by Maureen Nelms
Occasionally, a dog comes along that just doesn’t seem to get the message that the inside of your house is not a toilet. If you are always at home with the dog, this most likely won’t happen. But if, like millions of others, you have to go to work every day, your dog could be left at home for up to ten hours. How do you keep it from urinating in the house?
Well, a crate certainly helps. But not every dog enjoys being stuck in a crate for ten hours. Most people don’t want their dog crated for that long either; they simply don’t want the dog to urinate in the house. Here are some possible alternatives.
We have a particularly difficult-to-train greyhound named Cajun. We acquired Cajun from a couple who had found him starving in the forest (but that’s another story). They kept him a month and then contacted the greyhound rescue group. They told us his story (leaving out the part about urinating in the house). Because we already had two other rescued, altered greyhounds, a male and a female, we were relatively experienced dog owners. When we first brought him home, we kept him on a leash because he was very territorial and wanted to lift his leg on everything. He still managed to pee on my couch, my drapes, my TV; you name it; he peed on it. We scheduled him for immediate neutering. The vet warned us that neutering would probably not solve the housebreaking problems because of his advanced age (his ear tattoos gave his age as seven). The vet explained that this behaviour was now “learned” behaviour (a habit) and that hormones were not the culprits. He was right. One thing it did do though, after about six weeks, was to cut down on the smell of the urine (a blessing in itself). During this period of time we dumped gallons of Nature’s Miracle® on our carpet, shampooed it weekly, and washed the drapes till they eventually dissolved and weren’t replaced. We praised Cajun when he went outside. We took him out twice every morning before we went to work. We did everything we possibly could to ensure he knew we wanted him to go outside, not inside. Nothing worked. When he stayed in the crate during the day, initially he would pee in the crate, but eventually this stopped. He hated being in the crate though, and would chew the metal door and drool till evening when we would come home and find him unhappy and dehydrated. He would also whine and howl when in the crate. We didn’t want him to be in there any longer than necessary so I started searching for alternatives.
I tried to purchase some diapers that would fit him. If he’d been a female it would have been all right, but there weren’t any that were big enough to cover him. I also tried Depends, but the elastic that holds them up is not equal to a greyhound’s teeth. Some kind person on the greyhound list (Internet) suggested doggie diapers (I’ve never been able to find them in Canada) or men’s jockey underwear. (Note: men will refuse to wear the underwear again even if laundered, so be prepared to buy some.) So I decided to try the underwear. Put it on the dog with the tail through the front opening and pull them snugly around the waist, securing with a diaper pin. The idea is that if the dog lifts its leg while wearing the pants, it wets the pants and therefore itself. It won’t like being wet and so will either learn not to urinate in the house or at least not to urinate while wearing the pants. So we tried it. Turns out that I have one of those are greyhounds who doesn’t mind being wet at all. Having a dog in wet underwear on my furniture wasn’t appealing. So I decided to put sanitary napkins inside the underwear to absorb the urine. In theory this should work. Sometimes it did. Other times, the adhesive on the back wasn’t always enough to keep the urine-soaked pad in the underwear. More than once I returned home to find it in my bed (yuck), but we persisted. Almost every day we would return from work to find that Cajun was wearing underwear with soaked pads. The idea just wasn’t getting through. To make matters worse, he developed a rash on his stomach. I tried treating him with all different types of baby ointments and powders and finally took him to the vet. He had diaper rash! I don’t know who was more embarrassed — him or me. Although a course of antibiotics cleared it up, I did not want to put him back in the underwear in case it started again. So it was back to the crate.
A short time afterward, I was at a dog show. There was a booth set up with “seasonals” for bitches. I spotted an odd looking item hanging next to the seasonals and asked the woman what it was. She told me it was a doggie jock strap to stop dogs from marking in the house. I had to have one.
Round with elastic sewn into it on the sides, it looks like a little plastic bag with a drawstring. The size of the pouch is probably about five inches in diameter. A one inch thick black strap with a long piece of Velcro is off either side of the pouch so that the pouch fits over the dog’s sheath. The straps go up relatively tightly around the dog’s waist. Cajun’s pouch is maroon and black tartan (pretty classy eh?) When it is on the dog, the pouch goes from front to back and the elastic tucks in front of the sheath and behind it. If it is not padded with something absorbent, urine can dribble out.
It works best when the pouch contains absorbent material. I use toilet tissue. Cajun has worn his for about eight months now. For the most part he has stopped urinating in the house. The pouch often slips forwards or backwards but just by having the “reminder” around his waist, he usually doesn’t pee. Occasionally I come home and find him wet. I just dump the tissue, wash the jock strap with disinfectant and hot water, dry it overnight, and we’re ready for the next day. Admittedly, it’s not an ideal solution, but for Cajun, now ten, the jock strap seems to work. Who am I to argue with success?
Ed notes: This article was written in the late 1990s. Today, many establishments are selling these as P-pocket belly bands. Shop carefully if you’re about to buy one; prices for the same item are as low as $4.99 to a high of about $25.00!
CG SP 97
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