Why Does My House Trained Dog Pee – Poo Indoors?



Fire-HydrantPee – Poo? I know, it’s kind of a clunky title, but you know how search engines can be… and now, on with the show.

It’s often a very frustrating and confounding problem when our sweet, perfectly house trained dog, suddenly forgets the bathroom is “that-a-way.” However, before we conclude that the dog has just decided it’s just too much bother to wait, there are some other options we should rule out.

Underlying Medical Conditions Can Cause Your Dog to Pee / Poop Indoors

There are quite a few medical conditions, both serious and mundane, that can cause your dog to loose [sic pun intended] control of their bodily functions, including:

  • Dementia – Older dogs can develop dementia just like people do
  • Digestive Upset – Just like us, not everything agrees with our dog and bad food, new food, new supplements, and new treats, can be culprits
  • New Medications – A change in, or new medication can cause changes in bathroom habits
  • Arthritis – Painful joints and bones can make dogs reluctant to walk outside and assume the position
  • Increased Water Intake – This can actually be an indicator of several medical conditions including medication changes, diabetes, and others
  • UTI (Urinary Tract Infections) – Yep, dogs get them too

Other more benign problems can cause unauthorized bathroom breaks, however, if you suspect a medical condition is causing your dog to forget its training, you should immediately consult your veterinarian.

Environmental Changes Can Cause Your Dog to Pee / Poop Indoors

Though some find it hard to believe, a simple change in routine can cause dogs to “go” indoors. Things like an unfamiliar guest in the house, a new piece of furniture, or a change in your sleeping habits can cause some dogs to pee / poo indoors. Other changes that can precipitate this include:

  • New Pets – The presence of a new pet, especially a dog or cat can cause a change in bathroom habits
  • Frightening Events  – Another possibility is that something scary happened during a recent trip to the bathroom
  • Change in Exercise Habits – Walks and playtime are often unmarked by us as bathroom breaks, but rest assured our dogs take advantage of them, less time exercising can call for increased bathroom break time
  • New Home – It’s not uncommon to bring a new, house trained dog into your home and have them behave like bathroom pros only to have them break training after a few weeks

Remember that environmental reasons causing dogs to pee / poo indoors are just as real as medical ones. Often, recognizing the environmental cause along with some simple remedial training utilizing positive reinforcement is enough to re-establish those good habits again.

Here is what noted trainer and behaviorist Patricia McConnell, PhD, has to say on the subject:

1. All houses are not created equal! Just because a dog is “housetrained” in one house, doesn’t mean she is housetrained in another. Every time you go to a new location, pretend your dog is a puppy who needs to learn that the bathroom is in the yard, not on the carpet.

2. Eagle eyes and Energetic Owners. The early stages of housetraining require continual supervision, and a willingness to take the dog outside every ten minutes. Keep your eyes on your dog at all times if he is loose in the house—it only takes a few seconds for a dog to squat and pee. And take the dog outside to potty much more often than you think you need to—better to take the time now rather than trying to retrain a dog who goes in the house!

3. Make it Magic! If your dog could, she should be Facebooking to all her friends that “I have my owner trained to give me a treat if I potty outside!” Every time your dog potties outside you should be beside her giving her a GREAT treat (I’m talking chicken) right after she’s done. Eventually you can skip the reinforcement and say a simple “Thank You,” but keep up the treats for longer than you think you need to, and you’ll have a dog who is house trained for life!

36 thoughts on “Why Does My House Trained Dog Pee – Poo Indoors?

  1. Thanks for this solid resource list for dog lovers to check off before they pull their hair out, due to their trained dog marking or doing no-nos inside.

    Once we moved with our two keeshond dogs. The male dog we raised but was co-owned by his breeder. We moved. Guess which dog, male or female started inside the house?

    • It’s a toss up. I’ve had more problems with females going inside the house, but visiting males have felt the need from time to time.

      We got Tosha from a rescue who took her in after she was taken from a hording situation. She still goes through mini bouts of going inside the house from time to time. Especially if her routine is upset.

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  3. Thanks for the tips. Any tips on how to re-train them not to do it if it is an environmental trigger?

    Also, you spelled lose wrong. “Loose” is like, my tooth is loose. Lose is like, to lose your keys.

    • Actually, Amanda, I misspelled lose intentionally (hence the [sic] immediately after it as both words can apply in this case.

      When it’s an environmental factor, simply start the training as if you were training them in the first place. When you are home the dog should always be at your side so you can intervene should they start to go inside. If you can’t be in the room observing them then they should be crated or confined to an area where they are least likely to go.

      The more often they get to break the rules the harder it will be to establish the correct habit. Never yell when they have an accident and always praise and reward them for going outside and hopefully they will be back on track very soon.

