Fascinating story of a Miniature Schnauzer - and his Peeing Problems

by Melissa
(Pittsburgh, PA, USA)

He is such a sweetie

He is such a sweetie

Hello All!
I am writing this today in hopes that someone may be able to shine some light on my little mini Schnauzer who has recently been having accidents in the apartment. Here is a little back story:

My boyfriend and I adopted Scrabble from my sister and Brother-In-Law. The past few weeks, I know, have probably been a little confusing for him due to the move and now new adjustment to a new pair of owners. I have been telling myself that any issues are merely from him adjusting to his new home, but I hope that's not naivety on my end.

My sister and brother in law adopted Scrabble when he was just a tiny little puppy. They potty trained him, or housebroke him I should say, and also taught him a series of common tricks (sit, lay down, paw, up, down and even how to quietly bark instead of loudly barking). He is a sweetheart.
For the most part, he enjoys cuddling, but he is also very active and loves throwing the bone back and forth. For the first two years, my sister and brother-in-law gave him endless amounts of attention. When my sister discovered that she wouldn't be able to have children, Scrabble took on the role of baby. A dangerous role which he never asked for. Then, of course, my sister became pregnant, and before we all knew it, Scrabble started to fall to the back burner.
My sister ended up buying a house. So the three moved to a different space, and one that needed a lot of work. For a good amount of time, Scrabble was confined to a crate or one room. Mostly for his safety since the house was torn apart. When my sister had her daughter, Scrabble had a hard time with the adjustment but managed to be nice and calm around the little one. Soon my brother-in-law started traveling more for work, which left my sister overwhelmed having to take care of the dog and baby on her own.
When she discovered recently that she was pregnant again, their little family decided it was better for Scrabble to be with a family who could give him the attention he deserved. When she told me that she was going to give Scrabble to a shelter, I nearly lost it. I love him so much, I couldn't imagine him being in any other family.

My boyfriend and I live in a VERY pet friendly community with lots of green grass and space to go on beautiful walks. We have a nice dog park, and live across from a super big park, so we of course decided that we could give the little guy everything he was lacking at home. We both work in the film industry, so our schedules are VERY flexible and we are able to be home with our doggy all day.
Things have been GREAT, EXCEPT for the accidents he has had. In total, he has only had three, but I fear more. We can't keep cleaning up urine spots, especially since we don't OWN our home.

The first time Scrabble peed was when he first entered our apartment. Literally, within one minute of being in our place for the first time, he peed on a bookshelf. I didn't get upset. I took that as him "marking his territory" which I understood.

The second time Scrabble peed was when he first met my boyfriends mother. I can also understand why he urinated. My boyfriends mom was nervous around him (his bark is scary and he has a bit of an issue meeting new people, which we plan on taking him to a class to hopefully help him with) and I think he detected that.
hen she walked past his crate he snapped at her, so I put him in his crate while I took my boyfriends mom outside. We don't have a screen door, so to prevent him from getting out when the door opens, we usually barricade him in a room, but since everything happened so fast, I just put him in his cage. When I walked back into our bedroom, where his cage is, I noticed that he had peed. Not IN his crate. He aimed so that it went outside of it. I figured that he felt threatened by my boyfriends mother and that he felt he needed to again "Mark his territory" when he felt she was too close to his "house." Again, totally understand.

This third time that Scrabble had an accident, I just don't understand. He had just come in from a long walk and had been playing with my boyfriend. In a ten minute span, my boyfriend went to the computer to check his email, while I went to the bathroom to put on my makeup. Scrabble was cuddled up on the couch sleeping. As I was finishing up in the bathroom, I heard our bedroom door creak, as if someone was opening it. I came out of the bathroom, to find Scrabble with my boyfriend. I looked at our bedroom door, and apparently somewhere in that ten minute span, Scrabble had peed on the door. He gave us no warning that he had to go outside. I heard no barking, whimpering, crying, or clawing. He ALWAYS goes to the door when he needs to go potty, even if it's just fifteen minutes after a walk. All I can think is that he was maybe mad at us for not paying attention to him. I just don't get it though because we have been VERY sensitive to him. We know that he needs lots of attention, so we spend about 80% of our day with him. I just can't understand why in ten minutes he would rebel.

My fear is that this habit will only get worse. I've cleaned all his "spots" with white vinegar and water and have decided to try some positive re-enforcement for outdoor peeing. Is there anything else I should be trying? He was just at the vet where he got checked for a UTI and everything came back negative, so I know for sure that he doesn't have a medical problem. And since he is only four, I can't imagine that it would be incontinence. Any advice or encouragement would be great. We love our little Scrabble and want to keep him around for a long time!

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Apr 11, 2013
by: Melissa

Thank you all so much for the warm and helpful responses! The day after I posted my story about Scrabble, he started acting more and more lethargic. We would try to play with him, but he was just sluggish and unresponsive to his toys. I noticed him starting to lick his tail more and more, so I called the vet and made an immediate appointment.
The vet only had an evening appointment available, so Scrabble and I laid low together until then. He ended up getting sick twice. I was super worried about my sick little pup.

Our vet told us that Scrabble has an infected anal gland. She said that it is something that happens sometimes and that there isn't really anything you can do to prevent it. She said that it was definitely the reason why he got sick and that a simple antibiotic should clear it up. I asked her about the peeing and she checked his bladder and urine for crystals just to make sure there was no UTI or bladder infection. Everything came back negative, so our little guy has no UTI or anything wrong with his urine.

