Mark Silver
I have a 3-1/2 year old male, who has not been neutered. I have had him since a puppy and had him completely house broken since he was about 6 months old. Within the last year he has started marking certain areas of the house (i.e. houseplant pots and most recently and most disturbing our brand new family room sofa). The only change in his life or ours for that matter is the new sofa. No new kids or pets in the house and no one moved out. He has a doggie door and knows that the backyard is the place for him to do his business. He used to spend a lot of time on the old sofa sleeping but has never done this with the new sofa. We are at our ropes end cleaning up urine stains and don't know what to do next. How do you re-educate a dog that is already housebroken? Any and all help and ideas would be most appreciated.


From what I've read on the subject of "marking", I would stongly suspect that the indroduction of the new sofa has a lot to do with it, since the ritual of the domestic dog includes methodically marking vertical objects (such as the sofa or anything new in the environment, such as a paper cup that has been recently dropped, a newspaper pitched up on the porch, or a new chair set out in the yard). Females scent mark less frequently. I suppose your dog is not being naughty, but defining his territory and making acquaintance with the new sofa. It is maintaining its scent and familiarity with "his post". Your dog notices the "new country" and because it is nervous, he is marking liberally to make the unknown familiar. The scent reassures the dog. Do you notice if the dog is fully emptying the bladder, or letting a few drops at at time fall, which is typical of scent marking. It is the way of a male dog's method of staking out his territory. Try your best to catch him in the act and condition him to stop by startling him with a loud clap and "NO!" or shake an aluminum can filled with pennies or marbles (I put screws in mine--makes more noise) and give it a good shake to startle him. This works well with my Pixie when she is in the backyard and starting for something I know she shouldn't have. I call it the "No! Can". I either shake it, or if she is far from me, I throw it so it lands on the ground a little ways away from her (never aim to hit the dog!). I immediately praise her with, "What a good girl that Pixie is!". Depending on the disipline, I give Pix her favorite treat. Of course, you can also try taking the dog outdoors more often.

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