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Preventing Dog Spots

Where applicable, fences can be used to keep neighboring dogs from eliminating on the lawn. Advising neighbors of the legality of leash laws, where applicable, can restrict damage to areas near sidewalks and on tree lawns/median right of ways. Unfortunately, no repellents are universally effective although a variety of home remedies have been tried. Hot and bitter products are most likely to have taste or odor aversion for dogs. Most repellents function better as taste repellents than to touch or odor repellents. Some odor repellents may actually encourage a dog to over-mark the strange smell. Some of the better known commercial repellents have these limitations as well.

A newly developed motion activated sprinkler, primarily designed to keep cats and rabbits out of gardens, may have benefits for some yards. The sprinkler, may provide benefit in small yards or at corners of front yards where damage is most likely to occur; however, the presence of numerous squirrels, stray animals or children may result in over-watering and very high water bills if they continuously trigger this device.

In many cases, the problem dog is the homeowner's housemate. Walking the dog to a park or field away from the house is a simple remedy to this. The time can be well spent since exercise has physical and emotional benefits for both dogs and their owners. Homeowners are encouraged to choose an appropriate destination and not create problem lawns elsewhere that may affect the overall aesthetics of the neighborhood.

A more feasible approach may be to train the pet to eliminate in a designated area of the yard. This area would be a landscaped area specifically designed for the dog. It could be covered with something like pea gravel or mulch acceptable to the dog and may even include a marking post like a large boulder, bird bath, or some other lawn ornament. Collecting the dog's urine in a cup and using it in this area for several days can provide some odor attractant value to this area. Feces can also be collected and transported to the new, designated area. Consistency for at least 2-3 weeks is important to establish this as a routine, trained behavior; several months may be necessary in some cases. Initially, training can occur with the dog on a short leash and food rewards employed.

Dogs should not be unsupervised in the yard while this initial training is occurring. It is often easier to train a young puppy to a particular ground texture than an adult dog, but never impossible in any age dog. A variable reward system utilizing one standard treat if urinating anywhere outside and several treats or a special treat if in the designated area can be helpful in this process and avoid confusing the dog regarding the new housebreaking rules.

Excessive food rewards in the form of meat or protein products will contribute to increased nitrogen content in the urine. Dogs being trained should not be trained with treats on the lawn during this housebreaking. Many dog owners also find it helpful to train their dog to go on an elimination command during this time. Common commands might include: Potty, Piddle, Do Your Business or Hurry Up, etc. and take less time to accomplish the task when inclement weather is present or time schedules are busy.

Dr. Steve Thompson, DVM - Director
Purdue University Veterinary

Also read: Diet Modifications