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Dr. John
Dr. John, Texas Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 5160
Experience:  Over 14 years of clinical veterinary experience
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I have adopted a 7 year old Westie who has barking and

Customer Question

I have adopted a 7 year old Westie who has barking and marking issues. We are his third home ( I know why). This is his forever home but I would like to change some behavior. I have had him checked for bladder issues and there is no infection but I think he is a very insecure luittle dog and when he gets anxious or stressed, I thin khe cannot control his bladder. Is there a medication that might help?
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. There are all sorts of infestations the dog can pick up. I'll have you talk to the veterinarian who'll sort out what is wrong and help you decide what to do about it. What is the dog's name?
Customer: Brodie
JA: Is there anything else the veterinarian should be aware of about Brodie?
Customer: I don't think so. I suspect he has been abused.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

Hello, JACustomer. I have been a Veterinary Nurse for over 15 years and would be happy to help you today. I'm reviewing your question right now.

Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

1) How long have you owned Brodie?
2) With the urine, do you see any leaking?
3) Does the urine wind up on any vertical surfaces or only horizontal?
4) Do you catch the urination happening?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Sorry to be so slow to respond. I have been on the phone with Apple Support for 3 hours. We have had Brodie a year. Sometimes he seems damp underneath but it may not be from leaking but from marking. I think it is both vertical and horizontal.
I NEVER catch him. It is like he does it on the move.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

No worries. Hopefully we can get you squared away faster than Apple ;)

The important thing to know before deciding if this is marking vs. bladder issues is WHERE the urine winds up. Dogs with bladder issues don't hike their leg and pee on vertical surfaces. It's always urine that goes in a downward fashion, so we see it on horizontal surfaces only unless it, by chance, it leaks off of an elevated surface due to volume and gravity. Urine on a vertical surface means he is intentionally putting it there (marking it his own).

Are you using belly bands yet?

How long ago was he neutered?

Any intact dogs in the household?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
We use a belly band at night. I have no idea when he was neutered. We have another male but he has. Even neutered since he was a year old. Since this was a problem in the foster home, I don't think it is McGregor.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

To clarify, are you saying that you don't think the marking in the home is McGregor and do believe it's Brodie? If you aren't 100% certain, have both dogs been checked for urinary concerns?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Sorry that was a typing error. No, I know it is Not McGregor. McGregor was neutered when we got him st a year and does not mark. Brodie was on a foster home with no male dogs and he did it there. I have to say, he is better but still does it. My neighbor who is a dog trainer advises a shock collar but I am reluctant to use one.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

Yikes. Kinda hard to use a shock collar on a dog you don't see peeing. Did he mean for the barking?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
For any correction!
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

Sounds a bit overbearing without trying some other things first.

One thing I would recommend is hiring a behaviorist (not just a dog trainer, and probably someone other than anyone your neighbor recommends if the shock collar is their ideal approach) to come evaluate Brodie in your home to see if they can give you some feedback on the causes of the marking and the barking. These may have the same root but not the same purposes.

Most dogs who bark due so for a reason, be that happiness, excitement, boredom, fear, etc. A behavioral evaluation will help you to determine what the underlying cause is and what needs to be done about it. Many small breed dogs do have what we affectionately refer to as a Napoleon Complex (little dog syndrome) where they have to prove themselves. They bark at every noise, every thing, etc. They are intense and constantly focused on their environment. Desensitization in their home can help greatly to get them to calm down. In some cases, we can also use behavioral meds to lower their threshold of reactivity to the world and work on training. Once the training is effective, many dogs can then be weaned off of the medication. That said, I dislike the idea of just placing a dog on meds. My go to for terrier-types who are naughty? Exercise, exercise, exercise. A terrier with a job is a happy pup, indeed. This can be playing fetch, tug, schedule play dates with other dogs, doggy daycare, dog parks, etc. but it needs to be regular enough to wear Brodie smooth to where he's not interested in doing much aside from resting. Dogs like this mesh better with their household because they are more calm and less focused on their effort to react to every emotion and stimulation they experience (must mark this, must bark at that, etc).

For marking, I would increase your usage of the belly band to full time until you can be certain of what is going on. I would tape some potty pads up on the side of couches and other 'legs' of items that he likes to pee near. If you're seeing all 'floor' urine, these may be accidents. If you're seeing urine on elevated surfaces, these are not accidents at all. To answer your question from earlier, yes, there are medications to help with leaking-type accidents but these commonly happen in bed and when they're relaxed (much more common in aging girls than in boys). I don't expect that's what is happening with Brodie. If he's overly stimulated, the same benefit may be achieved from behavioral medications for barking+behavior modification, as well, but you have to couple correction/redirection with catching him. He can't be allowed to make bad decisions that go un-addressed. For this, full time use of the belly band and full time observation in the home. If he has an accident that you didn't see, you must up your efforts. Put a leash on him and keep him close by. Until he can act like a good pup, he needs to be kept on a short leash with few chances to mess up. Once he's no longer making messes, the belly band can slowly be reduced for usage in frequency. If medications are being used, they can possibly be weaned off, too.

I’ll be standing by if you have other questions. Let me know if I can help further.

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Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

Checking in, JACustomer. Any additional questions I can help with? I didn't hear back from you yesterday.