How do you get your dog to stop peeing in the house?

Sometimes a house-trained dog can regress and start peeing inside the house again, wrecking carpets and furniture. Of course, owners get very upset about that. They scold their pets, rub their nose in urine, or punish their dogs for these “accidents.” But all this helps little if at all. The owners took out their emotions, but the problem remains unsolved. So why do dogs pee in the house and how can you stop them from doing so?

Peeing in the house is a very complex problem that may have many causes — as many as 16, according to some experts — making it hard to solve. Each cause requires a specific solution and if the wrong method is chosen, the situation may become worse.

The following are the most common causes of peeing in the house:

  1. Urinary tract infections
  2. The dog is physically unable to wait until walking time
  3. The absence of walking and feeding schedule
  4. A genetic predisposition
  5. The dog is fearful
  6. Marking behavior
  7. The dog is not potty trained

How to get your dog to stop peeing in the house

The most important thing is to figure out why, exactly, your dog is peeing in the house.

First of all, go to a veterinarian to eliminate health problems. If the house soiling is caused by a disease, such as a urinary tract infection, after the right treatment the problem will go away.

Once your vet has ruled out all health issues, it is likely that your dog has a certain behavioral problem.

Cause #1. Your dog is physically unable to wait until walking time

Your dog is still too young to have long breaks between walks. Always praise your pet for peeing outside or on a pee pad at home, but never scold them for “accidents” — they may happen to every child.

Cause #2. The absence of walking and feeding schedule

If you don’t have a regular feeding schedule, your dog’s gastrointestinal tract also does not work on a schedule. In this case, it would be much harder for your dog to develop the habit of doing their toilet “stuff” at a certain time.

Besides, if you walk with your dog at different times of day, you make it harder and harder for them. The same can be said if the dog constantly has access to food.

Do not leave the bowl with food for more than 10 minutes. Let your dog get used to eating their food immediately, not over the course of the day.

Feeding and walking schedules will help your dog develop the habit of relieving themselves at a certain time.

Cause #3. Lack of proper potty training in the childhood

Dogs are very particular about the places where they relieve themselves because this is how they mark territory. But if, from an early age, the puppy is kept in a very tight crate that cannot be divided into recreation, food, game, and toilet areas, they may start soiling themselves. By the age of 3-4 months, the puppy gets used to this and loses their natural tendency to be tidy.

It will take the owners time and effort to accustom their pet to cleanliness – a process that will entail going outside at least five times a day, introducing feeding and walking schedules, and praising your dog each time they pee in the right place.

Every dog adjusts at a different speed, but your pet will learn to do their toilet “stuff” outside.

If your dog pees on a blanket or bedding, change it immediately. Replace your dog’s soft bedding with a plastic cover. Wipe your dog’s bedding with a weak solution of vinegar and water after every time they soil it – the acidic environment is great for killing the smell. The dog must get used to the fact that their place does not smell of urine and feces and that they never carry this smell themselves.

Your dog might still not understand cleanliness. Start their training from the very beginning, following our advice.

Cause #4. The dog is fearful

This reason is usually quite easy to detect – the dog urinates out of fear and does so only during a thunderstorm, fireworks, harsh punishment, or any particular situation that your pet finds impossible to tolerate.

Of course, you should try to protect your emotional dog from such experiences. Create a safe place for your dog where they can wait until the fireworks or thunderstorms are over. Try not to encourage your dog’s fear; don’t calm them down or distract them with a toy. Show your dog that there’s nothing to worry about and that everything is fine. 

Often the dogs of hot-tempered and unpredictable owners are more timid and fearful, since they never know why or for what they will be punished next time.

Cause #5. Long breaks between walks

It is very likely that your dog understands what you want. But the intervals between walks might be too long for them. 

First of all, change your dog’s bedding and settle the new bedding in a quiet place where your pet can have a good rest. 

Now check whether you walk your dog often enough according to their age (scroll down for a handy chart). If not, and if you don’t have the opportunity to go outside as many times as your dog needs, put up with unwanted puddles in your house for at least a few more months. And you shouldn’t blame your dog for that.

To help your puppy wait for a walk without any “accidents,” pay attention to the type and quantity of food you give them. Do not give a large portion of dry or canned food to your dog before a long break between walks, as the dog will get all the liquid contained in this food. Perhaps they would drink less water if they could choose.

Cause #6. Submissive urination 

If your dog pees because of overexcitement when you scold them or greet them, you are probably dealing with submissive urination. This is quite a common reaction for young emotional dogs and this behavior naturally passes at approximately the beginning of puberty, that is, by 7-8 months. 

In order not to provoke the puppy to pee, act calmly with them. On returning home, do not bend over to play with the puppy: look at them, verbally greet them, and don’t pay any more attention to them until you go into your room. By this time, the puppy’s excitement should fade and you will be able to pet them without being afraid of a wet side effect.

