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Male rescue marking in my basement!


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Hello everyone, for those of you who have helped me before- thank you & I'm back again for more advice!

To bring my story up to speed, I adopted a ~6yo male BC named Rooster a little over 3 months ago. My husband and I found him alone out in the desert, and we learned he used to be a stock dog and has had several owners (a bit of a story there). It's been a heck of a 3 months, but we've made such amazing progress that I can't complain. 

When we first brought him home, he had several accidents in our basement. This wasn't surprising, as I'm pretty sure he had not lived in a house prior to us.

Our roommate lives in our basement, and there is a small living room there as well, but for the most part, my partner and I inhabit the top floor, and so does Rooster. Last week I noticed a stench walking past some books we had on the floor (we just moved.. ) and realized Rooster has marked this spot several times, and a plant as well. [We had him neutered about 2 months ago, and the marking outside has declined, but I think he spent his whole life peeing on anything he wanted.] This hasn't occurred upstairs. Ive ordered some enzyme solution to clean it up and I will be storing the books in a closet until I can get a shelf.

We have a 6yo male Shepherd, and they get along very well. I'm sure theres doggy drama and jealousy I'm unaware of, but nothing to note in regards to aggression/ overly dominant behaviors. 

Could "not being fully house-trained" and "marking" be analogous in this case? It's hard to tell if he's just straight up relieving himself in our basement, or if he's sneaking down there to mark things because of our other dog or various other reasons. But either way, I recognize he hasn't put it together that peeing inside is a hard no.  

I'd love some tips on how to teach an adult to stop marking/learn that bathroom outside is the only option. I couldn't think of much, besides intentionally taking him into our backyard on a leash throughout the day and telling him to "go potty" and then praising him/giving a treat when he goes outside?

Side notes:

He's on a regular schedule of feeding, mental stimulation and exercise, with frequent opportunities throughout the day to use the bathroom

I've considered a crate, but we found out he had a history of kenneling for long periods of time- his teeth are in poor shape from gnawing on bars, and we removed 5 cracked/rotting teeth...so, you get the picture. 

 

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He may NOT be marking (or he may be), but for any dog (whether they are mine or I am fostering), if they seem fairly house-trained and suddenly start peeing in the house, I immediately bring them to the vet to check for a UTI. Do not wait. UTIs can be very painful, and of course, you don't want to be cleaning up more than you have to. Dogs with UTIs will pee much more frequently than normal.

Once a UTI has been ruled out, I would keep him tethered to me inside so I am aware of his 'signals' that he needs to pee. Then run him outside and praise for peeing. So yes, keep him on a leash inside and outside. Continue with your normal routine, but tethering allows you to be aware of his signals and patterns and perhaps you may have to adjust YOUR schedule to more closely match HIS schedule.

Some dogs are so crafty. They are with you, and then they are gone for a couple of seconds, and then back. You don't realize until later that they have snuck away to pee.

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Was the house lived in before you moved in? If so, there could be urine smell from previous 4 legged occupants. Do check check for a UTI as gcv recommended. Also see if a local pet store has a black light you can 'borrow' (sometimes for a fee) to check and see if there are urine deposits elsewhere in  your home.

If it's brand new housing, never lived in, then proceed with the advice above.

Ruth & Gibbs

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49 minutes ago, gcv-border said:

He may NOT be marking (or he may be), but for any dog (whether they are mine or I am fostering), if they seem fairly house-trained and suddenly start peeing in the house, I immediately bring them to the vet to check for a UTI. Do not wait. UTIs can be very painful, and of course, you don't want to be cleaning up more than you have to. Dogs with UTIs will pee much more frequently than normal.

Once a UTI has been ruled out, I would keep him tethered to me inside so I am aware of his 'signals' that he needs to pee. Then run him outside and praise for peeing. So yes, keep him on a leash inside and outside. Continue with your normal routine, but tethering allows you to be aware of his signals and patterns and perhaps you may have to adjust YOUR schedule to more closely match HIS schedule.

Some dogs are so crafty. They are with you, and then they are gone for a couple of seconds, and then back. You don't realize until later that they have snuck away to pee.

It's possible he's marked down there every once in a while this whole time, but I didn't notice (as bad as that is to say :/). But I will get him checked for a UTI. Based on his past, it seems more likely that he hasn't connected the dots about my expectations, which is my fault. 

