A retrospective study was conducted to determine the relative frequency and type of elimination problem seen in dogs at a university referral practice and to evaluate the efficacy of the suggested treatments. Cases presented to the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell University between 1987 and 1996 were reviewed. Of 1,173 cases, 105 (9%) were house-soiling cases. Of these cases, the authors obtained outcome information from 70. Within the diagnosis of house soiling, incomplete housebreaking (n=59; 84%) were the most frequent referral cases, of which 48 cases (81%; 95% confidence interval, 69% to 90%) improved. Separation anxiety was considered the second most common underlying cause (n=27; 39%), of which 85% (n=23; 95% confidence interval, 66% to 96%) improved. Behavior modification was the most often suggested treatment (n=58), with 48 (83%) cases improving. Behavior modification consisted of accompanying the dog to the preferred elimination area, rewarding the dog for eliminating there, and punishing the dog only when caught in the act of house soiling. These results suggest that correct house training, behavior modification involving positive reinforcement, and appropriate punishment are essential to diminish house-soiling problems in dogs.

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