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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Housebroken Dog Pees on the Bed

Dear Jan,
My Lab Maggie is 10 months old and--I thought--pretty well housebroken for some time now. But the other night while we were getting ready for bed, Maggie jumped up on the bed and peed, right in the middle of the down comforter! My husband and both saw her do it and yelled at her. She jumped off the bed and ran down the hall to the back door. We let her out to "finish" what she'd started.

I am just sick about this, because I was so sure we were on the right track...and then this happens! She hasn't had any accidents since then, and she hadn't had an accident in the house for several months before it happened. What should I do?


Dear Sandra,

Relax, this is actually fairly common and it's not a national emergency. The best news of all is that this is probably an isolated incident.

First, I must assume that Maggie really was housebroken before this, and that she didn't have a medical condition that prompted her to "let loose" on your bed. With that said, here's the likely cause of this accident: sexual maturation. Peeing on your bed can be a "marking" type of behavior, just like the boy dog who lifts his leg on furniture. It doesn't mean that Maggie is bad, dominant, or has "improper thoughts." She probably didn't even realize she was doing just happened, due to hormonal changes. Dogs "mark" to claim the area and let others know they own it. Again, a happy-go-lucky female Lab puppy isn't going to make a conscious decision to do just sort of happens.

To avoid a repeat incident, take these precautions:

1. Make sure she's pottied before she's in the same situation again. In this case, take her outside to pee before bedtime.

2. Keep the bedroom door closed until you're ready to go in there and closely supervise her.

3. Supervise her a little more closely at other times to make sure she really isn't backsliding in her training.

There's another situation in which a young, awake, housebroken dog may empty a bladder in the house. If the dog is extremely tired--physically exhausted after a period of great mental and physical stimulation--he or she may lie down to relax and just start to leak. Sphincter muscles simply may not be strong enough yet, and when the dog relaxes, the pee flows. To avoid this situation, make sure the dog potties outside at the end of the play period. By the way, you want to SEE it happen. Don't assume the dog is doing it just because he's outside. Dogs can get sidetracked outside and forget to pee...until they're inside your house!

Dogs will generally outgrow both of the above-mentioned bladder "problems." You just have to help them through the process.

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