How to Stop a Dog from Peeing Indoors

Depositphotos 228221382 l 2015

One of the main reason’s dogs are given to shelters or rescues is housebreaking problems. No one wants a dog that goes to the bathroom anywhere it chooses in the house. But are some dogs just stubborn and impossible to train? Human nature wants us to immediately “anthropomorphize” the dog’s behaviour. We say things like “he’s mad at me for being gone all day.” “She’s mad we brought home a new cat.” “He’s jealous about our new baby.” Or maybe it’s a puppy that just can’t seem to grasp the concept of going outside, in which case they get labelled as stubborn (a human trait) or stupid.

When it comes to peeing indoors, you have to think about it from the dog’s point of view. AND not one that is tainted through human personality traits. There have been many scientific studies done on dogs – they do not feel guilt. Nor do they associate your yelling when they come home about the pee puddle they left even just a few minutes ago. Their brains do not work like ours (and remember English is not their language!). They do react to your raised tone and facial expressions, which is where the anthropomorphized “guilty” dog look comes from. It’s actually a submissive look and a reaction to your anger.

So, if it does no good to yell at your dog, how do you solve the problem? You can start by trying to figure out the “why.”

Medical Issues

It’s always a good idea to start with medical issues! Your dog could be suffering from a urinary tract infection, kidney stone, incontinence (especially senior dogs!) or some other medical issues that is causing them not to have control over their bladder like they once did.

For dogs suffering from incontinence, a diaper may be needed as they have simply no control over when they go. We had a friend whose old dog would go in her sleep on her dog bed. She couldn’t help it.

So, if you have a dog that was house trained but is starting to have accidents its worth looking into with your vet.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can cause a dog to start peeing indoors. Maybe you have moved into a new house, added a new animal or human to the family, or maybe you went from working from home to being gone 8-10 hours a day and now your dog has separation anxiety. Even the opposite, you suddenly being home all day, can disrupt a dog’s routine enough that they have accidents. Changes like these can cause stress in some dogs. This does not mean they are jealous or mad, they are just anxious about the changes. You can help these dogs with a trip to your vet. Calming supplements, pheromones, anxiety wraps and other treatments may help. So does time and patience. Often this type of peeing will go away on its own as your dog adjusts to her new life.

Did you know this can even cause male dogs to mark?? Of course, being intact can make him much more likely to mark, but even altered male dogs will mark on your things if they get stressed or anxious. Putting a belly band on them temporarily and finding ways to alleviate the stress as mentioned above can help avoid accidents while your dog adjusts and calms down.

Unreasonable Expectations

Sometimes, dogs are going to the bathroom in the house simply because they cannot hold it any longer. This is especially so for tiny dogs, puppies and seniors. Dogs with small bladders or weakened control over their bladder (puppies, seniors, and those with medical conditions), cannot be expected to hold their pee for as long as a large, healthy, adult dog. For these dogs, you need to be able to take them more often, depending on their needs. That may mean every 3-4 hours! If you work, that can be a problem. If you can’t put in a dog door so your dog can go as she pleases, the best solution is to teach your dog to use a pee pad, litter box, or a fake turf box they make for dogs. This way, your dog is not peeing indoors where you do not want him to, but he can relieve himself when he has to.

Submissive or Excitement Peeing

Submissive peeing is probably the most difficult type of indoor peeing you will have to deal with. For some dogs, their stress and anxiety about the world – including us humans – is so great, they cannot control their bladder. Excitement peeing is the same thing…except it comes from being too excited about the world. Both are forms of dogs being over threshold about their environment. And both need to be treated with the help of a vet (the calming items mentioned above may help both dogs) as well as a canine behaviourist/dog trainer who can help you teach your dog to relax and be under that threshold, so they can keep control of their bladder.

