How to Stop a Dog from Peeing in the House

It can be extremely frustrating for pet parents when their dog starts peeing in the house. With puppies, the situation is understandable. They are still in the midst of house training, and occasional accidents are bound to occur. The situation is more troubling when an adult dog who suddenly develops the bad habit of peeing in the house. Because these sorts of problems often lead owners to abandon their dogs at shelters, it is imperative that pet parents get to the bottom of the issue and figure out how to stop a dog from peeing in the house.

If you have adopted a puppy and are still in the midst of house training, then you can simply redouble your efforts and your vigilance to prevent accidents from happening. However, what do you do when a formerly well-trained, adult dog appears to suddenly decide that it’s all right to relieve himself in your house? Some owners are inclined to think that their dog is “mad” at them or “getting back” at them for something, but dog’s minds don’t really work like that. It’s far more likely that a dog is regressing in his house training for some physical or behavioral reason. Figuring out the root cause of the problem is the important first step to finding out how to stop a dog from peeing in the house.

A number of medical conditions may have caused your pup to forget his house training. It is essential that you rule out a health problem before you even think about punishing your dog or taking the steps to re-train him. If your pet is peeing in the house because of a health problem, no amount of training in the world is going to correct the issue. Schedule an appointment with a trusted veterinarian as soon as you can.

The more information you can provide to your pet’s health care professionals, the better equipped they will be to offer a definitive and helpful diagnosis. Perhaps take a few notes before the appointment so that you don’t forget when the accidents started happening. Record any other changes in your dog’s behavior or appearance. Tell your vet about any dietary changes or medications that could have caused your dog’s habits to change. If you are forthcoming, it will make the vet visit much more efficient.

Your vet will probably ask additional questions and perform a complete physical exam of your pup. This may also include a blood profile, blood count, and a urinalysis. These tests tell the vet about the functionality of your dog’s internal organs. Your dog’s stool may also be examined to check for the presence of intestinal parasites or digestive issues. Examinations with an x-ray machine or an ultrasound may be necessary if your vet suspects bladder or kidney stones or a tumor. These exhaustive tests should reveal whether or not your dog’s potty problems are caused by a medical condition.

If they are caused by a medical condition, then you must simply follow the treatment plan as prescribed by the vet. However, if the vet can find no physical reason why your dog is peeing in the house, then it will be diagnosed as a behavioral issue. The question then becomes one of figuring out what stimuli is causing your dog to forget his house training.


Some potty accidents are directly related to anxiety. Simply put, some dogs do not like to be separated from their people for an extended period of time. Other dogs become anxious because of noises. Noise-sensitive dogs might be troubled by sounds from freeways, construction sites or even thunderstorms. Going outside to pee forces them to confront that fear, and they’d rather potty inside than have to risk being put through the anxiety of stepping outdoors. If your dog’s accidents can be chalked up to anxiety, then the remedies can be fairly easy. Try signing him up for doggy day care that will give him companionship and plenty of bathroom breaks while at the same time removing him from the noises that are bothering him. If doggy day care isn’t an option, try to make your home a more relaxing place by looking for ways to muffle sounds. Try playing soothing music while you’re gone and provide a fun food puzzle to keep him occupied.

If your dog’s accidents seem to be related to the length of time you’re gone, then doggy day care may still be a good solution. The fact is that some dogs don’t like to go outside while you’re not home, so they may be trying to hold it even if they have access to the outdoors. When they just can’t hold it anymore, they have an accident. Once again, if doggy day care doesn’t work for you or your pooch, consider an alternative like having a neighbor or a professional dog walker or sitter come by during the day to give your pup a potty break.

It’s also worth considering whether your dog’s regression in house training is about genuinely needing to pee and choosing an inappropriate place to do it or if your dog is scent marking. One of the easiest ways to tell is by how much urine your pup is leaving. A big puddle is a sign that your dog is choosing to relieve himself inappropriately while a tiny amount may mean that he is scent marking. Another telltale sign is where you find the urine. Actual pottying typically happens on the floor while scent marking is frequently performed on a vertical surface like a table leg or a door jamb. Some dogs are known to mark anything and everything in their house from the walls to their owner’s leg.

So why do dogs mark in this way? Dogs are driven by a host of instinctive behaviors. Even the best trained among them may be guilty of the occasional marking. That’s because marking isn’t about a dog’s need to relieve himself. Instead, he’s sending a message to all other dogs. Perhaps he’s making it known whose territory this is or providing information about his place in the social order. Some dogs mark to indicate their availability for mating.

Marking Territory

Often, dogs who mark indoors are feeling anxious or insecure. Maybe things at home have changed recently with the introduction of a baby, another pet or even a new piece of furniture. If you’ve recently spent time with an animal at someone else’s house, this could also be a trigger for your dog to start marking territory. Embarrassingly, some dogs only mark when they visit someone else’s house. This means that your pup might feel the need to mark territory while on a visit to grandma’s house. That always makes for a terribly awkward situation.

