House Training Adult Dogs (cont.)
Behavioral Reasons for House Soiling
Lack of House Training
If a dog has always soiled in the home, has lived outside or in a kennel, or has an unknown history, it's likely that she simply has never been house trained.
Incomplete House Training
Many dogs have been incompletely house trained. An incompletely house trained dog might occasionally soil in house, soil if she's not given frequent enough opportunities to eliminate outside, soil only when left alone in the home for long periods, soil first thing in the morning or during the night, or soil if there's a change in her family's daily routine that alters her access to the outdoors. Some incompletely house trained dogs soil anywhere in the home while others soil only in infrequently used rooms. Many sneak out of their pet parents' sight to soil in other rooms. Sometimes an incompletely house trained dog simply doesn't know how to communicate to her pet parents that she needs to go outside.
Breakdown in House Training
Some dogs appear to be house trained, but after a time they start to occasionally soil inside.
A Surface Preference
If a dog only soils inside on a specific surface, such as carpeting, cement or newspaper, she may have developed a surface preference for elimination. This sometimes happens when a dog is housed for a period of time in a place where she's forced to eliminate on a particular surface, such as paper laid down in a pen, a blanket in a crate, the concrete floor of a shelter run or the bottom of a hospital cage.
A dog might be reliably housetrained until a major change happens in her household, such as the addition of a disliked individual or the permanent departure of a favored family member. Dogs who soil because of anxiety tend to eliminate on furniture, beds or sofas-areas that smell strongly of particular people or other animals. Sometimes a dog will become the target of another household animal's aggression, which might cause anxiety and limit the dog's access to places to eliminate.
Anxiety-induced house soiling may be impossible to distinguish from anxiety-induced urine marking unless an anxious dog defecates as well as urinates in the home.
Fear of Going Outside
Some dogs are afraid to go outside, so they eliminate indoors. These dogs might only defecate inside, since defecation requires a more vulnerable position than urination.
Dislike of Cold or Rainy Conditions
Some dogs hate to go outside when it's cold, snowing or raining, so they soil indoors when the weather is bad.
Some dogs urinate in the house because they're scent marking. Dogs scent mark for a variety of reasons, including to claim territory, to identify themselves to other dogs and let them know they've been there, and in response to frustration, stress or an anxiety-provoking situation. A dog scent marks by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces. Most male dogs and some female dogs who scent mark raise a leg to urinate. If you suspect that your dog is urine marking, please see our article, Urine Marking in Dogs.
If your dog only soils when left alone in your home, even for short periods of time, she may have separation anxiety. If this is the case, you may notice that she appears nervous or upset right before you leave her by herself or after you've left (if you can observe her while she's alone). For more information, please see our article, Separation Anxiety.
Your dog may have a submissive or excitement urination problem if she only urinates during greetings, play, physical contact, scolding or punishment. If this is the case, you may notice her displaying submissive postures during interactions. She may cringe or cower, roll over on her belly, duck her head, avert her eyes, flatten her ears or all of the above. For more information, please see our article, Submissive Urination.
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