Another trick for any dog peeing indoors? FOOD! Remember, dogs are den animals and they do not mess in their den (that’s why crate training works. If your dog always goes on one carpet, feed your dog literally on that carpet by spreading his kibble on it (or your bed, or wherever your dog tends to go). Allowing your dog in every room of the house to eat and sleep sets up your whole house as your dog’s “den,” so she will be less likely to want to relieve herself in it.

Understanding the reasons behind why your dog is peeing indoors is the first step to trying and stop the problem. Seeking help from professionals like your vet and a dog trainer that uses positive reinforcement methods will help you and your dog get into a routine you can both live with, so you can enjoy your life with your dog.

Lyn Lomas

Thank you so much for your article it was very informative and I realise it’s my behaviour that has to change not my 4year old Chinese Crested Powder Puff.

Unfortunately she didn’t have a good start to her life and was beaten as a 3 month old puppy and given to one owner after another. When my husband passed away my friend persuaded me to have her but she had not informed me of all her problems which were quite a few.
I was her 5th owner and it’s taken a lot of patience and persistence to have got to where I have. There are other problems I would like to ask you but for now I would like your thoughts on her peeing inside.

She won’t pee outside as all I have is decking but if I take her to the community garden she will go. For the majority of time she uses a training pad but still does it on the wooden floors. She also started to do her pooping on my lounge suite.

The last few years I have had to have multiple stays in hospital and I’m so lucky to have found an organisation who arranges her to go to a foster home. When she is in the different foster homes she is a different dog, there is nearly always about her dog in the home. Normally she would be aggressive to another dog but there she’s in her element, she doesn’t pee inside, she’s much calmer and seems overall much happier.
However the moment she sees me she goes absolutely crazy so I know she loves me. I really don’t understand the totally different behaviour!!

RobertLyn Lomas

Hi Lyn, i cant see your dog's behaviour myself, so am only going off what you told me, but it sounds like you are not consistent with your signals. Dogs really pick up on body posture, movement etc. There are a lot of Caesar Milan shows where he takes dogs to his place and they are calm, but very erratic at the owners place. Maybe try watch a few episodes of Caesar and you may learn something. Also ask the careers you use for tips as they can get her to calm down.

Jennifer Britton

We have a 10 yr old maltese x who has started peeing inside alot recently. Usually in the one spot, right near his doggy door. Or table legs. Or washing basket left on floor. We are at the stage where we are considering finding him a new home as we cant deal with this anymore. He has ruined my lounge as well as floorboards. We are getting so angry that it is affecting how we feel about him. He has always been high strung but he is worse now. There are no medical issues. Any advice please?

RobertJennifer Britton

Hi Jennifer, This is a hard one. It sounds like an old age issue since you said he just started doing it. Maybe try take him outside more often. Also check if he is drinking more. This could be making him want to go more often.


Our two year old Moodle (Maltese/Poodle) will pee in the garage just inside where her dog door is.
She's a very anxious dog from a puppy.
I praise her and take her outside regularly but if i don't she may still wee inside in the garage.
I am concerned as my husband gets really angry with her and i just read your article but that doesn't mean he will listen.
Would appreciate any advice you would offer - for the dogs sake :(


Crate training would be worth a try. We do have the house training in our puppy info pack. You can get it by going to this page -->

Rosalie Tasker

Hello Robert,

I’m the 4th owner of a Miniature Tenterfield Fox Terrior.
Rocky has been my constant companion for over 7 years. He would be 16 years old, healthy and active.

I remarried a year ago and he now has an active 6 year old miniature poodle to share our lives with.
Everyone loves Rocky but he has always peed on people’s furniture,( and mine,) on walls, near the dog mat but not on it.
Any advise for me?

RobertRosalie Tasker

Hi Rosalie, Id say he is 16 just enjoy him as he is. If you don't want him urinating on things I think the best solution is to not let him near those things. You could try a water bottle sprayer and spray him just before he cocks his leg. He may get the jist of things. But again, he is 16 years old and sounds like a cool little dog. Enjoy him for what he is.


