If your dog is urinating on the furniture, it’s essential to correct this behavior as soon as possible. Left unchecked, it will become a routine that is hard to break. Your dog either doesn’t know any better and thinks he can urinate where he pleases, or is marking his territory.
Make notes about your dog’s toilet routine. You need to know how long after drinking he typically relieves himself, how long after waking he typically relieves himself, what behaviors come immediately before inappropriate urination and what stimuli are present at this time.
Determine the Cause
Once you’ve got an idea of his routine and the stimuli at play, you can determine the cause of this unwanted behavior. For example, if he pees on the couch immediately after drinking, it may be a simple case of his having a weak bladder. If he does it only after a visitor or dog has been near the couch, it is likely to be territorial marking.
Make Appropriate Urination Easy
Using your understanding of his routine, you can encourage him to urinate correctly. For example, if he circles or scratches the floor before peeing on the couch, as soon as you see him do this you should gently take him outside. By giving him fewer opportunities to urinate on the furniture, you give yourself more opportunities to reinforce the desired behavior of urinating outside. As soon as he urinates outside, give him a treat or make a fuss over him, whatever floats his boat. This makes him realize that urinating outside has a positive consequence.
If your dog is marking his territory, rather than simply not understanding where to urinate, you need to take a slightly different approach, as he will not necessarily behave as if he needs to go. Invite a friend over and have her sit on the couch. Once she leaves, observe the dog from as far away as possible. If he cocks his leg, or otherwise behaves as if he is about to urinate on the couch, distract him with sound. Either call his name, stamp your foot, clap or jangle your keys. Do anything to make him focus on you. Once he does, call him over.
Give him a treat or a toy as soon as he comes to you. This teaches him that there are better things to do than urinate on the couch after a guest has left. The reward is a positive stimulus. By introducing a positive stimulus in response to his coming over to you, you are showing him that his immediate environment improves when he has the urge, but abstains from urinating. With sufficient repetition, he’ll learn this as a habit.
If you find a wet patch, you’ve already missed your chance to correct the behavior. If you scold your dog after the fact, he won’t link his bad behavior with the consequence. In fact, he may think that he is being scolded for something else, such as approaching you or coming when called. Never rub your dog’s nose in his urine.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.