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Hello to you all. I am new to this forum. I am looking for some help regarding my dog Fergus. He is a one-year-old (this month) Irish Setter/Golden Retriever mix. I love him a lot but I am at my wits end concerning his constant marking of my house and territorial issues. He was potty-trained at three months when my husband and I adopted him. He didn't have accidents in the house or mark anything. He started occasionally marking in the house at about 7 months old, about a month before we had him neutered. Since then he was still marking in the house at least once every few days. We can never catch him as he usually does it while we are not home or sleeping early in the morning. We would try verbally rebuking him and putting his nose near the mess but I'm not sure if it was helping or making the situation worse by creating anxiety. The past two weeks he has been marking at least three times a day! I am always cleaning up pee (with a thorough amount of Pee Pee enzyme remover). I've been watching him as much as possible when I'm home, trying to be sneaky and watching him when he doesn't know I'm looking, but he did it within the two minutes I would walk out of the room and even once while I was in the room in a corner I cannot see from my desk. My husband works from home quite often but Fergus doesn't seem to mark during that time even if my husband is in his office upstairs. He marks in a variety of spots throughout the large main room too so I can't focus on just one spot. I think a lot of the problem stems from the dominance battle between him and my sister's two dogs (especially the male Tumnus). They are pug-shitzus and much smaller at 20 lbs each than Fergus's 70lbs. They were in the house before Fergus arrived. They mostly get along fine and play often. All three dogs demand a lot of attention and they seem to get jealous very easily even though we try to give them equal attention at the same time. Tumnus and Fergus will stare each other down quite often and Fergus over tries to tower over Tumnus in a dominating position. Little things like brushing against them when this happens or coming in from a walk with Fergus will set them off and they are biting and snarling at each other. My husband tries separate them and Fergus often has Tumnus by the scruff of the neck and I have to grab Tumnus to keep him from jumping back at Fergus while my husband holds him down. No serious injuries have resulted from these incidents but I fear that they could. Whenever we recognize the initial behavior especially low growling we try to grab a glass of water to splash them with if it turns ugly. Flicking drops of water at them seems to discourage the behavior but I am ready to drench them if need be. These incidents have occured a lot more often this week. Sometimes several a day. They usually come in boughts over a few weeks. I believe the increased marking is totally related to the males being territorial but I can't seem to improve either condition. The marking has become so much worse and it doesn't seem to matter if we are home now or not. These issues are causing me a lot of anxiety and resentment of my dog. I would be so appreciative of any advice! Thank you for listening to my problem.
 

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The cure for both marking and house soiling is the same....back to housetraining 101. No unsupervised freedom of the house. Crate or confine when you can't watch them. Reinforce going in the correct potty area with lots of praise and treat. The really important part of this training is actually catching them in the act. That means someone has to be watching. Corrections after the deed is done are useless.
 

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Corrections after the deed is done are useless.
Actually, they're worse than useless IMHO. Shoving a dog's nose in a spot marked 3 minutes ago only means "I'm grabbing you and shoving your face in the ground"; your dog has no way to relate it to the pee. The reason is that dogs have a very short attention span; 2-4 seconds (that's why Tooney correctly says you have to catch them in the act).

Your dog just thinks "this person acts crazy sometimes and shoves my face in the ground so I'd better not trust him/her very far." But don't worry, dogs don't hold a grudge either.

Crate/house training is the way to go.
 

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Agreed. Back to the basics of housetraining and no more rudeness on your part (shoving a dog's face in or near it's pee is rude).
 

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Yes, we have been reading that scolding after the fact is not helpful and we have refrained from doing it lately except out of extreme frustration of finding mess within one minute of there not being one. I shouted at him last night because when he walked around the corner in the room and I got up to check on him because of all the anxiety I am experiencing now I discovered a fresh mess that couldn't have been more than 5 seconds old. This was after he peed at least four times in the house earlier that day and I flipped. We will do better in the future and not scold.

As for crating house-training, it is complicated by the presence of my sister's two dogs. She does not crate them. All three dogs have access the the backyard through a doggy door. I'm afraid that being crated will drive Fergus crazy since the other dogs won't be crated. Also, we feed the dogs on a regular schedule but our evening and weekend schedule varies a lot so I'm not sure how the crating will work in those situations. I am willing to try it.

As for the dominance and fighting issue between the Fergus and Tumnus, does anyone have any advice? It seems to be getting worse. Will they sort it out on their own?
 

