When your carpet is decorated with flashy, yellow polka-dot stains, you don't need to scratch your head to figure out who was the remodeling artist. Scruffy may not have met or exceeded your expectations in the home improvement department, but he sure found a way to grab your attention. You are not alone. Urinating on the floor is a common behavioral problem that can turn out pretty costly, but fortunately there are solutions.
Pit Stop by the Vet
Before assuming your dog is peeing out of spite, stop by your vet to ensure that all the inner mechanics are in proper functioning order and there's no faulty valves. Inappropriate urination may stem from a medical problem, and possible causes may range from a urinary infection to bladder stones, prostate problems, and in some cases, even serious kidney disorders and diabetes. While you're at it, it's not a bad idea to get those fluids checked out, too, by collecting a fresh urine sample and bringing it along for the trip.
I Smell New People
If your vet gives you the all clear, your next step is figuring out what may trigger the urination. Some dogs don't do too well with changes. So if Scruffy is urinating after a recent move, the addition of a new baby or right when you have Uncle Brad and Aunt Molly over, he may be urinating in hopes of making things smell "familiar again." If your dog marks the same area over and over, try cleaning it first with a good enzyme cleaner and then placing treats in that area so he will regard it as a food source area rather than a marking spot, suggests the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Dogs are social, gregarious beings who thrive when around their family. If you find a puddle of urine upon coming home, there are two possible causes: Your dog was left alone for too long and couldn't hold it anymore, or he may be suffering from separation anxiety. To reduce this form of anxiety, you may find it helpful exercising your dog before leaving him alone, providing food-dispensing toys upon leaving the house and teaching your dog that just because you grabbed your keys or put on your coat doesn't mean you are leaving.
The Scent of Love
If you own an intact female dog in heat, she may be urinating on the floor to simply spread the voice about her sexual availability. If, on the other paw, you own an intact male dog, he may be urine marking because he smells that female French poodle in heat across the road. Spaying and neutering may reduce this form of urination. Statistically, by neutering your male, you can reduce urine marking by 60 percent, according to veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman.
The Big Boss
Observing your dog's behavior and the exact circumstance when the urination takes place will provide clues about the underlying cause. If your dog urinates on the floor when you greet him upon coming home, you may be dealing with excitement urination. Try to keep your greetings low key next time. If your dog urinates when you raise your voice, loom over him or make eye contact, Scruffy may be simply urinating as a sign of respect to your authority. Try changing the way you interact with your pooch and investing in a less intimidating approach while working on building his confidence.
While it's true that aging is not considered a disease, it's also true that many diseases may affect old dogs. If your dog is in his golden years and he has started urinating on the floor, discuss with your vet the chances of it being caused by canine cognitive dysfunction. Also known as the canine version of Alzheimer's disease, affected senior canines can be helped through medication, dietary changes and environmental enrichment.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Urine Marking in Dogs
- Pet Place: Urine Marking
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Top Tips for Overcoming Separation Anxiety
- Veterinary Partner: Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
- Pet MD: Fixing Submissive/Excitement Urination in Dogs
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.