Dear Lisa: I have two 5-month-old Pug brothers who are almost house broken. One of our Pugs periodically jumps onto the coffee table and urinates on it. He will also urinate on a chair. I've never had a dog do this before and my husband and I are at our wits' end. Do you have any advice for us? --Piddlin' Pug in Pittsburgh
Any dog that jumps on a table and leaves his mark, is not "almost" house broken. It sounds like your male dogs are having some sort of "contest" between the two of them for either dominance of each other or maybe some other dominant figure in the house, such as your husband. I once had an intact male Schipperke who would pee on every pillow where the male head of the household slept. I'd recommend neutering your boys if they are not yet fixed as this will help with the dominance issues.
I would suggest you start their house-breaking all over again and crate them while unsupervised. If your dogs do this in front of you, then one dog may be doing it to get attention as well. Make sure you spend equal time with each dog. You may be inadvertently creating jealousy in one of the dogs. Since the dogs are young, I would urge you to take them to obedience training (find a class near you) if you haven't already. Give the dogs an outlet for their energy and taking them to class will teach them you are the boss not them.
On a related note, raising litter brothers is always risky because they tend to stay in that pack mentality and look to each other for guidance rather than the human member of the pack. When breeders keep two from the same litter, many times they send the pups to separate homes until they are much older, maybe even a year old, before reuniting them. They need the "alone" time to focus on training and to develop independently of the other one for better temperament and much needed socialization with other dogs.
In my experience many times puppies outgrow such antics, but a firm "pack leader" must step in and show the dogs exactly what you expect of them, which is not to mark the furniture or try to dominate each other or the human members in the den. Through training and establishing a happy routine full of exercise, fun time, and training for the dogs, they will get your new message loud and clear.
If you have a question, send it to Lisa at AskLisa@AKC.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.