Young German shorthaired pointer on a toilet seat, getting some potty training

Do I go here?

Is Your Adult Dog Peeing In The House?


What an awful experience. Several causes could be the reason behind this problem.  Your dog may be marking his territory, or is submissive peeing or has incontinence (in case of aging dogs) or a medical condition. Here are a few steps to help with house training an adult dog.

Steps To House Train Adult Dogs

1 – Make an appointment to go to your veterinarian

Before we can work on behavior, we want to rule out any medical condition. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any medical cause for the accidents.  Bring in a urine sample (there are many videos online to give you ideas to get a urine sample).  If you have an aging dog, incontinence may be a factor.  As dogs age, just like people, muscles weaken around the urethra and small amounts of urine may be expelled.   Another medical concern could be a UTI or bladder infection.  This can be cleared up quickly with an antibiotic.  Then there is diabetes and kidney issues.  Your veterinarian may do some blood work to rule out these and other medical conditions as well.

2 – Routine, Crating and Potty Commands

If it is determined that there is no medical reason, now we can work on behavior.

Two things that will help you and your dog is to create a routine your dog’s body will get used to.  A sample routine would be taking your dog outside for a bathroom break at 7am, 12pm, 5pm and 10pm. The times can change or you can go out more frequently, but try to keep to approximately the same times every day.  If you are at work for the mid day time frame, hire a dog walker to come and take him out every day.

Next, when your dog can not be supervised, he will need to be crated.  Most dogs will try to hold it if they are in their crate.  The crate should be big enough for them to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably.

Potty commands are a great way to get your dog to go.  Whenever you take him out, go to the potty area and say “Go Potty” or “Hurry Up”.  You can use whatever you wish, just use the same words every time.

Hint – When you are taking your dog out, bring to the potty area and do nothing.  Give potty commands, no playing, no eye contact, no nothing, until he goes.  Then praise and play.  Get business done before play! Your dog will get it at some point and want to hurry up and go so he can get to the fun stuff!

3 – Catching Your Dog Before Getting Into The Act

Ideally, catch your dog right before he starts to urinate, would be best. This is very doable if you use what we call in the rescue world, the umbilical cord.  This is done with your dog always on a leash tied to you all day.  He must go wherever you go in the home.  That way you will notice a change in him quickly. You may notice your dog sniffing the floor, circling, or see him start to lift his leg. When you see any of these, clap your hands or make a loud noise, to stop your dog.  Then quickly take him outside. If you have a special area do not stop moving until you get to the designated area. Once you’re outside, you’ll have to patiently wait for some time until your dog makes up his mind to go. Finally, after he is done, generously shower your dog with praise.  This positive reinforcement will make your dog want to go to the bathroom outside.

4 –  Catching Your Dog During The Act

If you do not catch your dog prior to the act, you may catch him at the time of the act. If you decide that you do not want to try the umbilical approach, mentioned above, then you will run the risk of your dog going to the next step and actually start to go to the bathroom. It is important that you act quickly, make some kind of loud noise such as clapping your hands, so it startles your dog to stop immediately. Next, you have to lead your dog outside to the designated area so he can complete the act and don’t forget to praise him lavishly.  Remember, your frustration at having to clean your dog’s accident inside,  will not be helped by “punishing” your dog.  However, with time and patience, the praises and positive approvals for going outside will most definitely help your dog want to go outside instead of indoors.

5 – You Only See The Accident

What if you only find the accident afterward.  Well, your dog knows that he did it.  If they did not have a memory, we could not teach them anything.  There is no need to put your dog’s nose in it, they have a keen sense of smell and they know their own scent.  First thing is to leash your dog.  Go to the mess, and as you are cleaning with paper towels, speak to your dog in a mad voice.  No need to yell, but in a deep voice, tell your dog, “bad boy” or whatever.  Then take your dog and the paper towel with the mess, go to the designated potty area.  Put the mess down on the ground, let your dog sniff it, then praise your dog.  You are creating a message that his bathroom habits are always bad in the house and always good outside.  They will make the connection.

6 –  Don’t Forget To Praise Your Dog

We want to give our dogs every opportunity to succeed.  The more he know what you want, the faster he will do it.  Most dogs want to please us.  It is extremely essential to shower your dog with praises when there is a positive change in his behavior. Generally, praise is positive reinforcement when your dog is engaged in behavior approved by you which includes going in the designated potty area. Therefore, every time you take your dog to the bathroom outside make sure that he receives his well-deserved praises. Praising him at least 4+ times on a daily basis will show remarkable change in his behavior very quickly.

Submissive Urination

Many dogs have a problem with submissive urination.  This usually occurs with very submissive dogs.  These dogs will automatically urinate when they are happy to see you and by urinating, in a dog’s language, they are telling you, they accept you as their leader.  Many times, these dogs do it for their entire life.  The best this to do, is to create a routine to lessen the problem as much as possible.  If they greet you at the door, have leash in hand ready to go before you turn the handle to go in, Grab your pup, clip the leash and out the door in one fell swoop.  Remember, they have no control, we want to create a win win situation.

How To Deal With Territorial Marking Problem:

One of the main reasons for peeing indoors is for un-castrated male dogs marking territory. If they smell females in heat, see other dogs around, your dog is actually communicating to other dogs that this area is his.  Although, it less common for a neutered dog to mark his territory indoors, it can and does occur occasionally.  In most cases, it is when your dog perceives any new threat to his position at home.

Thoroughly Clean Soiled Areas

Don’t forget that your dog’s sense of smell is much sharper than yours.  Look for enzyme cleaners to eradicate the urine smell completely. Also, deep clean your carpet and floors instead of opting for “spot treatment” so that the scent goes away on a permanent basis. This may take a professional.  You can also opt for bare floors of tile or hard wood, which are much easier to clean.

To Conclude:

It can be said success can only be obtained if you are diligent and consistent.

Don’t give up.  Your patience will be rewarded and you and your dog will once again be having fun.



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