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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a brown Newfoundland puppy named Ozzy. Ozzy is absolutely the best of dogs. He's nearly 10 months old now, and we've gone through Petsmart's beginner and intermediate training. I'm signing up for the advanced classes soon. Those prep for the CGC certification, which I'm hoping to test for when Ozzy hits a year old or soon after. Since it's so hot in the summer wear I live, I drive my dogs to the Petsmart close to my house 5-6 days a week for walks and training. This has had a side benefit of positively socializing my canine kiddies and getting them to follow commands in public.

Some basic info on Ozzy's current stats: He's freaking huge! Not even 10 months old, and already he weighs in at 142 lbs. Thank goodness these are 'gentle giants'. Ozzy never shows aggression or fear to dogs or humans, even when provoked. For instance, little girls squealing and running around causes Ozzy not the least bit of concern, and dogs barking or snarling at him are just as unimpressive to him. I've never seen anything like it. He doesn't react to these conditions at all. Even as a young pup, he'd walk right up to Great Danes with his tail wagging. So far Ozzy follows these commands reliably: Sit, Down, Drop from standing, Wait, Leave it, Come when called. All of these are reliable in high-distraction environments with only a few exceptions (hey, he's just a puppy regardless of his size). So what problems could I possibly have with Super-Ozzy on the job? Well...

In the last 2 weeks Ozzy started marking inside Petsmart. I was so astounded when he first did it, I just stared for a few seconds before getting to a clean-up station to take care of the mess. Ozzy had never eliminated in public before. Ozzy had been active somewhat odd lately, a bit restless and he started to whine intermittently. My neighbors across the street breed Cocker Spaniels, so I figured one of their dogs was in heat. Turned out I was correct, but the dog in question has since gone out of heat, and the marking persists. He's done it 4-5 times now. I've also noted that he seems more distracted lately. I've eased up on the difficulty level of his training, so as not to cause undue stress. It's my belief that dogs should love training time with their humans, so if there's an occasional off day, I don't freak out about it. In truth, the distraction issue isn't severe. It's the difference between laying down and waiting for release even with other humans and dogs around to occasionally getting up and wandering around without being freed. However, the marking is a bit embarrassing.

I know the general solution to this is to neuter the dog, but I can't do that. Literally. Firstly, because Ozzy is a Newfie and it's recommended not to neuter them until 18-24 months of age (can apparently cause growth issues). Secondly, because I co-own him with a breeder, and she will be breeding him when the female she imported from Poland is old enough. My contract with her specifies that he cannot be neutered, not that I'd have done it against her wishes in the first place. So far I've tried to gently interrupt him when it occurs, and then place him in a down/stay while I clean up. I also walked him around the outside area for canine elimination, hoping to get the marking out of his system before going inside. This did not work. I'm thinking now to try training marking behavior similarly to how I performed potty training - rewards and praise for going outside. Ozzy took only 2 weeks to potty train via this method, and my other Newfie pup got it in 6 days.

Any advice or recommendations?
 

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I know the general solution to this is to neuter the dog, but I can't do that.
My own experience is that neutering has very little affect on marking, humping, aggression or other issues that people think should be cured with a snip.

The best dog I've ever had (a neutered male) could not go into a pet shop with me. He would lift his leg on anything with a scent - in other words, anything inside a pet shop.

That's not the solution you were looking for, but I just wanted you to know that your big puppy is not a freak.
 

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Put a belly band on him when you go to PetSmart. Or, make sure he doesn't sniff. That would be exhausting. I would go with the bellyband.

Oh, and my neutered male is an absolute degenerate marker. And my spayed female is a degenerate dog humper. My intact whippet is the most neutral and reasonable animal I have ever owned.

I don't think that spay/neuter does much to change behavior either.
 

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I agree that altering does very little to eliminate behaviors such as humping, marking, or anything else it's supposed to do. Lol

When I catch mine about to go soemwhere they're not supposed to, I generally just keep walking, speed up a little, distract them.
 

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I'm surprised more dogs don't go inside pet stores. If a dog smells urine somewhere, they assume it's an okay place to go, which is reasonable when you think about it. More than likely that's what happened and now he's got a habit of going in there. Try training it just like you would train house training, and use the belly band if that doesn't work.

Note: If he's peeing more than normal and/or drinking more than normal, a vet visit may be in order.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Thanks for the suggestions. I had a dog that was just wonderful, but was a marking fiend. Just wasn't able to help himself, it seemed. He was nearly 2 when I had him neutered, and I knew ahead of time it wasn't a cure-all. Sometimes it helps the marking behavior, and sometimes it doesn't. Luckily for me, after he was neutered, he never lifted his leg on anything again. My Newfie pup Ozzy isn't urinating excessively or anything - from everything I've read this is exactly the age at which this stuff can start. For the moment, I've had some luck treating marking behavior just like house training. I walk Ozzy outside first and heavily praise for all urination, and when inside I watch him carefully, particularly around corners and the sides of the aisles. So far this has results in 4 consecutive visits without making any messes.
 

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Because of how focused I keep my dog on his walks, he usually doesn't get to sniff unless I let him. If you can keep that nose up, he won't get the urge to mark.
Try a gentle leader, I used that to keep his head up and then when you feel like letting him sniff just stop and point a spot and say something like "Right there" or "go", chances are he'll want to sniff right there and mark. When he does it, praise him and eventually you'll be able to get him to point and pee on command.
Then you'll want to teach him the "leave it" command so just in case his head goes down, you can say Leave it and he won't mark.
 

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Agreed - at 10 mos, adult things happen :) And neutering might not matter, as other folks have written.

When my neutered male started making in PetsMart, I tried the following:
1. I taught him to look at me by clicking my tongue and treating (like charging a clicker, but not as precise)
2. Then, I watched him and if he even looked like he would sniff, I clicked and treated, and tried to keep walking.
3. He got it immediately, but it took me a while to get my timing right. He will still mark, but if I anticipate and click, he'll keep walking.
 

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I agree with the belly band. At around the same age or just a bit older, Squash started marking at agility. Like, while he was running the course. Somehow he would pee on the tire while he was jumping through it. He'd stop and pee in the middle of the tunnel. Stuff like that. NOT OK.

So I got him a pair of pee pants (belly band). They're mostly just management, but in retrospect I think it also acted as a mild aversive because he always got a real odd look on his face after he'd peed the belly band. I had been planning to neuter him around 18 months but ended up doing it earlier (around 13 months) partially due to the marking and partially for other reasons.

I haven't had a problem with him marking indoors since then, but I wouldn't be able to tell you how much of it was the pee pants, how much was ongoing training/house training, maturity, or neutering. Probably a combination of all the things. I think neutering may help some dogs but you never know which ones it will or won't, and I think about it more like a dimmer switch than an off switch even for the ones it does help.

Anyway. Belly band = your friend in the short term.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the suggestions. If you've read my other posts, you know that Ozzy recently died after developing an immune problem following his rabies vaccine. But before he passed on, taking him to the area set for pets to do their business at the side of Petsmart and praising him for marking any and every bush, coupled with close attention inside, fixed the issue entirely. We had only 2 more squirts before he stopped marking inside. My younger Newfie pup started the same behavior, and using the same methods, he only squirted twice total inside before stopping. Turns out treating marking behavior more or less like basic potty-training worked great for Newfoundland dogs. Ozzy never had accidents in other places I took him (besides the brief marking issue), because I never really taught him not to go inside, but rather to go outside. Operant conditioning is a wonderful thing.
 
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