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Dog Training/Territory Marking


Hi Kathleen 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 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 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!

Chinese Crested image by Kathleen Riley
Chinese Crested image  
Thanks for asking the questions. I'll try to address each of your questions, and welcome follow up questions too. You can also find additional information on my web site Outlaw Chinooks || Dog Training ||

1. Get the smell out of the rugs. If you are still having marking / accidents, you'll want to get on the clean up right away while the urine is still wet. If the urine dries, it stains and it increases bacteria growth. Dropping paper towel on the area and walking on it (in shoes or you'll have wet feet) remove as much wet area as you can. Then neutralize the odor   with a cleaning solution of one part white vinegar to one part water. Vinegar neutralizes the ammonia smell and won't fade carpet fibers. Slowly pour the solution on the stained area of the carpet and let the liquid reach the lowest portion of the carpet to neutralize. Leave it soaking on the area for about 10-minutes and then drop new paper towel on it to soak up the liquid. Let the area dry for several hours and when it is almost dry, sprinkle a little baking soda on the spot to absorb any remaining odor. Let the baking soda sit on the area for at least 15-minutes and then vacuum and with any luck the smell will be gone. You can also use commercial stain and odor removers like Nature's Miracle,  Petastic or similar -- check to see what brand is recommended for your type of carpet. With throw rugs, you can wash them in your washing machine using the white vinegar with laundry soap or by adding a commercial pet stain and odor remover to the wash. TIP: Don't use strong smelling cleaners as these may cause your dog to "over-mark" the spot.

2. Territory marking and/or house training - revisted. It looks to me like you have two issues here, territorial marking and some house training. He may be urinating in the lower level of the house because it doesn't seem like it is in his area -- or he may be marking. I'll give you tips for both and you can see what works.

House training
Dog - Potty Training Basics

Going to the bathroom in the house is one of the biggest issues for new puppy owners. You can easily win the battle if you are consistent, patient, use supervision, utilize confinement and reward your pup with scrumptious treats. Remember, you are teaching your puppy where to relieve him or herself rather than where not to relieve him or herself.

One of your first steps is to choose a place that you want your pup to eliminate. Once you have chosen the spot, always take your pup on leash to the spot and stand there for three to five minutes. If you don't have success, take pup back inside and place them in their crate. When you are home, make this trip every hour or two and praise success with voice and treats to expedite the learning process. You pup will quickly learn that elimination bring tasty rewards.

Use a Crate. Most dogs love their "den" as long as it is the right size. If it is too big, part of it will become a bathroom. If it is too small, it is uncomfortable. Your pup should have enough room to stand up, turn around and lay down. When pup is in the crate, provide a food stuffed chew toy like a Kong so pup has something to occupy the confinement time. The crate should help you predict when the pup needs to "go" so you can teach pup where and why it needs to eliminate outdoors.

Outside Time: Puppies need to relieve themselves frequently. Ideally, your pup should go outside every two hours.

Same Time, Same Place: Take pup out on a six-foot leash and stand in the place you want pup to "go." Praise pup for "going" in the right location.

Boo Boo? Show pup his mistake and let him know he was wrong with a firm "No!" Take pup outside and show him how you want it done. (Not literally!)

Don't rub pup's nose in "it" unless you want him to eat "it."

Don't smack him with a rolled up newspaper unless you want him to eat it. If you want to hit something with a newspaper, roll it up and hit yourself for not paying more attention to pup's needs.

Feed to Succeed: A high quality, nutritional, highly digestible diet keeps odors, waste and trips outside to a minimum.

Take pup out:

   After eating
   After napping
   After a play session
   First thing in the morning
   Last thing at night
   When his eyes are crossed

The biggest key to house training success is consistency. The more consistent you are with pup, the quicker pup will give you the desired response. When pup relieves himself outside, pup earns more free time inside your home. One quick method is alternating freedom and confinement.

On a basic level the following guidelines will help you train your puppy:

   Follow the house-training schedule strictly. If pup has an accident you have allowed too much freedom.
   While standing in one spot with pup on a leash, allow two minutes for relieving himself. Reward immediately (within one second) with a treat or praise after the desired behavior.
   Holding "it" all night is the first stage to successful housebreaking.

