Accidents happen. If you have an adult dog peeing in house, something could be seriously wrong. There are many reasons why dogs suddenly pee indoors, and each reason has a solution.
Whether your dog is marking his spot in your bed (we know why), peeing in the house at night, or randomly relieving himself inside, there are things you can do to help your pooch.
Maybe you just adopted an adult dog, and he needs re-training. Or you are fostering a dog who is peeing inside. The information in this post will help you get to the bottom of your dog’s inappropriate marking and indoor urination.
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Why Is My Adult Dog Peeing In House?
One of the first things to do when your adult dog starts urinating and/or defecating in the house is to rule out a medical issue. Something as simple as a urinary tract infection can cause a dog to relieve himself inside. Rule out medical issues. Kidney or bladder stones can cause indoor urination, but so can:
- Being Overly Excited: If you share life with a Cocker Spaniel, you are all too familiar with excitement urination. They get so excited to see you that the urine just runs out of them. Most often, the dog doesn’t even know they are doing it; hence the phrase, ‘excitement piddle.’
- Fear/Being Scared: Many shelter dogs landed there with a history of some sort of abuse, abandonment, or hurt. If a dog pees in reaction to your voice or to being scolded, he is scared. Sometimes, a dog may even exhibit submissive urination at one gender or another. If a male harmed the dog in any way, then the dog may pee when he or she sees a man. Did you hover or the dog and yell at him when he peed inside? This can create a fear environment where he actually pees more out of fear.
- Human Housetraining Errors: If your dog is 1 or 2 years old and you still notice accidents, something may have gone awry during the puppy housetraining phase. As long as medical issues are ruled out, take a few steps back, and follow the advice below.
- X Marks the Spot: Many dogs mark their spot; whether that spot is your bed, their bed, a chair, or a rug. A dog may urinate in small amounts in different places around the house or even in one big puddle on furniture. We have advice to help tackle this problem. Spoiler alert: Your dog does not pee nor poop inside out of spite.
- Making the Dog Hold It Too Long: If your dog is not going outside regularly, it is likely that the lack of a regular schedule and free access to eliminate waste outside is on you, not the dog.
- Life Changes: Stress affects dogs in the same way it affects humans: They feel it and internalize it. A move, changes in routine, a death, another pet, combining families: All these things can affect a dog, which can lead to urinary behaviors in the house.
- Urinary Incontinence: Time can wreak havoc on body systems. My first Cocker Spaniel developed a weak bladder as she aged. We used doggy diapers with a changeable pad inside.
Find Out Why Your Adult Dog Pees Indoors
It may sound simple, but even the savviest of pet parents may overlook this step: Keep a piddle journal.
When your dog has an accident, write down the time and what happened before that. When was he last outside? Did he drink a lot of water? Is the marking in the same spot? You can begin to spot (pun intended) patterns and even seek the guidance of a positive reinforcement dog behaviorist. If you want to potty train an adult dog, it takes patience.
We created the DogMinder Canine Health and Wellness Journal with this topic in mind.
How to Potty Train an Adult Dog Step By Step
Whether your dog is older, you are fostering, you just adopted a dog, or perhaps a second dog (or third, fourth, etc) dog was brought into the household— if an adult dog starts urinating in the house, something is wrong.
That something can be physical, behavioral, or both. First, seek veterinary care. While Googling for an answer may seem like a good idea, nothing replaces a visit to the veterinarian to rule out a physical problem.
Understanding the dog’s urinary system is a great place to start.
A dog’s urinary system includes the kidneys, the ureters (which are tubes connecting kidneys to the bladder), the bladder itself, and the urethra (which is the tube that carries urine out of the body).
The urinary system is very important to dogs in the same way it is important to people. Not only does it get rid of waste the body does not need, but it also maintains a balance of water and electrolytes.
Certain hormones are produced in the urinary system, which helps your dog keep his blood pressure normalized, make blood cells, and absorb salt.
Vitamin D is processed in a dog’s urinary system. With all of those processes occurring, it makes sense to keep the urinary system healthy. A dog peeing in the house for any extended or sudden period of time needs to see a veterinarian to rule out medical causes.
