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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19828
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Hi we have a 2 year old Staffordshire bull terrier type dog,

Customer Question

Hi we have a 2 year old Staffordshire bull terrier type dog, we got her at 10 months old from a bad home, she had not been fed properly, taken out for walks or separated from her dad during her first season. This meant she was undernourished, pregnant and suffered from separation anxiety (very vocal!!) She was also anxious of shouting and displayed real fear if we told her off (so we changed the way we disciplined her, she only needed calm quiet telling otherwise she would be cowering on her back). As the pregnancy became apparent our vet operated to spey hers so she didn't have to suffer such an early litter sired by her dad (a bigger dog). This didn't help with her separation anxiety as it meant being in the crate at the vets for a whole day... the night she returned I slept with her and every time she woke up she cried. After the first night she healed well and settled into our family life well. Not long after that our old dog died leaving her as an 'only pet'. She is now happy to be left in the day while we all go to school and work( I only work 9-3). The only indication that she ever had separation anxiety is the excitement and noise she makes when we return (or come downstairs in the morning). She screams and runs all over the place. We wait for her to calm before we give her attention, but usually the first couple of touches set her off again and we have to ignore her again!! She gets long walks and plenty of running off lead in the fields (her fav game is fetch ) She has become much better on the lead since we started using a halti, she is not aggressive with humans or other dogs and her obedience training is going well, good recall, sit, stay, fetch, find , bring , drop, well socialised etc. . . we are happy with how everything is progressing BUT..... The one issue we cant seem to iron out is that she wees on the floor if she does not sleep in her crate. This is an issue to us because our house is only small and the big crate in my kitchen is really in the way. We have tried everything, radio on, lights on, allowed in the living room. . . She doesn't wee when left if it is in the day or at night if our friends dog is in the kitchen with her, or if someone is asleep on the sofa bed downstairs, or if she sleeps upstairs with us. It appears to be a problem if she is on her own. This is the last issue that we would like to get ironed out, but I am not sure how best to solve it. She is a high energy dog who given the chance would sleep in our bed on our head!! we have made a point of ensuring she knows her place by not letting her upstairs, or on the sofas etc. . . .it really feels like she is protest weeing, but all the research I have done suggests that there is no such thing. When she has wee on the floor she doesn't get excited to see us when we come down, she stays on her bed and looks anxious particularly when I am cleaning it up, so we don't tell her off about it in case it makes it worse. Yesterday we got a high up dog bed for her in the corner of the living room which she really loves and seems to have stopped the sofa battles, so we left her to sleep on it and she didn't try and come upstairs to our room ( which had the door open ) but weed on the floor at the bottom of the stairs. . . . . I would be happy to have her sleep on a bed in our bedroom, but I am a little concerned if we do that we would be letting her become more reliant on our company than less . . . . any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I've professionally worked with animals for over 16 years dealing with both health and behavioral issues. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

I need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your responses, it will likely take 30-40 minutes to type my response. I hope you can be patient.

You gave me a lot of information and I'm sorry no other expert answered you earlier.

I just want to make sure it is the separation anxiety issue that concerns you and that you are positive the urination is the result of the separation anxiety?
Does she urinate anytime she is left when there is no other dog or human around regardless of whether it is day or night? Your post was a little confusing in that regard.

What have you tried so far to stop the separation anxiety besides giving the dog company and crating her?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No, she does not wee when left in the day and nobody is home, it is only at night when we are asleep upstairs.


We are not 100%sure it is separation anxiety that is causing it, but it appears to be the common theme?? Not sure what else could be causing it??


As far as separation anxiety we trained her to be left in stages gradually building the length of time and only returning if quiet and calm. We also ensure that when being left for the day she has expended lots of energy on a big walk/run/bike ride to allow her to settle for the day.


She receives a lot of attention in the house as the only pet all 4 of us spend a lot of time with her. When we leave her she does not make a fuss, but on return she runs around very over excited and making a lot of noise (staffies are very vocal). Sometimes our neighbour who she knows well lets her out in the garden for us and when he comes into the house she behaves in the same way. This has reduced over time through ignoring her until she settles down.


