Why does my dog pee indoors?

Author Baskina Sofya, translated by Olga Ulyanko

Why does my dog pee indoors? Few dog owners realize that there might be not just one or two reasons for house soiling, but eight! Thus there is no ‘multi-purpose’ way of eliminating this vicious habit that would suit all the eight cases. Wrongly selected approach/determined cause (to/of such behavior) will in the best case scenario have no effect, and in the worst – may harm your pet (for instance, if you try to intimidate  a puppy that is simply not yet able to hold it during such long periods between walks). We have made up a test that will help you determine the reason for your pet’s peeing indoors and find a suitable solution to the problem.

If you are faced with such a behavior problem of your pet, please have the trouble to consult a veterinarian specialist and submit your pet’s urine test. According to the statistics provided by V.N. Mitin (M.D.), about 50% of dogs over 8 years old suffer from kidney pathologies.

Why does my dog pee indoors?

Cause № 1
Your pet is too young to be able to hold it in for so long. Pet the puppy every time it ‘does it’s business’ outside or on a nappy, and don’t scold it, if it has missed (the nappy) – each child does it at least once! Rush to take the pet outside in the mornings before it has had a chance to soil inside the house. Nevertheless don’t get too upset, if you don’t manage to do it in time. The minimum for a puppy is a 3-time per day walking. In case you are unable to take your pet for a walk more often than 2 times a day, you will have to accept the fact that your dog will sometimes urinate at home until it is about 1 year old. Try to go for a walk with the pet more often, for longer time, make it more active, maintain the walking and feeding regime – and you will be just fine!

Cause № 2
If the feeding of the dog is irregular, its digestive tract won’t work ‘as a clock’ either.

Obviously in this case it will be hard for your pet to develop a habit to go to the toilet at a specific time. Moreover, if you take your dog for a walk also at different time every day — don’t take it amiss – you assign a mission impossible to the poor creature. The same problem arises, if there is food in the dog’s bowl all the time. Don’t leave food in the bowl for more than 10 minutes. The pet should get accustomed to eat the whole portion at a time instead of dividing it into smaller portions and eating them throughout the day.

Then the pet will defecate regularly as well, which will make it much easier for you to arrange its going to the toilet outside.

Cause №3
Normally dogs choose places for urinating very carefully, because they don’t simply pee, they also leave scent marks, i.e. mark their territory. Although if a puppy since early age is held in a small cage, which it finds impossible to divide into zones (for resting, playing, eating and ‘toilet’) due to lack of space, the puppy will get used to peeing where it sleeps. By 3-4 months the puppy starts considering such behavior normal and loses its inborn neatness.  In such case the owner will face a difficulty in teaching its pet not to soil in the house – taking the dog outside at least 5 times a day, feeding and taking it for a walk strictly at specific hours, praising for urinating in right places, as if it were still a little puppy.  Eventually your dog will learn to ‘do its business’ outdoors, even though it will take longer than usual. Stained cushions should be replaced immediately. Consider temporarily using plastic dog bed without a blanket instead of soft  dog bed. After each peeing on the bed, clean it with a dilute vinegar solution – acidic media are the best in dissipating odors. The dog has to get used to its bed and itself not smelling of pee and feces.

Cause №4
There are no doubts about this cause – the dog pees because it is scared. It happens only during storms, fireworks, excessively harsh punishment or in other specific circumstances that your dog finds hard to cope with. Of course you should try to defend your pet from such emotional stress by avoiding certain worrying circumstances. Prepare a silent and comfortable place for your dog, where it would feel safe during lightning storms or fireworks. Also try not to encourage the dog’s fear – avoid calming it down or distracting with a toy. Your behavior should demonstrate that there is nothing to worry about, everything is fine! Dogs of quick-tempered and unpredictable owners are often more timid, as they never know when and why they are going to be punished or scolded next time.