Check Your Dog’s Urinary Health at Home
Urine test strips are the one product that no dog household should be without. If you are trying to potty train an adult dog, you need to regularly check his urine at home. I do this at least once a month on my adult dogs and more if needed.
Diagnox Urine Test Strips on Amazon test for many different levels of things in the dog’s urine. If your dog battles urinary tract infections (UTI’s), these strips can be a lifesaver for detecting levels such as pH and blood in the urine in between vet visits.
Use a disposable container that is clean and free of debris for the collection of urine.
Collect the dog’s urine with a free catch in the morning when it is most concentrated, dip the stick in, wait for the time recommendations (2 minutes for most), and then compare against the colors on the bottle.
What is a free catch? You do not want the dog’s urine stream to come into contact with the ground or any debris or dirt. I use a clean, never washed disposable plastic container with a lid and place the urine in the fridge until I see the vet…the sooner the better that day so an accurate sample is given to the vet. Never get your fingers near it.
In healthy pets, the urine pH is typically in the 6.5 to 7.0 range. Medicines, age, co-existing health conditions, and even stress can change the level of pH. In addition, the most concentrated form of urine is the “free catch” first thing in the morning.
A veterinarian can also perform a cystocentesis on a dog in order to pass a needle through the bladder and to obtain a more sterile sample (this is not a painful test, by the way).
Rule Out Spite as a Reason Your Dog Pees Indoors
With medical issues ruled out, decide that you will not hit, spank, or scream at your dog in any capacity. Not only can you worsen the problem, as your dog will learn to fear you and start peeing or defecating from the stress of your presence, but you also diminish the bond you want to share with your dog.
Dogs do not live as long as we do. Let’s love them and teach them through positive reinforcement instead of pain and fear.
As smart as most dogs are, they aren’t manipulative enough to ponder the art of revenge: That’s a human quality. Do you know how to stop a dog who pees for revenge? You don’t!
Dogs do NOT pee for revenge. And do not under any circumstances “rub their nose in it:” This is antiquated, disgusting, and old wives’ tale and proves only what a bully you are in doing so.
Remain With Your Adult Dog During Potty Re-Training
While training an adult dog to pee outside, your dog needs to remain with you at all times. This is not an easy feat, as many people work and they cannot have their dog with them at all times. If you are unable to have your dog with you for two weeks at all times, then you need to keep the dog in an area of the house gated off just for him while you are out.
The dog needs to be in your sight at all times. Many people will tie the leash around their waste, leave slack, or they will hold the leash onto their wrist by grasping it.
For the past three decades, this is the simple, successful method I’ve used. My dogs get access to one room, then two, and so on. If you can’t be home at all times with your dog and have him by your side, then gate them off.
I am not a person who believes in keeping a dog in a kennel or crate for inordinate amounts of time. It isn’t fair to the dog (boredom), it isn’t fair to his bladder, and you can’t expect the dog to know exactly what you want from them by tossing them in a crate all day. I am not anti-crate, as I know many folks love them but I am pro-give a dog movement.
Every hour on the hour, the dog goes out, whether he or she needs to or not. Always leave your house or apartment through the same door. When you go outside with the dog, associate the peeing with a command. For us, we say, ‘Go, go, go.” When the dog does go outside, you have a mega happy party. You can watch how to praise a dog in the video below. You can use food rewards as well. Whatever works. Praise big time.
Don’t wait for the dog to tell you he has to go out. Every hour on the hour, take the dog out (not including sleeping time). Even if they don’t urinate every time, they start to know that outside is what you expect of them. A bonus tip is to always have your dog use the same area to pee. I often hear people say their dogs mark up the lawn. If he has free access to a big lawn, this will happen.
Products To Make Dog Potty Training Easier
Poochie Bells have been around for years. You easily teach your dog to “tap” or “ring” the Poochie Bells which hang from a doorknob or the area of your choice. These travel well, too, and you can hang them up in a friend or family member’s home or in a hotel on vacation. Buy Poochie Bells on Amazon.
We trained our Cocker Spaniel puppy, Alvin, using the Mighty Paw smart bell. No wires or batteries are required. Simply mount the “doorbell” on a door or wall (or floor) using a 3M adhesive strop. Plug the receiver into an electrical outlet. Train your dog to tap the “doorbell” to ring when it’s time to potty. Buy the Mighty Paw smart bell on Amazon.
