Crowding & Political Stress

Question:
Why does my 3 year old neutered male toy poodle Jack urine mark in the house? He is house trained and goes outside. I also have Barney a Beagle- Jack Russell and two females – Jill a Jack Russell and Frankie a toy poodle.

Dr. Nichol:
With that house full of active young hellions you’re lucky to have only one graffiti artiste. Dogs are social creatures–party animals who sometimes need to avoid, escape, or repel interactions. Unfortunately, for Jack, you live in a house with walls and doors that limit his choices. Jack is the Nervous Nellie who leaves his mark to express his angst. The poor guy needs a break. You could adopt an “off the grid” life style and move into a cave or you can adjust your management.

More canine-specific behavioral opportunities will be essential for all of your pets. Install a dog door so they can spread out and get away from each other. Provide indoor and outdoor enclosures so they can choose privacy. Giving them food dispensing toys and puzzles when they’re alone will keep them engaged in the natural canine activity of foraging.

Avoid punishment or reprimands. Research has shown that dogs do not “know” they are being corrected after the fact. They appear guilty as an appeasement signal when they read our stern expressions. Ignore Jack as you clean up the urine and eliminate the remaining scent with an enzymatic cleaner like Anti Icky Poo. If Jack continues to urine mark he’ll need a custom-tailored behavior modification plan.

Keep life simple. As your dogs age gracefully and pass on I advise allowing the population to diminish. A limit of two is best in most homes. Miss America, the Nichol family Border collie, is a force of nature all by herself. We’re maxed out at one.