The tethering seems like a good idea. He is SO stealthy! He's also just somewhat of a weirdo in our house still, its only been three months, lol. I like the idea of figuring out his patterns for bathroom time though. With some things, it's so plainly obvious to me what he wants/ doesn't want. But now that I'm thinking about it, I don't think I've learned his signals yet for needing to go to the bathroom. Thanks!

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22 minutes ago, urge to herd said:

Was the house lived in before you moved in? If so, there could be urine smell from previous 4 legged occupants. Do check check for a UTI as gcv recommended. Also see if a local pet store has a black light you can 'borrow' (sometimes for a fee) to check and see if there are urine deposits elsewhere in  your home.

If it's brand new housing, never lived in, then proceed with the advice above.

Ruth & Gibbs

Good point! It was, the previous owners had a shepherd, and we cleaned the carpets very well but I'm sure there's plenty of things lingering.

Do I want to even KNOW what a blacklight would reveal in an older house I just purchased?! :lol: Maybe not...lol

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8 hours ago, Rooster said:

...Rooster has marked this spot several times, and a plant as well. [We had him neutered about 2 months ago...

It takes more like 3 months for the hormones lost through desexing to abate, so it's a little too soon to know how much (if any) impact neutering him may have. But it's a common misperception that neutering (or spaying) stops marking. It may lessen the impulse . . . sometimes. For one thing it's not entirely a hormonal behavior. At some point, hormones or not, it becomes habitual with most dogs. I adopted a ~6 y.o. female border collie mix who was spayed by the rescue right before I adopted her. She never stopped marking, and she lived to be ~17.75 y.o. My recently deceased purebred male, also neutered at ~1.5 y.o., marked for the rest of his lifetime of ~16 years.

This of course doesn't mean that dogs can't be trained not to mark in the house. Of course they can, and both of the dogs I mentioned above were successfully house trained. And it's achieved the same way you house train a puppy - watch them like hawks so you can interrupt and praise the cessation while getting them outside, and praise profusely whenever they go outside.

It's my firm belief that ppl think it's harder to house train adults than it is puppies. That's nonsense of course, but I also think that ppl aren't used to having to keep their eyes on the adult adoptee like they (hopefully) take for granted they have to with a puppy. Or that they should rely on some sort of confinement (e.g. crate, x-pen) or tethering the dog to you when you're not able to devote that same 100% attention on the dog. So the answer to that question is just to treat him like a puppy for this.

The advantage of house training an adult is that their muscle control is better so that when you interrupt they can usually hold it till you get them rushed outdoors. Even the most persistent markers get the concept pretty quickly; generally if there's a more extended issue it's because it can be hard to break the habit, but it's still a matter of persistence on your part.

Don't be discouraged; he'll get it. 3 months is just getting to the end of the honeymoon period. Now's when he'll be more likely to start experimenting with behaviors you haven't seen much (or any) of yet because he's getting comfortable enough to start experimenting with behaviors he may have been repressing before now. It's such an exciting period for the relationship you're developing together starts to take form. Enjoy it.

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On 3/14/2021 at 3:45 PM, Rooster said:

 Last week I noticed a stench walking past some books we had on the floor (we just moved.. ) and realized Rooster has marked this spot several times, and a plant as well.

This is what I noticed.  Whether he is marking or having to relieve himself, you said he has marked the spot several times.  Dogs will go back to the same spot when there is an odor -- and urine odor is really, really hard to eliminate.  Even when you can't smell it, they still can. 

So, along with the other excellent  suggestions of UTI check, watch him like a hawk, and be patient, I want to address the actual spot.

Here is what I do:  1. Thoroughly clean the spot.   If carpet, consider a carpet shampooer.  2. Use an enzyme-based cleaner (I use Nature's Miracle and have been pleased with it.)  3.  Here is the hard part:  deny access to that spot.  I don't necessarily mean keep him out of the basement, but I do mean cover the spot.  I have used throw rugs.  They are not as reliable as moving furniture.  I have rearranged furniture to make that spot disappear.  And if I had a spot in the center of a room, I have even put a chair over it for a while and had to walk around a chair.  My theory on that is that sometimes it is a memory thing and they go back to the same spot by habit.  It will be easy to move the plant elsewhere away from him....or even re-pot it.  Besides puppies, I have also had adopted older dogs who marked or had accidents when they first came.  They all eventually learned. 

