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Canine Behavior/Maltese urinating in house in defiance


I have a 7 year old Maltese. I take him outside 2-3 times a day to 'do his business.' I have just moved to a new apartment (in the last month). Twice he has peed on the carpet - after I had taken him outside and then left the house to do errands. I know this is either a marking behavior (because he peed in the exact same spot) but am also wondering if he is 'showing' me that he is angry that I left. When I leave him at home, he is only in the living room and kitchen area - all doors to the bathrooms and bedrooms are closed.  The first time he peed on the carpet, I put him in his crate and took him out only to use the bathroom outside. I did this for 5 days. He did fine for three days after that (doing his business outside) and then, just this morning, as explained above, peed on the carpet after I had taken him outside and after I had left to do errands. I have cleaned the spot with cleaner recommended for dog urine. What can I do to get him to stop peeing on the carpet?

There is NO "defiance" in this dog's behavior.

Three times is adequate; two, no way.  

Your dog is nervous, he is demonstrating separation anxiety.  Any dog at any age who is moved from his "normal" environment to a new one can be expected to show some signs of separation anxiety.  Using a crate as punishment is a HUGE no-no, dog has no idea what's going on, does not connect his being crated with his soiling behavior.  Getting angry when you find urine is a HUGE no-no; dog is already anxious being left alone in a "strange" place, now he's afraid you're coming home as well as being afraid you're leaving!

First: start over.  Re-train the dog.  Take him out to the SAME SPOT or the SAME stretch of grass every single time, at least four times a day.  Carry tiny treats.  When he squats to pee (or lifts his leg), calmly say "good boy" and then pop little tiny treat into his mouth when he's done.  Do this consistently for two weeks, then stagger the food reward, then remove it altogether, over the next two weeks.

Second: feed the dog on the spot he has chosen to urinate.

Third:  if you come home to find urine, do NOTHING.  Have a "party" at the door and take the dog out to urinate immediately.  Upon return, put him in a different room with a cookie for a few seconds while you clean up the spot (OUT of his sight).  This should be a happy experience, not an isolating one, and should not last a long time.  You can also clean up the urine a few minutes after returning but do not look at, or talk to, the dog while you're doing it.

In this way, you are reinforcing his house training (btw, Maltese can be quite difficult to house train to begin with!) without increasing his separation anxiety or disturbing his trust in you.  By feeding him on that spot, you are making it inaccessible for him as a place to "mark" (but he may choose another, at least for a couple of days).

Report back using followup so I can see original question/answer and let me know how it's going!  :o)

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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