Dog Training/peeing


Hi and thank you in advance.
I have an 8 month old shepherd/chow/pit mix (yes feel very sorry for me lol) who is a sweetheart but of course headstrong. No aggressive behavior but gets "moods" when tired where he simply will not listen (I swear you can SEE the defiant look in his eyes). He is part of the family and we love him but we are having pee issues. He was fixed a couple months ago using the Zinc in the testicles method (still considering castration) and is housebroken EXCEPT for our downstairs. The house is all hardwood and we had area rugs but took up all but one since he peed on them. The one we have kept down he no longer pees on so I put a "tester" rug down in the hall and sure enough he peed on it immediately! To be fair is still has an aroma of when he peed on it as a puppy but we have steam cleaned these rugs to death and cannot get rid of the odor. We are putting down the rest of the rugs this weekend, I am confident he will behave now, BUT he still pees on everything in the downstairs. This  is a sort of junk room for us (we are renovating the house) and he pees on old furniture, trash cans, tools,  the sewing machine...anything he sees he pees on and if he can't find anything he  does it on the floor but only down there! He even did it right in front of me yesterday. I was lucky to catch him in the act and I verbally punished him and sent him outside but I have this feeling this is more territorial than potty training. He would not have been looking at me and doing it if he had a clue it was not okay. If he does something bad while we are out he comes to us with tail between legs and head down so we know to look for whatever he did wrong (he really tattles on himself). We cannot close off this area, it is the only door to the fenced in yard and the main door for everyone in the house, plus the laundry room and my stepson may be moving back home so it will be his  bedroom! I tried to smack him for the first time ever but he was unphased  because he already weighs almost 70 pounds and I felt so bad I cried ( I cannot hit an animal) and then he comforted me so that was a failure. But he will do it as soon as he comes into the house sometimes so I just know he is marking or something. Also, my rugs still have a pee odor to them. So is there a spray that will get rid of the odor so that not only does it not smell but it will prevent him from smelling it again and wanting to pee there? I cannot spot clean it with this spray since at this point it is so old the whole thing smells but we have a steam cleaner. Second, HOW do I train him so that he stops this marking? My problem is that I can't punish him since I don't think he knows it is wrong. He is my baby and I love him so but this is unacceptable. NO poop issues at all anymore. LOL he even peed on ME one day when I was outside petting the neighbor's dog (who is his friend and his brother). Would having him fixed all the way help? Oh he has been to formal dog school and is clicker trained and was the star pupil, he loves to please, even more than treats he wants love. I think pitt bulls get a bad name. Yes he is certainly an alpha and challenges my husband for that role all the time but he is not aggressive he is willful and he does protect by barking and hair raising if there is any wrestling going on with the kids that gets out of hand (it's like he KNOWS play from fighting). But he doesnt bite or snap, he just makes a lot of show.
Okay this was a lot and I appreciate your reading all this.
To break it down:
Get smell out of area rugs (HUGE rugs, fill the rooms)
teach not okay to pee in basement where standard potty training methods have failed
Spray to prevent more peeing(pee equivalent of bitter apple?)

Thank you for your time. I was an expert for 5 years and it is a thankless job at times, so thank you!

Hi Diana,

Thank you for contacting me with this problem! I do have some concrete suggestions for you that should help your situation.

First, before I forget, I need to give you a reading/video watching list:

1. Do Dogs Feel Guilty?

2. If You're Aggressive, Your Dog will Be Too, Says Veterinary Study:

3. And here's the study referred to in #2:

4. American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals:

5. American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals:

6. Are Dogs Pack Animals?

7. Whatever Happened to The Term, Alpha Wolf?

8. "Alpha Wolves" Youtube video by Dr. David L. Mech

Please stop all punishment, physical and verbal. (See above articles).

The product I recommend for eliminating urine odor (and other pet odors) is Nature's Miracle. It's an enzymatic cleaner that breaks down the protein in the urine, making it more difficult for the dog to detect and therefore less likely to return to the same spot to eliminate again.

