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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there

I have a 6 or so year old husky. We've had him since he was a puppy. He's been an inside dog his whole life, slept inside, inside half the day, in and out with the other dog to a fenced yard to exercise. It's been at least a year now, and he started peeing inside. At first, we couldn't come up with rhyme or reason for it. We had carpet everywhere, so we tried every trick in the book to clean it and get rid of the smell that potentially brought him back. Our research told us that there really was no way to truly get rid of it to the point he couldn't smell it. We tried for months everything we could think of to get him to stop. Eventually, my wife couldn't take it (I can't blame her) and he had to become an outside dog. Not the end of the world, he's plenty hardy for whatever weather we get, but not what I pictured when I got him as a puppy.

He's been an outside dog ever since. We put him in the garage at night, and then he started peeing there too, so we had to crate him at night. He really took to this much better than I expected, he seems to like it. Anyway, getting off topic.

Come to discover (long after he moved outside) that his two main pee spots, may have had a trigger. We discovered, on the other side of the wall from one spot, a rat had taken refuge in the garage. Maybe he could smell it? Then, in one of my kids rooms, we discovered the bunk bed we were given by a family member had a male German Sheppard sleep in the same room before we got it. I believe the whole thing started as a territory thing. Whatever the reason, we were never able to get him to stop.

I also have the problem of working full time, and the husky is second in command in the house. There is a big alpha factor going on, I am pretty sure of that. It's difficult to work with him when I'm not there a majority of the time, and he doesn't see my wife as his boss.

Anyway, sorry for rambling. I am just wondering if anyone has some advice to try that I haven't thought of. I just wish he could be back inside with the rest of the family, but I also can't make the whole house be an open bathroom any more. She tried having him inside recently, and he promptly ran around the corner once she stopped paying attention and peed on the floor, that isn't even carpet anymore. If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears....
 

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Yes, the smell of another animal's urine can absolutely make a dog mark. Some dogs forget that just because you smell someone else's accident doesn't mean you should pee there, too! You will want to clean those areas with an enzymatic cleaner (like Nature's Miracle). If you had rodents in the walls it may mean replacing sheetrock or some sort of deep cleaning...the urine will soak into wood, sheetrock, and subfloor.

Also note, the "Alpha dominant must be leader of the pack" training theory is outdated and obsolete. Purge it from your mind. Yes, dogs do often have a "person" who they are the most closely bonded to, typically the primary caretaker who feeds, trains, plays with them, etc., but that doesn't mean another human can't uphold rules and training. Most any dog will respond to another family member with treats.

I would start by treating your dog as a little puppy. He must be supervised 100%. When you can't supervise, put him in his crate. Take him outside for frequent potty breaks, and praise him and reward him like he's the best dog in the world when he goes potty in the right spot.

If you catch him having an accident, say something like "Oops!" in a cheerful voice as an interrupter, and whisk him away outside to finish. Praise him for finishing his business in the right spot. Clean up the accident. Don't scold or scare, because that can teach him that going in front of humans is bad, so he'll sneak off to pee.

As he proves his ability to refrain from peeing in the house, you can offer more freedom, but be prepared to take it away if he backslides. This is going to be something that is very much on the dog's schedule! Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, the smell of another animal's urine can absolutely make a dog mark. Some dogs forget that just because you smell someone else's accident doesn't mean you should pee there, too! You will want to clean those areas with an enzymatic cleaner (like Nature's Miracle). If you had rodents in the walls it may mean replacing sheetrock or some sort of deep cleaning...the urine will soak into wood, sheetrock, and subfloor.

Also note, the "Alpha dominant must be leader of the pack" training theory is outdated and obsolete. Purge it from your mind. Yes, dogs do often have a "person" who they are the most closely bonded to, typically the primary caretaker who feeds, trains, plays with them, etc., but that doesn't mean another human can't uphold rules and training. Most any dog will respond to another family member with treats.

I would start by treating your dog as a little puppy. He must be supervised 100%. When you can't supervise, put him in his crate. Take him outside for frequent potty breaks, and praise him and reward him like he's the best dog in the world when he goes potty in the right spot.

If you catch him having an accident, say something like "Oops!" in a cheerful voice as an interrupter, and whisk him away outside to finish. Praise him for finishing his business in the right spot. Clean up the accident. Don't scold or scare, because that can teach him that going in front of humans is bad, so he'll sneak off to pee.

As he proves his ability to refrain from peeing in the house, you can offer more freedom, but be prepared to take it away if he backslides. This is going to be something that is very much on the dog's schedule! Good luck.
Thanks for the response. We've gone through so much nature's miracle that I should have bought stock.

The alpha thing, I got that from the breeder that I got the dog from. And it certainly seemed to be reinforced when he behaved better with me. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that he continues to do it for any other reason besides spite or dominance. Is it really possible he just "forgets" that he was potty trained? Or am I missing the point? I am not trying to be argumentative, obviously what we've done hasn't worked, just trying to understand.
 

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I'm going to agree completely with Lillith's advice. A dominance paradigm between humans & dogs has been thoroughly & completely disproven at this point, and dogs definitely do not pee on things out of 'spite'. If you think about it, dogs don't have the same aversion to pee that we humans do - they like pee & other bodily fluids, so why would they use that to get back at you for something? Dogs don't think about revenge that way.