We have stopped her coming on the sofa's to prevent her spending all evening on laps/ having cuddles as we are trying to help her develop her independence. We also put a lot of time into training her to walk well, go through doors after humans, feeding her after we have all eaten etc to provide her the security of a stable pack. As I work in school I get all the holidays off so we are around a lot in the day in the holidays




Also if one or more of the family walks away when we are in town she screams and has only just been able to be trained to sit outside the local paper shop with one or two squeaks when we go in, then manages a few mins sitting quiet and when we come out she reacts the same as when we get home, v. excited and very noisy (crying and screaming)



Hope this is more help, let me know if you need any more info

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.

I want to let you know that the site does not allow me to make clickable links to supporting websites at this time. So where there is a site listed, you may have to copy that to a separate browser window or tab to access the data there.

I can not positively rule out separation anxiety as the cause of her urination issues. It is obvious that she has some separation anxiety and that your family and you have done a lot of work to help her overcome this and she has made great strides in this area. You are doing a great job and using methods that are working for her, so I don't have much to add to that as far as behavior modification. You are already using the methods I would recommend.

There are some medications and tools that might be helpful at stopping the separation anxiety that she still exhibits. One would be melatonin. It has been shown to work well for phobias and anxiety.

DAP collars might help a bit as well. They produce pheromones that mimic the ones produced by a nursing mom to calm her pups. It has proven to be helpful with separation anxiety but was used in conjunction with desensitization so it is unknown if the collar or the training was the major factor in resolving the problem. So I would definitely try this.

The urination issue might not be a part of the separation anxiety but relate more to a possible physical condition such as incontinence. Some dogs especially spayed dogs can have problems controlling their bladder. In some cases, you might notice a little leakage when they are excited, in other cases, it only happens when they are very relaxed. This can happen when they are sleeping soundly. Often, the dog will not even wake up and their bed is wet. In other case, the urine starting to flow, wakes them up and they are unable to stop at that point and urinate inside. This might be the case here.

During the day, there would be noises outside or other stimulation even when she is napping to prevent a really deep sleep. A dog around would also prevent a deep sleep as would company on the couch. These would all keep her in a less relaxed state and may allow her to better control her bladder. However, at night when things are usually quieter, she may slip into a much deeper sleep. When in her crate, she may even clean up any urine that slips. out.

I don't know if that is the cause, but there are medications that can be given to help strengthen the bladder sphincter and perhaps rule that cause out. One drug frequently prescribed is phenylpropanolamine which you can read about here:

You might ask your vet about trying this medication to see if there is improvement. You might also take her water up around 5pm to give her ample time to empty her bladder before bedtime which might also stop the urination at night.

Since she is not having problems anymore during the day when you are gone, I really do not think it would be a problem for her to sleep upstairs with you in HER OWN bed. It is a personal decision. We do not let our dogs on furniture or in the bedroom, but many owners would not have their dogs anywhere but with them when they are home.

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She has a bladder of steel!! she doesn't like going out in the rain and will refuse and hold her wee for hours, never seen a drop leaked ever, also manages to find the bottom of the stairs every time. Sometimes it is such a small amount it appears she has tried really hard to squeeze it out!! I have tried removing water at tea time. I always clean it with the chemical that breaks down the scent. I'm not happy with the idea of medication for anxiety. I guess we will have to continue with more of the same, working on her confidence and her place in the pack, given the chance she would still have ideas above her station.

Thanks anyway

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.

Melatonin is herbal and the DAP collar is not medication in any form. It is a pheromone or scent that calms them. That is one reason I suggested the DAP collar as it is NOT medication and will not interact in any way with any medication that she might have to be on for other reasons.

I can understand you not wanting to use the medication for incontinence. It would help determine if it is incontinence based though. Another solution would be using a "diaper" at night to prevent the accidents.