Maybe dogs are just weird?
February 21, 2018 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Dogsitting a family dog who sometimes pees in her cage, seemingly in fit of pique. Or is it something to be concerned about?

Said dog woke me by barking in the night, single barks of the sort that are for getting attention. She'd been for a long walk at 8:30 and usually is fine going extended periods overnight without needing to go out. When I got to the room with her cage she pawed at the door, so I let her out. She sniffed the food bowl, wandered into the hall, but did not seem to be asking to go out. When I told her to "go home" she readily got back in her cage. But then she pawed vigorously at the towels she sleeps on in a way that seemed familiar. [Warning, slight grossness ahead]. Sure enough, she then peed on a towel, and seemed to be trying to lick at that spot on the towel afterward, so I removed it. She then went back to sleep and seemed fine, including on her morning walk.

I've seen her do something similar during the day when she'd been out recently. This doesn't match my experience with other older dogs getting UTIs, but should I be concerned? Are dogs just weird? Or does she need to go to the vet soon? I know she's done this before, but I don't know if they've asked the vet about it.
posted by ldthomps to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
The most obvious thing to rule out is the dog needing to pee and peeing in her crate because you didn't take her out when she woke you up. Have you tried doing her last walk a little later at night? 8:30 is a little early for a final pee before morning.
posted by cakelite at 10:37 AM on February 21, 2018 [9 favorites]

Even if 8:30 is their normal time to go, in my experience, dogs being cared for by someone other than their regular people can get distracted/anxious/weird about going when they are supposed to go, and subsequently need to go at odd times. Sometimes I will take them out, hang out with them inside for a few minutes, and then take them right out again. This seems to "remind" them that they do actually need to go a bit more and cuts down on peeing in the crate.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:45 AM on February 21, 2018 [4 favorites]

Peeing is not an uncommon way for dogs to express separation anxiety. Do you have anything that smells like the owners that she can sleep with? We'd leave smelly socks or shirts with ours when traveling, which seemed to help a little with the fear of having lost the pack.
posted by Candleman at 10:49 AM on February 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't think there's anything medically wrong with the dog. When the dog woke you up in the middle of the night, she knew she needed something. At that point, you should have taken her to the door and checked her interest level, or even made her go out regardless. She didn't wake up for no reason.

The licking thing, maybe she didn't want to sleep on a wet towel and was trying to clean it?

Or maybe she's thirsty - please make sure she's got enough *fresh* water, too.

Yes, let her go outside once more after 8:30pm. She's not in her routine because her people aren't around.
posted by hydra77 at 10:58 AM on February 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

I agree with others--she's out of her routine and needs more chances to pee. Now that you know this is a thing that can happen, you'll know what to do if she wakes up in the night again. Make sure you wipe her crate out with vinegar to get rid of any pee smell so she's not tempted to go in there by the smell. Keep an eye on her to make sure she's not straining when she goes, or going too frequently. If she does, then she should see the vet.
posted by HotToddy at 11:20 AM on February 21, 2018

My guess is she either just randomly needed to go, or she's confused/stressed. I'd keep an eye on how much she's going and if she's straining or there's blood in the urine or the color is off (those being signs that she needs to go to the vet).
posted by radioamy at 12:04 PM on February 21, 2018

She should be fine unless you notice blood in her urine. When I dogsit, I usually take them out on the following schedule: first thing when dog wakes up (or if I wake up first), midday if I'm around (this is the only skippable one), then late afternoon around 5, then after dinner around 8, and again right before bed around 10/11. It might seem excessive, but all the dogs I've watched tended to pee/poop every single time we went out.
posted by astapasta24 at 12:22 PM on February 21, 2018

Just because she can hold it long periods of time doesn't mean she should be because that's how accidents happen, when they just can't hold it anymore. She should be going out 4 times a day to pee minimum, find out the schedule her owners kept & follow that for best results. Her stress implies to me that it wasn't in a fit of pique but that she was desperate to go and she didn't understand your signals & you didn't understand hers, this was simply a communication problem. When in doubt with a dog take 'em out for a pee walk.

The licking thing was to remove the scent so either she wouldn't get into trouble or to hide it from predators. If she was doing it in a fit of pique she wouldn't have tried to hide it, she was trying to be a good girl.
posted by wwax at 12:37 PM on February 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

There is also a syndrome where middle-aged spayed bitches (particularly larger breeds) begin to lose control of their bladder sphincters in their sleep. My dog has this problem, and until I figured out the problem, she was peeing in the house regularly, even when she'd been walked quite recently.

So keep that in mind as a possibility. The solution is to put the dog on hormones.

Additionally, dogs get urinary tract infections like people do, and that can result in incontinence.

So I suggest you talk to your vet.
posted by suelac at 2:19 PM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

We had a deeply stupid dog whose go-to response to anything out of the ordinary was to pee.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:13 PM on February 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

I took her for a third slightly later walk last night as a precaution (also because she hadn't pooped, and didn't till this morning) and she was fine in her crate until later in the morning per usual. At home she frequently? usually? gets two walks a day, so I'll chalk it up this time to her having had an unusual need to pee in the night and my not having understood that. Other dogs I've known with age-related UTIs leak a little, or lick a lot, or have a hard time holding it for even a couple of hours, and she's not like that at all.

I'll be curious to ask her owners if the other times they've noticed her doing it have sometimes been soon after a walk, because it's such a specific behavior (one I've seen her do at home, too). She doesn't pee much, and when she does it she rearranges the towels with both front paws very forcefully, flipping herself back and forth in an agitated way. It's very different from other times when she rearranges her towels with alternate paws and doesn't pee on them. And now that I know what it is, maybe if I see her start I can scoop her up and take her out before she gets to peeing. But she slept well on freshly cleaned towels, and gets to go home tomorrow, so all's well for now.

Oh, and cuteness tax.
posted by ldthomps at 9:49 AM on February 22, 2018

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