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House Training Adult Dogs

ASPCA logoSome adolescent or adult dogs (over six months of age) urinate or defecate inside the house. House soiling can occur in any location of a home, but sometimes pet parents will notice that their dog soils more in certain locations. The location can indicate the cause. For instance, soiling might occur only in infrequently used rooms or on a specific kind of surface, or only on furniture and areas that smell strongly of a person or other animal, such as beds and sofas. Soiling might also occur only under certain conditions and, like location, these conditions can help indicate the problem. Some dogs might urinate only during greetings, petting, play or reprimands, and some dogs house soil only when they’re alone and their pet parents can’t observe them, or only when they haven’t had frequent enough opportunities to relieve themselves outside. A dog might house soil if she’s previously learned to eliminate on papers or in a litter box and her pet parent removes the papers or box.

Note: If your dog soils indoors or at inappropriate times, it’s important to visit her veterinarian to rule out medical causes before doing anything else.

Rule Out Medical Problems First

If your dog soils indoors or at inappropriate times, it’s important to visit her veterinarian to rule out medical causes before doing anything else. Some common medical reasons for inappropriate urination and defecation follow.

Gastrointestinal Upset

If your dog was house trained but now defecates loose stools or diarrhea in your house, she may have gastrointestinal upset.

Change in Diet

If you’ve recently changed the amount or type of food you give your dog, she may develop a house-soiling problem. Often, after a diet change, a dog will defecate loose stools or diarrhea. She might also need to eliminate more frequently or on a different schedule than before the change.

Incontinence Caused by Medical Problems

Some dogs’ house soiling is caused by incontinence, a medical condition in which a dog “leaks” or voids her bladder. Dogs with incontinence problems often seem unaware that they’ve soiled. Sometimes they void urine while asleep. A number of medical issues-including a urinary tract infection (UTI), a weak sphincter, hormone-related problems after spay surgery, bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, neurological problems and abnormalities of the genitalia-can cause urinary incontinence. Before attempting to resolve your dog’s house-soiling problems through training, please see your dog’s veterinarian to rule out medical issues.

Medications

There are a number of medications that can cause frequent urination and house soiling. If your dog takes any medications, please contact his veterinarian to find out whether or not they might contribute to her house-soiling problems.

Age-Related Incontinence/Cognitive Dysfunction

Some older dogs (usually at least nine years of age) who were once reliably housetrained start house soiling as they age because of arthritic conditions, weakness, loss of physical control, impaired cerebral function or loss of voluntary bladder control. These dogs might leak small amounts of urine or completely void the contents of their bladders.

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