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If your dog's not crate trained that might be true at first. But, you are the one to decide whether or not he's crated (or otherwise contained) when the other dogs are not. House freedom is a privilege, not a right and he has not yet earned it.

I can totally understand your frustration but it could be affecting him and his behavior so work at not being frustrated by remembering that he'll get it eventually just as you did .

You need to stop the fight before it begins by correcting the first dog that starts even thinking about challenging the other (generally the adolescent who wants to raise his social position). You may need help from a trainer or behaviorist who can teach you to recognize the early signs. I would also work on obedience with both dogs especially long(work up to at least 30 minutes) downs. In addition both should be on a strict nilif program and never left together unsupervised.
 

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=Fergus64;477194]Yes, we have been reading that scolding after the fact is not helpful and we have refrained from doing it lately except out of extreme frustration of finding mess within one minute of there not being one. I shouted at him last night because when he walked around the corner in the room and I got up to check on him because of all the anxiety I am experiencing now I discovered a fresh mess that couldn't have been more than 5 seconds old. This was after he peed at least four times in the house earlier that day and I flipped. We will do better in the future and not scold.
Good for you! It IS frustrating, but recognizing that scolding doesn't work has you way ahead of the game. Be proactive rather than reactive. This means you cannot allow your dog to have freedom of the house until he's earned it. Supervision is a must when he's not contained.

As for crating house-training, it is complicated by the presence of my sister's two dogs. She does not crate them. All three dogs have access the the backyard through a doggy door. I'm afraid that being crated will drive Fergus crazy since the other dogs won't be crated. Also, we feed the dogs on a regular schedule but our evening and weekend schedule varies a lot so I'm not sure how the crating will work in those situations. I am willing to try it.
I'm not a fan of doggy doors. I want to know when my dogs go, what it looks like, and more! Gives me a heads up on health issues, as well. This is your house, so you call the shots. Have her either crate her dogs, or contain them to one room when they're not supervised. Crating Fergus won't make him nuts just because the other dogs aren't crated. I have 4 dogs plus fosters in residence, and some are crated during times when others are not. If you don't want to crate, then tether your dog to you so you know where he is at all times, and can be clued in by his behavior that he's about to mark, and can take him outside.

I think a lot of the problem stems from the dominance battle between him and my sister's two dogs (especially the male Tumnus). They are pug-shitzus and much smaller at 20 lbs each than Fergus's 70lbs. They were in the house before Fergus arrived. They mostly get along fine and play often. All three dogs demand a lot of attention and they seem to get jealous very easily even though we try to give them equal attention at the same time.
Demanding attention is not allowed in my house, for any reason, because it leads to chaos, and I'm just not interested in dealing with that. I strongly encourage you to implement NILIF into daily life. I've seen dramatic changes in behavior within 48 hrs.

Tumnus and Fergus will stare each other down quite often and Fergus over tries to tower over Tumnus in a dominating position. Little things like brushing against them when this happens or coming in from a walk with Fergus will set them off and they are biting and snarling at each other. My husband tries separate them and Fergus often has Tumnus by the scruff of the neck and I have to grab Tumnus to keep him from jumping back at Fergus while my husband holds him down. No serious injuries have resulted from these incidents but I fear that they could.
NILIF may help here, as well, but, it might be wise to keep these two separated. Each and every time they display this behavior, the behavior is being reinforced, and will be more difficult to stop or change. I would never hold a dog down; it's asking for trouble.


Whenever we recognize the initial behavior especially low growling we try to grab a glass of water to splash them with if it turns ugly. Flicking drops of water at them seems to discourage the behavior but I am ready to drench them if need be. These incidents have occured a lot more often this week. Sometimes several a day.
Quite likely, splashing them with water further incites the unwanted behavior. Aversive methods more often than not make the situation worse. Better to distract the dogs and redirect to a wanted behavior, then follow up with positive reinforcement.

They usually come in boughts over a few weeks. I believe the increased marking is totally related to the males being territorial but I can't seem to improve either condition. The marking has become so much worse and it doesn't seem to matter if we are home now or not. These issues are causing me a lot of anxiety and resentment of my dog. I would be so appreciative of any advice! Thank you for listening to my problem.
Marking needs to be treated as a housetraining issue, so these dogs need to be treated as if they're puppies just learning. They should be contained in a crate, or in a room with baby gates whenever they cannot be supervised directly. They do not deserve to have free roam of the home. It's understandable that you're feeling frustrated, and harbor feelings of resentment. It's a real drag to have to deal with this, so don't beat yourself up.

