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It can be incredibly frustrating for a pet parent when their dog suddenly starts eliminating in the house. It’s also stressful, not only for the pet parent, but also for the dog.
There are many reasons why a housetrained dog might suddenly start having accidents indoors. Determining the cause is necessary for figuring out how to stop a dog from peeing in the house. It’s also essential for detecting potential medical problems and providing them with the appropriate course of treatment.
Sudden indoor elimination can happen for many reasons, which typically fall into one of two categories — medical or behavioral.
Numerous medical issues can cause a dog to start urinating in the house, and the risk of these problems generally increases as the dog gets older. Some of the most common underlying health concerns that can lead to a dog peeing in the house include:
Bladder stones or obstructions
Bladder or prostate cancer
Cognitive dysfunction (common in senior dogs)
Urinary incontinence (which is more common in older, spayed female dogs)
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
In other cases, dogs may start urinating indoors in response to something specific. In other words, it’s not a medical issue but a behavioral one. These behaviors might include:
Sudden changes like moving, new furniture, or the introduction of a new pet can lead a dog to mark or claim their territory. The behavior is generally most common in intact males (although some neutered and spayed dogs will mark, too), and the amount of urine they produce is small.
Dogs that are scared or anxious may urinate in submission. In this case, they’ll also adopt a more submissive pose.
Some dogs may urinate when they’re overly excited. In these cases, it’s a particular greeting or affection that causes the issue.
Getting to the root of a dog’s sudden indoor urination is vital for developing a plan to put a stop to it.
In many cases, medical issues come with additional side effects. For instance, dogs with diabetes or kidney disease may drink more water than they used to. Bladder stones can make urination difficult or painful. A puddle of urine under a dog that just woke up could point toward incontinence.
If a pet parent notices their dog having sudden accidents in the house, their first step should be to seek professional dog advice from their vet. Their primary vet can perform a thorough physical evaluation and discuss other noted side effects. Should the vet find a medical problem, they can recommend the best course of treatment for helping stop a dog from peeing in the house.
If there is no medical issue, the next step is to determine if there’s a behavioral issue and to retrain the dog to urinate outdoors. The following tips can help:
Pet parents must maintain constant supervision over their dogs while retraining them to urinate outside. Keeping the dog in the same room as them and blocking access to other areas of the house can help. If the dog starts to urinate indoors, the pet parent should gently correct the behavior and guide the dog outdoors to finish their business.
If a pet parent can’t maintain adequate supervision, confining the dog to a crate or room where they are less likely to urinate can help avoid accidents.
Treats and lavish praise can help reinforce positive behavior. Dogs are more likely to continue urinating outside if they associate it with such rewards.
A pet parent should consider establishing — and sticking to — a routine that includes feedings, playtime, exercise, and opportunities for the dog to urinate outdoors. Noting when the dog typically needs to urinate can help establish the best times for walks. In some cases, older dogs may benefit from a schedule change that includes more frequent walks to prevent accidents.
In the case of separation anxiety, a dog may benefit from not only retraining, but also medication. Working with a professional dog trainer may be helpful as well. The pet parent’s vet can help recommend the best course of action.
When a fully housetrained dog suddenly starts having accidents, one of the first things a pet parent should do is contact a vet. There’s often an underlying medical or behavioral cause. Taking note of additional symptoms and getting to the bottom of the issue can help a pet parent get their dog back on track.