Sunday, February 10, 2013


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye enjoyed a really nice birthday dinner on Saturday with a couple of good friends...the celebration was actually for both Desperado and the lady of the couple since they share the same birthday.  It was a great start for Desperado's next year!

Then, of course, we've got Valentine's Day creeping up on us this week.  Helpful Buckeye will have a few culinary surprises ready for our dinner that evening....

We're both getting itchy to get back outside and do some hikes we weren't able to do last year due to Desperado's problematic joints.  After therapy and some medications, she's ready to go again.  We both subscribe to the theory of one of history's greatest scientists: "An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion." – Sir Isaac Newton...given a choice, we always prefer staying in motion.

Helpful Buckeye appreciates all the e-mails received about last week's topic of housetraining for puppies.  Many of you found it helpful for puppies that showed up at Christmas time and others said they would be saving the information for upcoming puppies. On a related topic, Helpful Buckeye presents this week some advice on doing the housetraining again, but this time on adult and senior dogs.

Housetraining Adult and Senior Dogs

Any dog, even a fully housetrained adult dog, may have house-soiling accidents when he first moves to your home. The stress of new surroundings and a new schedule can disrupt his routine. Usually, once he gets accustomed to your household schedule, the accidents stop.
It's also possible he's never been housetrained. Give him a few weeks to settle in to his new home and follow the procedures for housetraining puppies.
Here are some reasons why adult and senior dogs might have accidents in the house:
Senior dogs
As your dog ages, he may need to eliminate more often than in the past. Just as people can have difficulties as they age, so can dogs. They may not be able to "hold it" as long as they used to. They also may become incontinent. This is not a housetraining issue.

 If your senior dog has accidents frequently, your vet should examine him for possible medical problems. If the vet says it's not a medical issue, you will have to manage the situation instead of trying to housetrain the dog.

If you are at work all day, you may need to:
Hire a pet sitter to visit your dog to let him outside.
Confine him to a room of the house where accidents will be easy to clean up.
Try sanitary products on your dog, such as doggie diapers. They fit like little pants and hold a disposable absorbent pad to catch the urine. These work best on female dogs. Belly bands—fabric bands that wrap around the dog's waist and contain an absorbent pad—are available for male dogs. They're available at most pet stores and online.
Small dogs

Because of their short legs and small size, you may need to make some special accommodations for your small dog:
Provide a sheltered spot near the house or under a porch or deck for your dog to eliminate in bad weather.
Provide a bathroom spot covered with mulch or gravel so your little dog won't have tall and/or wet grass pressing against his tummy when he eliminates.
Clear a path or other area for your dog to eliminate when it snows.
Follow our basic housetraining procedures to housetrain your dog.
Other types of house-soiling problems

If you've consistently followed the housetraining procedures and your dog continues to eliminate in the house, there may be another reason for his behavior, such as:
Medical problems: House-soiling can often be caused by physical problems such as a urinary tract infection, a parasite infection, or even a seizure. Check with your veterinarian to rule out any possibility of disease or illness.
Submissive or excitement urination: Some dogs, especially young ones, temporarily lose control of their bladders when they become excited or feel threatened. Submissive or excitement urination usually occurs during greetings or periods of intense play, or when they're about to be punished.
Prevent submissive urination-

Submissive Urination

In a pack, dogs have many ways to show the leader that they accept his role as top dog and thus avoid a confrontation. One way is to roll on their backs and urinate on themselves.
Submissive urination is common and normal in puppies, who will usually outgrow the behavior. But some puppies remain timid into adulthood, and submissive urination can become a problem in the home.

Signs of submissive urination are when he urinates:
  • When he's being scolded.
  • When a person approaches him.
  • When he's being greeted.
  • When there's a disturbance such as a loud argument or sirens blaring.
  • While making submissive postures, such as crouching, tail tucking, or rolling over and exposing his belly.
If your dog urinates when he's playing or being greeted but doesn’t exhibit submissive postures, he has a different problem: excitement urination (discussed below).

Why does my dog do this?

Dogs who urinate in submission are usually shy, anxious, or timid and may have a history of being treated harshly or punished inappropriately. A dog who's unclear of the rules and unsure how to behave will be chronically insecure. He urinates and adopts submissive postures to mollify anyone he perceives as a "leader" and to avoid punishment.


