There are two general acts dogs commit that are deal-breakers for many households. The first is biting people, especially if there are young children in the house. The other is an act that requires clean-up. In some cases, this is destructiveness, in others it’s urinating or defecating or marking in the house.
If a dog is peeing in the house, it might be a medical issue, such as a urinary tract infection. In other cases it’s a housetraining issue. In yet other cases, it’s a marking behavior. While I consider a marking issue to be a housetraining issue in part, there is another level of complexity to it that often needs to be addressed.
Marking in the house is often considered a sign of “dominance” – a dog who is saying “this is mine.” Though it often is confident dogs who are marking, I have also seen cases where it appears to be more an issue of insecurity than confidence. Not so much the “alpha” dogs as the “wanna-be-alpha” dogs.
In one such case, there were two dogs in the household. After some sleuthing on our part, we determined that BOTH dogs were actually participating in the urinating on furniture. In the case of the newest dog to the household, the issue was really one of a lack of housetraining. However, the resident dog, who’d been there longer, was clearly marking in the house. When the newer dog would pee, the older dog would pee over the top of it.
In this particular case, we started over with Housetraining 101 for both dogs. More regular trips outside, closer supervision, and a lot less freedom in the house. In addition, though, we added some other steps, especially for the dog who was marking in the house. In his case, he needed to understand this was not his house and not his furniture to mark. We set up some new rules and “jobs” for him to do. We started having him earn the valuables in his household, such as meals, treats, walks, etc. Anything of importance to him, we started to give him simple jobs to do. We also put both dogs under closer supervision, so if the new dog did something, we helped the older dog understand that it was not his job to correct him, show him he was in charge, or in any way order around the new dog.
With some stronger management, closer supervision, and new rules in place, the housetraining and the marking in the house were entirely eliminated within a few weeks. The entire household was more relaxed, less stressed and much happier!