When do you know if it is an accident or an emotional expression?
September 11, 2012 4:44 PM   Subscribe

My dog peed in the house today. Do I need to start over with him?

Ian, my 3 year old male Bernese Mountain Dog peed in the house today while we were gone. We've had him almost 2 years now. He's neutered, house trained and familiar with our routine. He was in the house from 8am until about 3:30 pm.

This is the first day in his life that he's been without another dog. Could that have caused him to do this? We had to put our other Berner to sleep over the weekend. Prior to that, I'd spent a week working from home to tend to Ian as he recovered from a massive GI infection and near heart attack over Labor Day weekend. I absolutely had to be at the office all day today.

Ian's been under close observation with the vet since his illness and will get one more follow up visit on Friday. I really don't think this accident was due to his illness or his meds. He was weaned off the last meds today and was not on any steroids.

Am I over thinking this? Sorry, it has been a bit of a stressful two weeks in the dog department.
posted by onhazier to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Forgot to mention: He's under vet's orders for no walks until his visit on Friday when they do another EKG to make sure his heart really is stable.
posted by onhazier at 4:46 PM on September 11, 2012

In the last third of my dog's life when she had some scattered health events, and then more as she aged, it wasn't unusual for her to have a random break in her housetraining unrelated to much more than an upset in routine and stress. I never "started over" I would just spend the next 2 or 3 days handling it a bit like she was a puppy--going out with her every time she ate and at more regular intervals without her "asking" to go--and this was more than enough of a refresher.
posted by rumposinc at 4:50 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds just as stressful for Ian as it does for you, from no walks to an infection to losing his friend. I wouldn't take this as a reason to be alarmed, not yet.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:58 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is the first day in his life that he's been without another dog. Could that have caused him to do this?

Yes. Dogs are social animals. He has no idea why your other dog is suddenly gone. That's stressful.

Whether it is an accident or emotional, the nice thing is that more attention and structure usually helps.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:58 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is the first day in his life that he's been without another dog. Could that have caused him to do this? We had to put our other Berner to sleep over the weekend.

Yes it could. Your dog is dealing with a number of major stressors. My dog, who is also house trained but has an abusive past and is "high needs", will pee in the house when dealing with stress.

I would take rumposinc's advice above to nip this in the bud - what you want to avoid at this juncture is the dog forming the habit of peeing in the house. Can you walk him more frequently including coming home at lunch?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:03 PM on September 11, 2012

The dog sounds stressed. I wouldn't worry about it, although I would consider keeping the dog someplace like the kitchen during the day where he can't do too much damage.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:15 PM on September 11, 2012

Under the same circumstances, I'd pee in the house. Give him lots of love. Ian doesn't know what's going on exactly, but he knows it's not okay. He needs a lot of reassurance. So do you. You're doing fine. Really. So is Ian.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by WyoWhy at 5:19 PM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yes, the fact that the other dog is gone is a HUGE stress factor for this one. Dogs are very sensitive to loss and you should keep an eye on him (sad)
posted by pakora1 at 5:23 PM on September 11, 2012

Thank you all for the reassurances. He's at my feet getting rubbed as I type this. I'll make sure I step out with him several times more each day than he's used to. On Friday, we can reintroduce walks if the vet gives him the all clear as expected.

As for today being his first day without a companion dog, I should have added "and without us." Bear passed on Saturday and we've been with Ian continuously until today.
posted by onhazier at 5:31 PM on September 11, 2012

He's sick and stressed and you've been there to take him out more often than every 8 hours for a week. His bladder wasn't up to a full day today. If he doesn't improve in a couple of days, see the vet in case it's an infection.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:43 PM on September 11, 2012

7.5 hours is a long time without a wee. This is why your workplace provides a bathroom.
posted by maryr at 8:34 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just chiming in to agree that when my dog went through a stressful period a few years back, the housetraining went all to hell, but resolved on its own as the stress subsided.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:40 PM on September 11, 2012

I've got a friend coming over for the rest of the week to let him out in the middle of the day.

I hear what you're saying maryr. However, Ian typically goes from 10pm until at least 7am every night without peeing in the house. I also work from home one or two days a week. During that time, I'll let him out mid day and he just stands at the door waiting to come in. He doesn't go and seems a bit bemused that I've interrupted his nap at my feet to let him out.
posted by onhazier at 6:28 AM on September 12, 2012

Another thing to note: Dogs pee to relieve themselves, but the also pee for other reasons. They are instinctively pack animals and they pee to mark or claim territory. It's all about smells. They have incredibly sensitive noses and live in a world of smells.

For your dog, peeing is not just "boy I gotta go"... but can also be "I need to make a mark here. Let everyone know this place is mine. Maybe cancel out someone else's pee spot."

So, it's not surprising at all that in the absence of the other dog (ie. member of family 'pack'), that he felt a need to mark some space. May have been claiming it as his own, may have been wondering where his pee buddy was... whatever reason, we could never really know.

Oh... and I don't know anyone who has a dog that doesn't pee in the house once and a while. Especially if alone all day. If his normal routine is kind of shaken up with the other dog gone, he could easily have slipped into a different pattern. I wouldn't worry about it until it becomes an ongoing problem.

Sorry for your loss, and glad you have a swell pup to console you.
posted by ecorrocio at 8:02 AM on September 12, 2012

Oh, and... if he's been ill, even if he seems fine now... could be a big contributing factor.
posted by ecorrocio at 8:03 AM on September 12, 2012

Agreeing with everyone else that it was almost certainly caused by a combination of all the stressors you listed.

No need to start all over again, but do go back a stage in training, as though he understands the concept of housebreaking but hasn't quite made it a habit yet. He'll probably get back into the routine soon enough. This may have been just a one-time thing.
posted by Urban Winter at 10:25 AM on September 12, 2012

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