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Canine Behavior/my terrier pees in the house while I am out in the yard


We adopted a mixed breed terrier about 4 months ago.  He is about 1.5 to 2 years old.  He is essentially potty trained, he doesnt pee in his crate at night, he doesnt pee in the house while we are gone, and he behaves when we are in the house.  However, if I am home but working in the yard, or in and out alot during the day, he pees on the bed, or on the rug, or on the wall.  This is new behavior but since we havent had him long we dont have much to base "normal" on. He also chewed the westherstripping off the bottom of the dorr one day in similiar circumstances.  Any help you can offer to get our dog, or us, back on the right track would be greatly appreciated

The dog is demonstrating a form of separation anxiety.  He knows you're "out there" and it makes him anxious because he wants to be with you.  Urinating on a bed, a rug, a wall, is marking behavior: "I'm here, don't forget that", it is not a house training issue per se.  Chewing on weather stripping at the bottom of the door is barrier frustration, an anxiety related behavior in an attempt to get to where YOU are.

The dog should not be "at large" in your home unless you are with him.  He can be confined to the kitchen (not the crate, that is punishment for him if you are outside) where, should he lift a leg, it can easily be cleaned (no clorox).  He's been with you a very short time and his age is just an educated guess.  We know nothing about his former life experiences unless there is sufficient evidence for same (quite rare, even in a dog re-homed by former owners, who lie).

Reward every single elimination outdoors with praise.  When you go outdoors into the yard, or at times when you are "in and out" a lot (a dog can be perfectly fine with the FIRST leave taking and then the dog's ability to deal with it decays), offer a Buster Cube or other such toy.  These are objects that dispense a portion of the dog's daily meal(s) as he rolls it around.  At first, the dog may pay no attention to it (because high anxiety stops many dogs from eating).  If that is the case, feed him one/half of his daily portion of food by rolling the Buster Cube in front of him so he can SEE and LEARN that this is a self rewarding behavior.  He will soon come to see the Buster Cube as rewarding in and of itself and be diverted from his anxiety.

He's not on the "wrong" track.  He's behaving normally for a dog whose primary caregiver "disappeared" and who found himself in (what may have been, at worst) a harrowing predicament.  He is now in a place where he is loved and cared for but he has to learn to TRUST this: this is called habituation.  It can take an adult dog months to become habituated to this new, safe environment.

Canine Behavior

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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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