My dog cocks his leg on furniture

(Q) We have two bitches, and we recently acquired a Toy Poodle X Bichon Frise rescue dog who is about four years old. He settled in wonderfully, but he insists on cocking his leg occasionally on the furniture. Also, he jumps up and throws himself at our legs when we are preparing his food or when he greets us.

Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says:

If a male dog is urinating indoors we need to consider whether he has a toilet training problem, if this is sex-related marking, or even whether the dog is slightly unsure of himself. All three can result in inappropriate urination. Is your new dog castrated? Entire males are much more likely to urine mark within the home, especially if there are entire females present. While castration is likely to help with this you must bear in mind that if he has a long history of urine marking it will be harder to overcome the habit.

Another possibility is that your new dog is still finding his feet within your home and is marking when he feels stressed or insecure. Look at where and when he is marking as this may provide a clue about whether it is something specific that is causing him alarm. For example, some dogs who are stressed about things occurring outside may mark on the curtains or furniture near doors or patio windows. Others will mark after a visitor arrives or after a challenge from another dog. Take note of what is happening before he cocks his leg as this will help you identify the cause of the problem.

Create consistent house rules so he understands the new boundaries, and try using an Adaptil diffuser within the main living areas to ensure he relaxes as much as possible. The disruption resulting from changing homes takes some dogs several months to overcome so be patient and clear in your expectations.

In addition, make sure you are cleaning the marked areas with an appropriate enzymatic cleaner, as any remaining scent will make him more likely to mark the same area again. Your dog’s background has influenced his current behaviour. If he has been used to being the centre of attention and jumping up to say hello then he will be persistent. Be consistent, turn away, and greet him as soon as he calms down. This may involve rewarding slightly calmer behaviour at first rather than expecting perfectly good greetings straight away.

Turning away and only greeting him when all four feet are on the floor is important. This won’t happen overnight so you must be consistent every time. Eventually, he will learn the new rules and improve.

Vet Roberta Baxter says:

Has your rescue dog been castrated? If not, the first thing I would do to try and reduce marking behaviour is to have him neutered. It may also be advisable to have a urine sample checked to make sure that he doesn’t have a low grade urinary problem that needs treatment.

Having the bitches neutered if they are still entire might also make a difference to any dominant behaviour he is exhibiting, and continuing to establish training will also help.

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