Front door mat - dog pee habit
January 11, 2017 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Our 7 year old female dog, has fallen into a habit of peeing on the front door mat. This used to happen in times of change – luggage appearing, parties happening, things of that nature, but is now happening with increasing frequency (couple of times a week) and without any major changes to the household that usually set her off.

It feels like minor changes or very slight variations in schedules are stressing her out. She sometimes pees when we leave for the day (our schedules have not changed) and sometimes overnight (again, no changes to her life as she’s known it the past number of years). We don’t believe there is a physical cause for this behavior – but are going to take her to the vet this weekend.

After each instance we throw out the mat, clean the floor underneath with Nature’s Miracle and buy a new mat. It’s getting expensive. The house is pretty open concept, there isn’t an easy way to block off her access to the door.

Looking for advice on how to break this cycle. Suggestions?
posted by walkinginsunshine to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you actually need a mat there? Would a mat outside suffice?

(Also, I don't see a photo of your dog. How can we adequately answer this question if we don't know how cute she is?)
posted by radioamy at 2:14 PM on January 11, 2017 [7 favorites]

Can you buy a washable mat? Use Nature's Miracle on it and then throw it in the wash?

(And yes, pics please!)
posted by smich at 2:24 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

You might ask your vet to check for a urinary tract infection--that can cause a change in peeing habits. Also, you might want to get a puppy training pad and put it in place of the mat, then move the pad gradually to a better spot, sometimes us middle-aged ladies can't hold our water as long as we used to and she may just need a spot to go when left in the house.
posted by agatha_magatha at 2:39 PM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm in the get rid of the mat school of thought. Sometimes the easiest way to break a dogs habit is cold turkey like that. Also if you are bringing in a new mat every time, that is probably enough trigger for the dog to pee on it. My dog has a terrible habit of marking, his favorite targets are anything new in the house.

If you really want a mat their I'd look into rubber mats from places like costco or Sams club they are easily rinsed in the shower or under a hose and air dry.

(waits patiently for doggy pics)
posted by wwax at 2:40 PM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

If she's having situational anxiety, she might benefit from one of the new supplements like Zylkene. You can buy it on Amazon.
posted by HotToddy at 2:57 PM on January 11, 2017

Is she crate-trained? I know some dogs dislike being in their crates at any time, but if yours is up for it, this should help solve any non-medical peeing on floors when you're away and possibly help when you're home. Is she peeing when you're watching her, or is something she's doing only when you're away and when you're near her in the house? I ask because my dog will pee/do big business inside if I leave her alone un-crated. She'll also counter-surf for food. She's such a well-behaved dog otherwise, but I think she panics when left alone and thinks she has to attend to her needs herself since I've obviously been eaten by bears and will never come back. I'm wondering if your dog is just trying to help herself by saving everyone a trip outside... If you can utilize the crate in a positive manner to help break this cycle, I'd highly recommend it — it's nice for dogs to have their own safe space that you know they aren't going to soil (except if they're sick).

I would take her out to the bathroom — supervised, if she's not normally, so you can make sure she's doing her stuff — and then put her into the crate with a high-value treat whenever you can't directly supervise her. Peanut butter is my go-to for when I leave the house so I don't have to worry about choking, along with a water-dish clipped on the crate. And, of course, making sure she has plenty of stimulation and attention at other times — overall, doing all the recommended things to reduce dog anxiety, as that's what I would assume is triggering this based on your description if it's not something medical.

My only other thought, having had a cat who peed in the same spot even when I got a new rug and used one of those enzyme-based cleaners specifically for pet urine, is that the Nature's Miracle isn't doing a good job of removing the scent attracting her to the same spot. Just in case, can you try another brand/leaving it on for longer/steam cleaning the floor? Also, agreed that you should remove the rug for now to make it less of a target for your dog.

Good luck!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:21 PM on January 11, 2017

update - we have gone a night or two without the mat. She will pee on the floor, without the mat there (not that the lack of a mat increases the frequency, it just doesn't inhibit the behavior)
posted by walkinginsunshine at 3:42 PM on January 11, 2017

Lots of good tips on crating, managing anxiety, and the possibility of a UTI. Is she spayed? Another medical possibility to check with your vet about is laxity -- sometimes older spayed female dogs experience poor bladder control as a result of missing hormones, which some vets treat with hormone replacement therapy.
posted by sutureselves at 4:18 PM on January 11, 2017

Our chihuahua will repeatedly pee on the same spot unless the smell is completely, nuke-from-orbit eradicated. This is on a hard floor (linoleum) which you'd think was completely clean. But the only way I've been able to break him of the habit was to clean the floor thoroughly, then spray and leave an enzymatic cleaner (Oxyclean pet stain and odor remover) on it. I mean I spray it on till the floor is wet and leave it, don't wipe it up. I just let it sit there and air dry.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:20 PM on January 11, 2017

My vet-in-training daughter says it's time to visit the vet. If it's nothing medical, then it's time to do some reinforcement training. Can you leash her by the door and have her sit/stay for treats? Maybe changing the association of the door=treat instead of door=wee?

But without a picture it's impossible to know.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:52 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure whether or not this is useful, but Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools recommended this, noting: "One of the weirdest benefits for us has been that in the past year our cats have not peed on them. They have peed on every other kind of rug we have ever owned, but not these."
posted by WCityMike at 9:30 AM on January 12, 2017

As far as blocking access to the area, an x-pen around the mat area would probably work.
posted by R a c h e l at 1:04 PM on January 16, 2017

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