First, take your dog to your veterinarian to rule out any medical reasons for the behavior.
Then, start building up his confidence with these steps:
  • Teach him commands using positive reinforcement training methods.
  • Keep his routine and environment as consistent as possible.
  • Gradually expose him to new people and new situations and try to ensure that his new experiences are positive and happy.
  • Keep greetings low-key (no bear hugs or loud voices, which your dog may perceive as acts of dominance).
  • Encourage and reward confident postures such as sitting or standing.
  • Give him an alternative to submissive behaviors. For example, have him "sit" or "shake" as you approach, and reward him for obeying.
  • Avoid approaching him with postures that he may interpret as dominant or confrontational. Avoid direct eye contact; look at his back or tail instead. Get down on his level by bending at the knees rather than leaning over from the waist. Ask others to approach him in the same way. Pet him under the chin rather than the top of his head. Approach him from the side, rather than head on, and/or present the side of your body to him.
  • Eliminate odors wherever your dog submissively urinates especially if he isn't completely housetrained.
  • Don't punish or scold him for submissive urination. This will only make the problem worse.
  • If your dog is extremely fearful, ask your vet about medications that may help during the retraining process.
Above all, be patient. It will take time for your dog to gain confidence, but with you leading the way, he can overcome his fears and blossom into a happy, secure dog.  

Prevent excitement urination-

Excitement Urination

Excitement urination occurs most often during greetings and playtime and isn't accompanied by submissive postures as in submissive urination.

Excitement urination is common in young dogs and puppies who don't yet have complete control over their bladders. It usually resolves on its own as a dog matures. In some cases, however, the problem can persist if the dog is frequently punished or if the dog's behavior is inadvertently reinforced—such as by petting or talking to your dog in a soothing or coddling tone of voice after he urinates when excited.

Signs of excitement urination
  • He urinates when excited, such as during greetings or playtime.
  • He urinates when excited and is less than 1 year old.
  • Take your dog to the veterinarian to rule out medical reasons for the behavior.
  • To avoid accidents, play outdoors until the problem is resolved.
  • Take frequent walks to make sure your dog's bladder stays as empty as possible.
  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of vigorous exercise.
  • Don't punish or scold him for urinating when he's excited.
  • Keep greetings low-key. No high-pitched baby talk, hand-clapping, hugging, or rough-housing.
  • When he's excited, ignore him until he's calm.
Territorial urine marking: Dogs sometimes deposit small amounts of urine or feces to scent-mark their territory. Both male and female dogs do this, and it most often occurs when they believe their territory has been invaded.

Urine-marking Behaviors
You mark your stuff by putting your name on it; your dog marks his with urine. We've covered why dogs mark their territory, now here's how to prevent urine-marking behaviors before they happen in your house.
Before doing anything else, take your dog to the veterinarian to rule out any medical causes for the urine-marking behavior. If he gets a clean bill of health, use the following tips to make sure he doesn't start marking his territory.

Spay (or neuter) first

Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. The longer a dog goes before neutering, the more difficult it will be to train him not to mark in the house. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.

But if he has been marking for a long time, a pattern may already be established. Because it has become a learned behavior, spaying or neutering alone won't solve the problem. Use techniques for housetraining an adult dog to modify your dog's marking behavior.

More tips
  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly with a cleaner specifically designed to eliminate urine odor.
  • Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive. If this isn't possible, try to change the significance of those areas to your pet. Feed, treat, and play with your pet in the areas where he marks.
  • Keep objects likely to cause marking out of reach. Items such as guests' belongings and new purchases should be placed in a closet or cabinet.
  • Resolve conflicts between animals in your home.
  • Restrict your dog's access to doors and windows so he can't observe animals outside. If this isn't possible, discourage the presence of other animals near your house.
  • Make friends. If your pet is marking in response to a new resident in your home (such as a roommate or spouse), have the new resident make friends with your pet by feeding, grooming, and playing with your pet. If you have a new baby, make sure good things happen to your pet when the baby is around.
  • Watch your dog when he is indoors for signs that he is thinking about urinating. When he begins to urinate, interrupt him with a loud noise and take him outside. If he urinates outside, praise him and give him a treat.
  • When you're unable to watch him, confine your dog (a crate or small room where he has never marked) or tether him to you with a leash.
  • Have your dog obey at least one command (such as "sit") before you give him dinner, put on his leash to go for a walk, or throw him a toy.
  • If your dog is marking out of anxiety, talk to your vet about medicating him with a short course of anti-anxiety medication. This will calm him down and make behavior modification more effective.
  • Consult an animal behaviorist for help with resolving the marking issues.

What NOT to do

Don't punish your pet after the fact. Punishment administered even a minute after the event is ineffective because your pet won't understand why he is being punished.

If you come home and find that your dog has urinated on all kinds of things, just clean up the mess. Don't take him over to the spots and yell and rub his nose in them. He won't associate the punishment with something he may have done hours ago, leading to confusion and possibly fear.  

Separation anxiety: Dogs who become anxious when they're left alone may house-soil as a result. Usually, there are other symptoms as well, such as destructive behavior or vocalization. Learn more about separation anxiety by going to our earlier presentations, which can be found in the "Labels" column to the left. 
Fears or phobias: When animals become frightened, they may lose control of their bladder and/or bowels. If your puppy is afraid of loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks, he may house soil when he's exposed to these sounds.
Adapted from:

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

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