If you believe that your dog is marking, one of the most basic things you can do to correct the behavior is to spay or neuter your dog. It’s advisable to have these procedures performed as soon in your pet’s life as possible, but the operations can be very effective even on older dogs. Neutering or spaying is perhaps the best way to ensure that your dog stops marking territory.

Marking Territory

Whether your dog is genuinely peeing in your house or marking, it’s a situation that you need to correct. Expert trainers have long since abandoned the advice that says dogs should be punished for having accidents in the house. Rubbing your dog’s nose in his urine, perhaps hours after the accident occurred, is not an effective means for correcting the behavior. It is more likely to confuse your dog and teach him that people are unpredictable and frightening than it is to prevent future accidents. Lavish praise for proper behavior, like pottying outdoors, is far more effective.

Still, it is important to reinforce for your pup that peeing inside is not appropriate. One of the most straightforward ways to get this message across is with a sharp, startling noise when you notice that your dog is or is about to relieve himself indoors. Many pet parents find that a sharp clap does the trick. Others use an empty soda can that is filled with a few coins and then taped shut to be an effective noisemaker.

This process requires vigilance and near-constant watching. However, it typically corrects the bad behavior within just a few days. Most pet parents don’t even need two weeks to see a dramatic change in their dog’s behavior.

Whenever you see your dog sniffing, moving in a circle or starting to lift a leg in the house, clap once, loudly, or give the soda can one shake. The noise is loud and disruptive, causing your pup to stop in his tracks. His attention will be fully trained on you. In a stern, authoritative voice, tell him, “No pee!” Then, show him the door to the outside. After he pees in the yard or other appropriate area, it will be important to lavish praise and treats on him. This system of positive reinforcement is far more effective than any punishment could ever be. Remember that your dog lives for your affection and praise. Be certain to give it to him when he has earned it. He will remember that peeing is appropriate for the outdoors, but not in the house.

Remember to clean it up properly

Speaking of helping your dog to remember where to pee, it is extremely important that you thoroughly clean any places in the house where your dog was peeing or marking. Remember that dog urine carries a number of messages for your dog and for any other dogs that might come into their territory. The scent of urine tells a dog that it’s ok to pee in this spot, making it more likely that he will pee in that area again.

When cleaning up an area where your dog has peed in the house, it is important to avoid using ammonia-based cleaners. Ammonia is a component of dog pee, so if you clean with ammonia, you’re only reinforcing the idea that this spot is appropriate for peeing. It is essential that you use either an enzyme-based cleaner or a simple half-and-half solution of vinegar and water to clean up the mess. Remember that your dog’s sense of smell is about 100 times stronger than yours. Even if you can’t smell the urine, your dog can, so what you use to clean up the mess is very important.

If your dog was peeing on the carpet, it may be necessary to pull it up and either clean the pad beneath the carpet or cut out a section of the padding to be replaced. Most cleaners just aren’t good enough to get the carpet and the pad beneath it without including this step. Your dog will be able to smell the urine in the pad under the carpet, and he’ll obey the signal that tells him that it’s ok to pee here.

Fortunately, dogs genuinely dislike making a mess of their living space. Most don’t actually want to pee in an inappropriate spot. Accordingly, if you can sufficiently clean up the floor, they will change their ways pretty quickly. This is especially true if you are vigilant about watching your dog and stopping him before he pees in the house or as he is doing so.

There are other options for stopping a dog from peeing in the house. Because dogs dislike making a mess of their living space, it may be necessary to confine them to a smaller portion of the house or a crate while you are away. Rather than being cruel, many dogs actually find the confinement of a crate comforting and secure. It is highly unlikely that they will pee in their crate, since they would much prefer it to be a clean, safe place.

Some gadgets, like Spray Commander, which attaches to your dog’s collar and emits an unpleasant spray that you activate with a remote control when you notice that your dog is about to misbehave, may also be effective. Some pet parents have had good success with a Scat Mat, which deters pets from entering the area where the mat is installed. Pets are conditioned through receiving an unpleasant sensation when they come into contact with the mat, which keeps them from trying to use a favorite potty spot in the house.

Many dogs have accidents in the house at some point in their lives. It’s certainly understandable with puppies, but can be more difficult to deal with in adult dogs. After ensuring that a medical condition is not causing your dog to regress in his house training, you can start to look for behavioral issues that may be causing the problem. With a little vigilance and a lot of praise for appropriate behavior, how to stop a dog from peeing in the house tend to clear up within just a week or two. Afterward, you and your dog can go back to simply enjoying each other’s companionship.

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