is a 4-year-old, overly excited and nervous terrier mix.
When I come home, or someone comes to my house, she will
pee. It seems she will deliberately pee as a way to
greet me. I have tried avoiding eye contact, but she
still pees. I am at my wits’ end and completely
overwhelmed and stressed out by Ginger’s peeing. Can
you help? Is this problem fixable?
you for submitting your letter, Tillie. I can read how
stressed out you are about this situation with Ginger.
Although avoiding eye contact when you get home is a
good start, clearly there’s more that needs to be
tried in this situation.
I would recommend a thorough veterinary examination.
There may be a physical component causing, or at least
contributing, to this behavior. I assure you that Ginger
is not urinating on purpose to send you a message. This
is something that is beyond her control; the cause may
be a physical problem, a behavioral pattern, or both.
assuming that any physical issues have been ruled out or
addressed, it’s time to change the pattern of
behavior. The first thing I’d suggest is introducing
an alternative behavior for Ginger, one that is
incompatible with overexcitement and urinating. Is she
an obsessive ball player? Does she live for food?
Whichever she is most over-the-moon about, I’d
introduce it the second she sees you.
will mean having high-value treats or her favorite toy
in the car with you. Upon arriving home, without
greeting her, either toss the toy or a large, yummy pile
of treats right at her, and then walk away as if she
doesn’t exist. The goal here is to have her peeing
behavior be "interrupted" by something that is
high enough in value to redirect her. If this is to
work, it needs to be repeated each time you arrive home,
or someone comes to the door (in the case of guests,
toss the ball or treats away from the door), until a new
pattern of behavior is established — that of looking
around for her beloved toy or yummy treats when you
she has already peed by the time you get close enough to
toss the toy or treats, then investing in a remote
control treat dispenser will be of great value. The unit
should be placed toward the back of the house, and by
using your remote control, you would have it start
delivering treats as you walk in the house. The exciting
thing about this approach is that Ginger will be further
away from you and focused on getting those treats from
the dispenser — both likely to result in no urinating.
important point — if you come home and ignore Ginger,
but become exasperated when she pees, you could be
adding to the problem. Ginger may become more stressed
out, resulting in leaking urine due to the pattern she’s
observed: You come home, ignore her, then become unhappy
or stressed, perhaps even scolding, while you clean up
her accident. So part of fixing this is to walk in your
door, remain calm and serene, and even if there is a
puddle, ignore it for a while. In short, be "zen"
when you get home, regardless of what’s going on
redirecting Ginger with high-value treats or toys doesn’t
get results, I’d recommend a consultation, so the
routine can be observed directly. This way, we can cater
a plan to fit you and Ginger specifically.
final thing to consider: If all else fails, why not
invest in a few pairs of "britches" for
Ginger? These are little panties made for female dogs
that will prevent her accidents from hitting the floor.
Investing in a few pairs of these while you’re working
on the issue might do a lot to ease your stress, while
you both are learning to behave a little differently.
Good luck, Tillie!