What to Do if Your Housetrained Dog Pees or Poops Indoors

Inappropriate urination and defecation aren’t always a housetraining problem. Learn some common non-housetraining issues, and what to do about them.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #27

Let’s face it, usually when people say “But he’s housetrained!,” he really, really isn’t. But there are exceptions. This week I’ll talk about some reasons dogs may pee or poop indoors even though they’re housetrained, and what you can do about it.

Here are some of the reasons your dog may be reverting to peeing or pooping indoors. We'll talk more about each of these reasons below. 

1. Your puppy may be having accidents when excited to meet new people

2. Your dog may have a medical issue that causes incontinence

3. Your dog may be reacting to anxiety, such as separation anxiety or fear of something going on in the home

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4. Your dog may be afraid to go outside or eliminate outside

5. Your dog may be trying to "mark" a new home

What to Do if Your Puppy Pees When Excited or Anxious

Most of us have had the pleasure of meeting a puppy who’s ecstatically happy to greet humans. Sometimes the pleasure is a mixed one, as when said puppy excitedly pees all over our shoes. Other puppies, a bit shy and submissive, roll on their backs and squirt, especially when a person bends over them, and double especially if the person is big and/or male and/or a little assertive in demeanor.

This may be my favorite dog problem, because unlike every other dog problem it will usually go away if you leave it alone. All by himself, the puppy will grow up and develop adequate muscular control. In the case of shy, submissive puppies, “leaving it alone” includes avoiding the Giant Human Loom-Over and whatever other behaviors set the puppy off. Teaching a pup to sit for greetings, or ignoring her till she relaxes, will often help her hold her stuff. Generally, submissive and excitement urination will resolve by the time doggy adolescence strikes.

Teaching a pup to sit for greetings, or ignoring her till she relaxes, will often help her hold her stuff.

You do have it in your power to make this problem worse, of course. Get your excited pee-er amped on purpose when you greet her, or shout at the shy pup when he dribbles, and watch that stream grow.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).