Accidents in the house, is it a house training issue?

I felt it important to write a quick piece on accidents in the house that are not actually house training issues. I have seen these come up multiple times, and it’s critical to treat these most prevalent ones different than a house training issue.

The first, and in my opinion, more important one, is dogs and puppies who seem to be peeing far more than what is considered normal both in and outside the home. The urination is frequent in nature, and typically does not include large amounts at one time, and sometimes involves the dog not really even realizing they are doing it.

So what causes this first issue? This is a very typical sign of a urinary tract infection, and I have seen more than my share lately on new puppies coming in, as well with older puppies and older dogs who are presumably already house trained. It is really important, when noting this type of frequent urination, that you get a urine sample to your vet to rule our this health issue before starting on a training plan. Dogs with urinary tract infections CAN NOT “hold it” nor are they peeing out of spite or because they are mad. They simply have an infection that needs to be cleared which is causing the issue, and most of the time, once antibiotics are started, they go right back to their original house trained selves.

Another issue that we run into frequently is when a puppy or dog gets over excited or nervous and pees. Usually this happens right in front of someone, often when they are interacting with the dog. Many times the dog seems as though they do not realize that is it happening, and carry on as normal afterwards. This type happens frequently with guests coming into the home or family members coming home from work/school.

This is not a house training issue per say, but rather submissive or over excitement urination. Another type that the dog CAN NOT hold. A dog who urinates submissively or over excitedly SHOULD NEVER be punished as this will absolutely make the situation worse.

There are a few different ways to handle this issue, which often involve ignoring the dog until they calm down, not greeting by hovering over top of the dog, giving the dog a “job” to do upon guests entry to the home, or taking greetings outside. The best practice that I have found over all is ignoring the dog when entering, and making entering the home a “non-issue”, going about your business, and reducing anxiety at the return or family or arrival of guests. Then giving the dog a job to do, for example PLACE on a mat (including reward for a job well done), in order to introduce a new habit at the door, rather than repeating over excitement or submission. The less the excitement or pressure upon entrance, the less the behaviour happens. It is not an overnight fix, but it can completely eliminate the behaviour after a period of time.

Lastly we run into issues, mainly with females, where they seem to leak pee. This could happen upon waking up from a sleep, moving out of a down, or just randomly. This is NOT a house training issue, rather is a physical issue that can typically happen with spays, after pregnancy, or in elderly dogs. This type of issue can be managed with medication and/or doggy diapers as the dog has absolutely no idea that it is happening. If you find that your dog does this, DO NOT punish them, they can not help it. Get them to a vet to go over their physical health so that you can come up with a plan to help manage the leakage.

I always suggest to err on the side of caution and get the health checked first when you notice that bathroom habits change, become more frequent or different in any way.

Hopefully this helps to shed some light on common “peeing” issues that can come up when you have a dog, that have nothing to do with house training, so that you can be prepared to help them through these physical and health related problems.

Happy training!