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So I have 2 dogs (1 boy 1 girl) that are fixed and are 10 years in age. They are siblings and are miniature doberman pinschers mixed with maltese. My mother died last March and had been taking care of them while I was away at college (I'm 20). I moved into my own apartment with the dogs. The dogs have had separation anxiety since my mother died and are now crated together in a huge crate when I am not home or else they will howl and bark nonstop which is not okay in an apartment.

Since we have moved, they have gotten increasingly picky in their food and are disobedient. The male dog has lost a distressing amount of weight and has been checked out numerous times. There is nothing medically wrong with him. He always finished his food but was losing weight anyway. My vet recommended I switch them to a combination of prescription wet and dry food. After this, he seemed to gain weight for a short amount of time before the food made him nauseous and caused him to throw up and defecate in his crate overnight.

After this began, I switched them to a Beneful wet food and a dry food. He has been gaining weight since I switched them but I noticed that both dogs now refuse to eat their dry food at all. They will eat the wet food and pour out the dry food and proceed to urinate in the bowls and all over the crate. I know this could be seen as not going outside enough, but that is definitely not the case. I take them out when I get up in the morning (8am), when I get home from work or school (4:30pm) and then around dinner time (7pm). The dogs get fed and receive water at dinner time.

They have been urinating multiple times a day every day since I have returned from a 2 week vacation. The dog-sitter did not have this issue with the dogs and followed the exact same schedule as I did. So I guess my main questions are:

  1. Are my dogs doing this (peeing in their food and water bowls) to spite me? They have no medical problems as I have gotten them evaluated multiple times in the last 2 or 3 months.

  2. How can I decrease their urination inside my home? They don't seem to care that they are peeing in their sleeping place and I can not place a pee pad because they will tear it up.

  3. Should I switch them to all wet food? They will refuse to eat for well over 24 hours if I just fill their food bowl with dry food and I do not want to starve them. They have not had any stomach problems with the wet food but the current portions I purchased are too small to be meals on their own.

  4. Am I doing something wrong? They were completely crate trained for the past decade and normally had no

Someone please help me! I've had these dogs for almost a decade and I do not plan on getting rid of them. But it's hard to come home from work everyday to a home smelling like urine and immediately get down on my hands and knees cleaning before I even get a chance to sit down.

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- Are my dogs doing this (peeing in their food and water bowls) to spite me? They have no medical problems as I have gotten them evaluated multiple times in the last 2 or 3 months.

Dogs aren't capable of acting out in spite. They don't have the requisite level of consciousness to do so. Dogs behave in whatever way works more effectively to get their desired outcome. It's likely these behaviors are due to major life changes, especially since you said they've been check out by a vet multiple times and the vet has found nothing medically/physically wrong with them.

- How can I decrease their urination inside my home? They don't seem to care that they are peeing in their sleeping place and I can not place a pee pad because they will tear it up.

The dogs each need their own crate. The space they're in is obviously too big, as they have room to pee. You mentioned the separation anxiety, which I understand can get to be a lot especially in an apartment when you're concerned about neighbors complaining and so on. If you live in an apartment building, go and talk to your neighbors. Explain the situation - most people will be understanding. There might be some barking and whining, but you're working on the problem. I'd buy a big jar of cheap foam earplugs and hand them out to neighbors with tiny bottles of booze or sweets. I've taken this approach, and only had 1 person react negatively. Your dogs were crate trained before, you can get back to that with some additional training. If you can take a few days off to re-train them that would be best. Get them each an appropriately sized crate and start crate training from scratch. A good rule of thumb is that the dog should have space to comfortably stand up (with their head up, not bent over) without touching the top of the crate, turn around, and lay down. If you can swing coming home mid-day to give them an extra walk or get a dog walker to do this that might help as well. 3 walks per day actually might not be enough.

- Should I switch them to all wet food? They will refuse to eat for well over 24 hours if I just fill their food bowl with dry food and I do not want to starve them. They have not had any stomach problems with the wet food but the current portions I purchased are too small to be meals on their own.

No. Wet food doesn't provide enough nutrients to be the sole thing that you feed your dog. Have you tried mixing the wet and dry food together? That way to get the wet food they have to eat some of the kibble. If you're tried that and had no success, your best bet is fresh food. Buy some meat or fish and vegetables, cook it all together without any seasoning, and mix that with something wet like greek yogurt or baby food. One solid combo that shouldn't bother your dog's stomach is cooked chicken, brown rice, and greek yogurt.

- Am I doing something wrong? They were completely crate trained for the past decade and normally had no

It sounds like you're doing your best in a tough situation (or more like a series of tough situations). Re-crate train, try some fresh food, add in an extra walk to two. Things should get easier. Worst case scenario, there is anxiety medication for dogs that you could talk to your vet about.

  • I can totally see what you mean about the crate. I would have thought that bigger would be better but I guess not. I'll definitely go out and get two separate ones! Thanks! And I have been mixing the food. They pour it out and only eat the wet food. I'll try the fresh food option – CSRenA Jan 13 '17 at 21:52
  • Way too much bold – paparazzo Jan 14 '17 at 12:12
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    The small crates are probably only necessary until they are retrained not to urinate in the crate. After that, you can probably return to the big crates. – mhwombat Jan 14 '17 at 17:15
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I can tell you that it is written law that major change in a pet's life can lead to behavioral issues most of the time. So first thing is to get back to a routine as close as the one they had before the passing of your mother. They seem to be nervous and stressed and are acting accordingly. An increase in their exercise will help to expel some of that energy in a good daycare setting where they get to be a dog is one idea. Make sure your crate size is not large enough to allow urination in one corner and sleeping in the other. Ironically I do recommend one change, change to dry food asap, the wet food had too many long-term negative side effects on weight, teeth, see about getting something like Science diet sensitive stomach (ID) and can AD only for a short while to get their digestive tracks in line. Also to create your own success I would move the feeding to earlier in the day. This is your start, foundation, and remember this is a nervous breed by nature, so if possible keep major changes out of the picture until they get on track.

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    Will that help them gain weight? It seems that when they only have dry food, their weight begins to drop again and as there so small. A weight loss is really bad. The boy dog went from 14 pounds to 9.8 pounds when he was just on dry food. When I started with the wet food, he gained weight and he's back to about 12.5 – CSRenA Jan 15 '17 at 20:41

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