Question: Why is my housebroken dog urinating in my house still?
I have a 5 and a half month old Cavoodle. We crate trained her for the first few months. Then we placed a pen fence around her crate but gave her access to the doggy door to go outside. She picked up toilet training well. We got to the point we could expand her pen more and more with minimal accidents. Finally, we were having no accidents. We removed the pen, and she had access to the home, but only when she had supervision. About a month went by with zero accidents. Our office and bedroom are the only rooms with carpet. She then randomly peed in the office. We shrugged it off as an accident. But then two days later she peed in the bedroom. Why does she keep seeing the office as a place to go to the bathroom?
Thank you so much for submitting your question! Potty training in puppies is probably one of the most frustrating endeavors for a pet owner. It sounds like you are doing all of the right things—crate training, slow transitions, and constant supervision. I wanted to review a few behavioral and medical causes for puppies peeing in the house, and I will offer some suggestions on what to do next.
Why Do Puppies Have Accidents in the House?
1. Urinary Tract Infections and Other Medical Reasons
If a puppy has been doing well in potty training and then suddenly starts having accidents in the house, I first consider medical reasons that a puppy would be having difficulty in potty training. Urinary tract infections can cause puppies to have accidents in the house and may be more common in female puppies.
2. Incomplete Potty Training
If your puppy is still having accidents in the house, it is possible that your puppy hasn’t been fully potty trained yet. Potty training can take 4 to 6 months and sometimes even longer for small breed dogs like Cavoodles. Potty training is complete when your puppy knows exactly where they can and can’t go potty. I think that in your case, your puppy likely doesn’t know that the carpet is not an acceptable place to pee and just assumes that any place outside her pen is acceptable. The carpet substrate is different from the other flooring that she is used to, so she probably hasn’t fully learned that the carpet isn’t an acceptable place to pee.
3. Too Much Freedom Too Soon
If you give your puppy too much freedom too soon, they might start having accidents. Constant supervision is especially important during periods of transition to make sure your puppy doesn’t have accidents.
Solutions for Puppy Potty Training Problems
1. Visit Your Veterinarian
First, I would suggest visiting your veterinarian to rule out any potential medical causes for regression in potty training. They will be able to check a urine sample to make sure your puppy doesn’t have a urinary tract infection.
2. Confinement and Constant Supervision
Confine your puppy to a crate or a small playpen area for now. When your puppy is not in her confined area, monitor her vigilantly. You may be able to pick up on subtle signs that she is about to have an accident. If you notice these signs, you can get her outside to the bathroom before she has an accident.
3. Take Outside on Leash Frequently and Reward
Take your puppy outside on a leash every 30 minutes to 1 hour. By taking puppies outside on a leash, they will quickly understand where it is acceptable to pee. Give your puppy a treat every time they go pee in the correct location which will reinforce this good behavior.
4. Clean Accidents Well
Be sure to clean up the accidents well. You might want to consider using an enzymatic cleaner so that your puppy will not be able to smell where the accident was. This will make it less likely that they will have an accident in the same spot.
5. Avoid Punishment and Be Patient
It is best to use positive rewards instead of negative punishments when potty training a puppy. Scolding can just frighten your puppy and make it more likely that they will have accidents because they are anxious. Potty training requires patience, and you may occasionally have a setback. If you do have a setback, I always recommend starting back at the basics and slowly working your way back up over a few weeks.
A Few Final Thoughts
Puppy potty training can be extremely frustrating and is typically filled with many setbacks along the way. Most of the time, these setbacks are caused by allowing too much freedom too soon or incomplete potty training, requiring you to start back with the basics for a few weeks. Occasionally, troubles with potty training can be caused by a medical issue such as a urinary tract infection. I would recommend visiting your veterinarian if this seems to be a persistent issue as they will be able to rule out medical issues as well as give you some more recommendations on how to help your puppy.
I wish you the best of luck with your sweet Cavoodle, and thanks again for submitting your question!
Addie Reinhard, DVM