Dog on the Couch

2017-04-20 06:01

HI Susan, how do you suggest I stop my dog pooping on the carpet to spite me when I am out?

Your dog isn’t being spiteful or revengeful, but is relieving herself on a surface that triggers a “safe signal” in her brain.

During house-training we teach animal and human babies which surfaces are suitable to eliminate on. This then becomes designated in the brain as a “safe region”, which will unconsciously relax the sphincter muscles.

As we are taught from a young age where it is socially acceptable to “go”, these involuntary muscles will not usually relax until an acceptable place is found.

The usual reason for a dog choosing an area like the carpet rather than the tiles is that puppies are often taught to wee or poo on newspaper.

When they are presumed to be trained, this temporary loo is removed. However, the newspaper is linked to a safe area in the dog’s brain. When that is not available and an urgent need such as an upset stomach arises, which can occur during separation stress, the dog will look for a similar surface to eliminate on.

A carpet is soft, porous and on top of the bare floor and this will be seen as more acceptable than the bare floor itself.

So, your dog is not being spiteful, but is looking for something to relieve herself on that is similar to what she recalls was acceptable during her puppy days. This is an involuntary reaction so if you can’t avoid leaving your dog indoors for a long time put paper down.

Also make sure before going out that the dog has been allowed adequate exercise and time outdoors to do the necessary. It is just as difficult for a dog to eliminate on cue as it would be for a human to.

Of course, not knowing details of your dog’s background and environment, I have to generalise. You would do well to consult a reputable behaviourist or vet if this trouble persists because a psychological or physical cause will need to be identified.

Susan Henderson©

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