Oriental rug is dog’s new bathroom

I am writing from Palm Beach where I live with my 5-year-old Cavachon. She has gotten to going to the bathroom on one corner of an expensive oriental rug with some regularity over the past four or five months. There is no pattern as to time of day or night as to when this occurs. She has always used pads to do her business in the house previously but now she even looks up at me sometimes when she soils the spot and then turns and runs away to hide behind the couch. Could there be something wrong with her? She seems perfectly healthy otherwise. On a few occasions, she has even gone to the bathroom when I have had guests over to visit. Do you have any suggestions I can try that might stop this behavior, which is embarrassing but more so just a pain to always clean up?

Your last question and sentence likely have a word that describes the situation. behavior. This sounds like a case of a behavioral change that may have no health significance whatsoever. Little dogs, like a Cavachon, are sensitive personalities. They are prone to bad teeth, trouble housebreaking, lots of verbalization or barking, and protective of their owners but they are also sweet and endearing pets. I, myself, have a 9-pound Yorkipoo.

To be sure there is nothing wrong with your dog, I would start by having your veterinarian do a thorough physical examination and bloodwork. That can rule out any possible underlying health issues, including possible pain, although there are probably none. I believe that the likely cause of what you are seeing is behavioral because the dog is both urinating and defecating in the same area. That has become her new pad. Since she was previously trained to a pad, you can start by putting the pad in that area. If she goes to another part or adjacent part of the rug, she will need retraining.

Has your schedule changed at all? Are you home less now than before if you were home a lot due to COVID restrictions? That could mean she is suffering from separation anxiety. Has there been a change in visitors or other environmental factors like construction outside or anything else that could possibly upset her? If retraining is needed, crate training is a good start as would walking her outside more often and getting her to go to the bathroom outside with positive reinforcement. You may need to confine her to an area with tile or hard flooring with pads to retrain her to the pads. Lastly, you could find some dog behaviorists in Palm Beach to help with what can be a complicated problem. Good luck!

dr John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994.

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