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When Spot makes a spot
by Nathan Orme
Jul 27, 2010 | 945 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Dogs like Lucy can be nice to carpet when they're not using it to mark their territory.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Dogs like Lucy can be nice to carpet when they're not using it to mark their territory.
There is nothing quite so refreshing as the smell of fresh coffee in the morning.

Likewise, there is nothing quite so depressing as the smell of fresh pet pee in the morning.

Anyone with animals is accustomed to a little mess now and then. But when an occasional problem becomes an almost daily chore of sopping up urine from the carpet, it is much more than a petty nuisance.

Animals that are properly housebroken relieve themselves inside for a number of reasons. Sometimes it is as simple as bad timing: They might have been left in the house a little too long or nature’s call was just a little too loud. Other times the animal could be ill, which can affect its ability to hold it. In my case, some new pets being introduced to the household started a territorial spat that has spiraled into an all-out turf war.

A visit to the veterinarian can rule out medical causes for such accidents and a more careful schedule will eliminate plain old bladder overload.

When it comes to claiming territory, there isn’t a lot a pet owner can do except try to cut down on the temptation to mark it in the living room. I have been battling this for about six months. I have three dogs that take turns inside and a single incident where one got a whiff of

another has led to a fairly regular problem, especially for my pit bull mix, Lucy

Each time it happens, I have been using a carpet cleaner with so-called oxidizing capabilities to try and eliminate the soaked-in residual odor that dogs have a gift for detecting. The problem seems to be getting better, but I thought this would give me a good opportunity to look for other advice and pass it along.

The Humane Society’s advice is to retrain the pet to not do their business in a particular area. I can’t block off my entire living room, but I did barricade the main problem area, which also has cut down on the issue overall. To find areas that might have been missed by human eyes and nose, the Humane Society suggests using a black light to reveal old urine stains and then outlining them in chalk to clean when the lights are back on.

Inadequately cleaning the offending area is a sure way to make any retraining efforts fail, according to the Humane Society. Any hint of personal scent will lead the animal back to the undesirable location. In my case, where the offending area is carpet, the advice is to soak up the urine with a combination of paper towels and newspaper. The suggested method is to put down a thin layer of paper towels on the wet spot, covered by a thick layer of newspaper, stand on it and repeat until barely damp.

A layer of newspaper under the spot is also suggested, but not practical unless you’re willing or able to pull up the carpet.

There are a lot of recipes out there to eliminate the animal odor, from highly technical chemicals to plain old vinegar or baking soda and water. I have used special animal sprays made by Resolve and Kirby, both with moderate success; the Resolve had the oxidizing properties and the Kirby just said it was meant for pet stains.

Katherine Simkins, a Reno-based dog trainer for Bark Busters, suggests one of her company’s products, Buster’s Secret, for its odor and stain eliminator “bio-enzymatic technology.” She said it is supposed to kill the odor, not mask it.

“(Pets') sense of smell is so much keener than ours,” she said. “You can put baking soda and stuff on it and the smell is still going to be there.”

Whatever odor eliminator works for you, the other step is retraining the animal. Simkins said the owner has to be extra diligent in watching the animal to watch for signs it is looking to urinate. In my case, the incidents were happening at night as I slept. But she did have a suggestion that might work: Simkins said dogs typically won’t soil an area where they eat or sleep. My dog Lucy had been marking an area about 15 feet from her bed, but I might try putting down some food or water in the spot to stop her.

Having the dog sleep in a crate was another of Simkins’ suggestions, but 60-pound Lucy would need a really big crate and I’m not sure I want to cage her up.

The Humane Society says retraining can take several weeks, so be sure to be patient and reward the animal.

With this warm weather, all the dogs like to sleep outside, which takes care of the problem for now. If only it could stay summer all year.
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