How To Train a Dog To Stop Peeing in the House

When you first get your new puppy it has to learn many new things—potty training is just one of them. But if your adult dog suddenly starts peeing in the house or can’t control its bladder as it becomes older, you may have a problem. 

It can be frustrating to wake uo to a fresh puddle on the floor or a wet patch on the carpet. Once your dog starts to pee in the house, it can become a habit that you need to break.

There are many reasons why your dog starts to pee in the house but what you want to know is, how do you stop it? You don’t want puddles all over your home, especially ones that smell and ruin your carpets and floors.  

We’ll help you to identify why your dog is peeing in the house and give you some tips as to how to train a dog to stop peeing in the house before it becomes a habit. 

We’ll go through the following: 

  • Why do dogs pee in the house? 
  • How to prevent urine marking behavior
  • How to train your dog to stop peeing in the house
  • How to use a crate when you can’t supervise
  • And more pro tips! 

Why do dogs pee in the house?

If your dog is house trained and they suddenly start to pee in the house, there may be a problem. There are many reasons why your dog starts to use your home as a bathroom. Some of these are easy to rectify, and others may need a little further training or supervision.

Before going into complete panic mode, take a step back and consider: Is your dog truly fully house trained? It may simply be that your dog wasn’t as rock-solid on this concept as you thought, and just needs some more work before getting free run of the house.

Vets call peeing in the house, “inappropriate urination,” and it is a relatively common problem. It mainly occurs in puppies and can be down to training or behavior. However, when it starts affecting adult dogs, you know that there’s a problem.

Some of the reasons why your dog starts to pee in the house are:

Medical reasons

The first thing that you need to do is to rule out any medical issues. If your dog has never peed in the house before and it suddenly starts, it could be suffering from an illness.

Urinary tract issue

They could have a urinary tract issue as this will cause them to pee more frequently than normal, and they may not be able to control it. It could be urinary tract infections, cystitis, bladder stones, or even a tumor. The first thing that you need to do is get your dog checked out by the vet.

The vet will take a urine sample from your dog to look for abnormal cells or bacteria. If they find an issue your dog may need a course of antibiotics, or in the most extreme cases, surgery may be required.

Incontinence

Your dog could be suffering from incontinence. This is often seen as an issue for an older dog, but it can occur in younger dogs if there is a medical issue. If your dog is leaking urine or leaving a puddle of pee during sleep, they may be suffering from incontinence.

Incontinence can sometimes be treated with medication, so get them checked out at the vets as soon as it becomes an issue. Incontinence can be the start of a medical issue such as kidney disease or diabetes, so it’s important to consult with your vet and get them treated as soon as you can.

The most important thing to remember is that if there is a medical problem, your dog may not even know that they are peeing. They have no control over the peeing, so you need to bear that in mind when you’re about to start yelling.

Behavioral issues

Once you rule out a medical issue you need to then realize that this is due to behavioral causes, and look at the reasons why they are doing it. 

Incomplete training

If your dog hasn’t been fully potty trained, this will cause an issue as they grow into an adult. They won’t understand that this is inappropriate for the home and needs to be done outside. 

If you got your dog when it was older, the home it lived in previously may not have potty trained them properly. They may have no understanding of the correct place to pee and will do it wherever they are. 

You will need to retrain your dog of the appropriate places to pee and how to hold it until he’s outside. 

Changes in their environment 

Dogs are sensitive to change, and if you change a dog’s environment they may feel threatened or get anxious. 

Have there been any changes in your home recently? Do you have a new pet or a baby? Has someone left the home or passed away? Dogs react to these changes by becoming anxious, and this could lead to your dog peeing.

If this is the case, you need to make sure that your dog feels safe in their environment, so fill the space with familiar items to let them know that they know that this is their home.

Changes in routine can also impact your dog’s bathroom schedule, and may lead to accidents while they are acclimating.

Submissive/excitement urination

If your dog feels intimidated, it may get anxious, and this can lead to your dog peeing on the floor. You may see this if you stand over your dog, as it will become fearful and stressed. 

Some dogs pee when they are excited. This can happen when someone comes into your home—your dog becomes excited they may pee a little. This is a compliment from your dog as it means that they are excited and happy. However, your guest may not feel the same way.

Territorial urine marking

Many dogs like to mark their territory by peeing. They leave their scent as a warning to others. This can happen if you bring another pet into your home or if you move house and your dog can smell the past owners or their pets. 

If your dog is a rescue dog, they may pee in your home to mark their territory as it’s what they had to do where they were previously living.

Separation anxiety 

If your dog is used to having you around the house and you suddenly have to go out for longer than normal, your dog could suffer from anxiety when separated, which may cause them to pee on the floor or your furniture.

Dogs like having company and don’t enjoy spending time alone—it could make them anxious. As well as peeing in the house, anxiety in a dog can cause other behavioral problems, too.

Fear of loud noises

When you’re training your new puppy, you need to get them comfortable around strange noises, such as the vacuum cleaner or the doorbell. If they’re not familiar with these sounds, it could scare them, and this fear could lead to your dog peeing indoors.

Aging

You expect puppies to have accidents, but as your dog gets older it may also have accidents. This could be due to a form of senility or dementia where your dog forgets its house training or just completely forgets where it is, thinking that it’s fine to use the floor when it needs to go. More commonly, the aging muscles in and around your dog’s bladder may weaken and stop working properly, resulting in leaks or frequent urges to urinate.

For an older dog, it could be a good idea to line their bed with absorbent pads to soak up any urine.

How to prevent urine marking behavior

When we want to mark our territory we write our name on items or add our own little touch. Your dog marks its territory with urine, and cleaning up after them can be frustrating and stressful for you. 

How can you stop them from ruining your floors and furniture this way?

Have your dog spayed or neutered

You need to spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible—this will reduce the territory marking. Often, the territory marking stops altogether following spaying or neutering. 

The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to stop the habit of marking. In this situation, you will need to start with house training again.

Associate previously soiled areas with something else

If they are marking specific areas of the house, change the way that these areas are used. You could start to feed your dog here or give them treats as no one likes to pee where they eat. 

You could also use this area for playing as they will then start to associate the area with positive acts rather than negative ones that they need to mark.

Remove triggers 

If you can see a pattern in items that they are marking, remove the trigger items from their reach. It may be that they feel the need to mark new belongings. Keep these away from your dog until they are used to them being there and are familiar with the item.

Resolve any conflicts between your pets

It may be that you’ve added a new pet to the household, and your dog feels the need to mark its territory to assert its status in the house. 

If this is the case, you need to do your best to make sure that the animals get along, and resolve any conflict between them. Make sure that you’re paying attention to your dog and not just to the new animal in your house.

Restrict your dog’s access to doors and windows etc.

Keep your dog away from the places that it feels the need to mark, such as doors and windows. If you’re unable to supervise your dog at all times, use a crate or a leash to keep them away from these areas. 

Use a belly band or diaper

While working on training and management options, you can save your carpets and furniture by putting a belly band on a male dog or a diaper on a female dog. These products are readily available in a wide variety of colors and styles, and most dogs adjust to wearing them quickly. 

You can get disposable ones or opt for cute washable ones to be environmentally friendly. Just don’t forget to take the item off when you take your dog for a walk!

How to train your dog to stop peeing in the house

If your dog has started to pee in the house, there are ways to stop this before it becomes an uncontrollable bad habit.

Re-potty train your dog 

Your dog should have been house-trained as a puppy. However, some dogs, such as rescue dogs, may not have been house trained. If your dog starts to pee on the floor, you need to re-potty train them. 

This can be a frustrating time, requiring lots of patience (and lots of trips outside), but it will be worth it in the end.

Establish a bathroom spot

If your dog is unable to go outside, make sure that you establish a bathroom spot in your house where they can go. Use dog pee pads to soak up the urine and teach your dog that this is the only place they should go. 

Keep taking them to the area regularly and get them familiar with it. This will build their understanding that this area should be used when they need to pee.

Put your dog on a regular feeding schedule

Your dog needs to have set times for food rather than leaving dry food out for them all day. As soon as they finish eating you should then take them outside for the toilet.

This will become a routine, and they will learn that once they eat they need to go to the toilet, outside.

Monitor their water intake

Dogs need water, but if your dog is constantly drinking, they will need to pee more, and they won’t be able to hold it until they’re outside. 

Check their water intake and take them outside when you notice the water disappearing to avoid any accidents in your house. 

Some dogs are fascinated by drinking water. If this is the case, reduce the amount of water that they have access to, but make sure that they have enough, and don’t become dehydrated.

If your dog is drinking a lot consistently, he may have a medical condition that needs to be treated.

Reward good behavior

Your dog must never be punished, especially when they are doing something that comes naturally and can’t be prevented. 

If your dog has an accident, don’t punish them, but also, don’t reward them with praise or treats. However, as soon as your dog stops peeing in the house and goes outside, you need to praise them and reward them with a small treat. They will associate the right behavior with a reward and will continue.

Increase potty breaks

Your dog needs to go outside for a potty break regularly, and this needs to be increased as soon as you notice that there’s a problem. If you have a dog walker, they may need to walk the dog more often than normal.

The dog will then understand that they need to go outside and won’t feel the need to pee in the house.

How To Train a Dog To Stop Peeing in the House

Supervise at all times

Your new dog, whether it’s a puppy or an adult dog, needs to be supervised at all times until they are familiar with the house and feel comfortable in their surroundings.

Don’t give your dog too much freedom in the house too soon

As your dog gets more familiar with your house, you can give them access to more areas. If they’re new to the house, you will need to limit where they can go.

Keep them in one room as a start and then increase this as they become more comfortable and trustworthy. Use a stair gate to prevent them from going upstairs. The last thing you need is urine all over your bedroom.

Use a leash for more control 

You could use a leash on your dog while they’re indoors if peeing in the house is an issue. This will prevent them from going to the areas where they mark and will teach them not to pee in the house.

How to know when your dog has to go?

You need to understand your dog and its routine. By knowing when they need to go, it will prevent any accidents in your home. 

If your dog sits at the door or goes to the window, it may mean that they need to go outside. Also, if they start to scratch on the floor, this generally means that they need to pee.

Most dogs need to go right after waking up from a nap, and some may circle or whine to indicate that they need a trip outside.

Use a crate when you can’t supervise

If you can’t supervise your dog at all times, train them to stay in their crate. This is a great way of keeping them in one place when you’re not around, and they won’t want to pee in the place where they sleep.

Crate training will need to be done before you can leave them in there as some dogs may get anxious and find the crate stressful, increasing the need to pee.

Don’t punish your dog for accidents

If your dog has an accident, don’t punish them. It’s not always their fault, and no one learns from being punished. This may drive them to hide and pee in secret as they are afraid of the consequences of peeing on the floor.

Reward them and praise them when they do the right thing, they will learn from this rather than a punishment.

Clean up well

When your dog has peed on the floor or furniture in your home, you need to make sure that you clean it up properly. 

Clean it up as soon as you notice it, and make sure that you’re using an enzymatic cleaner that eliminates any odor. You don’t want your dog going back to the same area time and again because they can smell the urine.

Get professional help

If you’ve tried all of the above and your dog is still peeing in the house, the next step would be to get professional help. There may be factors that you’re not aware of that are contributing to your dog peeing. 

Your vet or a behavioral therapist will be able to help. They will be able to arrange a consultation with you and your dog to understand their needs and any issues. 

How To Train a Dog To Stop Peeing in the House

Key takeaways on preventing pee accidents in the house

There are many reasons why your dog starts to pee in the house. 

If they are fully house-trained, there may be an issue that you need to deal with to get them to stop. Inappropriate urination can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know the cause.

Firstly, get them checked for a medical issue, as your dog may be suffering from a urinary tract problem. If this is not the case, the dog may feel threatened and be marking its territory or be anxious.

Your dog may need retraining to reinforce the importance of going outside. Take the dog out regularly and get them into a routine. Make sure that when they do it right you are praising and rewarding them, as this will encourage them to do it right all of the time. 

No one wants to live in a house where there are puddles that damage your furniture and leave a lingering odor. As soon as you notice your dog’s habits changing and they start to pee in the house, you need to deal with it. This will prevent it from developing into a bigger issue and becoming part of their daily routine.

You should never punish your dog when they have an accident, no matter how frustrating it can be. By understanding why your dog is doing it, you will be able to rectify the situation and have a lovely clean-smelling home once again. 

Kate Basedow, LVT
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