When you bring your new dog home, teaching him to do his business outside is priority one -- until you find your pup peeing on the wrong things in your yard. According to the ASPCA, urinating on inappropriate items can be triggered by many things, from the smell of other dogs to anxiety or detecting a female in heat. Designate where your dog can and can't do his business -- the sooner you start, the more ingrained good bathroom habits will become.
Ideally, it's a good idea to condition your dog to a certain part of your yard that's designated for urination as soon you start to housebreak him. Soon, the area will smell like him and he'll know it's his place to go. Keep in mind that dog urine can damage or kill grass, flowers, shrubs, bushes and even trees. Unlike female dogs that deposit urine in a single concentrated spot, male dogs spray when they pee, spreading their urine in a wide arc. Give him something vertical to aim for, like a post, a tree trunk or even statuary you don’t mind getting wet.
Male dogs are marking their territory as they urinate. They may spray over another dog’s scent, hit every tree in your yard as a way to establish a territory perimeter or urinate on new things to establish them as “theirs.” Consider using anti-marking sprays available at retail pet centers, or use a harmless aversion technique, like throwing a plastic bottle with coins in your dog’s direction when he begins to mark an inappropriate item.
Protect no-go zones in your yard with physical barriers. For example, if your dog always lifts a leg on your favorite rose bushes, put a fence around the bushes or surround them with upside-down plastic floor runners that will feel uncomfortable to walk on. Consider placing treats in off-limit bathroom areas so your pup will start to associate them as feeding rather than elimination spots. Don’t yell at or hit your dog as a form of reprimand -- it will only lead to mistrust.
Provide positive reinforcement every time your dog urinates where he's supposed to. This will establish a good routine and a good set of outdoor bathroom habits. Use a leash and monitor where your dog is peeing. If he starts to lift his leg on something inappropriate, stop him by redirecting him to a more desirable elimination spot. If he does pee on something he shouldn't, clean it thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser to remove all traces of his scent and discourage against remarking.
If you’re not planning to use your dog for stud services, consider having him neutered as soon as your vet says he’s old enough for the procedure. Neutering your dog will not only help reduce territory marketing, it can also prevent other behavioral issues, like roaming in search of female dogs in heat.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.