If you have a dog who spends time indoors, there will probably be times during his life when he will have an accident. If you have a carpet, no doubt the accident will be on the carpet. Inadequate treatment of the affected area can invite repeats of the behavior. A few proactive measures can help eliminate the stains and odors, reducing future temptation.
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Cleaning Fresh Stains
The faster you find and clean up after a house-training accident, the better the chances you will be able to eliminate the odor. Remove solid wastes and blot up as much liquid as possible, using paper towels. Cover the wet area with more paper towels, and stand on the spot to soak up residual moisture. Rinse the area with water, and repeat the process. When the area is as dry as you can make it, put baking soda on the carpet, and allow it to sit overnight before vacuuming. The baking soda should neutralize any remaining smells.
Cleaning Set Stains
If an accident has had time to soak into the carpet, follow the same steps for removing as much of the waste as you can, then blot the area. Instead of rinsing the spot with water, use equal parts of water and white vinegar or a commercial pet-odor remover or enzymatic cleaner. These are available through veterinarians and pet supply stores, and they work to neutralize the odor. Allow the solution to soak according to the manufacturer's guidelines, then use a wet-vac to suction it away. Do not use a steam cleaner, as the heat will set the stain and make the problem worse. Avoid using ammonia-based cleaning products, as dogs will react to the odor of ammonia as if it were the smell of urine.
Preventing Future Accidents
Even if you can't see it or smell it, residual odor can remain. It's a good idea to check carpets with a black light regularly, to see if your dog is marking indoors. If you find he is, repeat the cleaning process. When the area is dry, cover it with an inexpensive, disposable, plastic table cloth. This will protect the carpet, reduce the temptation of smell, and allow for easy cleanup if another accident occurs. If your dog is marking a particular spot repeatedly, block his access to the area, or remove and replace the carpet to prevent future temptation.
Reducing Future Odor Problems
Dogs have sensitive noses, so several cleanings and applications of topical treatments may be necessary to remove all traces of the odor. Regularly dust your carpets with baking soda or baking soda-based cleaning products, and vacuum it away. This is especially important if an unfamiliar dog has been in your home. This process will help prevent animal odors from building up on the carpet, reducing the potential for accidents.
If you want your canine buddy to live in your house, it's important to take the time to housebreak him, and to accept that at least occasional accidents are likely to occur. When they do, Cleaning them up properly will help prevent recurrences. There are no practical ways to consistently protect carpet from the possibility of an accident unless you can put a door between your dog and the carpet. As a temporary preventative measure, you can try using a commercial or homemade repellent spray. Sold in pet stores, such sprays contain scents dogs don't like. Some are intended for in-house use, but spraying repellent over a carpet surface is unlikely to be a practical long-term solution, and it's no substitute for house training. If you decide to try such a product, test an inconspicuous spot for color-fastness first. Use caution if you concoct a homemade repellent from lemon juice or vinegar, as these also can stain carpets.
By Lisa McQuerrey
About the Author
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.