Most dogs avoid urinating where they sleep and eat. But what does it mean when a pet you thought was perfectly housetrained starts urinating indoors? Depending on the dog’s age, health, and other issues, it could be any number of things.
Here are some of the most common reasons dogs start peeing inside as well as what you can do about it.
That’s what vets call it, and it sums up the situation pretty well. It’s a common problem that’s usually resolved in puppyhood. Some underlying explanations include:
- Medical causes. The most likely condition is a urinary tract infection, one of the most frequently seen health problems in dogs. Other urinary issues are inflammation of the bladder (cystitis), bladder stones, urine crystals, or tumors. A quick trip to the vet can determine if one of these is the problem.
A UTI can usually be resolved with antibiotics. Medications, supplements, and/or a change in diet can help with the other conditions. Kidney disease, Cushing’s, or diabetes could also be a factor in inappropriate urination. If your pup has arthritis, it might make it difficult for her or him to get up and out the door.
- Anxiety. If the indoor urination happens only when your dog is left alone, it could be a sign of separation anxiety. It’s also possible your pet had a traumatic outdoors experience that is making him anxious about leaving the house. It could be anything from loud noises like construction, fireworks, and thunderstorms to a run-in with another neighborhood dog or human.
- Aging. Like humans, senior dogs might have bladder or kidney issues that cause uncontrollable urination. They could also develop a form of senility that makes them forget their housetraining.
- Change in environment. Have you recently moved or has your pet’s environment changed in some other way? A canine form of regression can occur, and you might need to do a little retraining to get him back on track.
How to Handle Indoor Peeing
It’s always a good idea to begin with a trip to the vet to rule out a medical condition. There’s no point in trying to retrain a dog who has no control over what’s happening to his body. If the vet discovers your dog has a health condition, the chances are good that once it’s cleared up the inappropriate urination will stop.
If the problem is age-related, talk to the vet about what you can do to make your pet more comfortable. Some people use doggie diapers. If your pet is relatively healthy and can tolerate them, more frequent walks might also help.
Separation anxiety issues can often be treated with a low dose medication. A housetraining refresher is in order if there’s been an environmental change in the house. Try using the same techniques that worked the first time.
Most of all, don’t punish your pet for indoor urination. It can be difficult for dogs to associate the correct bad behavior with the punishment—and that might only cause more anxiety! Instead of reprimanding him when he has a mishap, reward him when he manages to wait until he goes outside. If you find yourself losing patience, try to remember your pet is not usually peeing indoors as an act of defiance. Understanding it’s likely an underlying medical or emotional issue causing the problem can help you be more empathetic and accepting towards your pet.