NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: I bought a Maltese puppy for my great-granddaughter. The dog is about 3 years old.
He was very difficult to train, as I’ve heard this breed is. He has now started to pee and poop in the house.
We take him out, but he still pees in the house. We keep him confined to the kitchen now because he has peed on the TV stand, recliner, coffee table, etc. I can’t get rid of him because my great-granddaughter is so attached.
Any advice you can give us will be appreciated.
— P.S., Chesapeake, Va.
Dear P.S.: Maltese terriers and other small breeds seem to have a higher incidence of cognitive impairment when it comes to toilet training, especially compared to other breeds.
This urination activity in your home calls for some analysis. If he is straining and having difficulty or pain while urinating, your dog may have a urinary tract or bladder infection or stones. A veterinary checkup is then urgently needed.
If he is raising his leg and marking, this could be hormone-related territorial behavior. There’s also the probability that it could be anxiety-driven if there is some cause for emotional stress in his environment. Ask yourself if he is anxious for some reason, and address that problem. Is he taken out frequently enough? Does he need more attention and physical activities?
It could also be a habit triggered by the residual scent where he has urinated before. Use an enzyme cleaner on all soiled areas. Let him out of his kitchen confinement on a long leash and harness for control. Pull him up short as soon as he sniffs and readies to urinate. Carry him outside and put him on a pee-pee pad already marked with his urine (or placed in the kitchen). Be sure to give lots of praise and a treat after he urinates.