Written by Christine Durrant, Professional Dog Trainer and Pet Care Consultant
If your dog suddenly starts having accidents in the home, it’s important to FIRST rule out any underlying medical issue. Please seek the advice of your veterinarian before considering these tips.
Below are the top five reasons a once house trained dog may soil in the house:
1. They aren’t getting enough access to outdoors. Ask yourself: Have I been taking my pet outdoors as often as I used to? For adult dogs, every very few hours, or every 2 for young pups (even less for very young puppies) PLUS 10-20 minutes after meal times? (If they are getting enough access to outdoors, your timing may be off or it may be something else). Be sure you provide plenty of opportunities for your dog to succeed in going outdoors if you want them to reverse this new behavior. It’s important to reverse it as soon as possible!
2. They are stressed or upset. Have there been recent changes to their environment? Pets are very sensitive to change and sometimes we may not realize how much a small change can affect them. Some things may include: Adding a new pet to your home, having a baby, someone moving in or out, starting a new job that requires you to be away for longer periods of time, a rainy or snowy day, etc. These changes can create stress in pets and they may start doing things that are “out of the norm” in response – which can include soiling in the house. They need extra support during these times (see “3” next).
3. They need more attention and/or stimulation - Have you been providing enough play, interaction and/or affection? Sometimes, we can forget to include our pets in our day-to-day lives and they feel it. Pets require more than food and water, they also need physical and mental stimulation. Life is busy but it’s so important to take the time to connect with our pets as much as possible. Walks, physical contact, puzzle toys and one-on-one playtime are all ways you can help your pet to feel included. Even just a cuddle session on the couch is much appreciated!
4. Weather - Many dogs do not like cold or wet weather and will choose to stay indoors instead. If your dog is like this, you’ve got to stay on top of potty time to avoid mishaps. Purchase a sweater or coat and take them out on a leash so you know when they have gone. REWARD them after.
5. Loneliness– Your dog may be feeling lonely and they are trying to tell you something. Try leaving music or television on when you are away and consider stuffing a Kong (or other puzzle feeder) full of food/treats to give to them when you leave. You can also leave treats hidden around the house. If you find yourself being away for long periods of time, I also suggest you consider an insured and experienced dog walker. Dogs get lonely too!
Some additional tips to help with this issue:
Christine Durrant, CPDT-KA Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant