This blog was inspired by someone who asked a question on a totally unrelated post called “Why is my New Cat Hiding From Me?

The person — who went by the screen name of “Concerned Pet Owner” — shared with the Humane Society of the Nature Coast that his family “recently adopted a 7-year-old dog named Sadie” and it was their first time adopting a dog. They love their new dog but are frustrated by one thing. My New Dog Keeps Urinating in the House! Help!

Oh… and none of the photos in this post are of Sadie. But pictures make any story better!

A new dog comes with a lot of love and sometimes a few challenges.
New dogs come with a lot of love… and sometimes a few challenges.

“She is a very sweet dog who is kind and sweet and loves to cuddle,” Concerned Pet Owner shared, adding that “when she goes for a walk she does not pull.” But when Sadie sees a “another male or another dog,” he said “she starts to cry and whimper.”

“This is strange and I can only assume it is because she was abused or mistreated as a puppy and as a young dog,” he shared further. “I also have a new issue with her, and the issue is that she keeps peeing all over my house. She only pees in my upstairs living room and it is starting to become a real issue. We took her to the doctor a few days after we got her, and the doctor said she has nothing except an ear infection. Is there a proper way to reprimand her without hitting her or making her afraid of us? That is the last thing I would want to do to a dog that has gone through that already. Please help me!”

This is not the first time a new dog owner has experienced this problem and researching this issue inspired me to think others might need similar advice. So… Concerned Pet Owner, this blog is dedicated to you.

First, please don’t give up on your dog or give your dog away. I promise, you can work through this! It’s just going to take some consistency and patience.

1 – Make Sure it isn’t a Medical Issue

If your adult dog is urinating in the house it may be a sign there is a medical issue. A urinary tract infection is one of the most common reasons for inappropriate urination and one of the most frequently seen health problems in dogs. Urinary incontinence is another possibility. While it is often associated with senior dogs, it’s possible for a dog to develop incontinence as a young adult. Medications can usually solve these problems.

yelling at your dog when they have a potty accident will usually make the problem worse, not better.
Yelling at a dog for having a potty accident will usually make the problem worse, not better.

2 – Don’t Hit or Yell

Punishing or screaming at your dog for urinating in the house will usually make things worse rather than better. Dogs have very short-term memory so if you reprimand a dog after you discover it has urinated in the house, it will have no idea why you are angry. Such action from you will be more likely to teach the dog that people are unpredictable or unsafe to be around rather than teaching them they did something wrong. Punishing your dog when you catch them in the act, especially one that has been abused in the past, may actually make it afraid to urinate in front of you (even outdoors), which could lead to more indoor accidents. If a dog has been abused in the past, some additional patience and effort on your part may be required… which brings me to the second suggestion.

3 – Back to School

You may have to re-potty train your dog. Maybe the new surroundings has the pup a bit confused and they aren’t sure what the program is for going outside for potty breaks. Maybe the previous owners didn’t provide adequate or consistent training for the pup at all so they might not be sure of what they are supposed to do. I have two dogs, both adopted and previously owned. One barks when he has to go out. The other just sits at the back door and waits. If I don’t pay attention and see the second dog at the door… she will eventually let it go, right there at the back door. Remember. The best ingredient for successful training with a dog on anything is consistency and patience.

When potty training your dog, patience and consistency are the keys to success.
When potty training your dog, consistency and patience are the keys to success.

4 – Increase Potty Breaks

Take your dog outside to pee first thing in the morning when they wake up and don’t let them back in until they complete the task… even in bad weather. Also take them out right after drinking, eating and especially right after they wake up from a nap. Again, make them stay outside until they do their thing. When they do, praise them and offer a treat immediately. This way, they will associates praise and treats with peeing outside.

5 – Clean up Properly

If you pay attention when a dog goes to the bathroom, they start by smelling the area. They are creatures of habit and will usually go in the same places for #1 and #2. If the dog can smell where it has urinated before in the house it will come to believe that is “the bathroom.” Thoroughly clean up each accident as soon as possible with an enzymatic cleaner that eliminates the smell. Resolve Urine Destroyer is a very good product. Another thing to do is block off the places where your dog keeps using as a bathroom. If you see the dog going there, take it outside and wait until they to the bathroom. Eventually, they will figure out… “Ohhh… this is where I do that!”

6 – Get Professional Help

Another possibility is that your dog might be exhibiting submissive or excitement urination. This can occur when a dog feels intimidated by someone or something. This can be especially true with a dog that has been abused by a previous owner or attacked by another dog. Dogs may also urinate in inappropriate places when they feel anxious or afraid. An animal behaviorist or a qualified trainer may be able to assess the cause of the problem — sometimes in a single session — and can provide you with ways to help your dog past their fears.

If you are having problems potty training your dog, or if you have successfully helped your dog learn the bathroom is OUTSIDE and you have some tips to share, please feel free to tell us about it in the comment section below!