If you have a dog that pees in the house, then you already know what a nightmare it can be.
This is easily one of the most common problems we’re asked about, so we decided it would be a good idea to put together a comprehensive overview of the issue, and explain what you can do to overcome it.
Firstly, this problem can affect virtually any dog, regardless of whether it’s a new puppy who hasn’t been house trained yet – or an adult dog who has only just started to pee indoors again (even if they used to be fine).
This problem can have several causes, such as submissive peeing after being reprimanded, incontinence (if you have an aging dog), or even territorial marking.
What’s more, the difficulty you face in overcoming the problem can vary depending on the cause – so you’re going to need a lot of patience and perseverance for some dogs – while others may learn relatively quickly. But ultimately, patience and consistency will be essential.
The first thing you need to rule out is whether your dog has a medical condition which is causing them to pee indoors (or at other inappropriate times).
Medical problems can range from bladder infections, incontinence, and even a stomach upset or changes in diet.
So it’s important to check with your vet first, just to make sure there isn’t an underlying problem that’s causing the unwanted behavior.
This is especially true if your dog used to be house trained, but is having more accidents lately.
Is Your Dog Marking?
Another possible reason for indoor urination is territorial marking. While it’s not quite as common for a dog to deliberately mark indoors, it certainly can happen occasionally – especially if he perceives a new threat to his status in the home. This ‘threat’ could be anything from a new visitor stopping by, or even a new piece of furniture arriving in the house.
Overall, basic obedience training may reduce the chances of territorial marking because he’ll stop acting like he’s the leader, and the marking behavior should subside. Additionally, dogs who have been neutered are less likely to mark their territory.
Common House Training Problems
If you have a rescue dog or a dog that has a long history of living in kennels – then there could be a higher chance that he hasn’t learned his house training lessons quite as well. It’s often easy for them to slip back into bad habits, especially if they’ve never mastered this aspect of their training, or it wasn’t reinforced frequently enough.
Additionally, puppies are notorious for peeing in the house. This is mostly because they’re young, and haven’t had enough time to learn house training successfully.
What’s more, they also have smaller bladders, so they need to be taken outside several times in the day, otherwise, they will have to to pee somewhere, and indoors will be their only choice!
Catching Them Before The Act
In an ideal world, you’ll be lucky enough to catch them just before the act. Often, you’ll see your dog circling around, sniffing the ground, or even cocking a leg to pee. As soon as you see any of these tell-tale signs, you’ll need to give them a little startle (usually, a quick clap of your hands will do, so nothing too scary is needed) – and this will be enough to get their attention and stop them before they begin to urinate.
You’ll then need to take them outside quickly, and wait with them until they begin to pee in the designated area.
After this, you need to lavish them with praise and general positive reinforcement, so they will ultimately associate peeing outdoors with your warm approval.
Catching Them During The Act
If you don’t catch them before, then the next best thing you can do is catch them during the act. Again, you’ll need to quickly get their attention with a loud clap of your hands – enough to make them jump and temporarily stop them from peeing.
You’ll then have to take them outside, where they can finish peeing. After this, you’ll need to heap on the praise once more (and even though you may be frustrated about having to clean up the pee indoors, there’s little to gain by ‘punishing’ them – because they won’t understand what they did wrong).
As they gradually learn that positive approval and praise comes when they pee outdoors – and a loud, startling clap comes when they pee indoors, they will soon learn which area they should pee in.
Always Praise Your Dog For Peeing Outside
Praising your dog at the right time is essential for changing their behavior. In general, you want to give them positive reinforcement whenever they’re engaging in a behavior you want them to perform – and this certainly includes peeing outdoors.
So whenever you take them outside to pee, you want to give them plenty of approval and praise. If you do this 3 to 4 times a day, you should begin to see a change in their behavior in no time at all.
Removing The Scent
While everything you’ve read so far seems pretty simple and straight-forward, there’s no denying that house training a dog that keeps peeing inside the house can be a frustrating problem to contend with. It’s something that can become a real struggle. So while it’s simple in theory, the execution can be challenging at times.
Over the years, we’ve acquired several tips for discouraging a dog to pee indoors, but one of the most important tips we could ever share with you has to be the power of removing the scent of urine completely. Keep in mind that your dog has a very keen sense of smell – so even if you can’t smell anything, there’s still a good chance that your dog can.
A key thing to remember is that a dog is wired to not pee in their den, so ultimately, they really don’t want to pee in the house, either. But they’re also wired to pee in the same designated area, so if that area smells of urine – well, that’s as good a sign as any to your dog that he should pee in that location.
If you think about it, this makes sense. At the end of the day, your dog is peeing in an ‘appropriate location’ (from their point of view) – and they’re certainly not doing it to spite you! So you can’t hold a grudge against your dog for peeing indoors, simply because your dog really doesn’t understand what the big deal is!
So to make sure this isn’t making the problem worse, you need to take a look at the cleaning products you’re using. Above all, you need to use an ‘enzyme’ based cleaner, rather than an ‘ammonia’ based one.
Enzyme cleaners should eradicate the scent entirely, whereas ammonia ones can still smell of urine to your dog’s evolved sense of smell.
Additionally, you may need to give your floors and carpets a deep clean – rather than a specific ‘spot’ treatment (a steam cleaner can be handy for this). It takes some initial effort, but there’s a good chance that a thorough cleaning with the right products will help to ‘reset’ your dog’s indoor peeing behavior, especially when you add our other suggestions into the mix as well.
One product that works very well when it comes to preventing your dog from peeing in the same place indoors is Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator, which has worked very well for us. In fact, this product can be very useful when it comes to house training in general – and it’s as close to a ‘secret weapon’ as you can get when it comes to stopping your dog from peeing indoors.
Things To Avoid
Now, for best results, there’s also a few things you need to avoid doing, even if they seem like a good idea. Firstly, ‘rubbing your dog’s nose’ in the ‘accident’ is something that many people resort to, but in reality, it’s never very effective.
The truth is that your dog won’t understand why you’re doing this or what they’ve done wrong to deserve it, so it’s a needless punishment. Worse still, it can make your dog scared and fearful of you – which will only make them more likely to pee in different rooms (or hidden corners you don’t know about!)
Also, punishing your dog after you’ve found out that they’ve urinated inside is largely a waste of time, simply because they aren’t going to understand what they’ve done wrong.
In summary, the true keys to success are catching them before the act, catching them during the act, and taking them outside several times a day to pee – while heaping on the positive reinforcement when they do pee outside. If this still isn’t working – then purchase some Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator to use on every ‘accident’ they have – and persist with the techniques revealed in this guide.
While it can take some patience and discipline, we promise you that these techniques will work for the vast majority of the time – barring any medical issue. Good luck!