Cause №5
Don’t worry! Your dog understands quite well what you want to achieve. It simply finds it hard to wait for such long periods. Start with throwing out its old bed. Don’t replace it with a new one yet – look where the pet prefers to rest. Usually dogs try to settle in places where they can easily observe all family members. But when your dog wants to sleep, it finds a quiet place – not on a passage. That’s where you should put its new bed. Now check whether you walk with your dog as often as it is required according to its age. If there is no way for you to take your pet for a walk more often, then you will have to accept the fact that the dog is going to soil in the house from time to time for several months more – and the dog is not to blame! Are your walks long and active enough for the pet to ‘do everything’ outside? Owners should also pay attention to regularity of walks and feeding, as it plays a significant role in the dog’s ability to wait long enough for the next walk. Type of food and portions are just as important. It’s not a good idea to give your puppy a big portion or canned dog food before the longest interval between walks. Together with this food your pet gets all the liquid contained in it. Maybe the dog would drink less, if it could choose.

Cause №6
This is how puppies demonstrate obedience to adult dogs. The same signal is used towards the owner. An emotional young dog can squirt when the owner shouts at it or when he comes home after a long absence. Usually such behavior can be observed when the dog reaches the age of puberty, i.e. 7-8 months. Try to be softer to your pet in order not to provoke its peeing indoors. When you come home, don’t bend to the puppy, look at it and say: “Hey, boy (girl)!”, and then don’t pay any attention to it until you are inside the room. By that time the puppy’s excitement will diminish and you will be able to pat it without ‘consequences’.

Cause №7
In this case we deal with urine marking. If you put your puppy in a open-air cage, you will see that it divides the space into different areas – for resting, playing and a special place that will be used as ‘toilet’. In the apartment, similarly, the dog may think that tidiness should be kept in the room where it sleeps and in its owners’ room, but hallway and kitchen, for example, can as well be used as a toilet. Tiny Chihuahua can think that only the owner’s pillow is its ‘spot’ and easily pee on the opposite side of the bed. The main goal in solving this problem is to make it perfectly clear for the dog, where it can and where it cannot go for a pee. It is best to put away all carpets (that carry the dog’s scent) for some time and wash the floor (till it’s) perfectly clean. If possible – wipe the floor with a dilute vinegar solution (but note that it may damage lacquer coating). Try to catch the moment when your puppy is about to ‘do it’, and take the pet outside fast or put it on a nappy and then praise it. A cage in this case helps to keep an eye on the puppy inside the apartment and find a place that in the puppy’s opinion is suitable for a ‘toilet’.

Cause №8
Everything indicates that your dog’s untidiness is the result of its unsatisfactory health condition. Most often urinating indoors is a symptom of cystitis. This disease is very common, and is diagnosed for 80% of dogs in the city. In this situation there is no point in trying to apply educational or training methods; you have to take care of the dog’s health first! Otherwise you will only achieve a chronic condition of the disease.

Cause №9
It looks like your dog decided to take revenge on you. You can put the dog out of the room for 30 minutes and forbid it to lie on the bed in future, but it won’t eliminate the problem, because the reason lies in your interrelation with the pet. Keep in mind that punishment serves only to explain what you demand from the dog. In your case the pet concentrated on its offense instead of trying to understand what it did wrong. It means that the punishment was applied incorrectly – untimely or excessively, or for too long. Moreover, you failed to resolve the conflict by that punishment. Instead you remained at quarrel with your dog, and for that reason the pet came up with an idea of pay back. Next time you punish the dog, wait for several minutes, then give several commands to it and praise it for executing them, showing in such a manner that you still love your dear pet. You can also provoke the dog into doing the thing it was punished for and praise it, if it makes everything right this time. By doing so you will emphasize the behavior you want to see in future, instead of attracting the dog’s attention to the thoughts of revenge on the “unjust owner”.

Cause №10
It seems that your pet still hasn’t understood that it is not allowed to soil in the house. Start its training from the very beginning, according to our instructions and advice.

