5 Reasons Why Dogs Pee Inside

WED 31 JAN 2018

Does your pooch toilet in less-than-ideal locations? Perhaps they have started piddling inside, on the carpet or your favourite rug. Maybe they have trouble holding on long enough before they make it outside. Or maybe they're not really grasping the idea of toilet training itself?

Whatever the cause, inappropriate toileting is a common and frustrating issue for dog owners worldwide. It's important to first figure out why your dog is doing this, so that you can start taking steps towards a solution.

1. They may be unwell

The first and most important thing to note is that toileting inappropriately can be a sign of urinary tract disease, particularly urinary tract infections or bladder stones, as well as other illnesses. Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) is particularly common in female dogs. Always get your dog checked over by a vet first if they are toileting inappropriately.

Medical causes of inappropriate urination may include:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Uroliths (bladder stones)
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal syndromes (such as Cushing's disease, Addison's disease, or issues with the thyroid)
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Tumours of the urinary tract
  • Prostate disease in male dogs

2. They may be a slow learner

If your dog is young, they may be struggling to grasp the idea of toilet training. This may not be due to their intelligence - rather, the problem is likely due to your training (sorry!).

Toilet training can be a slow, arduous process, and requires a fair deal of patience. Always make sure you are consistent with your training, and be sure to reward all good behaviour. Initially you will need to take your puppy out every hour to ensure repetition and consistency. Remember also that punishments should always be avoided, as they will only teach your puppy to fear you.

If you feel that your training is sufficient and you're pulling your hair out at your pet's lack of compliance, try contacting a specialist pet trainer for further advice.

Note: if you have recently adopted an adult dog - such as a rescue dog - who has been having accidents inside, try not to assume that this is due to behavioural issues or a lack of training. Being rehomed, particularly after being in a shelter, can be very stressful for dogs. And urinary issues are often secondary to stress. Always get a newly adopted dog checked out at the vet if they are toileting inside.

3. It could be Incontinence

Incontinence in dogs is a common problem, particularly in desexed females. It may be caused by a number of disorders, including a neurological issue, congenital problems, or hormone-responsive conditions.

Hormone-responsive conditions are very common in neutered (desexed) dogs, due to decreased hormone levels affecting the bladder sphincter (the ring of muscle controlling urine flow). Incontinence due to hormonal causes is easily treated with hormone-replacement medication.

4. They may have a behavioural issue

Once medical issues have been ruled out, you may be able to conclude that behavioural problems are the true cause of your pet's bad habit. These may include dominance issues, anxiety, or stress.

Territorial marking is a common behaviour in dogs, particularly entire (non-desexed) males, and can quickly become a learned habit. If you are finding urine on the walls in your house, it may be a marking behaviour. Marking is often related to an imbalance of dominance and a lack of leadership by the owner.

Dominance issues are common in males that have not been desexed, or in certain types of breeds. However, any dog can develop a dominance complex if their owner is submissive and does not establish themselves as 'leader of the pack'.

While pets are part of the family, our canine friends do need to be aware that they are at the bottom of the pecking order. So long as they feel they have a calm assertive leader in the household, dogs are perfectly happy and content being on the bottom rung. Unfortunately the 'calm assertive leader' energy doesn't come naturally to those people who are naturally meek or submissive by nature. It may be harder for some to learn how to be a leader, but the benefit of having a well-behaved dog will certainly be worth it.

Stress and anxiety are other behavioural issues which can lead to inappropriate urination. Separation anxiety, which occurs when the owner leaves the house or is separated from the pet, can be a common cause of inappropriate urination. In this case, the animal can learn to feel that urinating is a form of stress relief. A process of gradual separation, occupying toys and stimulating activities can help manage separation anxiety issues.

Excitement and fear can be expressed with urination in dogs, and sometimes dogs can even learn to cure boredom by urinating.

5. It could be submissive urination

Submissive urination is seen in many dogs, particularly young dogs, and is not necessarily related to dominance or anxiety - instead, submissive urination occurs as a dog tries to communicate and show submission to their 'boss'. It may occur with visitors to the house, or in the presence of an older or more dominant dog. It may be related to overexcitement and can be seen as a sign of the dog expressing that they don't feel confident or in control in a situation.

Unfortunately, punishment can make this type of urination worse, as the dog may urinate in order to show submission to an angry or overbearing owner. Instead of rousing on your dog, it is better to ignore the urination and reward any good, calm behaviour. Reducing excitement at greeting times can also help stem the problem.

Posted by Dr Carla Paszkowski

Dr Carla is one of our in-house veterinarians. When Carla isn't talking about petcare at PetCircle, she enjoys playing mum to her fluffy little cross-eyed feline fur baby, Smudge.

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