How To Stop A Dog From Peeing In The House! A Simple Guide
Has your dog started to pee in the home after having successfully been house-trained in the past? Or have they never learnt in the first place? This behavior is often very confusing for pup owners who thought that house-training was behind them months or even years ago or thought their pup would pick up potty training in no time.
There are several reasons why they may be peeing inside, and it is important to first try to identify the cause. Different causes have different recommended solutions.
In this article, we will investigate the most common causes of dogs suddenly starting to urinate in the house and offer training tips for addressing the problem in each case.
Quick summary of the different reasons for urinating in the home that we will look at:
1. Medical Conditions
The very first place to start looking to identify and resolve your pups issues with eliminating in the home is to consult a veterinarian to make sure there is not an underlying medical condition.
There are a variety of health problems that can result in your dog becoming physically unable to follow the housetraining rules they had previously mastered.
Here are just a few common potential medical causes:
- Urinary tract infection
- Urinary stones
- Reactions to certain medications
- Hormonal imbalances
- Weakened bladder or anal sphincter
- Spinal cord injuries or degenerative conditions
- Disorders of the prostate
- Normal aging process
Careful observation prior to your appointment can help your vet make a diagnosis or know what tests to perform. Taking some notes may help you to have information to save you money on needless testing, and save time in identifying the cause.
Here are some areas to pay attention to and make note of, in regards to your dog:
- How often are they eliminating?
- Are they choosing certain spots in the house and repeatedly going there?
- Are they urinating or defecating while laying down?
- Do they struggle to urinate when you take them outside?
- Have you noticed any blood in the urine or stool?
- Do they show any other unusual behaviors such as lethargy, unwillingness to eat or drink, or ravenous hunger or thirst?
Solutions For Urinating In The House Due To Medical Conditions:
If your veterinarian is able to identify the cause of the problem, the solution may be as simple as medication. Or, it may involve surgery or other therapies. In most cases medical conditions can be addressed, especially if detected and treated early.
In some cases, such as aging or degenerative issues, the problem may be more complex and may require management to contain the problem rather than finding a total fix.
In such cases, here are some options to consider to keep the mess to a minimum:
- Extra trips outside to keep the bladder empty and reduce indoor accidents.
- Indoor/outdoor doggy door if you have a fenced yard. This can help them get outside before they have an accident.
- Doggy diapers are an option for chronically incontinent pups. They are now also available in a washable variety to cut down on waste and cost.
- Puppy pads my help in a few ways. First, your pooch may be able to make it to a puppy pad if it is near favorite spots where they spend plenty of time. Second, you can use puppy pads to line bedding if the incontinence issue happens even when your pup is laying down.
2. Over-Stimulation Peeing
Some dogs will be triggered to urinate when they are super excited by things, usually greeting new people. If your pooch is jumping up and down and weeing all over the place when new people come over, this embarrassing problem is likely a simple matter of overstimulation.
This is not an uncommon problem for younger dogs that are still working on bladder control. If you have a young puppy that is doing this, the following training tips are likely to help, but keep in mind they are likely just going through a phase.
Solutions for Over-Stimulation Peeing:
Manage the environment.
The first thing to do if you have identified the problem as over-stimulation weeing, is to try to manage your pups environment to prevent them from getting over excited in the house.
What triggers your dog’s excitement? Usually it involves greeting other people, but sometimes it is a certain toy or game as well. Try to make these situations happen outside if possible. Think ahead and set your pup up for success.
Every time you set your pup up to fail and give them an opportunity to practice behavior you do not like, you are helping to reinforce that behavior.
The trick to all management techniques is to set up an environment where you can control the introduction of the trigger so that you can reprogram how your pooch reacts to it.
Recondition the trigger.
You have the power to make the trigger less exciting for your dog to help them experience that trigger without losing bladder control. It takes some time, but look for ways to practice the trigger and associate it with a more calming experience.
For example, if your pooch is triggered by greetings, plan ahead and ask your friends to ignore your pooch until they settle down. Use a clicker to mark and reward calm behavior at a greeting. Ask your friends not to use high pitched voices and other exciting behaviors at greeting times.
Practice greetings often, outside, whenever you can. Never punish your pup for excited urination. They are not able to understand that what you are punishing is the peeing, and he is likely to develop negative associations with an associated trigger. This is just going to add to the behavioral issues with your dog.
3. Submissive Peeing
Does your dog roll over or cower and pee when scolded or when meeting new people? This is known as submissive urination. It is an ultimate act of showing submission for your pup to engage in these kinds of behavior.
There was a time when canine trainers thought submission was always good in dogs, however, dominance theory is no longer the gold standard among most animal behaviorists. Instead, using positive training techniques to help build a confident dog is the goal of most modern training programs.
If they are showing such submission that they roll over or cower and urinate, they are actually very insecure. This is not healthy, and it is a sign you need to help them build some confidence.
Solutions for Submissive Peeing:
Manage the environment and recondition the triggers.
This is the same path as that listed above for over-stimulation weeing. Identify the things that trigger your pup to submissive pee and try to not let them happen in the house. Further, make time for training sessions to recondition those triggers to a more calming and rewarding experience for them.
Stop scolding your dog.
If you are regularly scolding or yelling at your pup then you are doing most of the work to make this problem worse. Dogs are not mind readers. They do not understand the words coming out of your mouth. You have to be smarter than your pup and find ways to teach them what you want from them.
