Ask the Dog Trainer: Why Is My Dog Suddenly “Going” Indoors?

Dog trainers help pet owners through a variety of unique – and often, frustrating – behavioral challenges.

One of the most puzzling challenges is when your once-perfect pet suddenly starts urinating (or defecating) in the house. In this edition of “Ask the Dog Trainer,” we look at some of the reasons why an adult dog would suddenly start urinating in the house.

Medical Problems

The first piece of advice any dog trainer will give you in this situation is to see your veterinarian to check for a medical problem. Dogs can develop kidney stones, urinary tract infections, autoimmune disorders and other chronic conditions that render them unable to hold their bladder or bowels.

Although it’s more common to see in cats than dogs, your pet may urinate in an inappropriate location in front of you, to let you know that something is wrong. See your vet as soon as possible if this occurs.


Just as humans do, pets develop age-related conditions that can affect their elimination habits. One of those conditions is incontinence.

Age-related incontinence will come on slowly. You might notice an “accident” in the house every so often, which will eventually happen more frequently. Check with your veterinarian to verify the problem is not medical but, if not, you will have to adapt your pet’s routine to accommodate these inevitable changes.

Aging pets also experience orthopedic issues, such as osteoarthritis, that cause pain in their joints. This can lead to the premature stopping of urination. Consequently, if your pet is in too much pain to empty his bladder outdoors, he may have to go again before you get home.

Changes in Routine

Have you recently changed jobs or modified your schedule?

If you were working for eight hours each day but now you’re away from home for nine or 10 hours, it’s possible that he simply can’t hold his urine for that long. You might consider adding a doggy door so he can easily access the outdoors while you’re gone, or have a dog walker come in during the day to give him some relief.

It’s also possible that, once your pet adapts to a new routine, he will go back to his old, house-trained self.

Territorial Marking

Dogs don’t always urinate because they have full bladders. Both male and female dogs sometimes urinate deliberately, a behavior known as marking. Territorial marking is your pet’s way of saying, “This is mine.”

The only reasons your pet would suddenly begin territorial marking inside the house bringing a new pet into the household or if another dog has urinated in that location previously. However, either of these conditions may also trigger marking due to emotional stress.

Anxiety or Stress Marking

This is the most challenging cause of dogs urinating indoors. Unlike territorial marking, dogs exhibit anxiety or stress marking when something makes them uncomfortable.

The cause could be anything from separation anxiety to adding a new member to the household (new baby, new roommate, etc.). Even having a houseguest could stress your pet enough for him to mark.

When Should You Bring in a Professional Dog Trainer?

If your pet begins a pattern of urinating indoors – and your vet has ruled out any medical or age-related causes – consider contacting a professional dog trainer.

The experienced professional dog trainers of Innovative K9 Academy will help identify the potential causes of the problem. Then we can work with you and your pet to find a solution. We offer private, one-on-one consultation and dog training, group classes and both dog and puppy boot camps to clients in Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our dog trainers.