Management is key here. At least for now, your sister's dogs need to be separated from your dog, and they need to be supervised at all times when not contained, just as your dog does. Believe it or not, this isn't a really diffiuclt issue to effectively deal with, but it will require all human parties being consistent, persistent, and above all patient. There are no "bad guys" here; just dogs being dogs, and this is what you have to focus on when working out a plan of action to prevent the problems you've outlined here.
 

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Edit: I appear to have cross-posted with the above to posters. Thank you!

Hi, I'm the OP's husband. We're new to having a dog as a puppy, and we're certainly new to introducing that puppy into a house where there were already 2 dogs (brother and sister, 2 years old, as mentioned by my wife).

I think we're having trouble unravelling and relating behaviors. I see a couple of things that may or may not be related:

1. Fergus peeing on stuff. It's always on the corner of something, always when we're not looking, but almost never when I'm at home working in my office. I can't even remember him doing it once while I've been here on my own. He gets free roam of the house and garden all day while I'm here, too. The times he does it most are in the hour or two between my wife getting up and going to work, and me getting up and going upstairs to work in my office.

There also seems to be an association between us being in our bedroom and his peeing. If we go in there fold laundry or something, then there's a good chance there'll be pee waiting for us when we come out. It doesn't seem to matter if we leave the door open or not.

There's also a marked increase in marking when my wife is at home. This inevitably leads to anger at Fergus for peeing when we're right there (although never in sight), and frustration because he's been good all day prior to her arrival.

2. Fergus/Mr Tumnus fighting. Fergus seems to have some kind of problem that sets him off trying to dominate Mr T. For example, every time we've given him a bath we will take Fergus into the bathroom, close the door, and wash him. He doesn't really seem to enjoy it very much ;) Once we're finished and we've towelled him off a bit, we open the doors for the pugs to come in. Immediately Fergus will stand over Mr T, low growling; the second one of us knocks him, gets too close, or tries to command him to stand down, he attacks Mr T. This cycle happens multiple times before he calms down and stops his domineering/attacking. Nornally Fergus is a big softie, scared of his own shadow.

Another example would be if we've taken Fergus out for a walk without the pugs. We'd get back and keep him close to us on the leash as we come in through the front door. The pugs will be excitedly waiting for us, but as soon as he sets foot in the door Fergus would stand over Mr T with his hackles up. If we tried to sharply pull him back using the leash then Fergus would attack. My wife noticed this pattern and suggested a different way of coming home: we make him sit and stay at the front door, waiting for us to enter first. Then he's allowed to come in. He'll stand over Mr T, but never seems to actually enter attack mode any more... they just kinda stare each other down until one of them acquiesces.

The trigger in both cases seems to be my wife and/or I interfering in dog business; it almost always seems to happen after some kind of activity where Fergus has been in a subordinate role: bath time, ear cleaning time, walking time, etc. It's almost as if he needs to go and reassert his authority somehow - and Mr Tumnus is first in line.

The advice given previously about house training is good and we'll be doing that. A crate was another option, but I have two main concerns with it: First, caging Fergus but not the pugs will inevitably lead to more of the attacking behavior whenever we release him. Secondly, I never want to leave him in a cage if we're not in the house. Fire springs to mind as the biggest danger.

Are peeing and aggression likely to be related? Do any of you experienced dog hands have any insight and advice? Any experience or advice for caging one trouble dog but not the others?

Thanks!
C&A
 

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The advice given previously about house training is good and we'll be doing that. A crate was another option, but I have two main concerns with it: First, caging Fergus but not the pugs will inevitably lead to more of the attacking behavior whenever we release him.
I understand your feeling this way, however, this is not true. My male was a rescue who was alleged to be dangerously dog aggressive, among other things, so he needed to be crated for my female's safety; it was never a problem. In addition, I frequently have foster dogs in residence along with my own 4 dogs. New dogs are always kept separate from the resident dogs, and only gradually integrated into the daily routine. This means some dogs are crated while otheres are not on a daily basis. I do not have to deal with attacking behavior when releasing the crated dogs. Your belief that this will happen may be transmitted through your emotions to those dogs. Emotions not only travel down the leash, they fly across the room!

Secondly, I never want to leave him in a cage if we're not in the house. Fire springs to mind as the biggest danger
I, too, fear this, as do all owners. However, ask yourself this: if not crated, will your dogs be able to open the doors and leave? I think not.

