DEAR DIDI: I need your help. I kept two of my dog’s male puppies. They are half mini pin and Chihuahua mix. They are 2 years old and they have not been neutered. They are potty trained in the house except they continue to mark corners of beds, my couch, the pool table legs. Also in the garage they mark the tires of the car. It’s usually the same places over and over. I keep a blanket over the couch and it’s keeping them away so far. I enclosed the box mattress in a plastic allergen bag, but they still mark there. I put towels on the corners of the bed to keep the pee off the carpet. But this is daily and it’s stressing me out! Do you think neutering them now will help this stop? Or what else can I do? LC
DEAR LC: First of all, let’s be very clear. Dogs are not potty trained if they are urinating in the house. Why they urinate (failure to hold, marking, etc.) is only of consequence in how we approach fixing the issue. Please have them neutered as soon as possible. It probably will not fix your behavioral problem but it certainly will keep them from developing more hormone related attitude problems. Most importantly, it will immediately halt the 75 percent chance they have of contracting prostate cancer! Hormones may drive the desire to mark territory but it then becomes a habit and attitude about their place in the world. Now that they are two years old those behaviors have been practiced repetitiously and may be very set. Once they are neutered it will take six weeks for the hormones to completely clear out of their systems so be patient. If change is going to happen, it will take a couple of months.
Until then, I would suggest going to a pet supply store and purchasing a male wrap. This is basically a diaper designed for the unique physiology of a boy dog. It will not stop him from lifting his leg, but it certainly stops urine from destroying your possessions and comfort where you live. You may want to purchase four of them in the appropriate size so that two can be in the laundry while two are being worn.
Next, let’s control their access to water. If they are living indoors with air conditioning and not participating in heavy physical exercise, there is no reason to leave the water bowl down 24/7. Dogs will frequently visit the water bowl randomly and out of pure boredom, constantly filling their bladders. Instead offer water at specific times when you know you will be ready and able to take them outside for a bathroom break 30-60 minutes after water. Knowing when a dog has drank and how much they drank, goes a long ways towards knowing when they need to pee and controlling where they do it.
All of this said, Chihuahuas and Miniature Pinschers can be very difficult to potty train and sometimes impossible. Occasionally, toy breeds are born without the ability to hold their bladders. Since you are describing deliberate “marking” type issues though, and not random accidents, this is probably not the case for your situation. Typically, marking will be on corners of things and the urine will be somewhat on vertical surfaces and not just laying on the ground, unless your dog is a female. Yes, some females engage in marking behaviors.
The last thing you need to do is thoroughly clean and sanitize the marked areas. The hormones in their urine will constantly encourage them to continue. Nature’s Miracle in the red bottle has been my go-to cleaner because it is formulated with an enzyme to break down the hormones that can be soaked through the padding of carpets. Use it copiously and let it sit for hours before performing a wash/rinse with a carpet cleaner or Spot Bot. Make sure it dries thoroughly before allowing the dogs around it. Months of activity in an area may require a couple of treatments. I’ve never found baking sodas or other home remedies to be effective. Stay positive, proactive and stick to the plan and things should improve for you and your dogs!
Dierdra McElroy is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is an Animal Behaviorist specializing in canines. If you have questions or concerns about the pets in your house, you can get them answered through a future column of Didi’s Dogs. Email your questions or inquire about dog behavior presentations at email@example.com.