How It Began

My work as an animal behaviorist involves going to the homes of people who have problems with their pets and designing a training program to resolve those problems.

I was called to the home of Pat and Russ Stephens on September 4, 1993.  They wanted me to help them break their 13-year old male poodle, Cocoa, of marking in the house.  Marking is when a male dog urinates on an object to leave his mark or scent.  This is quite different from urinating because of a full bladder.  I learned that Cocoa had this problem most of his life.  His favorite place to mark was in the living room, particularly when no one was home, but he also would mark all over the house even when people were at home.  Pat had tried everything she could to control him, but nothing worked.  She couldn’t leave him outside, because he would bark and disturb the neighbors, and she thought Cocoa was too small to wear a bark collar.  She definitely did not like the idea of debarking him.  If he were shut in a crate, Cocoa would become hysterical, so that was not an option.  If he were closed in a room, he would destroy it.  If he were confined with a dog gate, he would jump it.  She decided she would just have to live with the problem, and she did until she remarried.  It was Russ, her new husband, who said, “We’re calling a dog trainer!”

It was my job to find a solution for Pat and Russ that would not upset Cocoa and would also get results.  That meant we had to let Cocoa run free while stopping the inappropriate marking.  It was then that the idea occurred to me to fold a paper towel, place it against his penis, and wrap an Ace bandage around him to hold the paper towel in place. The Stephens loved the idea.  There would be no more urine around the house, and Cocoa would have his freedom.  We designed a schedule for when Cocoa would wear the wrap and also reviewed other strategies and techniques such as deodorizing (about which you will learn shortly).  The results were remarkable.  Cocoa quit marking after urinating in the wrap only three times in the first two days he wore it.  Once he realized that the only thing he marked was himself, he quit.  What was even more remarkable was that in less that one-month Cocoa no longer needed the wrap.  The results achieved with the wrap and Cocoa’s other training contributed to a happier dog for the remainder of his life.  Since that time, I have found this method of training to be invaluable in a variety of situations.

I found, as I experimented with this method, that the regular elastic support bandage, which was held together with clips, was difficult to use.  The support bandage has so much elasticity in it that it is not very absorbent which is necessary for our purposes.  I do not recommend securing the wrap with clips or safety pins.  It could result in puncture wounds or an even more life-threatening situation if your dog swallows one.

I have improved on the design, written this lesson plan, and am proud to introduce you to MarkOut®.

Here is Pat’s follow up about Cocoa a year and half later!

MarkOut® Success Stories!

One and a half years later…

It has been about one and a half years since I contacted you and we began a dog training program for our two poodles, Cocoa and Rascal.  I just wanted to let you know that we think its one of the best decisions we could have made.
As you remember, our major concern was with Cocoa, our 14 year old poodle, who has been a problem for as long as I have had him. (All 14 years)  Although he always had his doggie door and knew how and when to use it, he had a bad habit of wetting and marking many areas in the house.  A year after my first husband passed away, my daughters and I moved in with my sister and my two dogs had to become outdoor dogs for the first time in their lives.

About 7 months later, I bought a townhouse and the dogs were once again indoor pets.  Cocoa began his usual bad tricks again, marking and wetting.  When I married Russ, it didn’t take very long before he became upset with Cocoa and we decided something had to be done!  That’s when I called you.

You came to the house and surveyed the situation and offered what turned out to be invaluable suggestions.  We decided to put both dogs through your At-Home dog training.  Its not true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

The idea of confining Cocoa to a single room or outside was not an option.  It had been tried, and he about destroyed everything around him trying to get inside or out of a confined room.  However, when you thought of the idea of wrapping an ace bandage around him with a pad inside, we thought it was worth a try.  He was to wear it all the time when we were gone.  The doggie door was closed.  If Cocoa decided to mark anything in the house, he would have to wear the wet wrap until we were home to let him out.  He didn’t like the wet wrap.  He slept in our room at night so that he couldn’t wet anywhere during the night either.

After several months we tried it without the wrap and allowed him to use the doggie door all the time.  Even at his age, he had learned tht it was better to go out the doggie door than to wear that wrap. He quit wetting everywhere and we were delighted.

Both dogs are much better behaved and more responsive after their training.  And what a difference it has made with Cocoa!  We have just recently moved into a new house.  We were worried that since it was all new to him, that he would need to mark everything.  It did happen – only once though.  Without his recent training, I just know we would have had the same problems we used to have.  You can imagine how pleased we are with his good behavior!
Thanks so much for your help in making our lives much more pleasant and helping our dogs to be happy and proud of themselves.

Pat Stephens