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Canine Behavior/dog peeing on our bed


Dory is our 1 year old boxer mix. We adopted her approximately 5 months ago from a person that told us she was potty trained (she was not).  We have been working with her and for the most part, had her house broken with the occasional slip up. She is crate trained and has never had an accident in her crate. Dory was spayed at 7 months old.

We have a 3 year old child that has bonded with Dory quite strongly. About a month ago, we had our second child. Dory was timid around him at first but now licks him when she enters the room and offers him her favorite toy.

Over the last few days, she has been urinating on our bed, on my husbands side to be specific. Behaviorally,she has been the same energetic dog. She has done it while i have been sleeping in the bed, with no one in the room, and right after I have taken her outside but never while my husband is in the room.

Could this be stemming from the new baby or seeking attention from my husband?

Thank You!

This is most likely a sign of anxiety and a marking behavior.  By leaving her scent (in urine) on your husband's side of the bed (he is most likely seen as highest in social hierarchy by the dog) she is in fact telling him "I am here".

First: five months is no time at all for a dog to habituate to a new household; on top of this she has a newborn baby to deal with (and believe me she has no idea what your baby "is" or "is not").  PEOPLE LIE WHEN THEY GIVE A DOG UP FOR ADOPTION (caps are for emphasis, not shouting).  The dog was not house trained; who did it, how did you do it, what does your husband do if she has an "accident" in the house????  If she has any ambivalence toward him (trust issues), this complicates the situation.

Let me start with this: I doubt you temperament tested this dog or have any in-depth knowledge about dog behavior or body language.  THIS is NOT in any way NEGATIVE about you; what you are good at, I most likely would fail; what your husband is good at, I most likely would know little or nothing.  I just happen to know an awful lot about dogs because, after all, I made a good living as a behaviorist for a very long time!  So now: as loving people (which you obviously are), and as people who want the best family life, you adopted this dog who was, for all purposes, a throw away to her former owners.  You have no idea what the man of that household did to this dog unless you adopted her from a very close family member or a friend you know very, very well (and I know that's not true because such a person would not have lied to you when they told you the dog was house trained).  You brought a large breed hybrid of a highly energetic genetic tendency (Boxer, or so you were told; I rather lean on Pit Bull mix, frankly) into a household with a three year old child and a baby due very soon.  In my opinion, the fact that this dog is kind to your three year old and is bringing your newborn her toys is a MIRACLE.  

Your dog does not belong in your bedroom, let alone your bed; you have young children who will want to be in your bed with you (trust me) at some point in time or another, and whose bedrooms should also be OFF LIMITS to this dog.  Provide a soft, comfortable bed in the kitchen with a strong baby gate (or any other comfortable space, NOT the basement or outside the house); feed her twice daily in that room, leave her water bowl there, and be absolutely certain YOUR CHILDREN never, for any reason, touch the bowl when she is eating or when there is food in the bowl.  Confine her to that room when you leave the house; relieve her of the burden of the entire household while you are absent; this will lift some of her anxiety.  YOU (mom) feed the dog; YOU (mom) train the dog (positive reinforcement only).  On weekends or evenings, if you and your husband and children can take a walk together with the dog, pass the leash between you and your husband, routinely.  What I'm doing here is promoting YOU psychologically while changing any conditioned response to men the dog acquired before you owned her (that is prompting her anxiety statement).  After the kids are in bed, you and your husband can spend five to ten minutes (no more than that) teaching the dog to respond to cues (use new words: not sit, not down, not come) as you will see in this free, only course of obedience training on Dr. Ian Dunbar's site:

Positive reinforcement training involves high value food reward; this will teach your dog, quickly, to respond to NEW WORDS for sit, down, come, take it, leave it, etc. AND it will prevent the dog from stealing food from your young children (who dangle food all the time) since she will begin to associate food reward WITH WORKING.  Also, learn to read her body language:

Your three year old is still too young to be able to participate in a "round robin recall" game in the house or fenced yard; this is a game where a treasured object (such as a squeaky toy) is passed among humans and from human to dog; the dog is encouraged by each participant to go to the person holding the toy as part of the overall training to "come when called", whee a small high value treat is offered the moment the dog approaches.  It is a very fun game; the child is old enough to observe, though, and even sit on the lap of one parent at a time in order to participate.  At the end of the game (which should take no more than five minutes and be a "party") the dog is allowed to have and keep the squeaky toy for no more than two minutes. The dog is then asked to "leave it", praised, and the toy put in a place the child cannot reach.

The dog should never lick your infant; if she attempts it, clap your hands, get her attention, ask for "sit", praise lavishly; do this repeatedly: it does not reward the licking, it distracts the dog and then the dog is rewarded for following a cue (command) in the presence of the infant.  While licking is a sign of affiliation (perhaps), the dog's mouth should not come in contact with anyone's skin for any reason, even a benign reason, and especially a child.  NEVER leave the dog alone with either of your children.  I'm not suggesting this dog intends to harm your children, or ever will; I am stating a precautionary truth: dogs are dogs.  A dog can "discipline" a child (as it would a puppy) in a perfectly acceptable way (not intending harm) but do damage to human flesh WITHOUT INTENTION.  A child can do almost anything to a dog (hug it, restrain it, roll over on it, pull its ears or tail, take a toy out of its mouth, etc.) that is absolutely INAPPROPRIATE but the child does not know this.  YOU DO.  I've seen too many dogs die because of a normal reaction to something a child did innocently and was "disciplined" for by the dog.  Protect them all.  

You apparently have a dog with a sound temperament that you acquired in a manner that might have found you with a very difficult, even dangerous, dog.  You were spared that experience and your dog has found a wonderful home and a wonderful family.  Just as the dog must learn to respect the children, as well as your "nest" (your bedroom), the children must learn to respect the dog.  Don't assume this will happen by itself.  And do not punish the dog if the child behaves inappropriately and the dog reacts.

I have done a lot of rescue work throughout my lifetime.  I never have, nor would I, place any dog in a home with young children or young people planning a family.  The dog is now yours and you have the responsibility.  She will not recover from re-homing and nor do you know how to do it properly.  There's no reason you can't all live happily ever after together, but the responsibility is yours to be certain that occurs.

PS (this occurred to me after I already posted this answer).  Remember, caps are for emphasis:DO NOT FREAK OUT BECAUSE I SUGGESTED YOUR DOG IS A PIT BULL MIX.  The Pit Bull mix is ubiquitous now.  I seem them everywhere.  "Nana" in the original Peter Pan was an English Staffordshire Bull Terrier.  These dogs can and do make wonderful companions, they can be and often are fabulous guardians of children and home, and there is absolutely no reason to worry.  REWARD the dog verbally when she brings the baby her toys, tell her what a good girl she is.  This dog appears gentle, perhaps a soft temperament, you know nothing about her socialization or one darn thing before she was dumped.  If you feel you would like a professional evaluation of her, find  A CERTIFIED APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIORIST (NOT a dog trainer!), check credentials (anyone can call themselves anything).  You might be able to find one from one of these sources:

I think this is a very good idea actually and it will put your worries to rest as well as help you understand the positive reinforcement training you are undertaking.  I doubt very much you will need more than one consultation.  A CAAB does not do obedience training.  I have been called into homes with young children many, many times to assess temperament of the adopted dog or recently acquired puppy.  

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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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