QUESTION: This question has been "Condensed" to save space. Please answer my question. I work closely with my local city humane society. A PUPPY MILL raid happened and the terrible state of these dogs would break your heart. After cleaning them up and having the Vet attend to their many medical conditions, the ones that were deemed adoptable soon found new loving homes. The others sadly were humanely euthanized. All surviving ones found homes, except for one little adult female that no one wanted. Although I was already maxed out in the dog department at home, I brought her home to stay. But she urinates everywhere. Her own private kennel, my bed, everywhere. She seems happy and content but I cannot break her of this habit. It is as if she has to urinate, even defecate, where ever I have been. Her private kennel is the worst. I realize that she had been born into and lived all of her life in her own filth but is their any chance to teach her to stop this?

ANSWER: Many times I have been brought to tears when answering my Abuse Hotline or Pet Loss Support line that are run also through this website. But this time, it is after reading your email.

I have "Been There and Done That" so I know how these poor, scared, neglected creatures can tug at one's heart strings.

As you are very knowledgeable, you understand that once a dog is forced to urinate in their living quarters that it can be next to impossible to break. It becomes a learned habit. Normally a dog attempts to urinate and defecate away from their sleeping area but when not able to, they seem to give up and no longer mind.

I have always believed that dogs think that man purposely made carpets to urinate on. The truth is though that a dog seeks out absorbent material instinctively to urinate on. That is why when someone is walking their dog on the cement sidewalk, it instinctively goes off the hard surface, onto dirt or grass to do it's business.

I had rescued a little girl who had been locked for weeks at a time in a large kennel by an irresponsible owner. At first she had attempted to poo and pee in just one end of that kennel. Eventually the sorry mess covered all the kennel floor. That is how I found her. So terribly sad.

Like your little one, from then on, she would urinate, even defecate in even a small kennel and on the bedding and couch (exactly in the spot where I always sat, no where else). For several weeks, I kept the bedroom door closed and a safety gate across the entrance to the living room. I tried shredded newspaper in her kennel with no luck. Cardboard with no luck. But when I scrubbed and disinfected it and left her for short periods in it without absolutely any bedding, she quit. Eventually she was allowed into the bedroom. By now she loved and trusted me so the first time she squatted on my pillow and peed, I stamped my feet and made my voice very stern. I let my body language show her, just how upset I was. As I never left her alone in the bedroom without me, she did it about three times, always with my body language showing her I was in a huff over it. She quit after that. I believe she was marking the bedding as her territory as she always had access to leave the bedroom at any time. Once she realized I was Boss Dog (Leader Of The Pack), she figured out I was not going to allow her marking my bedding. Same with the couch. I raised a fuss if she tried to lay or walk on my spot. That stopped those accidents.

It took two full years (many other problems also) before she could be given away to an elderly couple and is still going strong as a senior citizen dog. BUT, she still can not ever have bedding in her travel kennel or will immediately mark it as her own.

Since then, I have proven that even those poor dogs who at one time were forced to relieve themselves in their sleeping area can often be reconditioned to stop marking anything that does not belong "specifically" to them. They must be caught in the act though. Even a minute later is to long for the foot stomping, firm voice, clapping hands or whatever it takes to make them get off of or leave the area that they are marking. They must be bonded with the person(s) first though.

Bless you for what you do. I wish to heaven that we had hundreds more people like you out there. Gayle at

P.S. I must make another note here: If a dog who never used to mark territory suddenly begins doing it, first one must rule out a medical problem causing it. Such as bladder or kidneys, certain diseases, a low lying physical pain or discomfort we are not aware of and of course, old age. Once those are ruled out, then we look at something mental happening causing stress in a dogs life. Some of these are, a new home, a recently renovated home (their territory has changed), a new person (child or adult) in the home, a new animal in the home (even a new dog next door to the property), bickering or arguing in the home, the owner being under more stress from work or something which a sensitive dog picks up on from our smell, movements or voice, less exercise than they are used too, etc. etc. Find the problem and you will find the cure in these different cases than the above mentioned one.

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