Why has my adult
house trained dog
suddenly started peeing in the house?
Why is my adult dog suddenly
urinating in the house, and what can I do about it?
Step 1: Veterinary Visit
A medical cause is the most common
reason for an adult dog to suddenly begin urinating in the house.
It is essential to rule out a medical cause first because many of the
conditions that commonly cause inappropriate urination can quickly
become serious for your dog, leading to hospitalization and even
What should I expect my veterinarian to do?
First your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam and
talk to you about what is going on.
Next your veterinarian will get a urine sample from your dog for
analysis. A fresh sample is best. Samples that have been sitting for a
number of hours, even if refrigerated, can produce false results when
tested. This sample will help indicate if there is an infection going
on, how well the kidneys are concentrating the urine, and if there are
Your veterinarian may recommend any of the following tests depending
on your dog and the urine results: bloodwork (chemistry panel,
electrolytes, complete blood count), radiographs (x-rays), or an
Common medical causes for inappropriate urination include:
Urinary tract infection
Diabetes (insipidus or mellitus)
Bladder or urethral tumors
Prostatic disease in intact male dogs
Pyometra infection in intact female dogs
Vaginitis in intact female puppies
Step 2: Common behavioral causes
Changes in environment are one
of the most common behavioral causes for a dog to begin urinating in the
home. Changes include things such as adding a new pet to the household,
an owner becoming pregnant, the addition of a new baby to the household,
having construction work performed on the home, a change in the owner’s
schedule, or even changes in the neighborhood like a new dog moving in.
Stress and anxiety can lead to inappropriate urination. The most
common example of this is dogs with separation anxiety. When the owner
leaves the home, the dog urinates or defecates. This is often
interpreted as the dog being “mad” that the owner left. In reality, it
is a reflection of the dog’s anxiety level. Punishing the dog for being
anxious only increases the anxiety. Dogs that are suspected of having
anxiety issues should be evaluated by a behavioral professional.
more on Separation Anxiety)
Lack of training can cause dogs to
urinate inappropriately in the home. A dog may have seemed trained
because the owner was not locating their accidents in the home. A dog
may have been given too much freedom before they were trained well
enough to handle it.
Step 3: Cleaning up
Cleaning up existing dog urine is
important. When your dog pees on the carpet it leaves an odor
that your dog may repeatedly return to. Avoid using ammonia based
products to clean dog urine. One of the ingredients of dog urine is
ammonia and he may well be encouraged to re-offend in the same area.
Often your adult dog just needs a
short “refresher course” in house training. With a little reminder, most
dogs get right back to their good potty habits.
You can also help prevent accidents by keeping your dog away from the
area they have been going potty in. A baby gate or closed door can
easily restrict your dog’s access.
Retraining your dog requires the same steps you would use with a new
Confinement: If you are not actively watching your dog, keep
them confined in an area they will not go potty in. This may be a dog
crate, your kitchen, or a small room.
Schedule: Take your dog outside on a set schedule. Your adult dog
should be able to hold their urine for 4-8 hours depending on their
activity level. Set a schedule and stick to it every day.
Reward: Go outside with your dog each time. Take a tasty food treat.
When your dog goes potty in the correct place, praise them and offer a
food reward. This will help your dog want to go potty in the right
Consistency: Your consistency in training is the key to your dog’s
success. Stick with your training plan and you will see fast results.
The more consistent you are, the faster your dog will get back on track.