What is this strange phenomenon?
March 5, 2011 5:33 PM   Subscribe

What is this strange phenomenon happening with ostensibly house trained dogs soiling the house? I just threw out three area rugs that my 4 yr. old Beagle has ruined by pooing and peeing on them, even to the point of blackening the hardwood floor beneath. The very FIRST thing my son's dog does when she visits is crap and pee right in front of us! No shame....

My question is threefold: I called to have my fave meditation rug cleaned professionally because I have to have at least one room to meditate in and it cannot be soiled in any way. When speaking with the professional, he said that since 2007 there has been a surge of this problem-dogs all of a sudden soiling the house. He called local veterinarians and they all said it was epidemic. Has anyone had similar problems, and if so why is it happening, are the animals sensing the volatility of the economy in their owners, is it something less obscure? Also, what can be used to get the black out of my 1947 hardwood floors? (I reluctantly gave Ginger away, could not keep up with the germs and cleaning poo while doing chemotherapy )
posted by ~Sushma~ to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
Wow, what a strange coincidence. We also have a beagle (4-6 years old) named Ginger, and she did start peeing (never #2ing) in the house randomly last Fall after living with us for almost 2 years. It happened once a week, every week, for about 2 month. Then stopped just as suddenly as it started.

We're not sure what caused it. We had her checked by the vet and all tests came back healthy. Some theories: She's a pound dog that was never really officially house trained, she was drinking too much water during the day while we were away, she was scent marking (it was always in the same place.) Maybe a combination of all those factors. I don't think in our case it had anything to do with the economy. I also can't say that it seems like an epidemic in my circles. I don't know of anyone else with a dog who has had this problem and my vet didn't mention any epidemics when we had Ginger checked out.

Sorry I don't have any advice for your hardwood floors! Ours our slightly damaged as well, but they aren't as old as yours. I imagine we'll have to replace a few boards eventually.
posted by geeky at 6:32 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

The only thing that worked to get the black stains out of our hardwood floors (damage done by the previous owners) was to strip them, sand them, and stain them again (all done by a professional).
posted by cooker girl at 6:39 PM on March 5, 2011

When speaking with the professional, he said that since 2007 there has been a surge of this problem-dogs all of a sudden soiling the house. He called local veterinarians and they all said it was epidemic.

I have worked in the veterinary field since 2005, and my wife has since 1994. Neither of us has any idea what you are talking about.

There are many possible causes, from behavioral to medical, for inappropriate urination and defecation. Stress can cause it, though perhaps it is less due to the economy and more due to the stress of having an owner who is going through some tough medical treatments.

Unfortunately, there is no way to remove the stain from hardwood short of refinishing or replacing the affected wood.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:54 PM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding Rock Steady...this is not a 'mystery epidemic' in my state. I literally just walked out of a social function stacked with veterinary and allied science people, and that kind of thing is the shop we talk off work.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 8:11 PM on March 5, 2011

2nding geeky that this may be marking behavior. My pound dog did this a couple of times though he was apparently house-trained and was given ample opportunities to take it outside.
I also once had a dog that needed a walk any time he was taken on a car ride (apparently, the vibration would knock stuff loose or something).
You might also consider the possibility that the dog is acting out; misbehaving in ways that they know are inappropriate just to let you know how pissed off they are about their situation. Consider things like scents, weird floors, or who knows what else. Dogs are creatures of habit, and anything that doesn't fit in to their paradigm really irritates them.
posted by Gilbert at 10:19 PM on March 5, 2011

Hydrogen peroxide works on many stains on hardwood floors. It won't get the worst stains out but it's cheap and worth a try. I have three dogs and have used it many times (unfortunately).

As for the soiling, I can't see how that could possibly be some kind of epidemic. Crating often helps but it sounds like it's too late for Ginger.
posted by walla at 10:19 PM on March 5, 2011

Not an expert on the floor rescue part of your question, but have found a few drops of neat citronella oil on key 'marking' spots keeps the dogs away.
posted by honey-barbara at 10:38 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I work in the veterinary field and there is no "epidemic" that I know of either. If you are not cleaning with an enzymatic cleaner, then dogs will keep soiling the rug. I also think that you may need to rework how you are managing the dog(s), since a dog with an empty bladder and bowels can't really soak a rug through - more exercise and re-housetraining seems like a good solution. Poop is not marking behavior in general, dogs mark with urine in most cases.

Dogs do not "act out" to show you they are "pissed off", although stress can precipitate behavioral problems (labeling stress-related behaviors as "acting out" is counterproductive and adds a whole layer of human motivation that doesn't really belong there).
posted by biscotti at 9:11 AM on March 6, 2011

Best answer: I suggest you do some reading on dogs. You appear (from my reading of your question) to be anthropomorphizing the dogs. These are not humans, and they experience and think of the world in completely different ways then us.

I recommend "The Other End of Leash" and " How to be Your Dogs best Friend". Another helpful book was Temple Grandin's "Animals in Translation". There are others as well, but I don't have time for an exhaustive list. Dogs do not appear to have a "theory of mind", while typical humans develop this ability after age four. The end result is while you are able to "put yourself in the mind of the dog", unfortunately the dog is not. Dogs simply respond to physical queues that include body language and positioning. Understanding a little of how they view the world will make your interaction with your dogs, and those of other dogs you meet, much smoother. Miscommunication is the single biggest issue with human/dog interactions.

Also, there is no "too late" in training for dogs. Dogs of all ages can be trained to do things with proper motivation, consistency, and patience. At the end of the day, the dogs motivation is to support the pack, and a dog will always learn and adapt to new pack rules.

As for your hardwood floors, I've found what others have found regarding stripping. However, dog defecation and pee leaves behind enzymes that act as "markers". You will need to buy some over the counter products to remove those enzymes. Cleaning products simply mask them to humans, but not to other animals. You will find other dogs always sniffing around those areas due to the smells in the wood.
posted by herda05 at 10:06 AM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You may have already tried this but... Perhaps you could say hello to your son and his dog outside the house first? If this is an issue of the dog being overexcited or nervous, perhaps that would help?
posted by maryr at 12:32 PM on March 6, 2011

Response by poster: Herda05 been looking for this type of book for a long time, thank you for your help. Thanks all for your input!
posted by ~Sushma~ at 3:18 PM on March 8, 2011

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