the loads of laundry vs. bathing entire dog dilemma, as you noted with the crate.

Funny enough, at about the 6 week mark, she suddenly figured it out. I came home from work and there was no puddle. So this is a long story to suggest that I wonder if he just needs more time to figure out the routine.

I will warn you though, my girl always had a nervous bladder and anything that disrupted the routine - changing furniture around, moving to a new apartment, even staying home from work on a non weekend day or going on vacation - meant a few days of peeing in the house until she got used to the routine again. This was the case for her entire life. Thank goodness for hardwood floors and washable doggy beds. And when she got older and sick (she died last year) it got to the point where she peed in the house every day, and we just bought lots and lots of pee pads and swiffer mop heads.

Good luck with your guy and thanks for being a foster.
posted by misskaz at 4:44 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have read that dogs who are kept caged/crated all the time as puppies (as often happens with puppy mill dogs) end up losing the aversion that most dogs have toward peeing in their crate simply because they have no other choice but to go to the bathroom in their crates. It seems plausible that your dog could have been in this type of situation during his puppyhood.

I think your best two options are to either re-potty train him using lots of verbal praise and lots of delicious treats for pottying outside, or to stop crating him. misskaz's solution for her dog -- confining the dog to an easy-to-clean room of the house -- may work out better for you; even if he continues to pee inside, at least he won't have to lay in it.
posted by kitty teeth at 6:45 PM on April 12, 2010

The recommendation for a belly band is a good one, also try feeding him exclusively in his crate, and if possible, directly off the floor of the (clean!) kennel. The aversion to soiling where he eats should be stronger than the aversion of soiling where he lies. Also check for UTIs and kidney/bladder stones.

Good luck.
posted by hindmost at 7:47 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lots of good advice here, but also consider the possibility that this isn't "peeing because I have too much urine" but "peeing because I'm panicked". Our guy had serious separation anxiety issues after having been abandoned near a shelter, and would pee copious amounts any time he was by himself.

We eventually were able to build up longer and longer time away from him without problems, but the first few weeks we had him he'd pee all over his crate (or the floor, if he was loose) from being alone as little as 15 seconds. Poor guy was terribly stressed out that we were going to leave him too.
posted by krakedhalo at 9:31 PM on April 12, 2010

Just a thought - he hasn't an infection or anything like that?
posted by DrtyBlvd at 5:26 AM on April 13, 2010

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