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Canine Behavior/urinating on the floor


We have a 13 year old spayed rat terrier who was litter box trained as a puppy. She has always used the litter box or she has the choice to go outside. In the last month I have caught her urinating in front of her box but reluctant to go in the box. I haven't moved the box, changed brands of litter, and I'm trying positive reinforcement to encourage her to "go potty in the box". We are wondering if she could be having incontinence issues, overactive bladder...something like that? But she goes to the box just not in the box, and I am currently using puppy pads and having some success. Is this normal, or should we take her to the vet?

It is possible there is some age related loss of cognition but it is more likely the dog is having age related vision problems (especially in dark places).  It is called "nuclear sclerosis" and makes night time vision more difficult.  There is also a chance of cataracts.  If the dog's vision is slightly impaired, she may be actually using the litter box but not quite getting to it.  Please see your veterinarian.  Cataracts can be removed; nuclear sclerosis cannot be surgically addressed (well, it can be, but no veterinarians are doing it, apparently).  If this is the case, you will have to find a larger container as a litter box.  Do not put "puppy pads" down unless you put them into the larger container.  This container can be a low level (meaning in height) yet long plastic container you can probably purchase at Walmart that is actually intended to store clothing.  Be sure the dog has access to her original litter box and adjacent to it the new one with the puppy pads.  Let's see what the vet says.  Report back using followup feature so I can see original question and answer.  Your dog is not making mistakes, she is doing what she thinks is "correct'.

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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