Dog’s nighttime habit is unwelcome

Q. About a year ago, we adopted an 18-month-old mutt. “Buddy” is a great dog, but he has one continuing problem: He urinates and defecates in the living room in the middle of the night. We don’t feed or water him after about 7:00 p.m., and I take him out at 10:00 nightly. He is otherwise very well housebroken. The only thing that has worked so far is putting him in his crate overnight, but my husband says it’s cruel. Is there any other solution? – Janice in Lewiston, Calif.

A. Actually, crating is one of the first methods to try in this case, and it can be successful in stopping the problem (though not necessarily the behavior, as Buddy has demonstrated). But some people do feel that crating is cruel, so I understand your husband’s feelings about it.
Have you mentioned this problem to Buddy’s vet and had him examined for any physical problem? It’s always good to make sure he’s healthy. Talk to the vet also about Buddy being adopted—he may have picked up a bad habit at his former home, or he could still be experiencing some stress from leaving one home and then coming to another one.
If the problem is behavioral, continue housebreaking with Buddy. A key part of stopping the overnight elimination is to not allow him into areas of the house in which he has already left his mark, so to speak. If this is not possible, you may have to continue with the crating, or, you may want to consult a professional trainer for more in-depth ideas on solving this dilemma.

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