Marking or Housetraining?

When the couple go out, they usually come back to small amounts of yellow pee in various parts of the kitchen.

marking in the house

Buddy – with Marley peeping in the background

Recently this had begun to happen at night too.

So they had gone back to ‘housetraining’ the little terrier with frequent visits to the garden. Adorable Buddy is now two years old.

The only thing that has so far made any difference has been putting him back in his crate at night where he used to sleep when he was younger.

Buddy crated – no urine.

The peeing never happens in the day if people are at home. However, if they go out and leave the two dogs alone for just a short while they come back to urine.  They will be videoing them to see exactly what happens during the day when they are out. Now that Buddy is in his crate during the night there is no urine – so we can be sure the marking is not Marley.

This is not actually a housetraining problem as it never happens when the dogs have access to their humans. The cause of the marking has to be Buddy’s feelings when left.

To compound the problem, it’s only recently that the dogs have been left alone, downstairs in the kitchen, at night time.

It’s not just peeing to empty his bladder. It’s marking.

The other dog, also two years old, is a beautiful Sprocker called Marley. Now left in the kitchen with Buddy at bedtime, he too is very stressed. He cries all night and scratches at the door. He wants to sleep upstairs on their bed like he used to.

The young lady has recently moved into her boyfriend’s house and they have decided that from now on the dogs will sleep downstairs. Previously they had slept on her bed with her – both where she lived previously and upstairs in this house. Now they are shut in the kitchen.

She has left Marley to cry for a couple of nights. This obviously is upsetting and tiring for her but imagine what state the sensitive Marley will be in after a whole night of crying.

Separation is the real problem. Marking is a symptom.

They may, understandably, be cross with Buddy when they come home which can only add to anxiety which is the cause of the whole problem. Because by definition ‘marking’ is about being noticed, in case he does see any connection with their crossness and the marking which is doubtful, they should ignore it and clear up when the dogs are both outside.

Because he has always marked when left alone there is also bound to be an element of habit to it which can now be broken.

Some days the dogs are left home alone in the kitchen for nine hours. Add to this their no longer being allowed in the bedroom for the night, it does mean a lot of time apart from the couple who adore the dogs and want them to be happy.

What can they do?

Buddy and Marley

They will need somehow to make sure the long days are broken up with someone coming in the middle of the day.

Some days the young man has been working from home. He says he will now take them to work in his office when he can. They have friends who may be able to help out on other days.

Left for shorter periods, they can perhaps keep alternating crating Buddy with leaving him free in the kitchen with Marley. When he’s in the crate he won’t pee. Both dogs can be left with a stuffed Kong to work on – something not wise if both are loose together just in case there are arguments over the food. (Take a look at this: Ode to a Kong).

They can also leave toys and other things for them to do. Background music especially created for dogs could help keep them calm.

They can gate the stairs so from now onwards both dogs no longer expect to go upstairs ever again. At present they can still be upstairs in the bedroom with the couple during the day and evening but have to go to the kitchen at night.

There are some other problems we are addressing. Sprocker Marley is constantly active, running about, leaping over things, sniffing and being busy and no doubt needs more to do. The little terrier is noisy, reactive and prone to obsessing over moving shadows and reflections. They have two kittens which over-excite Buddy. General strategies to lower their stress levels along with appropriate healthy stimulation will undoubtedly help with everything.

When people work hard with only so many hours in the day, something somewhere has to give. In this case with the young man is really on board with helping his girlfriend’s dogs and I am sure they will make the changes necessary to give them more healthy mental stimulation, less arousal and less time alone.


NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Buddy and Marley and I’ve not gone into exact precise details for that reason. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where fear is concerned. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page)

British Bulldog Toilets Indoors

British Bulldog with a mind of her own


One-year-old Lola doesn’t put herself out at all. She often seems to be lazy and almost depressed, though can have quite a turn of speed if she wants to! She does what she wants, when she wants and can get cross if physically forced to go somewhere she doesn’t want to go – like out into the garden to toilet or into the ‘dog room’ when people are eating. She lacks any motivation to do what her humans want but that may be in part because they usually do what she wants anyway.



Lola lives with a lovely family and two adorable Shitzus, ten-month-old brother and sister Frankie and Bella who seem to have defied all the negatives concerning taking on sibling puppies and are a tribute to their owners – no trouble at all. It is characterful Lola who is causing them the grief.

She has learnt that barking gets people coming to her and giving her attention – even if it’s in the form of scolding. She starts at 5am which gets someone coming downstairs and, after letting them all out, feeding her.

She also messes in the house and will bark afterwards which also always gets a result by someone going to her and giving her attention of some sort. Interestingly, she never toilets indoors when everyone is out.



It’s easy to jump to conclusions that problems are behavioural, but although the toileting indoors has always happened, it’s just possible that there is something else going on with Lola that needs to be eliminated first. She has become very thin over the past few weeks – impossible to see from the photo. The vet has checked her over and put her on hypoallergenic food and, far be it for me to question a vet, I do wonder whether she’s absorbing her food properly and whether the chosen food is sufficiently nutritious. She is always hungry.

Is it possible the early morning barking which always brings her food may be due to hunger?

I suggested as an experiment that they both try feeding her a small amount at bedtime along with changing the central heating timer to come on a bit later just in case that is what starts her off. Whatever the reason, the barking works. People come to her. She gets fed. She is being taught to bark.

The fact that Lola still toilets indoors is getting them down. They take her outside regularly, or try to – she may refuse, but she still prefers to go in the house. A regular routine in terms of daily walks may help. The other issue is that she has very little interest in doing as they ask or wanting to please and possibly the two things are related.

But…..they don’t use chicken or cheese – yet!

Lola is very food orientated and I am sure once she realises that she gets an edible ‘thank-you’ for complying she will be a lot more focussed. Instead of ignoring them she will come when she is called, she will go outside when asked to and, in time, she will find toileting outside is more rewarding inside.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Lola, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).