Tuesday, April 6, 2010

13. 8-year-old male dog urine-marks indoors and outdoors. Is there a solution?

Subject: Serious Urine-marking Indoors


I was referred by a friend to seek your advise regarding my maltese's serious urine-marking habits.

I'm not sure if it can still be corrected now as he is already 8 yrs old now but still quite active. These are the different scenarios:

1) In the daytime while me and my hubby are working, we kept him in the kitchen with the kitchen door closed and the toilet fenced up. We confine him to the kitchen because he tends to lift his legs everywhere on the furniture if we were to allow him to freely roam in the house. Sometimes, he also sits on the wet floor in the kitchen toilet so we had to fenced the toilet also. He usually pees on newspaper on the pee tray. However, he still marks the kitchen walls, fridges and cabinets.

2) If we are at home, he is free to roam in the house. He usually will go to the pee tray in the kitchen to pee and does his business. But again, he also leaves marks everywhere in the kitchen.

3) At night. This is where there is a major problem. He sleeps with us in the bedroom. We fenced up the bedroom door and puts a pee tray in the bedroom. He does pees in the pee tray but at the same time he marks every where in the bedroom, against the dustbin, bed legs, walls etc. We tried having a small light, it doesn't help. We've tried the commercial products as well, doesn't work.

4) When we bring him out for walks, he marks every single pole and trees he pass. After a while, he has no urine already but still he will lift his leg on every pole n tree.

You can see that my dog has a serious urine-marking problem and we have lived with it for so long. We have given up actually. I am writing to you not in the hope of correcting it totally but maybe you have advise for me to improve the situation. If I have no intention of neutering him, is there still other solutions to this problem?

Name of Owner



Thank you for your email. I am Dr Sing from Toa Payoh Vets. Below are my comments and suggestions which may or may not be useful .

1. Neutering at this age may not be 100% effective although the urge to urine-mark may be reduced over time.

2. Neutralise all urine smells in the vertical surfaces and urine-marked areas with white vinegar:water at 1 part to 3 parts, using a rag to wash out the urine smells. This may prove impossible house is full of urine smell.

Start your trainingt in a small area. For example, do try with one room over several months by setting up this room as a "restricted zones (RZ)". For example, use the guest bedroom as a RZ. The room is closed when you are not able to monitor your dog.

3. In the RZ, you can use a mixture of Positive reinforcement training using food treat rewards and praises and Negative reinforcement training using loud and firm scoldings and a spanking on the floor with the newspapers just when your dog starts to urine-mark. Which approach you use or a mixture of both, depends on your personality and that of the dog.

4. Noise Distraction method. When the dog starts to urine-mark, distract him by dropping a can of coins. Give him food treats and praises.

5. Time-out method. When you catch your dog about to urine-mark, say "no marking" and put him inside a confined room for 10-15 minutes, for example. He may associate this punishment with urine-marking and may try to change.

6. Take him outdoors at fixed times e.g. morning and evening so that he urine-marks only downstairs.

7. In your bedroom, he is confined to a crate at night so that he does not urine-mark. This may sound cruel to you.

8. All the re-training takes lots of time and patience. If you have the time, the old dog will learn new tricks in 6 months. Success is not guaranteed.

9. You still need to neuter him as well as do re-training for the next 6 months, if you want some success.

I hope the above helps.

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