Ignoring your dog, quietly moving them to a kennel or room for a short time out, and removing any rewards are all tools that you have to curb unwanted behavior without scolding or even touching them.
Build confidence by positive training.
If your pooch is submissive weeing you can bet that they are sensitive. Building confidence in dogs is as simple as making time for positive reinforcement training on a regular basis.
It does not matter if you are teaching your dog silly tricks or to master an agility course. Training with a reward based system makes them feel good about themselves. Over time this will support your more direct efforts to recondition urination triggers.
Consider taking a basic training class or researching positive training methods and working on your own. It is fun and will improve your relationship with your dog. An added bonus is that regardless of what you are training, the confidence you build in them will help deal with the submissive peeing issue.
4. Territorial Marking
Does your dog pee multiple times an hour, sneaking to certain spots over and over, or spending time sniffing around before finding a spot to wee at home? Then likely they are urinating as a way of marking their territory.
Territorial marking is one of the more complex behavioral issues related to peeing in the house. There are actually several possible issues that can trigger territorial marking.
Having them spayed or neutered before sexual maturity will make territorial urination less likely. Triggers such as a new animal or person added to the household, a recent move, or changes to the family routine can bring on territorial peeing at home.
Dealing with territorial marking sometimes requires the help of an animal behaviorist. They can help you identify the specific causes in your case, and develop a training plan that is right for you and your pooch.
Solutions for Territorial Peeing in the House:
It is imperative to clean old soiled spots thoroughly and consistently with a specially formulated enzyme urine cleaner.
This is something that you have to keep up with during all stages of addressing territorial weeing. Your dog is triggered by even the slightest smell of urine and will obsessively continue to remark wherever they can smell traces of a previous mess.
Another tip is to identify often used spots and “pee proof” them during the training period. You can use unscented garbage bags, plastic sheeting or other water proof materials for this project.
This way if your dog slips up, and they probably will, then you at least have less clean up to deal with. This is a temporary measure designed to minimize damage from their urine seeping into carpets and furniture.
If your dog has started marking territory then understand that the behavior can be very compulsive, particularly if you allow it to be practiced.
In order to get this behavior under control you may have to significantly restrict your pups access to free roam of the house unless you are able to devote time to monitor them carefully and catch and correct the behavior before they get away with it.
Dogs generally will choose to mark objects that have some height in the middle of the room (like furniture legs) or corners where there is carpeting laid down. Confining them to rooms with hard floors and less furniture, like the kitchen or a kennel, when you are not able to supervise them can drastically curb marking behavior.
Catching them in the act, or preferably as soon as they show signs of getting ready to mark (circling, sniffing, lifting a leg) is imperative to stopping marking behavior. A correction should be short, swift, direct, and make an impact on your dog that it is just not okay to pee in the house.
Then, they should be put in the kennel or a safe time out room where they do not mark for a few minutes before taking them outside.
Reward peeing outside.
Make sure you are also generously rewarding urinating outside to reinforce that the problem is not peeing. If you are only correcting weeing at home, and ignoring your dog’s great idea to pee outside, you may confuse them into not wanting to pee within reach of you, such as on a leash. This can then be its own major hassle.
Reduce stressors and help your dog feel connected with you.
Making time to train and connect with your dog using positive training can help them feel secure in their pack, thus reducing some of the urges to mark territory. Take extra time for a walk, train a new trick, or find a new engaging game to play with them daily.
5. Stress Triggers & Other Psychological Factors
If you have recently moved, have added new animals to your home, or had a baby, the change in the routine of the household can create stress induced incontinence. Likewise, urinating in the house can be a part of your dog’s separation anxiety.
Solutions to Stress Triggered Peeing:
Finding new ways to connect with your dog can sometimes reset the stress of a move. Taking up a canine sport, spending more time at the dog park, or training some new silly tricks can be a way to reassure your pup that they are safe, reducing some of the stress.
Treating these kinds of psychological issues often involves the expertise of an animal behaviorist to fully address. Dogs are emotionally complex animals and they can be difficult to understand.
If your pooch is suffering enough psychological stress that they are losing control of their bladder or bowels at home, it is a problem that needs to be addressed by a professional.
6. Housetraining Revisited: Starting Over with Sound Techniques
The final common reason we will explore for your dog urinating at home may be as simple as they were not adequately housetrained or need a refresher course. Sometimes dogs just forget or lose track of the fact that weeing in the house is just not acceptable.
It is important to arrest peeing in the home as soon as possible. Not only does the smell of urine encourage remarking, practicing the behavior reinforces it and makes it even harder to fix.
Returning to Housebreaking Basics:
Although a full course on housetraining is for another article, here are some basic guidelines:
- If you cannot supervise your dog, they do not get to have run of your home. Go back to the puppy days of kenneling or confining your pup when they cannot be supervised.
- Take them out to potty after naps, after meals, in the morning and night at a minimum. Additional trips outside are always a good idea to curb peeing in the house.
- Reward liberally every time they eliminates outside. Use high value rewards and plenty of praise.
Most important of all, try to remain calm and patient as you help your dog sort through their problem. Remember they are not trying to upset you, nor are they urinating in the house to deliberately get under your skin.
If your own stress levels get out of control it can only make the problem worse for your dog.
We hope this article gave you plenty of insight on how to stop a dog from peeing in the house If you have successfully dealt with this issue with your dog, please feel free to share your experience in the comments section as a resource to our readers!
Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer
Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.
For more info on Sharon click here