  4. In the last few months, my 2 year old dog will begin to lick herself and starting peeing. On the couch and my bed. It’s only about once in awhile.
    She is spayed. This has not happened before.

    • Has she been checked out by a vet? Dogs can get UTIs just like we can. There are also other medical reasons that can cause this behavior, so I would suggest a trip to the vet as your first stop.

      Hope this helps.

  5. Hi,

    We have recently renovated our bathroom & extended our home. Our house trained 2 year old border collie has now taken to toileting in the new areas if the doors are left open. I can rule out any medical conditions etc as he only does in in the new areas and if the doors are kept closed over night he goes weeks without incident. He doesn’t toilet inside during the day only over night when we are asleep so I’m finding it very difficult to. Manage. If you have any advice I would be very grateful

    Jen

    • Jen,

      I know that this can be a very frustrating problem, but not an uncommon one. First of all I would not rule out a medical condition because he only does it in the new areas. It may be there is a small underlying problem and he feels more comfortable toileting in those areas because he does not consider them part of his home yet. I would use a gate to confine him to a room where he has shown a reluctance to toilet; preferably in the same room with you- if you allow it. If he is having a problem holding things in overnight you will know it and you can address it with your vet as well as letting him out to do his business overnight. His morning bathroom break, especially ones where no accidents happen should be happily celebrated with whatever is highly reinforcing to your dog. In fact all correct toileting habits should be reinforced at this point while denying him access to the new areas unless he is supervised.

      The good thing is that as he becomes more and more accustomed to the new areas of your home he should be less likely to toilet in them and by denying him access to those areas without supervision you are not giving him the chance to reinforce that behavior to the point of a habit.

      I hope this helps and please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.

  6. Thank you, I have recently moved into a new house, the dogs dislike the backyard it’s all gravel no grass. Their old house was all grass and flowers. there sleeping habits have changed. I think you hit it all right on the head, I’m armed with vinegar and kind thoughts, we are in for a change. You can never tell when it’s right in front of you what the problem is.

    Thank you,
    Evelyn

  7. We have a lovely Blue Merl Colli who is 2 years old. She was very good at going outside to the toilet,but over the last few months has taken it upon herself to Poo and pee in the living room,not every day this is not like her at all. She has regular exercise as my partner works from home and I take her on long walks which she loves. Should I take her to the vet? She is a very timid dog, hates traffic and fireworks. Do you have any ideas.

    Thanks
    Jan

    • Janice,

      If it were my dog, I would take her to the vet and rule out any underlying medical reasons for this. They may also help with some medication for calming her a bit if she is a fearful dog. I myself have a fearful dog that has urination problems and having her on medication does help somewhat.

      I hope this helps and that everything works out fine.

  8. Hi we have a a little mixed terrier rescue dog who’s sometimes a bit nervous (mostly around boisterous dogs) but pretty confident most of the time. She never ate her own food so we changed it recently & at the same time put her bed at the top of the stairs as before she would creep into our bed and disrupt our sleep. Since then I’ve got up to 1 or 2 poos in the lounge which is open plan near the back door. I realise these changes have caused this but I’m taking her out & watching her go just before bedtime it’s still happening. Any advice would be great.

    Thanks, Mike.

    • Mike,

      You mentioned that you changed her food at the same time that you changed her sleeping arrangements, this can certainly cause her to have to go more frequently for a while. If the back door is where she normally exits to go outside then it sounds like she is making an effort to go out to do her business.

      The only things I can think of are that you may need to let her have a middle of the night jaunt and see if she needs to go again. Be sure to keep it a business trip though. No playing or other activities or it could become and expected habit; it’s just a bathroom break.

      Have you taught her a cue to go to the bathroom? With my dogs, I pared the word hurry up with them doing their business to the point that when I use the words “hurry up” with two of them, they will actually try to go even if they don’t have to.

      Another idea may be to kennel train her and confine her when you can’t be sure you will wake up to let her have that early morning break. Hopefully this will sort itself out with just these few things. If not, then you might wan’t rule out any underlying medical problems with a trip to the vets.

      Hope this helps.

  9. Hi there
    I am now having problems with my rescue Rottie (he’s about 7 years old). He recently started peeing in the house, but not everyday and at totally different times, there is no pattern whatsoever.
    I have had him to the vets and he has not got a UTI nor diabetes. He had full urine and blood tests and nothing showed up.
    This is a big dog with a lake of pee, any help would be appreciated.
    P.s. I came home today and all of his bedding was just about floating! He had just had a really good 3/4 mile walk before I left.
    Thanks

    • Louise,

      In cases like yours, it can be hard to come up with a specific reason why this is happening without seeing the dog and getting really complete histories. It may help to find a trainer in your area that utilizes positive reinforcement training methods.