Watch your puppy from another room or while you aren’t home with the Vimtag Pet Camera. We like this one for its quality and affordable price tag. Makes a great gift for a new Cocker puppy parent, too. Buy the Pet Camera on Amazon.
This is our favorite clean-up spray. It is safe for pets, gentle, and easy to use. It works with enzymes to get right to the urine and breaks it down with professional strength. Buy Rocco and Roxie’s on Amazon.
Dog Urine Clean-Up Bonus Tip
You’ve made it this far and I am here to reward YOU! Here’s a clean-up urine from rugs trick I learned by accident! Your dog is bound to have accidents during this process. If an accident occurs and it is on a rug, you need to blot the urine up with paper towels, and clean with a pet-safe cleaner like Rocco and Roxie’s Stain and Odor Eliminator.
Then, place three to four paper towels and an aluminum can on top of the spot. The can needs to be weighty, like a soup can, and set it there for a few hours. The aluminum pulls the urine up out of the rug and into the paper towel, which you can later throw away. You’re welcome!
My Dog Won’t Stop Peeing Inside: Real Talk
Please please please, if you take anything away from this article, keep in mind that dogs are not peeing inside to upset you. If you come home and yell at a dog for peeing in the house, that dog has no clue what is happening other than you just turned his day upside down. A dog needs to be in the act or getting ready to pee inside for you to redirect and take him outside.
I had a reader ask me for advice recently about her dog who started peeing on her bed. Here’s the conversation, with names edited out for discretion:
Dog Mom: “I’m in desperate need of a Cocker Spaniel dog whisperer. Our Cocker, Minnie, who is a year and a half has started peeing in our beds. We don’t know why she is doing this or how to stop it?! We are getting ready to move into a brand new house with brand new beds. We crate trained her for when we leave the house, but she’s always slept in our room at night with our other two Cockers. I’m truly devastated by what she is doing and am at a loss. We can’t have this continue and if you have any ideas, I would love them!!”
Me: “Okay a few things: When did this start? Did she have anything new happen in her life or any changes to schedules, travel, etc? Has she had her urine checked recently? Is it only on the bed?”
Dog Mom: “About a month ago this started. I just made her a vet appointment today for next week. Every once in a blue moon she will do it in the house when it’s a monsoon here in Florida. But, it would be on the floor by the door.”
Me: “Any life changes happening recently or at the present time?”
Dog Mom: “We’ve been living with my parents for three months while our house is being built. Ours sold in six days and we had no place to go.”
About Dogs Peeing On The Bed
Over at Ask a Dog Trainer, they say that “The number one reason dogs pee on your bed is the exact same reason they chew your dirty underwear and socks…it smells like you. In the wild dogs, and young dogs especially, encounter numerous different predators. When they encounter a predator, they have two choices. They can fight or they can run, and neither of these is extremely beneficial for the dog.
So, to avoid running into one of their foes they try to cover their scent. In the wild (and often on farms or in the country), dogs will roll in the nastiest things, like poop or dead animals. In your house, they roll in your dirty underwear and, you guessed it, your bed. Young dogs especially have to be careful, so they try to cover the smell of their urine as well. What better spot to hide their scent than in the scent of their protector and guardian.
Your bed smells like you…a lot…so your dog is hiding his scent in your bed. By peeing in your bed, and hiding the smell of his urine, your dog is making himself feel less vulnerable and less exposed.”
It’s not out of spite, anger, or upset. And off this dog mom went to help her dog by not allowing her access to the bed.
Extra Help for the Win: Potty Training an Adult Dog
Here is a recent Facebook Live broadcast walking you through these steps:
Final Thoughts and Products
Whenever your dog starts exhibiting a new behavior, a medical check is in order if the problem is sudden and the reason is indeterminate. You always want to put health at the forefront. Take the time to return to puppy training 101. If your dog is deaf, you can get tips from our friend Bernard Lima Chavez over at The Graffiti Dog blog. He is a whiz when it comes to deaf dogs.
Bonus Tips for Adult Dogs Who Pee Indoors
If you loved this post, here are some related posts to help your dog live a healthy life:
Have you dealt with this issue? Is your dog reliable when it comes to relieving himself outside? Do tell and respond in the comment box below.