What I would recommend in addition to thoroughly cleaning the areas where your dog has eliminated with soap and water to remove the first layer of residual, followed by the Nature's Miracle (or similar enzymatic cleaner) is management of your dog's environment. Try to block his access to areas where he has repeatedly soiled and keep him under close tabs until this problem is resolved.

I can sympathize with your situation. I have a Golden Retriever I got at the age of 1 1/2 years old who wasn't housebroken! I got her housebroken after months of training but recently she has started going in the house again, partly because she developed a urinary tract infection - I think from swimming in the creek.  But, since finishing her course of antibiotics and ceasing to urinate inside, she started this again.

My strategy is to keep her under closer surveillance until she she stops this again, and to find a better way of communicating with her (I am going to teach her to ring bells on the door to signal to me when she has to go outside), crating at night when I am sleeping and can't watch her and blocking her access to her favorite "pee" spots. I would suggest that some of these strategies might also work for you.

I would also recommend that if you haven't already done so, get a thorough medical evaluation done by your vet to rule out any anatomical, physical or physiological reasons for the housesoiling.

I will also tell you that although I have a formula for housebreaking that works quite well, some dogs are just harder to housebreak than others.

I have been using the Nature's Miracle for years and have found it to be a great product, but recently I have had trouble getting the smell out of my carpet due to my Golden's repeat urination in the same spot, saturating the carpet. So I went back to the old standby, vinegar and water and the odor is no longer detectable. Here is a good article about using vinegar and water to remove pet odors: The vinegar works by neutralizing the ammonia in the urine. It doesn't work the same way the enzymatic cleaner works. So you may have to try a couple of different things to see what works best for you.

Here's another article on using the vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide combination: I would caution you to avoid the baking soda unless necessary though because I recently had a Kirby saleswoman come to my house to do a demo and she asked me to pour baking soda on the carpet which my vacuum cleaner did not remove -- though as you might have guessed, the expensive Kirby vacuum cleaner did!

Here's another article about vinegar vs. Nature's Miracle: Here's another article that actually recommends mixing the ingredients and makes the point about making sure to absorb as much of the urine before attempting to neutralize the smell:

Something you may not have thought of is a black light. I sometimes recommend a black light to my clients with repeat housesoilers to locate the spots they may have missed with cleaning. You can purchase a black light at pet stores and hardware stores - the small ones are fairly inexpensive.

What I suggest you think about is rewarding your dog's elimination outdoors with a highly valuable reward - food or whatever he really likes vs. punishing him for improper elimination. Animals will tend to repeat what is rewarding and not repeat what is not rewarding. Punishment is usually an ineffective way to change behavior and can result in unintended consequences.

The thing is, you want to set up his environment to avoid letting him practice his indoor toileting habit, so try to figure out a way to confine him when you cannot directly supervise. Even tether him to you if need be until he is past this housebreaking issue. Take him out frequently and reward highly for eliminating outdoors. Consider teaching him to ring bells on the door to communicate with you when he has to go out, and take him out frequently.

I do not know how long it takes for the testosterone level to decrease following the Zeuterin injection, but you might want to ask your vet to see if it should be decreasing soon, which may help to eliminate any territorial marking.

You might also want to take a look at his diet. A lower protein diet has been shown to be effective in reducing territorial aggression, but I don't know of any research that says a lower protein diet might reduce urine marking in dogs without aggression.

You could consult a veterinary behaviorist if there is one in your area, or ask your local vet to consult with one if this problem continues:

One more thing I would suggest is to make sure your dog gets a minimum of a once daily walk off the property for mental stimulation as well as exercise and to start doing some positive reinforcement training, preferably clicker training with him to give him some things to think about besides the next place to urinate. You could also keep him occupied with some interactive dog toys such as a food-filled Kong, a Kong Wobbler, Kyjen Star Puzzle, Tug-A-Jug, etc.