      One method you might try if you are home with the dog is to tether the dog to you or in a place where he can be observed. If you think he is showing any interest in peeing then you can dash out with him carrying some really nice treats to reward him with should he have to pee. I would also couple a cue with this behavior (go pee, hurry up, e.g.) so that you can take him out specifically for a pee break.

      The trick here is to train them just as if they were a puppy. If they can’t be directly observed so you can redirect any attempt at peeing indoors to the outdoors, they need to be confined to a small crate or indoor pen where the are extremely unlikely to pee. When you let them out of the crate, you should take them directly outside for a pee break. Give them their cue to pee and if they do, give them praise and reward and let them play a little if you have the time. When you go back inside they can stay out of the crate for a while. If they don’t pee outside, then place them back in the crate for a while and continue doing this until they do pee.

      Good luck,

      Kevin

  10. The only other thing I might mention is if/when your dog has an “”accident” be sure to clean it up with something like Nature’s Miracle that has an enzyme odor eliminator. Even though if may not have any odor your nose can smell, your dog can still smell it if not cleaned with a product specifically for urine/fecal messes. Once your dog smells where he’s gone, it’s a green light to go there again. And again. And again.
    ~Deb

  11. Hi I have 3 dogs a 5 6 and 2 years old the older ones have been house trained for years the youngest one was just about there maybe the odd accident if left too long during the day recently though he started weeing and pooing in my daughter’s bedroom I live in a flat and have 2 children but its always the same room now in the last week or so the 2
    Older dogs have started to do it even if we are in I haven’t moved recently nor has there diet changed ive had to keep them in the kitchen most the time they are fed and let out regularly I ruled out physical reasons as it’s all of them please any advice would be great

    • Sarah,

      This sounds to me like a case where the odors are not being completely removed and the dogs are choosing to mark and toilet the same area. You need to do a really through cleaning with a biologic agent that breaks down the odors. Also, I would restrict that room so that none of the dogs can go in it for quite some time. The younger one may need to be restricted so that he can be observed when free and re-directed to the proper place should they start to go in the wrong one. The smell in that bedroom is your biggest enemy right now as all the dogs see it as a place to toilet.

      Hope this helps.

  12. We are moving in to a new house this weekend. One of my 2 dogs, Adrienne, is very prone to anxiety in new situations, so I worry about her marking or not communicating when she needs to go out. She has been known to become very nervous and do this when we are in different situations, like at my parents’ house or when friends come over. I’ve read about the Dog Appeasing Pheromone and how it can calm a nervous dog. Do you have any advise for this? Would it be worth it for me to get a Dog Appeasing Pheromone diffuser for the transition into our new house?

    • Katie,

      I myself have never used DAP, but I have heard good things about it from people whose opinions I trust. Why not give it a try and see if it helps?

      Good luck in your new home.

  13. Hi, my dog is about three yrs old. I woke up dismorning and she had pooped in my bed and peed on my bedroom floor. She. Is now hiding under the bed and won’t come out as if she knew it was wrong. The only thing new in her life is I’ve been dog watching my sisters dog going on two months she hasn’t been able to come get him due to the weather we have been having. She lives 5 hrs away. I just don’t know what to do with her please help

    • Amber,

      Our dogs don’t have guilt and anxiety in the way that people do. They are reacting to our body language (both conscious and unconscious,) verbal patterns, and environmental cues that end up as predictors to trouble. You sister’s dog could very well be a trigger to this new behavior. Accidents will happen but if this behavior starts to become habit, then you need to go back to the beginning. Confine when they can’t be watched or supervised directly. Only give free roam of the house directly after successful toilet breaks outside and then be ready to observe them after a few hours so that you can interrupt any potential accidents so that they can successfully go outside. Reward them for the good behavior of toileting outside. If they do have an accident inside, never punish them. We have to be the ones that take the blame for not confining or watching them while they are having this problem.

      Good luck.

  14. Hi there! Our previously house trained 18 month Springer Spaniel has recently started to poo in the house and we have no idea why? It is in different places and is always cleaned up immediately to eliminate the smell. It happens both when we are in with the dog and sometimes when he is alone. Up until recently he was fully house trained and has had no change in diet or routine so we are pretty mystified. Why would he do this and how should you act when you find one of his little accidents – shout/ignore and how can we help him? Any help gratefully received! The Taylor Family

    • Maria,

      Sometimes, it’s very difficult to figure out why these things are happening. If it were me, I would start his training all over again. He needs to be confined when you are not able to directly supervise him and when you do have him out you need to be alert so that you can interrupt any attempt to toilet and take him outside so he can do his business in the right place. Never, yell or shout at your dog after the fact. They have no idea what you are yelling about. You should only let him have run of the house right after he has successfully toileted outside. After a few hours, you need to either be able to watch him or confine him so an accident doesn’t occur. If after a while, this does not seem to be helping, you may want to consult a behaviorist in your area that might be able to narrow down the reasons and triggers for his behavior.