1. Fergus peeing on stuff. It's always on the corner of something, always when we're not looking, but almost never when I'm at home working in my office. I can't even remember him doing it once while I've been here on my own. He gets free roam of the house and garden all day while I'm here, too. The times he does it most are in the hour or two between my wife getting up and going to work, and me getting up and going upstairs to work in my office.
This is marking. The other details matter not. Go back to housetraining 101, and do not allow him freedom of the house until he's earned it.

There also seems to be an association between us being in our bedroom and his peeing. If we go in there fold laundry or something, then there's a good chance there'll be pee waiting for us when we come out. It doesn't seem to matter if we leave the door open or not.
Then he needs to be contained, or under your direct supervision, so that you can interrupt, and take him out. He obviously thinks it's ok to use your house as his toilet, so he does not deserve freedom to roam your home. Teach him that it's not EVER ok.

There's also a marked increase in marking when my wife is at home. This inevitably leads to anger at Fergus for peeing when we're right there (although never in sight), and frustration because he's been good all day prior to her arrival.
The emotions are contributing to the unwanted behavior, and bottom line, he wouldn't be doing it if he were contained, or under direct supervision. Somewhere along the line he's learned to be a sneaky at peeing, which may or may not be a coincidence with your wife's arrival home. Something you're doing may be a contributing factor, without your being aware, having nothing at all to do with your wife, herself.

2. Fergus/Mr Tumnus fighting. Fergus seems to have some kind of problem that sets him off trying to dominate Mr T. For example, every time we've given him a bath we will take Fergus into the bathroom, close the door, and wash him. He doesn't really seem to enjoy it very much Once we're finished and we've towelled him off a bit, we open the doors for the pugs to come in. Immediately Fergus will stand over Mr T, low growling; the second one of us knocks him, gets too close, or tries to command him to stand down, he attacks Mr T. This cycle happens multiple times before he calms down and stops his domineering/attacking. Nornally Fergus is a big softie, scared of his own shadow.
Well geez. First, there's THE BATH, which he isn't thrilled with, and then there's those pesky Pugs crowding into the dang bathroom on top of it. WHY are you allowing those Pugs to butt in? Keep them out and away from Fergus. My dogs LOVE their bath because I make it special for them, with extra TLC and attention. If they had to put up with one or more of the rescues I foster, I doubt they'd enjoy it, and, noses would be out've joint. Give your dog a break!

Another example would be if we've taken Fergus out for a walk without the pugs. We'd get back and keep him close to us on the leash as we come in through the front door. The pugs will be excitedly waiting for us, but as soon as he sets foot in the door Fergus would stand over Mr T with his hackles up. If we tried to sharply pull him back using the leash then Fergus would attack. My wife noticed this pattern and suggested a different way of coming home: we make him sit and stay at the front door, waiting for us to enter first. Then he's allowed to come in. He'll stand over Mr T, but never seems to actually enter attack mode any more... they just kinda stare each other down until one of them acquiesces.
Good grief! Does poor Fergus get NO respite from those pesky pugs? Does every activity/event have to be influenced by the intrusion of those dogs?!!! DOORWAYS are big deals with dogs, especially when their humans don't get that, and allow this kind of thing to happen. Fergus isn't the problem, the problem is your approach to dealing with a multiple dog household, and escalating normal dog stuff because of how you're handling this. My dogs get along very well with each other, yet will try to crowd each other out by going through the door FIRST. This can sometimes get one or more a little PO'd, and doesn't mean anything except that I need to control acess of the doorway by asking the dogs to exercise self control, which they've learned through training, provided by me. It's called WAIT.

I really don't feel that Fergus is "troubled." He's young, the newbie, outnumbered, and the humans in his life aren't on the same page, and are contributing to the problem.

Implement NILIF into daily life with ALL dogs, and don't give any of them freedom of the house until they earn it. Since they're using your home as their toilet, they obviously haven't earned the right to roam all over unsupervised.
 

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Thank you all for responding. We have been working on NILIF and re-house-training Fergus and he seems to be doing much better with the constant supervision although there have been a few accidents. My husband was keeping the dogs with him in his office when Fergus started relieving himself right in front of him. Needless to say he was interrupted and lead outside to finish his business to praise. We don't have a crate for him as we are still mulling that over but he is restricted to the living room. We'll see how it goes. Thanks again for the advice. I feel better now having a clearer plan of action.
 
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