Welcoming a new pet into your family is an exciting time. It’s a wonderful feeling to offer a lonely dog a new home, with the promise of companionship, joy, and love. However, some adult dogs we adopt can occasionally come with unwanted baggage.
Unfortunately, bringing home a dog only to find out she has an issue with her “elimination” process can be disappointing to say the least.
Let’s start with some of the reasons why your dog may be soiling in the house then as pet parents we’ll explore some tips to help get your dog on track. Housing training an adult dog is possible.
Older Dog Incontinence? Rule out medical problems – first.
Often, dogs brought into a new environment are unintentionally put under tremendous stress. There are many reasons for an animal to feel threatened, intimidated, or scared and this can lead to them exhibiting unwanted behavior such as aggression or displaying incontinence if they are an older dog.
Sometimes the reason for a dog to have accidents in the house have nothing to do with a lack of house training. Other factors may be behavioral or medical in nature.
Other Animals –. We all know dogs are social animals- heck, that’s why we love ’em.
Some dogs however, are wary of strange faces (humans, other dogs, cats, etc). If your are introducing a new dog into your home they are unsure of their status in “the pack” and it can leave them dysfunctional.
A short period of integration may be necessary. If there are other animals in the home, try keeping them separated for a week (such as a baby gate or crates) while allowing them to see each other to help them acclimate.
Anxiety and Stress
Over-stimulation – This is mainly for new dogs introduced into your home. What else is going on in the house? If your home typically has a lot of activity such as people coming and going, loud talking, or children laughing and running around, it can be disturbing to a dog unfamiliar with that much stimulation.
Try to limit how much activity the dog is exposed to early on. Limit sensory input to the new dog if possible.
Anxiety or Submission urination- Your reliable house-trained dog may revert to soiling in the house if they are subjected to a major change in the home. Beloved family members who are no longer around or the introduction of someone the dog doesn’t like can trigger anxiety and unwanted behavior including soiling inside.
Kidney stones… urinary or bladder infections…kidney disease… incontinence… internal parasites… Cushing’s disease… and diabetes are just a few of the medial reasons that will cause a dog to not be able to hold it.
Many health conditions can cause a dog to drink too much water resulting in them not being able to make it outside in time when they have to go. If you believe medical reasons are a factor be sure to seek veterinary advice.
Your dog’s vet will do a complete physical exam and will usually recommend a full blood profile to make sure the internal organs are functioning properly. If incontinence in your older dog is due to medical reasons you can use diapers and pads to help manage the situation.
An all-natural homeopathic bladder treatment may help with dogs that have minor or moderate urine leakage.
This is a good time to discuss with your vet the spaying or neutering your pet if they haven’t been already.
If you can rule out medical and behavioral challenges as the reason for your pets accidents, we can look at tackling the issue with your dogs lifestyle and training to break the cycle of them “going” in the house.
Everyone deserves a clean slate – Especially your dog!
If you’ve been able to rule out underlying behavioral and medical reasons for your dogs “accidents” then he may be urinating in the house due to improper house training.
You’ll need a good enzyme based cleaner to get rid of all the evidence so your dog isn’t prompted to go back to the same areas where they’ve “messed” before.
Dogs mark their territory for various reasons, but now it’s your job to clean their territory and reclaim it as “yours”.
NEVER use ammonia-based cleaners.
Part of your dogs waste contains ammonia so using ammonia to clean may invite your dog to come back to those spots to soil.
You should remove old rugs, carpeting, dog bedding, or furniture if they have been soiled in the past. Sometimes soiling in the home occurs in locations that your haven’t checked. Be thorough in exploring their favorite spots.
If your have had a persistent problem over a period your may need professional cleaning to get this back to normal for a fresh start. This is the first step in breaking the cycle of in house messing.
Let’s teach an old dog a new trick!
Dogs typically like to do their business away from where they sleep, eat, and play. If your new dog came from a rescue or shelter he may not have had the opportunity to eliminate himself in an area separate from where he ate and sleep.
It’s important to get as much history as your can regarding your dog so your can take the proper approach on refresher training.
Often dogs can create a habit of eliminating on familiar surfaces such as concrete, carpeting, or newspaper. This is usually a result of the dog being housed in a place where he’s forced to eliminate on a particular surface.
If you have surfaces in your home they prefer to use when going potty…guess what? Those will be her favorite spots to leave you “a present” in the future.
Creating a NEW behavior – You’re in charge, pack leader!
So let’s get to the specifics on what YOU can do to help your dog learn (or relearn) when and where they should be eliminating waste.
Feeding Schedule – Create and stick to a strict feeding schedule and be sure to remove all food between feeding times. You want to get their digestive system on schedule so this helps to get them into a rhythm.
Get your dog high quality nutritional food and be sure to feed them the right portion for their weight and age.
Monitor your Dog – You’ll need to know where your dog is at all times. You’re watching for signals that they may need to eliminate. Some dogs are better than others in communicating this but it usually involves pacing, sniffing, or circling.
Consider crating or limiting your dog to a small room when your are unable to watch them. Do NOT crate them if they soil in their crate consistently…you’ll just be training them to eliminate where they live.
Frequent visits outside – barring medical issues most dogs need to go potty 4-5 times day. Sure, some dogs can “hold it” for 8 hours or longer but that is neither healthy nor enjoyable for the animal.
Go overboard on the praise and affection. You are positively reinforcing their acceptable behavior.
Stop him in action – If you catch your dog in the act of messing in the house, CLAP one time loudly. You’re trying to get his attention not frighten him. The point is to startle him just enough for him to stop his current action so your can redirect him outside to finish his business there.
Do NOT rub your dog’s nose in his waste. Do NOT yell or scold your dog for eliminating in the house.
Exercise, exercise, exercise – Take your dog on a long walk at least once a day.
You both need the exercise (right?) and this also helps their digestive system stay in a rhythm. Consider hiring a dog walker if you are not able to walk her yourself.
If your dogs is an “only child” it’s worthwhile to check out nearby dog parks or other venues where your pet may able to socialize with other dogs. They really do enjoy it!
The two of you CAN do this – Together.
So we’ve covered a lot. Let’s go back to the first part of our house training discussion. Your first goal is determine the cause of your dogs potty challenge.
Like we mentioned, often a dog will urinate or defecate in the house due to medical problems.
Age and medication can also cause an animal to be less in control of their functions, so it’ll be important that your understand that training may not correct the issue. Elderly dog incontinence is very common but there are options to help you manage it.
After all, a dog can’t change her age and she can’t help it if she’s on prescribed medications.
Behavioral challenges also are a common reason for dogs to eliminate in the house. Anxiety, fear, intimidation, separation, territory marking, or submission can all cause a dog to alter their potty practices.
Watch your pet for signs on what may be stressing them and look to remove those factors from the home…or at least limit your dogs exposure to them.
Please seek veterinary help if you believe your pet has medical or behavioral issues. Behavioral problems can be manifestations of underlying physical issues going on in your dog such as a hormone imbalance or internal organ failure.
Your vet can give you insight with a valuable blood count test so you’ll know whether a medical reason is contributing to the elimination problem.
Outside of behavioral and medical causes, you should be able to retrain your dog to go potty outside. You are their pack leader so you’ll need to be their advocate. Get inside their head.
Clean up the old scents and start a new schedule of feeding and walks outside. Monitor them and watch for their signals. Praise and reward. Always!
At times, it may not seem like, but your dog really will prefer to potty outside in the grass. It’s your job to help them create that habit. You can do it….Good Luck!
If I can help you in any way please feel free to leave a comment below.