House soiling is a common problem among dogs, but often one that is resolved early on during puppyhood. So what do you do if your adult or senior dog is still peeing in the house? Here are a few possible underlying behavioral and medical causes for inappropriate urination in dogs.
“Dogs who exhibit excitement urination do not show submissive body language,” says Dr. Lisa Radosta, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. Instead they exhibit joyous behavior such as wiggling, jiggling, and jumping as they happily urinate on the floor. This often leads to the spraying of urine everywhere.
Submissive urination can be exhibited in any age of dog, though it is most commonly seen in puppies. According to Dr. Radosta, it generally occurs when someone leans over, reaches for or scolds the dog. It can be triggered by a stranger or the dog owner. Also, the dog may appear comfortable and friendly at first, but when the interactions with the person get too scary they immediately show submissive behavior and may urinate.
“If your dog was not formally taught that outside was the only correct option for urination, it isn’t fair to expect the dog to urinate only outside,” says Dr. Radosta. “You can only reasonably expect the dog to do what you have taught him or her to do.”
According to Dr. Radosta, dogs mark for various reasons. Unfortunately, once they start it can quickly become a pattern – urinating small amounts in very specific areas around the house. It may even cause other household dogs (and sometimes cats) to mark the areas as well. Dr. Radosta recommends identifying the pattern for anxiety or stress and eliminating the stressor.
“Medical disorders [such as urinary infections, bladder stones, kidney disease, diabetes, etc.] increase urgency so the dog can’t get to the outside fast enough,” says Dr. Radosta. “If that is the case, they will go wherever they happen to be standing.”
“Relieving yourself (as anyone who has held it on a long trip knows) is very rewarding,” says Dr. Radosta. “Once the dog has urinated, no amount of yelling is going to change that. It will make your dog afraid of you.” Instead, Dr. Radosta recommends bringing the dog to a veterinarian. He or she is better equipped to identify any potential underlying causes for inappropriate urination and can refer you to a behaviorist if the habit is too well-rooted to break.