I have a two-year-old dog “Maltishipoo”, called Bertie, and, recently, we added “Poochon” Elsie to our family; she is 10 weeks old. She has fitted in well and is a little livewire; Elsie and Bertie get on well, although play can be robust. Her toileting was going well, but in the last few days she has started to wee and poo near Bertie’s food and water bowls. We have not reacted and have cleaned, sprayed, and are now washing his mat. Can you tell me why she is doing this and how we can prevent it?
Kate says: With any sudden change in behaviour, it’s worth checking with your vet there isn’t an underlying medical condition causing, or contributing to, the behaviour. It’s important not to tell Elsie off if you find a mess in the area; calmly encourage both dogs out of the room and then when they are out of sight clean up using an enzymatic cleaner. This will remove the smell and any potential pheromones (which dogs can detect, but we can’t!), reducing the potential attractiveness of the area for Elsie (you can get enzymatic cleaners from most pet stores). Continue with her toilet training as you have been doing, as this could just be a temporary hiccup! Continue to reward her when she makes the right choice and toilets outside. You could also increase the amount of access she has to the garden so that she might be more likely to toilet outside. If you’ve noticed the behaviour seems to happen at certain times of the day or after certain events (such as first thing in the morning, before or after Bertie has eaten, or after playing with Bertie), then encourage her out into the garden straight away so that she’ll be more likely to toilet outside.
If you can, feed Bertie in an area Elsie cannot access so she is not able to practise the behaviour, or lift up his food bowl after he’s eaten and replace the specific water bowl with others in different areas of the house. If these behaviours continue and your vet can’t find anything that needs medical attention, your vet should be able to put you in touch with a certified clinical animal behaviourist.
Kate Ellam – A professional development canine behaviour officer at Dogs Trust
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