Any suggestions on stopping a dog peeing on everything outside? I rescued an older farm dog and he pees everywhere. I’ve used vinegar, orange oil, disinfectant, commercial dog spray, but nothing has worked. Everything stinks of pee outside. My other two dog always go on the grass ( all males)


Hi Kaz, You would have to find a way to discourage him from doing it, like spraying him with a water bottle and praising him when he pees in the right places. Even if you can stop him doing it when you are there, he would probably still sneak a pee when you are not looking.

Wendy Hearn

Once again well meaning & very helpful advice. It could not have come at a better time. We have had that problem with our puppy. She has ruined the carpet. It has got to the stage where we leave both the front & screen doors open ajar so that through the night she can go out as she pleases to urinate. There is always someone home during the day to let her out. Yes this is an annoying problem. But it comes with the territory and she cant help it. Thank you Rob for a very educated take on why dogs pee.

Cheryl Roberts

Hi Robert,

Thanks so much for the info re dog peeing inside. It was very informative. I have a 10 year old terrier mix whom I rescued from the pound when he was about 1 year old. Even now he sometimes has the odd pee inside but I've always put it down to something he experienced in his first home. Maybe he was never house-trained. I don't think it was a happy home as he had 2 gun pellets in him and starts shaking when he hears raised voices. Anyhow, I'll try some of your suggestions and hopefully it'll help him.
I enjoy your emails and thanks for them. My dogs really enjoy your food as well, and they look great.


Barbara Landgraf

Good article as usual thank you. I have a female rescue, who from the moment she arrived would go to toilet right near her food bowl, wee and often poo. We moved her food station outside, and separate from our other dog, and we pick up and hose off area, gradually she is improving. She will go to toilet, anywhere. We have a doggie door she uses. She is a very greedy dog, our other dog isn’t,so he has never threatened her. It obviously comes from her past. Her teeth are all worn, vet said from being caged and chewing the bars( like a greyhound).

Sue Siokos

Thank you, this was very informative.
My little dog started marking in the house when my husband was made redundant and was at home for two years. We had to put him on Prozac for his anxiety, which I wasn’t happy about but now he’s ok. He goes on his wee pad or waits to go outside.

Do you have any advice on how to deal with a new baby and jealousy?

Thank you

RobertSue Siokos

Hi Sue, Its hard for me to comment without seeing the behaviour. Simple training rules are ignore behaviour you don't like and praise the behaviour you do like. Another thing that may work if you are willing to try it. The idea is from an Australian dog trainer that tries to work on the dog's natural instincts. He recommends wiping the babies urine on the walls. He says up high so your dog cant pee over it. So if your dog is small maybe only above his head. so he can smell it and not reach it. Let me know how it goes and let me know if it leaves a stain on your walls, if you decide to try that one. :-)

Beverley Deroubaix

Thank you for writing this article. It helps us to understand.

Don Rodiger

Hi Rob, we look after my brother's Pom/poodle (Louie) from time to time. We have our own Shih-tzu/Maltese (Kylo) and they get on well mostly. They both sleep indoors. Louie is the older dog by approx 6yrs,not often but sometimes we will find he has relieved himself on legs of chairs or other places. He definitely marks his territory every time he goes for a walk (constantly), even at his own place. Is this what he is doing at our house & how do we control it?

RobertDon Rodiger

Hi Don, it sounds like he could be marking his territory. Dogs don't see a house as the entire clean living area. They just see their bed as being the clean area and the rest needs to be marked. I'd say you may need to get a dog trainer in. It is actually really hard because I would guess he will pee when no one is watching. You could try taking him out more often so he is empty but I know that there are times when you don't have time to take him out so often and he will do the same. Besides leaving him outside in the back yard all the time I don't really see a solution that will be 100% successful. That said, there are websites selling products you could try, they may work for your dog.

Dennis Pollock

Great article on dogs peeing love the corgi pictures have had corgis all my life great dog.Keep up your good work.