Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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Two specific types of house-soiling, submissive and excitement urination differ from most other forms of house-soiling in that the dog has little control over their elimination. As dogs age, cognitive brain function decline, could also contribute to indoor elimination. For dogs that are house-soiling a physical examination and medical history are first required. Training techniques for house-soiling dogs are virtually identical to those needed to house train a new puppy. To try and differentiate house-soiling from separation anxiety, it may be necessary for you to keep a record of when the elimination occurs.
For submissive urination, it is important that you and all visitors interact with your dog in a less dominant or threatening manner by avoiding physical punishment and even the mildest verbal reprimand. In fact, owners who attempt to punish the pet for urinating submissively will make things worse since this intensifies fearful and submissive behaviour. Sterilisation will eliminate male marking behaviour in over 50% of dogs and is also recommended for female dogs that mark during oestrus. Dogs that are exhibiting an increase in anxiety may begin to eliminate in the home due primarily to a loss of control when anxious and not due to spite. It is most likely to occur on or near the odours, especially the urine, left by other dogs. Submissive urination occurs when a person approaches, reaches out, stands over or attempts to physically punish them. However, even if house-soiling dogs are retrained to eliminate outdoors, indoor sites may continue to be used, since the odour, substrate, and learned habit may continue to attract your dog back to the location.

If the elimination takes place when you are gone, or your dog is prevented from being near you, separation anxiety should be considered. Confining the pet so that they are unable to watch other dogs through windows in the home may be helpful. Dogs that soil the home continuously or intermittently from the time they were first obtained may not have been properly house-trained.
Dogs that exhibit separation anxiety may soil the home and require an intensive retraining program. In addition, dogs that eliminate indoors are in essence, performing a self rewarding behaviour since they relieve themselves and do not perceive that the area they have used is inappropriate.
Dogs that eat free-choice often need to relieve themselves at a variety of times throughout the day.
Since the purpose of the crate is to provide a safe, comfortable area for a dog to "curl-up and relax", it is not appropriate for dogs that are anxious about entering or staying in their cage.
In this case, treatment should be directed not only at re-establishing proper elimination habits (see above) but also at the underlying separation anxiety. Urine residue must be removed from around doors, windows or other areas where stray dogs have been marking. Dogs that have been previously house-trained may begin to soil the home for medical reasons or behavioural reasons.
Although this problem can be seen in dogs of any age, submissive urination is most commonly seen in puppies and young female dogs. Once medical problems have been ruled out, it will then be necessary to determine if your dog was ever completely house-trained, whether there were changes in the pet's household or schedule at the time the problem started, whether your dog is marking or eliminating on horizontal surfaces, whether or not the pet is exhibiting anxiety when the owners leave or when they are locked in their confinement area, and whether there is any evidence of submissive or excitement urination.

While this can be overcome with training techniques, it may be better to confine these dogs to a small room such as a laundry room or kitchen where your dog is fed, or a bedroom where they sleep. Your dog is taught to perform a behaviour that is not compatible with urinating, such as sitting for food or retrieving a toy when they greet someone. Inappropriate use or timing of rewards might further excite your dog and serve as a reward for the excitement urination. Dogs may mark territory for a number of reasons including male hormonal influences, other dogs entering the property, moving to a new household or getting new furniture, or as a response to increased stress or anxiety.
Owner intervention in the form of verbal reprimands or punishment only serve to aggravate the problem by making a dog act more submissive which leads to further urination.
It should be noted that punishment at homecoming is not only useless for correcting a problem that has occurred during your absence but also serves to add to your pet's anxiety during future departures and homecomings.
Excitement urination is similar to submissive urination except the stimuli that lead to elimination are those that lead to excitement, particularly greeting and giving affection to a dog.
Each time the person returns they are more familiar and less likely to stimulate the urination behaviour.

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