A huge question that comes again, and again is “Why has my puppy started peeing in the house again?”
It’s the first thing that pet parents aim for, right? A daily schedule to create a successful toilet training endeavour and, I’ll totally admit, I was the same, because it becomes so confusing and frustrating that you put in all this effort into your new baby, and then the toilet training goes out of the window, suddenly and unexpectedly.
They’re constantly exploring the world around them and learning about new things—you may be giving them new freedoms around the home and just like that… your puppy pees in the living room when you weren’t looking for two seconds.
You could have sworn they were a house-trained dog! But this feels like a huge set back.
First, Let’s Discuss What It’s Not.
- Spite isn’t a puppy’s reason for peeing in the house. Your pup isn’t trying to get back at you for something; because this isn’t something dogs can do.
- “He knows he’s not meant to” – sorry to say, but simply put? If your puppy pees in the house , it’s because they don’t know any better. They’re just being animals, after all. And everything your dog knows or doesn’t know must be taught. Instinctively? A puppy doesn’t know how to hold their urine until they’re outside. They don’t know how to go potty on command or where you want them to go when they need to “go.” This is something that has to be taught, and even then, it’s not a switch it’s not a “Boom! Got it!” and then you’re good. It’s still a process.
- Him not communicating with you. We’re humans, we’re the ones with the bigger brains, if anyone is at fault, it’s us! We made the weird rules of where to and where not to pee. And goodness only knows that getting a human room mate is difficult enough (I cannot tell you how many times I hated seeing my university housemates hacking at my cheese…), now create a language barrier, turn them into a baby and add a species barrier! That’s your puppy.
- Territorial marking. Your dog isn’t trying to claim your bed, your sofa, your rug, they’ve just made a mistake.
It’s so easy to get in our head and think that our dogs are doing something to get back at us, but honestly? It’s almost always way more simple than this… Actually, there’s even a concept here.
The Disney Dog Concept
A lot of people fall into this trap is a myth. This was a concept that Jean Donaldson raised in Culture clash (a dog training classic! Worth the read, also in audiobook by the way!), that Disney created dogs that are capable of grand schemes, of rescue missions, of revenge plots.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my disney dogs, but we have to remember that that level of personification is fiction. We feel like they’re so much more intelligent (and particularly emotionally intelligent!) than they truly are. Dogs are wonderful, and I’ll be the first one to say that with you, but it’s important to remember that they don’t do things to deliberately make us mad. That’s just not in their scope of abilities.
Now that we know what it isn’t, let’s have a look at the reasons your puppy keeps peeing in the home, there’s a few possible reasons, so make sure that you figure out which of these is the right reason.
Note: most of these apply to a new pet coming into your home, even if they’re older dogs or an adult dog!
1 – Your puppy is experiencing some regression
Most Likely, Your puppy is experiencing some regression. and let me tell you, that potty training regression is totally normal. Take a step back in your training, reinstall your potty schedule, turn up the positive reinforcement, add in bathroom break if you’re seeing accidents around the same time.
Remember to watch your puppy! They’ll show you when they need potty breaks, sometimes we just have to be observant, and other times? We have to remember that positive reinforcement is the way we shape successful toilet training! Up the treats, up then enthusiasm, and before you know it, your dog will have conquered their toilet training issues.
2 – You took up the pee pad
The sudden change of just removing a pee pad may result in inappropriate urination around the home that can be confusing for dog owners. It’s usually a good idea, if you’ve trained puppy to use pads the first step is to move the pad. If the pad moves, and your puppy still pees on the pad, then you’ve got your pad training right! Now it’s a case of move it out of the house slowly and transition your puppy to the outdoors.
If your puppy doesn’t know the pad has moved, and they simply pee where the pad was? Then it’s highly likely that to achieve the goal of training our puppy to go for their bathroom breaks outside? Then it’s usually easiest to just start again.
Tip: If you’re looking at pads, I’d sincerely look at some of the natural alternatives because it makes the transition from indoor to outdoor infinitely easier. They’re also great for senior dogs, or dogs with medical problems who’ve never peed on pads.
3 – They’re not as far along in toilet training as you thought.
It’s really easy to think that you’ve done it.
You get a few days of success, and then very quickly you ease up on the toilet training variables… and presto. You see your puppy pee again, right in the middle of the kitchen. Oops!
This is one of the most common reasons that “good behavior” disappears. The reward stops before your puppy is convinced this is the correct thing to do. So keep rewarding!! Even when you think they’ve got it? Keep going a little longer just to be sure.
4 – The Crate Doesn’t Have A Positive Association
The crate is a great tool for helping your dog learn how to control themselves and not pee where they shouldn’t…but if it’s not used properly then it can be more of a negative than positive! The key point here is that you need to start using the crate as soon as possible, so that your puppy doesn’t associate it with something bad (like being locked up in there all day).
Instead, you want your puppy to associate the crate with something positive (like treats/food), and then gradually increase the amount of time they spend in there each day. If your dog has a negative association with the crate then they will try to find ways to get out of it…and one way is by peeing where they shouldn’t!