      Hope this helps.

  15. Hi: My English Setter is now 15 months old & he has been perfectly house trained since he was 4 months old. We could leave him alone in the house & he would not pee or poop & he would not chew anything. A little joy!! But, for the past couple of days he has been peeing in the house!! He was just breed in this past week with a female Setter that was brought to our property & then she was carried back home!! I’m thinking this is the reason!! What can be done? Every time he goes outside now, he is smelling around for her!! Thanks!!

    • Karen,

      An intact male can definitely have a propensity to mark in the house, especially after his first coupling. This is something many people with breeding males have to deal with. You have to be extra careful to make sure that all accidents are cleaned up indoors and the smells removed as completely as possible. In addition the presence of other smells he doesn’t like may cause him to mark. The only thing I can offer you is to make sure that he is supervised if he is inside the house so you can interrupt and redirect his behavior to the outdoors. Hopefully he’s behavior will only be temporary but if you are going to continue breeding him, this could be an ongoing problem.

      Good luck.

  16. Hi, I have a 10 month old Aussie/blue heeler mix who is spayed. She has been house trained since she was about 3 months old. Once she could make it through the night in her large kennel with no accidents, we decided to move her bed(large dog pillow) into our bedroom and she slept through the night no problem. She is fed in the morning and about 5/6 pm, and I take her outside in the morning, numerous times throughout the day and before I lay down for bed.
    After 4 1/2 months of no accidents, while we were sleeping, she pooped in our bedroom floor. The horrible smell woke me up in the middle of the night and I was so irritated because she has never done this, I’m not sure what to do. Any advice?

    • Merrett,

      Our dogs can have accidents from time to time that really portend nothing more than an upset tummy. We have to be willing to accept the fact that accidents do and will happen. If it starts becoming a habit, then we need to look into medical reasons and perhaps place her back in the crate again for some retraining on good toileting habits.

      Hopefully you will awake to this no more.

  17. I have a 3year old female lab. For the last month she has been pooping in the living room when everyone is asleep we have had no change in environment and she has been on the same food for about 3months now…her poop is solid so feel as though she can hold it she sometimes pees too… I have also noticed her licking herself a lot lately too..we had her anal glands suppressed a year ago but that was because her poop was so soft now that her poop is solid I don’t think it needs to be done again…I don’t know I just need some advice thanks

    • Nicole,

      A few things I would look into here. First, some dogs need their anal sacs expressed more than once a year. If possible I would schedule a visit with your vet to rule out any medical condition. Second, I would make sure that the room she is choosing to toilet in is completely cleaned as thoroughly as possible to remove and vestiges of odors that remind her that this is the place to pee and poo. And finally, I would confine her to a crate or a small pen during the night time hours so that she doesn’t have the chance to practice her new toileting habits. If you get up in the middle of the night, then let her out for a strict business trip. If she goes then great, you should be able to leave her out of the pen or crate when you come back. If she does not, then it’s back into the enclosure until morning.

      Hope this helps.

  18. Hi there,
    My 6yr old bischon-shitszu has recently taken to poopoing in the house. It started only at night but now will go if we are gone as well. Only ever in the same in the living room. Because of this we sleep with the bedroom door closed, and no accidents. But if we get up throughout the night and leave the door open… He goes into the living room, poops and returns to bed!! During the day we’ve taken to putting him the spare room (its lino flooring) and on occasion he still goes in there! He’s fed at the same time every day, let out before we leave for work, several times throughout the evening plus walks, and always before bed! He’s been to the vet and Jo medical concerns, so I don’t understand 🙁 Its been explained to me if this doesn’t stop (we’ve been battling this for seversl months now) we will have to get rid of him, any suggestions would be great!

    • Emma,

      If someone is telling you that the dog will have to be given up then I would try and find a good behaviorist or trainer in your area. You can e-mail me off list with your city and state and I will see if I can recommend someone for you. My initial thought is that area may not have been cleaned well enough to get rid of all the smell and he still things of it as a place to toilet. This might be one of those situations where you have to observe him and give him the opportunity to go in the wrong place but be ready to intervene in a second. Redirecting him outdoors and praising and rewarding him like crazy when he goes in the right place. As I mentioned, I will see if I can locate a good trainer for you if you email me your info. Just use the contact form here on the website.

      Kevin

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