Dogs peeing and pooping in the house is a common problem that many dog parents usually deal with at one time or another.
Inappropriate elimination or house soiling can occur in dogs of any age. Some do it continuously while others do it intermittently. There are various reasons why a dog engages in behavior. The best way to address the problem is to identify what is causing a dog to behave this way so appropriate measures can be undertaken.
- Important Reasons Why Dogs Pee or Poop In The House
- Medical Causes
- Behavioral Causes
- Absence or a lack of housetraining
- Urine and Fecal Marking Behavior in Dogs
- Submissive Urination in Dogs
- Ways to deal with submissive urination
- Separation Anxiety in Dogs
- How Do You Stop a Dog from Peeing and Pooping in the House?
- Cleaning Up Dog Poop and Urine: Eliminating “Scent Posts”
Important Reasons Why Dogs Pee or Poop In The House
House soiling can be a consequence of behavior or medical issues or a blend of both. While a potty accident every now and then is not much of a concern, frequent incidents should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian. There is a need to rule out the possibility that a health issue could be causing the dog’s behavior before it can be addressed as a behavior-related condition.
Disorders that cause an increase in urine volume — The top causes are diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease, kidney problems, and corticosteroid therapy.
Disorders that cause an increase in urination frequency — Bacterial infection in the bladder, bladder stones
Disorders that cause incontinence or leakage of urine or stool — Incontinence associated with hormonal problems or disorders that affect specific regions of the spinal cord. An old dog peeing in the house can be suffering from an age-related weakness of the urethral sphincter associated with hormone deficiency.
Disorders that cause inappropriate elimination — Diarrhea, intestinal parasites, or pancreatic problems.
Absence or a lack of housetraining
Housetraining is one of the basic training regimens for puppies. It usually takes about 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house-trained. However, there are some puppies that could take up to a year to be fully house-trained. Smaller breeds with their small urinary bladders and higher rates of metabolism require more frequent trips to the potty area. Incomplete housebreaking could be a problem when consistency is not maintained during the puppy’s housetraining. This could cause the puppy to commit frequent potty accidents even as adults. The good news is, even older dogs can be taught proper housetraining etiquette. It may take time, tons of patience, and lots of positive reinforcement, but getting rid of old habits and being able to establish more desirable ones are worth the effort.
When housetraining your dog, be prepared to deal with some setbacks. But as long as you’re consistent with taking your dog to the potty area at the first sign that he’s about to go, as well as during specific times of the day — after waking up in the morning, after each meal, before bedtime– as well as being quick to offer a reward for desired behavior, your canine buddy will eventually learn.
Urine and Fecal Marking Behavior in Dogs
“Why is my dog marking in the house all of a sudden?” This is a common question that many dog owners often ask.
Like many other animal species, dogs instinctively use their urine and feces as a method to communicate with other members of the species, particularly when claiming and marking territory and signaling possession. Marking differs from regular urination. When marking, a dog deposits small amounts of urine in certain places around the territory that he is claiming. Marking is a very common behavior among male dogs that are not neutered. But the behavior can also be displayed by some neutered males and even female dogs.
Neutering has been shown to correct the problem in about 60% of cases. Many dogs still continue to mark for months or years after neuter surgery. Female dogs that engage in the habit, are generally intact (unspayed), and the frequency of urine marking usually increases when they are in heat (in estrus).
Submissive Urination in Dogs
The behavior is usually displayed by dogs to show submission or appeasement to a more dominant dog. Many dogs also engage in the behavior when greeting their owners or even strangers at the door. The submissive dog typically squats or rolls over and urinate. In most cases, the behavior problem is temporary, usually affecting puppies and during a dog’s first year of life. Some breeds, such as cocker spaniels, are also more prone to exhibiting the problem. It is also more common in female dogs.
Ways to deal with submissive urination
The best way to address the behavior in puppies is to avoid asserting your dominance. For example, when your puppy greets you at the door, avoid looking at, talking to, or touching him. Have a seat first and then allow the pup to approach you at his own pace.
Reverse dominance program — The problem is aimed at building a dog’s confidence and should not involve any harsh or confrontational training methods. The program is all about using positive reinforcement. Allow your pet to work and play without having to work for it or obey a command first. You could also play games with your pup and make him think he has won.
Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Separation anxiety is a common behavior problem in dogs that are left home alone for the most part of the day. Anxiety at being left alone triggers the behavior. Dogs that are prone to separation anxiety often show signs of distress when they see their owners preparing to leave the house, whining and barking immediately after their owners leave. They may not have much of an appetite in their owner’s absence, some won’t even eat at all. In more serious cases of separation anxiety, affected dogs may engage in destructive behavior and house soiling.
When addressing psychological problems, such as separation anxiety and submissive urination, take note that these are distinct issues and thus must be addressed separately.
How Do You Stop a Dog from Peeing and Pooping in the House?
Some dogs are just confused about the appropriate potty spot. In this case, a retraining program is usually all that is needed. The ultimate aim of the program is to direct your pet dog to the potty area outside the house and by doing so, prevent house soiling. With consistency and lots of positive reinforcement, the behavior can be corrected in a matter of days. It is recommended to start the retraining when you will be around for several days, such as over a weekend, to give the training your undivided attention.
When retraining your dog, be consistent in following a regular schedule for meals as well as exercise. Your dog must have easy access to fresh clean water at all times.
Select a specific spot outside the house to be the ‘toilet area’. Before going outside, attach a leash on your dog’s collar or harness and escort him to the spot. Use some cue words, such as “hurry up”, while keeping him moving near the area. With consistency, your dog will be able to recognize the potty spot visually and by his sense of smell. A regular schedule for potty excursions should be followed, that is:
- When your dog wakes up in the morning
- Around noontime
- During late afternoon
- In the evening before bedtime
- After each meal
- After playing with your dog
- After waking up from a long nap
Each time your dog eliminates in the potty area, be quick to praise him and offer a bite of his favorite treat. Make the experience more distinct and positive by playing with your pet for a few minutes before taking him back inside. Your pooch will certainly love spending quality time with you.
However, if your pup fails to eliminate in the potty spot after 5 minutes, you should bring him back inside and confine him inside a crate or gated area. After 15 minutes, take him outside to the potty area again and encourage him to do his business. Repeat the process until the desired results are achieved. Be quick to spot signs that he is about to go, such as if he starts sniffing the ground or going in circles. Make a loud noise to distract your pup and take him to the potty spot immediately.
All dogs that are undergoing housetraining should never be allowed unlimited access to the house until they can be fully trusted when it comes to using the potty area outside.
Punishment has no place in housetraining. Dealing with your pet’s potty issues can be a challenge but punishment is counterproductive. Instead of teaching your dog appropriate behavior, punishment can only confuse him and make him fearful of you. Your dog won’t understand why you are shouting, hitting, or rubbing his face in his poop or pee. Doing so can only cause him to pee and poop more inside the house.
Cleaning Up Dog Poop and Urine: Eliminating “Scent Posts”
Dogs instinctively return to the spot where they have eliminated. Dog poop and urine contain certain chemicals that remain in the spot where they eliminate long after the waste has been removed. Catching a whiff of these chemicals triggers a dog’s elimination reflex. When they feel the need to go, they will go looking for that distinct odor that is left behind even after the poop or urine has been removed. These spots where dogs will consistently eliminate are what you call “scent posts”.
To remove that tell-tale scent, here’s a 3-step process to clean up after your dog’s potty accidents:
Before cleaning up after your dog, be sure to wear protective gloves to protect yourself from pathogens, such as Leptospirosis (in urine), Giardia, or parasites (like tapeworms) that may be present in dog poop. These pathogens are zoonotic, which means they can also cause illness in people.
Next remove the mess. Soak up urine using a dry rag or paper towels. For poop, you can scoop it up using a poop bag or paper towels. Toilet paper can also be used for picking up poop or soaking up urine. Many pet parents use toilet paper because it can be flushed down the toilet. Just make sure that your state or municipality allows dogs poop to be flushed down the toilet. Once the bulk of the mess has been removed, use damp paper towels or rags to wipe or blot away any residue that is left. Avoid rubbing the paper towel or rag.
Use a good enzymatic or bio-based poop odor-neutralizing product. These products contain active ingredients that can break down and neutralize the odor of dog pee or poop. The enzymes break down the uric acid in the waste into carbon dioxide and ammonia which then evaporate. Some neutralizers have been added with surfactants and other compounds that will clean the stain while removing the distinct odor. Failing to use a neutralizing product will keep your dog coming back to the same spot and doing his thing.