Cause #7. Marking behavior

If you put your puppy in a crate, you will probably notice that they divide the crate’s space into recreational, game, and toilet zones. And when outside of the crate in your home, the dog may think that they should keep their and their owner’s bedroom clean, and that they can use, for example, the corridor and kitchen as their toilet. 

A tiny chihuahua may consider the owner’s pillow their place and leave puddles on the other side of the bed day after day, for example.

To solve this problem, you should provide your dog with a clear understanding of where they can relieve themselves.

It’s a good idea to move the item with the dog’s smell away for a while and wash the floor thoroughly. Try to catch the moment when the puppy is about to relieve themselves and quickly take them outside or put them on a potty pad and praise them. 

Tips for your puppy’s hygiene training

  1. A crate. Get a spacious crate, cover it with potty pads, allocate one area for your puppy’s bedding, and bring their toys and a bowl of water. Let your pup get used to the crate. Since puppies usually do not pee in the same place where they sleep, your puppy will relieve themselves on a potty pad (rather than in the area with their bedding). Praise them well for that. After several repetitions, start keeping the crate’s door open.

    As a rule, puppies need to relieve themselves soon after they eat. That’s why you should feed your pup inside the crate and don’t let them out until they pee on a potty pad. If you notice that the pup got distracted by their thoughts or they sniff the floor when playing outside the crate, take them and put them on a potty pad. And if you didn’t make it in time and the pup peed in the wrong place, don’t scold your dog. Bring them to the crate and let them out again as soon as you wipe the floor.

    However, you need to limit the use of the crate. Remember that your dog should not be enclosed in the crate for a long time and that they might get used to cleanliness in the crate only, not in the entire home.

    When the puppy starts walking on the street, if you stick to strict feeding and walking schedules, they will soon leave the potty pads dry for several days in a row. Then you can disassemble the crate, leaving the potty pads for another couple of weeks, and then remove them.

  2. Potty pads. Spread the potty pads covering a large area of the room. If the puppy fails to pee on a pad, wipe his urine and put a potty pad on that place. The puppy will smell the scent and understand that this is a place to relieve themselves. 

Praise the pup each time they pee on a potty pad. Throw away the used potty pads promptly, as puppies don’t like to walk on their urine and many of them will try to sit down on a dry place next time. Gradually, day by day, leave a smaller area covered with potty pads.

After you start walking with your pet, always praise them for relieving themselves outside. If you stick to the walking and feeding schedules, you may stop praising the pup for peeing on potty pads. When the puppy doesn’t relieve themselves inside the house for more than a week, you can take away the potty pads. If you have no feeding and walking schedules, don’t take the pee pads away even if your puppy has no “accidents” at home for 2 or 3 weeks.

  1. Cleaning. Clean up wet and dirty potty pads as quickly as possible. The puppy should not perceive a strong smell of urine or feces in the apartment as something normal.
  2. Punishment. Punishing your puppy for having an accident is a definite no-no. It teaches your puppy to fear you. In this case, they will only try to hide from you in a quiet place to relieve themselves. On top of that, when you start going out with your puppy for a walk, you may have to wait longer for them to relieve themselves. It would be extremely hard for a puppy to eliminate in front of you. 

There’s no use rubbing the puppy’s nose in what they did — in this case, your pup will only remember that when the owner comes home, they should hide from them.

  1. Feeding. When potty-training a puppy, always pay attention to what they eat and drink. Make sure the food is of high quality and is fresh. Indigestion or diarrhea will greatly set back your progress in teaching the puppy cleanliness, as in this case your pup won’t be very particular about choosing the right place. Dry treats or dry food will make the puppy drink a lot, and canned food for dogs already contains a fair amount of liquid. However, the puppy should always have access to fresh water.
  2. Walking. The longer and more often you walk your dog on the street, the faster the puppy stops eliminating at home. As a rule, the number of walks should correspond to the number of feeding times. However, a small puppy cannot endure long breaks between walks. Do not be in a hurry to reduce the number of walks to two a day: a young dog should have enough walks to ensure their health. Take a look at the following table, which shows how often you need to feed and bring out the puppy at a particular age.    
3 months 4 months 6 months  9 months
Number of meals  5 4 3-4 2-3
Number of walks 5 4 3-4 3-4

The above-mentioned tips work well for puppies. But what to do if your adult dog has missed house training? Well, potty training an adult dog is quite difficult. 

You will have to spend several weeks working on this, during which the dog should be under your constant supervision. Increase the number of walks, as if you had a puppy. Do not scold or punish your dog severely — your dog simply needs time to be taught the right behavior. They don’t have to know what they weren’t taught. 

If you see that your small dog is on the brink of an “accident,” immediately take them in your arms and carry them for a walk. If you see that your big dog got very distracted, give them the “down” command, get dressed and hurry for a walk. Once “the job is done,” praise your pet for that action.

Patience and attention will definitely help you to cope with your dog’s unwanted behavior. 

June 29, 2021

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