If your puppy whines and cries at night, please try to ignore the commotion and go back to sleep. (This applies unless pup is hurting itself.) If you get up even to reprimand pup for making noise, you have just shown your pup that you will get up at night. Occasionally dogs must relieve themselves at night, and ignoring will lead to a big mess in the morning. You can respond to the pup's warning by allowing pup out for only two minutes.

For an easy routine to assist in quickly training your pup to "go outside" and avoid most accidents, follow this simple schedule:

   In the morning, carry your pup outside and place it on the ground (attached to your leash) that you have designated as the bathroom. Give your command to "go to the bathroom" or "potty" or "tinkle" or some other suitable phrase. Allow two minutes for a response. Gently repeat the command (in a tone of voice like you use with your coworkers) and as soon as pup responds, reward immediately. Remember to bring your reward treat with you no matter how optimistic or pessimistic you feel.
   If pup fails to respond within the allotted time, carefully take it inside and place it back in the crate until you are dressed and ready to try again.
   When your pup responds correctly, give lots of praise and of course your scrumptious treat. Giving the treat reinforces the desired behavior.
   Now pup is going to the bathroom outside and can earn some freedom in your home. The following table shows a suggested daytime schedule.

Goes to the bathroom outside

1/2 hour free time

1-1/2 hours of confinement

This routine continues until pup learns to "go" on command and earns your trust. At that time you can allow more freedom then go to the next level.

Goes to the bathroom outside

1 hour free time

2 hours confinement

This routine continues until pup is doing well. At that time you can allow more freedom.

Goes to the bathroom outside

2 hours free time

2 hours confinement

This entire process may take up to six weeks. Follow the basics covered here and DON'T become discouraged. They are only pups once and we should enjoy all aspects of new companion's lives.

Territory Marking
Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive. If making soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive isn't possible, try to change the significance of those areas. Feed, treat and play with your dog in the areas he is inclined to mark to change the significance of the location.

Watch your dog at all times when he is indoors for signs that he is thinking about urinating. When he begins to urinate, interrupt him with a loud noise and take him outside, then praise him and give him a treat if he urinates outside. When you're unable to watch him, put your dog in confinement (a crate or small room where he has never marked) or tether him to you with a leash.

Practice "No Free Lunch" with your dog. This is a safe, non-confrontational way to establish your leadership and requires your dog to work for everything he wants from you. Have your dog obey at least one command (like "sit") before you pet him, give him dinner, put on his leash or throw a toy for him. Establishing yourself as a strong leader can help stabilize the hierarchy and thus diminish your dog's need to mark his territory. You can see more about this here: Leader of the Pack

Good luck and let me know how it goes!  

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Kathleen A. Riley-Daniels


I am known for my originality, creativity and flexibility in dog training, and I specialize in everything from training and handling skills to behavior challenges. All breeds, personalities and skill levels are welcomed including handlers and/or dogs with physical limitations. I encourages students to work outside their comfort zone for enhanced learning and utilizing skills that best fit the needs of each team. Keeping the focus on fun, play and praise. My enthusiasm for training is contagious and all efforts of both dog and handler are rewarded. If you are looking for assistance in house training or other training areas, please visit my web site or blog first and see if the information there is helpful to you: or or YouTube Channel


I have trained and participated in many canine performance events including obedience, rally obedience, field, herding, tracking, conformation, weight pull, training and judging 4-H, assistance dog training and wrangling for movies. I teach private and group lessons, workshops, seminars, camps, lecture internationally and have written award winning articles for numerous publications. I was voted one of the Twin Cities Top Dog Trainers by the readers of Twin City Tails Magazine, I am a certified in Animal Nutrition, Animal Training and Behavior and am an evaluator for the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen program.

Various local, regional and national breed clubs.

Have worked as an editor, on staff and as a volunteer on a variety of community, local, regional, national and international publications.

College degree and life-long learning with multiple certifications in training, behavior, nutrition and education. I am a life-long learner and I accentuate the positive for both dogs and handlers and my training methods are specifically designed to bring teams to their full potential by customizing training plans and focusing on training exercises that best benefit each individual team.

Awards and Honors
Voted one of the top trainers in the Twin Cities.

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