Puppies need to be house trained in order to understand that it’s not okay to eliminate in your house. House training is a simple process, but one that must be carried out positively (without punishment that scares the puppy) and consistently, following two main guidelines: 1) prevent indoor accidents through confinement and close supervision, and 2) take the puppy outside on a frequent and regular schedule and reward him for eliminating where you want him to go. House soiling can occur in any location in the home but sometimes pet parents will notice that their puppy soils more in certain locations, such as infrequently used rooms or on a specific kind of surface. Very young pups (under 12 weeks old) don’t have complete bladder control and might not be able to hold it very long. Older puppies who have had accidents might not have been house trained completely.
Why Puppies You Thought Were Housetrained Might Have Accidents
- Too Young to Be Fully House Trained– Some puppies, especially those under 12 weeks of age, haven’t developed bladder or bowel control yet.
- Incomplete House Training– Many puppies simply haven’t learned where to eliminate—or they haven’t learned a way to tell their people when they need to go out. Some puppies house soil only under specific conditions. For example, your puppy may soil when he’s home alone for long periods of time, first thing in the morning, sometime during the night, only when you’re not watching or only in infrequently used rooms. Other puppies may urinate or defecate whenever they feel the need to go.
- Breakdown in House Training– Sometimes puppies who seem to be house trained at one point regress and start soiling in the house again.
Other Reasons Your Puppy Might House Soil
- Urine Marking– If your puppy is over three months of age and urinates small amounts on vertical surfaces, he may be urine marking. Young dogs engaging in this behavior often raise their hind legs when urinating.
- Separation Anxiety-If your puppy only soils when he’s left alone in your home, even for short periods of time, he may have separation anxiety. If this is the case, you may notice that he appears nervous or upset right before you leave him by himself or after you’ve left (if you can observe him while he’s alone).
- Submissive/Excitement Urination– Your puppy may have a submissive/excitement urination problem if he only urinates during greetings, play, physical contact, scolding or punishment. If this is the case, you may notice your puppy displaying submissive postures during interactions. He may cringe or cower, roll over on his belly, tuck or lower his tail, duck his head, avert his eyes, flatten his ears or all of the above.
Medical Causes for House Soiling
It’s always a good idea to visit your puppy’s veterinarian to rule out medical causes for house soiling. Some common medical reasons for inappropriate urination and defecation follow.
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)-Puppies with urinary tract infections usually urinate frequently and in small amounts. They may also lick their genital areas more than usual.
- Gastrointestinal Upset– If your puppy was house trained but now defecates loose stools or diarrhea in your house, he may have gastrointestinal upset for some reason.
- Change in Diet– If you’ve recently changed the amount or type of food you give your puppy, he may develop a house soiling problem. Often, after a diet change, a puppy will defecate loose stools or diarrhea. He may also need to eliminate more frequently or on a different schedule than before the diet change.
- Miscellaneous Medical Causes– Other medical causes include abnormalities of the genitalia that cause incontinence (loss of bladder control), various diseases that cause frequent elimination and medications that cause frequent elimination.
How to House Train Your Puppy
House training is accomplished by rewarding your puppy for eliminating where you want him to go (outside) and by preventing him from urinating or defecating in unacceptable places (inside the house). You should keep crating and confinement to a minimum, but some amount of restriction is usually necessary for your puppy to learn to “hold it.”