Oh - and do you really want to get a black light???  No.  Trust me.  You're better off not knowing!  LOL  And that is from experience :lol:

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37 minutes ago, beachdogz said:

This is what I noticed.  Whether he is marking or having to relieve himself, you said he has marked the spot several times.  Dogs will go back to the same spot when there is an odor -- and urine odor is really, really hard to eliminate.  Even when you can't smell it, they still can. 

So, along with the other excellent  suggestions of UTI check, watch him like a hawk, and be patient, I want to address the actual spot.

Here is what I do:  1. Thoroughly clean the spot.   If carpet, consider a carpet shampooer.  2. Use an enzyme-based cleaner (I use Nature's Miracle and have been pleased with it.)  3.  Here is the hard part:  deny access to that spot.  I don't necessarily mean keep him out of the basement, but I do mean cover the spot.  I have used throw rugs.  They are not as reliable as moving furniture.  I have rearranged furniture to make that spot disappear.  And if I had a spot in the center of a room, I have even put a chair over it for a while and had to walk around a chair.  My theory on that is that sometimes it is a memory thing and they go back to the same spot by habit.  It will be easy to move the plant elsewhere away from him....or even re-pot it.  Besides puppies, I have also had adopted older dogs who marked or had accidents when they first came.  They all eventually learned. 

Oh - and do you really want to get a black light???  No.  Trust me.  You're better off not knowing!  LOL  And that is from experience :lol:

Thank you for the advice! So, there was a stack of books there that he peed on, and I moved those. Then he just peed straight onto the carpet in a similar location.

I’ve cleaned everything-but I’m wondering, if I just put furniture there, wouldn’t be just pee on the new vertical object in the same place? Lol

Your dogs avoided the area after you rearranged? 

My partner and I have come up with a strategy and schedule for his bathroom breaks now so hopefully that should help-but he is very very sneaky so I’m sure we will miss some learning opportunities. 

 

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21 hours ago, GentleLake said:

 

 

It's my firm belief that ppl think it's harder to house train adults than it is puppies. That's nonsense of course, but I also think that ppl aren't used to having to keep their eyes on the adult adoptee like they (hopefully) take for granted they have to with a puppy. Or that they should rely on some sort of confinement (e.g. crate, x-pen) or tethering the dog to you when you're not able to devote that same 100% attention on the dog. So the answer to that question is just to treat him like a puppy for this.

When I house-train a puppy, I DO rely on confinement (crate, x-pen and/or tethering), IN ADDITION to routinely taking them out at frequent intervals and after eating and playing. And yes, I use the same techniques for an adult foster until they have shown that they are housebroken.

I have read that the enzymatic cleaners require a week or two to totally remove the smell. So I would be carefully watching the dog during that period to make sure he doesn't revisit the area.

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1 hour ago, Rooster said:

I’ve cleaned everything-but I’m wondering, if I just put furniture there, wouldn’t be just pee on the new vertical object in the same place? Lol

Your dogs avoided the area after you rearranged?

I have had very good results as long as I made the area inaccessible, and no, they did not pee on the vertical object.  Of course, you will still need to keep an eye on him since he is adopted and probably not sure of the routine or the rules of your house.  I had a similar problem with a male I adopted - he was about 2 and quite frankly, I think he just didn't know he wasn't allowed to lift his leg on whatever he wanted to.  He was a shelter dog, found running, and I don't believe he ever was in a house.  One time he was in the family room with my husband - I was in the loft - and I heard this whizzing sound.  I looked down and he was lifting his leg on my fireplace - right in front of my husband (who was watching TV and literally oblivious to what was happening!!)  This dog just did not know that it was unacceptable.  My mistake was thinking that DH would watch him.   But he learned (the dog - not my husband :lol:)     

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All good advice above. I would add only one thing. If he does pee on what you put to block the area then make the entire basement inaccessible to him.

Actually, I had a female border collie who was house trained just fine until I moved into a new place, whereupon she started pooping in the basement. After trying several things to change the behavior, I  started keeping the basement door shut all the time. No more pooping in the house. After about 6 months we got slack about the door, but the behavior did not return.

Can't say this result would be the same for every dog, of course. And marking is different from pooping. But just offering my slightly similar experience. I think in your place, I'd start by blocking off the whole basement. Then if marking occurs elsewhere, go to tethering him to you as above advice mentions.

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