The vet gave us a handful of reasons why Scrabble would pee like he did. She too mentioned that perhaps there was a dog in our apartment previously and that maybe Scrabble can smell old accidents. She also said that it could have been due to him not feeling well, and wanting attention for that reason. Like a cry for help. Since neither my boyfriend or I caught Scrabble in the act, we can't be 100% positive that he lifted his leg when he urinated, however we really think he did since the door creaked.
Our vet said that it is usually a "Marking Their Territory" thing when the dog lifts their leg. She suggested following Scrabble when he leaves the room and goes out of view. Just for a while. That way we can possibly catch him in the act, which is what's effective in helping him to break the habit.

Now that it's been two days, Scrabble seems to be feeling much better. The antibiotics seem to make him sleepy, but he still enjoys playing for hours with his toys and taking long walks with mom and dad. He hasn't had an accident yet. We follow him when he goes to the old scene of the crime, and it seems to deter him from doing anything he knows he shouldn't. When we go out for short periods of time we have been keeping him in his little crate, which he doesn't mind. He won't have an accident in it, so it's worked out.

My boyfriend and I still would like to take him to a local pet therapist. We think it would be good to just get some insight into his world. Everything seems to be good though, and I expect lots of happy years with our little guy :)

Thanks for all of the help! And I'll have to try that spray! I have been using a simple homemade cleaner of white vinegar and water. Then covering the spot with baking soda, low percentage hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of dawn. It gets the stain out and the vinegar seems to keep Scrabble disinterested.

Great news, thanks for the update.

Apr 10, 2013
a scared, confused dog
by: Betsy, Alpharetta

I had a friend who adopted a small, house trained 1 year old dog. The dog AND one of her brothers had originally been purchased a married couple. A year later both dogs were taken to a rescue organization because the young owners had a first child and decided the dogs were "too much trouble" (I won't give my opinion of these 2 owners. Let's just say my blood boils.)

Anyway, after trying very hard to place the 2 dogs together, the group decided not to wait; but, try to get them homes in separate families. First the brother was found a home. And when my friend heard of the little girl's story, she knew she must adopt her.

Her new little dog began to exactly as you described. The poor dog was just so confused, scared and missed her original home and her brother.

My friend got online and joined a few dog groups who assisted her in the ways to help the dog adjust. She was committed to the dog, and had planned to consult a specialist if necessary.
But, in her case, although it took months, the dog settled into her great home and lives a very nice life.

In retrospect my friend said she probably would have taken the dog for a consult and if necessary work with a specialist But, happily it worked out.

In your case, I think I would consult my regular vet immediately. The vet might be able to point you in the best direction. Either to good books or internet sites for instructions or to a specialist.

But, I do think it is a psychological problem. Poor little dog. He is so fortunate to have a new "forever" home where he is loved and people will help him

Apr 09, 2013
by: Michele

It could be because there has been another dog at your
Apartment.. A bitch maybe and he can smell her so he is
Marking HIS territory on hers. Whatever I'd if you can try to take him out if you think he is going to pee as dogs in apartments and no garden is not a good idea. I see you adore him so be patient and maybe get his kidneys checked out as he may be getting too much protein in his diet .. Keep
us informed of Scrabble ..

Apr 09, 2013
by: Diane

I don't recall how old Scrabble is but is he drinking alot? If so, this could be a sign of diabetes. My dog literaly would drink drink drink and pee pee pee. She was 9 yrs. old at the time. I knew something was up and so off to the vet, sure enough diabetes. So now its been 2 years and I give her (Lucy) 2 shots a day. You are supposed to check the sugar but I just gage it by her actions watching if she is drinkling more water etc. So far, I think I have had it managed. However, now 11, she is blind due to that, which is common with diabetes.

I have a female but is he neutered? Not sure if that has any bearing.

Good luck, I know all to well how frustrating constant clean up can be. (I now own a bissel carpet cleaner!!)

Call your vet, perhaps there could be some insight there!! Good luck, keep us posted.

Apr 09, 2013
Schnauzer Peeing
by: Toni

I had a Westie that did the same thing. He had been raised in a home where the mom put his food and water down once a day, and took it up when she thought he should be done eating and he got no more until the next feeding. There was a little 7-year old in the house who teased the Westie and the Westie bit the mailman. The 4 year old Westie was going to be put down, and I took him to spare his life. I had him for years, left his food and water down and he was loved by our two children. He never bit anyone, but we were careful around his food, since he was protective of it from not having "food security" in his former home.
For some reason he never outgrew the peeing on the floor and only did it when we left the house. He could hold it any other time. The vet said it was psychological (separation anxiety). My mom then took him and kept him until he died, but thinking back, I maybe should have put him in a crate when we left the house. Psychological problems are difficult, and you are admired for your love of animals. Maybe he will become comfortable enough in your home to stop this random peeing. Don't holler at him because it will just make him more anxious. Just try to catch him in the act, scoop him up and take him to his "potty spot" quickly and praise him at this spot. This may help him to know his random peeing will not be tolerated. Love sometimes overcomes psychological issues, and he is your baby now. Best wishes to you in your kindness.

Apr 09, 2013


Apr 09, 2013
by: Jeff

Sounds like Scrabble's problems are between his ears!
I would recommend you have a dog psychologist or dog behaviourist take a look at him. It should be something that can be fairly easily cured once you get to the root of why he thinks it's a good idea to pee inside when he knows he shouldn't.
Good luck - let us know how you get on.

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