How does a dog owner determine if his dog is getting old? How can he know that the “accident” that just happened is the result of the aging process that the dog is going through?
These are difficult questions, since a dog five years of age can be considered old, while a six-year old dog may still be, to a certain extent, a puppy. No two dogs are exactly alike. One dog’s metabolism may be old at four years while another may not show signs of the aging process until eight or ten years old.
The first solution is to go to your vet. The reason is simple – the aging process is not the only medical reason why a perfectly well-housetrained dog may suddenly backslide and forget his toilet training. The reason for the unwanted activity must be discovered and properly dealt with though. Unwanted activity, when not properly corrected, can soon become a learned reaction.
Your dog’s vet can examine your pet and rule out such possibilities as nephritis, diabetes, or both. These two diseases can cause a dog the inability to hold urine. A urinary tract infection may be the cause, whether your dog is considered old or simply middle-aged. Your vet can check to make sure parasites or infections are not causing the incontinence.
Whether your dog is young, middle-aged, or old, a thorough medical examination by a vet is the first and most important aspect to consider when a dog that was perfectly housebroken suddenly forgets and has accidents. Only when all possible medical causes are ruled out should you start examining the possible psychological causes.
To have a better understanding of the many possible psychological causes, we must start with the simple and progress to the complex. If you own a male who quite suddenly forgets that he is housebroken, examine the possibility of a female in heat right next door. The compulsion to lift a leg in such cases is very overpowering and surpasses even the most rigid puppy training.
The problem here is, once the “mark” is left on the leg of the dining room chair, the scent remains long after the female dog next door completes her heat cycle. The scent instinctively draws the dog back to that same location for repeated leg raises.
The problem becomes worse if shag carpeting is involved. Wiping it up with water magnifies the problem because of the possibility of mildew. Mildew is notorious for attracting dogs. This type of accident (and it is considered an accident) is quite normal when a female dog is in heat nearby. Even the well-trained dog feels the compulsion to leave his marking. This lets the female dog know (or so the male dog thinks) that there is a perfectly capable and willing stud close by.
One of the best formulas for removing the urine scent from furniture, drapes, and carpeting is club soda. Removing it is a must if you are to return your dog to the status of the well-trained household pet that you know he is. Scolding and verbal reprimand at the time of the accident is perfectly in order as long as you have ruled out medical causes.