Why Is My Adult Dog Peeing in the House Again?
When inappropriate elimination manifests in an adult dog that had previously been fully potty trained, there is typically either a behavioral or a medical reason behind it. Medical issues should definitely be ruled out first. Urinary tract infections are one of the most common health problems in dogs, and by far the leading medical cause of inappropriate elimination. This is because a UTI can cause pain and discomfort when urinating and will cause the dog to hold onto their urine and be reluctant or unwilling to eliminate it until they are truly unable to hold it anymore.
There are some breeds that are predisposed to urinary tract issues and both Shih Tzus and Bichons are among those breeds. Females are also more susceptible to UTIs since male dogs have a longer urethra making it harder for bacteria to travel upwards. Given some breeds higher risk factors I would recommend seeing the vet to be certain there isn’t an underlying medical issue at play.
Barring any medical causes, we can pivot our focus to possible behavioral factors. There are a few powerful steps you can take to address the problem:
- Cleaning – thoroughly clean the areas where the pup has urinated in the past with an enzymatic cleaner. Urine contains enzymes that cannot be washed away with just soap and water, so while it may smell clean to you and me, your dog will be able to pick up on those lingering smells which send a powerful message that this is the bathroom area. Scent is the primary method by which dogs understand the world around them, and the smell of urine triggers a dog’s brain to continue eliminating in that spot, even if it’s indoors (unfortunately!)
- Re-Train – go back to basics, since she has already established the pattern of eliminating indoors, go back to basics. We need to break the pattern, so revisiting her past training and repeating the steps used to potty train her initially can be very effective!
I have always been a fan of crate training for a few reasons – if done correctly a crate can be a dog’s sanctuary. Crating gives you full control
over the circumstances and eliminates the opportunities for accidents and setbacks. If your dog is an adult dog, I would recommend establishing a general timeline of how frequently she eliminates, and plan for her crate time to reflect that. For example, if she typically goes 6 hours between potties, take her out in the morning to eliminate, and then have her out and about with the family for ~4 hours and then nap-time in the crate for two hours. At the 6 hour mark bring her out of the crate and directly outside to eliminate.
- Choose a designated place in the yard and always take her to that spot to create the association that that spot is a potty spot! It also
will create a build up of scent that will encourage her to seek out that spot in the future.
- Give her a few minutes to go, if she doesn’t, return her to the crate for another 30-60 minutes and try again. Once she successfully
potties, give lots of praise and treats and then let her stay out with the family for another ~4 hours before repeating.
- Choose a “cue word” and use it consistently. When you see her preparing to go pee, use the cue word whether it’s “go potty” or “get
busy” or whatever you choose. Just make sure to keep it consistent! When she learns this command it will make it SO much easier to cue her to eliminate during a walk or in the yard before coming inside!