Please see these articles I wrote:

Positive reinforcement training:

Clicker Training - What is it?

There are some other articles with videos on that website I wrote which can show you how to get started in clicker training.

Well, I hope this helps!

Let me know if you have any other questions.



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Cindy Ludwig, M.A., R.N., KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA


My specialty is clicker training. I'm a Karen Pryor Academy graduate and Certified Training Partner (certified clicker trainer). Karen Pryor was a marine mammal trainer and one of the early proponents of force-free animal training who helped popularize clicker training in the early 90's. I also do behavior modification with dogs that have fear, anxiety and aggression. I work with service dogs and was a certified therapy dog evaluator with two other organizations before starting my own therapy dog program, the first of its kind requiring all dog candidates to be trained with force-free methods and all evaluators to demonstrate a commitment to force-free methods. I made weekly visits with my own therapy dog to a nursing center in Dubuque, Iowa for four and a half years. I have an undergraduate degree in science and am a registered nurse with a previous specialty and certification in critical care, so I can answer questions pertaining to biology, behavior and pharmacology but because I am not a licensed veterinarian I cannot legally or ethically answer questions requesting a diagnosis. I have done graduate work in animal learning and wolf ethology, and have also completed coursework in dog biology, behavior and pet nutrition at regionally accredited U.S. universities. I continue my study of applied behavior analysis with top experts in the field. For more information and to schedule a consultation or enroll in classes, see my Canine Connection website:


Prior to becoming a full time professional dog trainer in May 2009 and opening my business, Canine Connection LLC I worked part time as a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant and also volunteered at humane societies in several states over a period from 1992-2009. My previous full time occupation was in the medical profession. I have completed various continuing education programs including but not limited to the Purdue University Veterinary School Principles and Techniques of Behavior Modification course; Clicker Expo; undergraduate courses in dog biology, behavior, and pet nutrition; and graduate coursework in wolf ethology. I was a Field Representative for Paws with a Cause for 3 years and train service dogs. My Golden Retriever that accompanies me in my work as a Field Representative is a "career changed" dog from the Paws breeding program that I have clicker trained as a demonstration service dog. This same dog I trained to earn the first Dog Scout title in the State of Iowa. She and I were also members of the Badger Kennel Club Drill Team and performed with the group annually at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin. My dog, Ginger and I provided weekly pet therapy visits to a local nursing center for the past three and a half years. I continue my education by participating in seminars and class offerings provided by such notable experts as Dr. Sophia Yin, Dr. Ray Coppinger, Michele Pouliot and others. My services include in-home private training and behavior modification, group classes and pet sitting. More information is available on my website:

Founder and owner, Canine Connection LLC; Founder, Canine Connection Positively Trained Certified Therapy Dogs; Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT); 2010 APDT Education Committee; Truly Dog-Friendly Trainer Coalition; Doggone Safe; American Kennel Club

Top Tips from Top Trainers: 1001 Practical Tips & Techniques for Successful Dog Care and Training (March 2010); The Golden View; Family Connections;; Animal info Publications; HubPages; Finding Fuzzybutt Four Blog; Petopia Newsletter, Galena, Illinois; Suite 101;;; Dubuque 365 Ink Magazine; Dubuque Telegraph Herald; Columbia Business Times; Columbia Senior Times; Columbia Missourian; Columbia Daily Tribune; Graphic Education Corporation; Belson-Hanwright; Critical Care Nurse; Journal of Emergency Nursing; Home Healthcare Nurse; Nursing; Journal of Emergency Medical Services; Shape; Houston Community College Egalitarian; Findlay College Obelisk

B.S., Science; M.A., Higher & Adult Education with graduate work in animal learning, canine biology and behavior, pet nutrition; Graduate, Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior; Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner; Diploma, professional nursing; licensed registered nurse (R.N.); Paramedic completion program; previously licensed paramedic in Texas and Missouri

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