To you, your dog's urine simply stinks, but to your dog, it's a dossier of information he shares with other dogs. Dogs urinate inappropriately for many reasons, including marking, anxiety and medical issues. If you have a problem with a dog urinating on the furniture, be patient and work with your dog to teach him the proper time and place to let go.
Reasons for Marking
Urine marking is different from urinating. A dog who urine marks deposits small amounts in strategic spots to mark his territory for other dogs. Your home, couch, rugs, yard -- in your dog's mind, it's all his territory. If something changes or he detects the presence of another dog, he may feel the need to assert his authority. You might have noticed this if you share your house with more than one dog -- one dog urinates and the other urinates over the spot his dog pal just peed on. Other dogs mark in social situations, such as meeting new people or visiting other dogs, while others are anxiety markers, responding to stress, such as change or conflict. Intact dogs tend to urine mark more than neutered and spayed dogs; the scent of a dog in heat can prompt urine marking from male suitors.
Not all urine problems come from marking behavior; there can be medical reasons for your pup's urinary missteps. A urinary tract infection will prompt your dog to pee small amounts of urine frequently, as well as lick his genitals more than normal. A dog with incontinence doesn't know his bladder is emptying as he snoozes next to you on the couch. Other medical conditions and medication can cause frequent, sometimes difficult to control, urination. If your dog is particularly submissive or easily excited, he may be one of those guys who urinates when he's saying hello, being scolded or engaging in some play. Separation anxiety also can cause inappropriate urination, as your dog becomes anxious when you're not around. Finally, some dogs haven't had the opportunity to learn proper house behavior and haven't been house trained.
First Things First
If marking in the house is a problem, the most effective remedy for the situation is to spay or neuter your dog. Neutering is not a guaranteed cure for marking, particularly if the behavior has been happening for some time, so proper house training is still critical. If your dog knows better, yet you're still coming across tell-tale signs he's been urinating where he shouldn't, take him to the vet to ensure there's nothing physically wrong. The vet can decide on a proper course of action; for example there are medications available to help with incontinence.
You may need to engage in basic house training to teach your dog when and where he should pee. Take him outside to the correct spot and praise him when he properly takes care of business. If you catch him midstream inside the house, don't yell, but calmly tell him "no, outside," and get him outside quickly, praising him for finishing correctly. If you can't be around to take your dog out on demand, consider training him to use pads or grass sod for his indoor break spots. Be sure to have enzymatic cleaners on hand to remove the scent of previous deposits, making your dog less likely to return to the scene of the crime.
If you can't trust him alone in a specific room, bar his access or crate him in a crate that's large enough for him to stand, turn around and lay down in, but not so large he can soil his personal sanctuary. If he's urinating on your outdoor furniture, try associating that area with food or treats to minimize the association with marking. If that doesn't work, try blocking his access to that area or give him something else to target, such as a fake fire hydrant, rewarding him when he correctly hits the mark.
Praise, Don't Punish
Punishing your dog for his urinary transgressions is fruitless, as is trying to keep him from marking. Allow him to mark on his daily walks -- keeping a dog from marking may increase his frustration and compel him to mark more at home. Don't punish or scold him if you find he's peed; yelling and rubbing his nose in it will confuse him at best and teach him to fear you at worst. Simply clean up the mess with an enzymatic cleaner. Avoid ammonia-based cleaner because it may attract him to the same spot.