How to teach a dog no to soil inside the house?
1) Open-air Cage. Put a dog cage and cover the floor in it with nappies, also put a dog bed, toys and bowl with water inside the cage. Give the pet some time to get used to the cage. As puppies usually don’t pee where they sleep, your puppy will also do it on the nappy. Praise it cheerfully for doing so. After several ‘repeats’, open the door of the cage. Usually puppies ‘do their business’ right after they have their meal. For this reason you should feed it inside the cage and not let it out until the puppy eases itself on the nappy (for doing everything right, each time praise the pet). If you notice that your puppy pauses to think, gets distracted and starts sniffing the floor – pick it up and carry it to the nappy. If you didn’t make it to the cage and the puppy peed in a ‘wrong’ place, don’t scold it. Take it to the cage and let it out again when you’re finished cleaning up. If you keep the puppy inside the cage all the time, not allowing any ‘mistakes’, the pet will never learn not to soil at home – it will keep tidiness only in the cage. As soon as you start taking the dog out for a walk, under the condition that you maintain the correct feeding and walking regime, the puppy will soon start to leave nappies dry for several days in a row. Then you can disassemble the cage, leaving the nappies on the floor for several weeks more. Then the nappies can be removed, too.

2) Paper. Put some newspapers on the floor, so that they occupy a large area in the room. If the puppy pees on the floor, pad the pee with a paper and put it on top of the rest of the papers on the floor, so that the smell indicates to the puppy where it should ‘do it’. Praise the puppy, if it pees on the paper. Throw away wet papers — puppies don’t like to walk on their pee, otherwise the pet will try to find a toilet in some dry place. Gradually, day after day, reduce the area covered with papers. You can put a tray under the of the papers that are left. When you start taking the puppy for a walk outside, praise it for ‘doing the business’ outside the house. If you maintain a correct feeding/walking regime, you can stop praising the puppy for doing it on the paper. After a week without the puppy’s going to the toilet indoors, the papers can be removed completely. Nevertheless if your schedule is irregular, it is best to keep papers on the floor, even if the puppy hasn’t soiled in the house for 2-3 weeks.

3) Cleaning. It is essential to throw away wet and dirty papers and nappies as promptly as possible, so that the puppy doesn’t get accustomed to the presence of the ‘toilet’ smell in the apartment and doesn’t start thinking that it is normal.

4) Punishment. There is no point in punishing a puppy for peeing in the house. It will start hiding from you and find secluded places to ‘do its business’. Moreover, when you start going out for a walk, you will have to wait for hours until the puppy eases itself, because it will hold it in while you are around! There is even less sense in catching the puppy and putting its face in its pee (especially if the peeing happened several hours ago). The puppy will understand only one thing – when the owner comes home, it’s time to hide and not let him grab you.

5) Feeding. Everything the puppy eats or drinks will eventually come out. That’s why it is important to pay attention to what and when you give to your pet, while you are trying to wean it from soiling in the house. Monitor quality and freshness of food – digestive disorder and diarrhea will throw you far back in the training, because the pet won’t feel like choosing a right place to ‘do it’. Dry dog food will make your puppy drink a lot, and canned food already contains much liquid. On the other hand, the puppy should have access to fresh water all the time. A nasty habit of puppies to drink their pee appears not only due to lack of microelements, sometimes it is a result of being left without access to water for a long time.

6) Walks. The more often and longer you take your pet for a walk, the faster it will stop soiling indoors. The general rule is that the number of walks shouldn’t be less that the number of feedings. Although a little puppy cannot yet hold it for long, so don’t rush to reduce the number of walks to 2 per day. For a young dog it is also difficult to hold it for long and it is harmful to stay immobile for a long time, as well.

See the below table to find out how often the pet should be fed and taken outside, depending on the age.

Why does my dog pee indoors?

7) Adult dog. It is much more difficult to wean an adult dog from soiling in the house, if it wasn’t taught not to in the childhood. You will have to dedicate several weeks to it, keeping the dog under supervision throughout all that time. Increase the number of walks, as if you were teaching a puppy. Don’t scare the pet with excessively strict punishment. If the dog is healthy, all you have to do is teach it to behave properly; the dog is not obliged to know things that weren’t taught to it. If you have a small dog, pick it up and carry it outside every time you notice that it ‘paused to think’. If you have a big dog, try to command it to lie down, put your shoes on fast and take the pet outside. When outside, as soon as the dog ‘gets to business’, praise it cheerfully, saying: “walk, walk”, so that it starts to associate these words with its actions. Obviously, you won’t say these words at home. Patience and advertency will help you cope with this problem, even if you are dealing with a dog that spent all its life on the streets. Peeing indoors is not a problem, but another cause to pay attention to your dog.


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