5 – Punishment Has Confused The Situation
The biggest mistake you can make is to punish your puppy for peeing in the crate or in the home. What punishment actually does is tell your puppy that they cannot do that very specific thing, in that very specific spot. So, it could become “Mom doesn’t like me peeing on the rug, but peeing behind the sofa is fine”, “Dad likes when I pee in the garden, but not when I pee in my crate, so here is where I’ll pee”.
This of course is a little personification, but it makes a big difference to understand that our dogs are situational and environmental learners. So punishment may look effective initially, but overall it’s not the way to get there.
If you want to understand a little more about how positive reinforcement works vs punishment works? This explains it nicely – just a warning though, its a little dog-trainer-nerdy-technical.
6 – Seperation Anxiety
This depends on the age of your puppy, if they’re in their second fear phase (somewhere between 6 and 18 months depending on the size/breed of your dog). If they were genuinely toilet trained, and urinating or defecating in the home has just started again when you’re out of the home, then it may just be seperation anxiety.
If your puppy is experiencing separation anxiety, they will likely pee in the house when left alone. Go back to basics with your home alone training, and if doesn’t work then definitely get a behaviorist to help.
7 – Something Changed
While you may be able to identify some of the things that changed in your puppy’s life. This might be something as being in a new home or new environment, because toilet training isn’t always an easily transferrable skill.
It is also possible that something else happened. If your puppy has been spayed or neutered, it could be the cause of the problem. In addition, if you adopted your dog recently and brought him into your home without making any changes to his routine (i.e., feeding times), then this could also be why he has started peeing in the house again.
If there were other changes made to their daily routine–such as buying new toys or food–then these factors can also contribute to puppies urinating on more often than usual which you may not be expecting.
8 – It could be a UTI
The most common of the medical reasons your puppy might have started causing them to pee in the home again. A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common cause of house training problems in puppies. If your puppy has a UTI, she may experience frequent urination, straining to urinate and blood in the urine.
If you suspect that your dog has a UTI take her to the vet for diagnosis and treatment immediately! Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat the infection before it spreads further into her system.
9 – Loud Noises or Fear
If your puppy is afraid of something, they may pee. For example, if you have a loud thunderstorm or fireworks going on outside, and your dog is scared of the noise, they might urinate inside out of fear. This can also happen if a stranger comes into your house unexpectedly–your pup may not know who this person is and become frightened by their presence.
If you notice that your puppy has started peeing in the house again after being housetrained for some time (or never stopped), consider whether there are any loud noises or other factors that could be causing them stress. If so, try to help them get over their fear by helping them learn how to associate those noises with something positive: praise from you!
10 – Your puppy could be sick.
If your puppy has started peeing in the house again, there’s a chance he may be sick. Puppies are known for being resilient, but they do get sick sometimes, and like most young animals, when they do get unwell, they The most common signs of illness in puppies include:
- Not eating or drinking
- Diarrhea (a runny poop)
- Vomiting (throwing up)
If you see any of these symptoms in your dog, take him to the vet as soon as possible (especially if they’re young!) so they can figure out if there are underlying medical conditions or health problems that are preventing your pet what’s going on and give him treatment if necessary!
11 – Insufficient Cleaning
puppies are creatures of habit, so, if your toilet trained dog is still peeing in one particular spot then you may well need to start ensuring that you’re using a good enzymatic cleaner to get up the smell, because if they can smell this was acceptable, they’re more likely to repeat it, and it’s a surprisingly common issue!
Note: Submissive urination doesn’t count!
If you’ve shouted at your puppy, for whatever reason, and they pee? It’s likely something commonly referred to as “Submissive urination”, which is a fear based response to your raised voice. The solution here is try not to get mad at your pup, because they are so young, and trying to learn all the weird rules to the world that mean they can live with is. Remember, positively reinforce good, and remove the opportunities to fail.
If you figure out why your puppy is peeing in the house again, you’ll be able to stop it more quickly.
If you figure out why your puppy is peeing in the house again, you’ll be able to stop it more quickly. It can be frustrating to deal with a puppy that’s suddenly started peeing in the house again. But if you know what caused it and how to prevent it from happening again, it will be much easier for both of you!
The good news is that all dogs are trainable and, if you go towards the root cause, you don’t need to resort to things like belly bands.
Adult & Senior dogs.
If you have an older dog, this is more likely to be related to health issues such as kidney disease, cushing’s disease, bladder infection and a whole host of other things. So, if this is a new behavior beyond the occasional accident, it might be worth chatting to your vet.
It can be frustrating to deal with young puppies, and it’s something that new puppy owners face. It’s not the most difficult processes. Epecially one that’s suddenly started peeing in the house again. But if you know what caused it and how to prevent it from happening again, it will be much easier for both of you! Conclusion If you figure out why your puppy is peeing in the house again, you’ll be able to stop it more quickly and you’ll be en route to a potty-trained dog!
Honestly, toilet training is hard, it’s probably the hardest aspect of training at this age, because it’s gross, and it involves waking up in the middle of the night. And yes, some dogs (like frenchies) are slower than others, but it’s doable. I promise you. It can feel insurmountable, especially if you’re struggling with the puppy blues.
If you need help training your puppy, sign up to my week-by-week guide, honestly, it’s awesome and won awards. It’s well worth it!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!