I'm assuming that this problem was discussed with your vet when it first cropped up? If not, I'd make an appointment for a complete check up. When a previously house trained adult dog starts having 'accidents' you need to rule out anything medical before assuming it's 100% behavioral.

If all his medical tests come back OK, then you will need to follow the 'treat him like an 8 week old puppy' advice. He needs to be on leash, tethered to your (or another responsible adult's) side 100% of the time that he is indoors. Do NOT give him even 1 second of opportunity to make a mistake. Crate him when this is impossible. Take him out every hour or two & allow him to relieve himself as many times as he wants, offering a high-value treat for each successful pee (even if it's just marking) After several weeks of this (it's going to take a while to break such a long standing habit) you can try keeping him gated in the same room with you, while dragging a leash to start the process of more freedom. Eventually working up to fuller freedom, as he remains accident free.

As far as enzyme cleaners go, I'm not all that impressed with the brand Nature's Miracle. I much prefer either Simple Solution or Anti Icky Poo. YMMV.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm going to agree completely with Lillith's advice. A dominance paradigm between humans & dogs has been thoroughly & completely disproven at this point, and dogs definitely do not pee on things out of 'spite'. If you think about it, dogs don't have the same aversion to pee that we humans do - they like pee & other bodily fluids, so why would they use that to get back at you for something? Dogs don't think about revenge that way.

I'm assuming that this problem was discussed with your vet when it first cropped up? If not, I'd make an appointment for a complete check up. When a previously house trained adult dog starts having 'accidents' you need to rule out anything medical before assuming it's 100% behavioral.

If all his medical tests come back OK, then you will need to follow the 'treat him like an 8 week old puppy' advice. He needs to be on leash, tethered to your (or another responsible adult's) side 100% of the time that he is indoors. Do NOT give him even 1 second of opportunity to make a mistake. Crate him when this is impossible. Take him out every hour or two & allow him to relieve himself as many times as he wants, offering a high-value treat for each successful pee (even if it's just marking) After several weeks of this (it's going to take a while to break such a long standing habit) you can try keeping him gated in the same room with you, while dragging a leash to start the process of more freedom. Eventually working up to fuller freedom, as he remains accident free.

As far as enzyme cleaners go, I'm not all that impressed with the brand Nature's Miracle. I much prefer either Simple Solution or Anti Icky Poo. YMMV.
I'll start doing more research on the dominance theory. Pretty curious about this considering it's been bashed into my head so long, especially with the husky and the whole wolf/pack similarities thing.

Is there any benefit to doing this "part time" aka, on weekends when I'm home all day? Or is that an effort in futility being only two days a week until I can find a schedule that is more consistent?
 

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The dominance theory was based on bad research done in the 30s and 40s where researchers looked at a bunch of unrelated wolves thrown together in a confined enclosure in a zoo and went "ah, yes, this is how wolves behave in the wild." Years later someone had the brilliant idea to study natural wolf packs in the wild and found out that the 'alphas' were actually just... the parents. Wolf packs are just family groups, and there's very little aggression and overt battling for dominance in natural packs because of this - that only happened in the original study because they'd thrown together a bunch of strange wolves who didn't know each other and were around the same age.

But in the meantime, the idea of alpha wolves and dominance was attached to dogs, even though dogs are enormously behaviorally and socially different than wolves (even feral populations of dogs who have lived away from human influence for many generations do not form strict packs like wolves do, for one). Then it was further assumed that if dogs had strict hierarchies among each other, they MUST relate to humans in the same way and consider us rivals for social status positions. Sadly, even though the man who originally popularized this idea has tried his best to tell the world he was wrong, it's been a very difficult myth to eradicate from the general understanding of dogs and dog training. Here's one article, though there's many more put out by a variety of well respected trainers, behaviorists, researchers, and veterinary/animal behavior professionals: Debunking the "Alpha Dog" Theory - Whole Dog Journal

No shade on anyone for believing the alpha thing, it really is pervasive and is the kind of thing that seems to make sense on the surface. I'm glad you're committed to learning more and will try to provide some more resources if you want reputable information about dog behavior that's backed by our modern understanding of dog cognition and behavior!

As for the potty training, if you aren't consistent and only do it 'part time', your dog will likely only be potty trained part time. He might learn quickly not to pee when you're home during the day, but it'll likely take a lot longer - maybe forever - for him to realize the rules apply all the time. The more consistent you are the faster this process will happen, and since an adult dog already has full physical control of his bladder, it should be faster than training a baby puppy.
 

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I'll start doing more research on the dominance theory. Pretty curious about this considering it's been bashed into my head so long, especially with the husky and the whole wolf/pack similarities thing.

Is there any benefit to doing this "part time" aka, on weekends when I'm home all day? Or is that an effort in futility being only two days a week until I can find a schedule that is more consistent?
The more often he gets to be inside & working on this, the faster it will 'click', but as long as he isn't being brought inside & allowed to rehearse the inappropriate behavior, it shouldn't set you back if you're only able to practice a couple days a week, I'd think.

Here are a few articles for your reading pleasure:
 

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Ah, yes, good point! If he's only brought into the house when you're able to actively work on potty training, that's fine. I was assuming he'd be inside all the time but only working on potty training on weekends, which would be a lot less effective.
 

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It seems many people have provided you with resources on the debunked dominance theory! I will not comment further.

You could also just crate him while you're at work. That's how most dogs learn. That way, he can be in the house but be prevented from having an accident in the house, and then when you get home take him outside at once.
 
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