Common House Training Problems

House training is one of the areas of boxer dog ownership that's most subject to misunderstanding, confusion, and just plain dread! Generally, boxers are not a challenge to train.

Today's article is going to deal with four of the most common problems surrounding the issue of house training.
- Submissive/excited urination
- Scent marking

Common house training issue #1: Submissive / excited urination
What is it?
A submissive urinator is a dog that urinates on the floor and himself (and sometimes on you and any guests you may have!) in situations of extreme excitement or stress - like when you return home at the finish of the day, or when he's being told off.

Why does it happen?
Puppies are the usual candidates for submissive/excited urination, but it is not unusual to see adult dogs with the issue as well.  Often these are highly sensitive and timid dogs, and/or ones from a shelter with a history of abuse.  Often these traits all go together.

When does it happen?
These are some situations when an excited or fearful dog is likely to urinate:
- Greeting time after a prolonged absence
- Play time
- The arrival of guests
- Stressful situations at home, eg arguments
- In the coursework of a correction
- Sudden loud noises (thunder, fireworks)

What am I able to do about it?
Fortunately, it's not difficult to cure your dog of his submissive or excited urination.
First, you may want to take him to the vet to make certain there is no medical reason for the issue, such as diabetes or a bladder infection.

Now it's time to take control of the issue:
- Limit his intake of water to help him control his bladder more effectively. Don't restrict his water intake over a prolonged time period.  The measure is to be used in a case when you know there is a situation coming which would normally lead to urination. For example, you have guests coming over, or are planning on a play session soon. Take his water bowl away for a time period (maybe half an hour to an hour) before the event.
- Something else to try is when greeting your dog, keep it quiet and soft. The more excited he is, the harder it is for him to control his bladder, so don't encourage him to get excited.  You may want to ignore him for the first few moments, or give him a gentle hello or a fast pat.  After this you may then go about making yourself at home.
- It is important that you DO NOT punish or harshly correct your boxer dog for this behavior. It's not something that they can control, and he is definitely not doing it intentionally.  If you catch him in the act, you can interrupt him with a firm No! This should be followed by praise when he stops.  Remain calm, and try to be sympathetic, your boxer puppy didn't mean to do it after all!
- If he urinates out of fear (submissiveness) when scolding him for another offense, try to take the stress levels down a little by keeping a firm, authoritative, but not a loud or annoyed tone. Keep in mind, you're dealing with a sensitive, excited dog. If you get annoyed or further excite your boxer pup, the issue could very well worsen.

Comon house training issue #2: Scent marking
Scent marking is when a dog marks his or her territory with urine.  This is technically not a house training issue, since it's based more on issues of dominance and territoriality than insufficient house training because a dog can be perfectly house trained but still mark inside the house.
However, because since the issue centers around the undesirable presence of urine in the house it seems logical, in a way, to link this issue with house training.  Since this is one of the most widespread problems among dog owners, we thought it worthwhile to include some practical advice.

Here are a few pointers on telling the difference between scent marking and lack of house training.
Your dog is probably scent marking rather than genuinely relieving himself if:
- The amount of urine produced is comparatively tiny, and tends to be directed against upright surfaces such as walls and doors, etc.
- He is male, unneutered, and at least five months of age.  Unneutered dogs are much more territorial than neutered ones.  If you have an unneutered dog in the house, you can pretty much expect a wee little bit of scent marking.  Unspayed females also mark, but it is not common.  Spayed and neutered dogs may also exhibit marking behavior, but it's relatively rare.
- It makes tiny difference how often he is taken outside for a toilet break.
- They frequently targets items that are new to the house: new possessions, visitor clothing/footwear, etc.
- If you live in a multi-dog household and there is conflict between the dogs.
- If there is other unneutered or unspayed pets in the house.

What should you do about the issue?
First things first, spay or neuter your dog(s) as soon as reasonably possible.  If you can do this soon enough, at around six months of age, this often stops marking altogether.  If your dog has been marking for an extended period of time,  he may continue to do so after being spayed or neutered, since this pattern of behavior will have been established.
Clean soiled areas thoroughly.  Use a non-ammonia based cleaner because ammonia smells just like pee.  Also stay away from vinegar  because it smells similar to urine as well.  There are many commercial cleaners designed specifically to lift pet stains and odors, which you can buy from pet stores and some supermarkets.
Because dogs tend to re-mark the same places, you may need to redefine the places that you know he has marked in the past to prevent repeat offending.
Here are a few suggestions for ways to do that:
- Feed him next to or on top of the spot
- Play with him in that vicinity
- Groom him close by
- Put his bed over or next to it
- Spend time there yourself
If there is rivalry between dogs in the household, you will need to try to solve that issue.  Any conflict is likely to be a control issue, which means that all you need do to ease the strain is pay attention to which dog appears to be more dominant than the other one.  Some ways to figure this out is to watch which one eats first, gets the toys he desires, or stares down another dog, and reinforce this position.
There are different ways to do this, feed the dominant dog first, pet him/her first. Give him a toy before somebody else gets one. This makes it clear to all dogs in the house which one  is the dominant dog and when this has been recognizably established, territorial and dominant behaviors like scent marking often vanish overnight.

You can visit the The Ultimate House Training Guide site for more boxer training tips by clicking on the link.