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Find out why dogs pee in the house and what you can do to make them stop!

Why Do Dogs Pee in the House?

There are few things more frustrating than a dog peeing in the house. I can’t even begin to count the number of comments and emails I’ve seen about dogs peeing on floors, on tables, on sofas, or even on beds.

However, I know from experience that it’s possible to stop this behavior. Before you can correct it, it’s important to figure out why your dog might be peeing indoors in the first place. Once you find the root of the problem, you’ll be well on your way to stopping indoor peeing for good.

5 Reasons Dogs Pee in the House

You might be surprised to learn some of the reasons your dog may be peeing in the house are beyond his control! So before you blame your pup, be sure to check out all of the reasons why he may be eliminating in the house.

1. Your Dog Isn’t Properly Housebroken

You may think, “But I’ve trained my dog, and he’s still peeing in the house!” However, there are a few reasons why the training didn’t stick.

If your dog is still under a year old, peeing in the house may simply mean that he’s not fully housebroken. Housebreaking a new puppy can take anywhere from a few months, up to a year for some breeds. Small dogs are notorious for being difficult to housebreak. With patience and consistency, accidents should happen less and less frequently.

An adult dog who is having accidents in the house may simply be confused about the appropriate place for him to go. Any inconsistency in his training could lead to confusion and accidents down the road. For example, dogs who are trained to use puppy pads sometimes fail to understand why they can’t pee in other places around the house.

Dogs thrive on routine. If he doesn’t have scheduled and consistent potty breaks, this can also lead to accidents, since he never knows when his next chance to pee will be.

If this is the case with your adult dog, you’ll need to revisit his training. Remove any puppy pads in the house, and bring him outside to pee at consistent times throughout the day. Here are some more tips on how to stop your adult dog from peeing in the house.

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2. You’ve Made These Common Pet Parent Mistakes

A couple of common pet parent mistakes can easily contribute to their dogs peeing in the house. But don’t worry, these are very easy to correct.

Not letting your dog out enough. As I mentioned, even a well potty trained dog can only hold it for so long. If you are away or distracted for hours at a time, your dog’s bladder just might not be up to the challenge. This is especially true for smaller dogs who, naturally, have smaller bladders. In addition, if you see your dog drinking a significant amount of water in a single sitting, it’s probably a good idea to let him out in the immediate future. If your work keeps you away from home for longer than your dog can manage, arranging to have someone let him out while you’re away might solve the problem.

Photo of a MidWest Homes for Pets Single and Double Door Crate with a small dog sitting inside
Using the right crate can make a world of difference in your dog’s peeing habits.

Using a crate that’s too large. Dogs have a natural den instinct. Most dogs will avoid eliminating where they sleep (their den). The ideally-sized crate will allow your pooch to stand up, stretch a bit, and turn around. It shouldn’t be so large that he has room to sleep in one corner and pee in the other.

Photo of Kinderbean Dog and Cat Urine Stain and Odor Eliminator

An enzyme cleaner, such as this one, will eliminate even the tough odors that only your dog can smell.

Using the wrong cleaner. When a dog pees on the floor, it can leave a lingering scent that invites him back to repeat the behavior. You may not notice it, but human noses aren’t nearly as keen as dogs’. Using an enzymatic cleaner formulated specifically for hard floors or carpets and upholstery is the only way to get rid of the smell so that even your dog can’t detect it. That’s because it breaks the waste down completely and safely

3. Your Dog Has a Medical Condition

Sometimes, training and parenting have nothing to do with it. There are a number of medical conditions that can cause dogs to pee on the floor. Some of them cause excessive thirst, which leads to excessive drinking and peeing. Others may make it painful to urinate, causing dogs to avoid going until they can’t hold it another second.  A few health issues that contribute to peeing on the floor are:

  • Diabetes
  • Pain when squatting or lifting the leg to urinate
  • An infected bladder or urinary tract
  • Bladder stones
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Tumors
  • Cushing’s or Addison’s disease
  • Adrenal gland issues
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Cognitive problems caused by brain disease or dementia
  • Age-related illnesses and conditions

If your dog has any of these conditions, getting early treatment is vital to his health, not to mention your floors. Your dog’s veterinarian can help you to determine if he has a health condition that needs treating.

4. He’s Marking His Territory

Some dogs are more territorial than others. They don’t want to leave any doubt that a certain place or object belongs to them. We humans sometimes declare ownership by labeling or monogramming our belongings. Dogs “label” their things with their scent, specifically urine.

Urine marking occurs most frequently in male dogs that haven’t been neutered. It can also be a problem for intact females. Occasionally, even spayed and neutered dogs get into the habit of urine marking, especially if it was a habit that they developed earlier in their lives before they were altered.

To learn more about urine marking and how to stop it, read this.

5. Your Dog is Anxious or Nervous

There isn’t always a physical explanation for a dog peeing in the house. Sometimes the triggers are in their little doggy minds.

Peeing in the house is one sign of anxiety in dogs. Any situation that causes your dog to feel anxious could cause him to pee on the floor. Here are a few of the more common ones:

  • Changes in routine, like a pet parent going back to work after a long hiatus at home.
  • Noise from things like fireworks, thunderstorms, and traffic.
  • Separation anxiety caused by being home alone.
  • Changes in the environment, such as new items or furniture, items belonging to guests, or a move to an entirely new home. Your dog may not associate these things with being off-limits.
  • New people or animals who may visit your home or even a new addition to the family. The arrival of a new person or pet in the home may leave your dog feeling threatened and trigger the urge to pee. Some dogs even pee in response to strange animals or people they observe walking by on the street.

In addition to anxiety, over-excitement sometimes triggers the urge to urinate. This is more common in puppies than in older dogs, but some dogs don’t outgrow the tendency to lose control of their bladders when they’re excited.

Submission, either to people or to other animals, causes some dogs to pee on the spot. If your dog leaves a puddle on the floor when someone is standing over him, this could be a sign of submissive peeing.

If you suspect that a psychological issue is causing your dog to pee indoors, be sure to talk to your veterinarian for treatment suggestions. You can find a Veterinary Behaviorist near you using this link.

My heart goes out to pet parents who are dealing with indoor peeing problems. Please remember that there is hope for ending problematic behavior! It will take time, effort, and consistency, but your pup — and your house — will thank you for it.

Get the free urine marking ebook today!

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She's helped millions of pet parents provide the best care at every stage of their pet’s life.

Her blog, Pet Living with Kristen Levine has been featured in Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, USA Today, and more.

She's also the founder of FWV Fetching, the first marketing agency exclusively serving pet and animal health companies.

Her early work with the SPCA led her to a lifelong career in the pet industry, advocating for pet adoption and rescue as well as for pets and their parents here on her blog and in the media.

She’s frequently booked on satellite media tours and national shows, like FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, and Daytime, to talk about pet trends and new products.

Insanely passionate about pets since she was a little girl, Kristen has had more than 30 pets in her lifetime — including dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, a horse, a gerbil, mice, and chickens!

In 2022, she launched to help pet parents keep pet homes clean -- to love more, stress less.

Kristen is married and lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her dog Tulip.

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