Inappropriate elimination is a common and often frustrating problem for pet owners. Medical or physical causes for house soiling need to be ruled out before treating for a behaviourally induced problem. Cats will not use the litter pan if there is a dislike of the actual litter box or the litter material, or if there is a stress-related issue. Dogs may not have been properly house trained, are going through separation anxiety, or are under a stressful situation.
Cats may become averse to using the litter box if it is not cleaned frequently enough, or if the cat does not like the litter material. Similarly, if there has been an upsetting event associated with the litter pan, or while the cat was using it, then often the cat will not want to continue using the litter pan. New people arriving or leaving the house, new or rearranged furniture, renovations, new pets, or even new animals outside can initiate this unwanted behaviour.
Dogs may become stressed due to separation, but can also elimination inappropriately due to anxiety. They may also exhibit marking bahaviours, particularly if they are intact animals in a new environment, or if there are new animals in the house. Submissive dogs may also urinate when greeting people at the door.
Once the inappropriate elimination behaviour starts, it is more easily corrected if given attention early. Aversion therapy is important to make the area undesirable to eliminate for the pet. Odour neutralizers need to be used to eliminate the scent from continually attracting the pet. Lemon scented air fresheners can be used in potted plants to repel cats. There is also a product available to put in the litter that will attract the cat back to the box.
For dogs, frequent and repetitive learning sessions with rewards are necessary to encourage the dog to eliminate while outside or in the appropriate environment. Adequate access to outdoor areas is essential for dogs. The dog must not be allowed access to the indoor sites where it has previously gone, unless there is constant supervision. For submissive greeting behaviour, all people interacting with the dog need to be seen in a less dominating or threatening manner. Kneeling down, speaking softly, and rewarding for good behaviour should be encouraged.
There are also several drug therapies that can be instituted at the same time as the retraining. Please feel free to contact the clinic to discuss which treatment option may be best for you and your pet.