pet sittingHousetraining a dog can be hard. After weeks (or maybe months) of hard work, a very watchful eye, and many—many—trips outside, you’ve finally done it. Your dog lets you know when she has to go out. Maybe she barks, rings bells, or simply goes to the door. You’re simply celebrating the fact that you’re not finding puddles after meals, a long night, or a full day at work.

Until you do.

Maybe months, or even years, have gone by with a successfully housetrained dog at your side. But then you find a suspect wet spot by the back door, or in her kennel, or (and maybe worse) on your bed. But how? Why? You put in all of that time walking after meals, naptimes and, sometimes, just because. At this point, I had even considered of getting some custom screens’ quality security screen doors bolted onto the doors, along the dog’s usual ramble-path, which also was helpful to keep pests away. You’ve gone through countless biscuits praising her for a job well done. Did you miss something? Did you do something wrong?

Likely, no. Dogs can be quick learners and don’t generally like soiling in their home—especially in their kennel. If you’re dog is suddenly having accidents, your first course of action should always be to visit your veterinarian.

Dog can get urinary tract infections out of the blue, just like people. Your dog is likely having accidents because she simply can’t help it. Don’t punish her, but if you see your dog urinating in the house, clap your hands to startle her into stopping and immediately take her outside, praising her once she’s done her business outdoors. Be sure to clean any accidents with an enzymatic cleaner to ensure she can’t smell urine indoors, which may make it more likely that she’ll urinate in the same spot again. This is especially true for males who may be marking. If you haven’t, seriously consider neutering or spaying your pet. Are there any good reasons not to?

Other medical causes include diabetes and kidney disease, which can both cause excessive water consumption. This causes urinary accidents simply because your pet drinks so much water, their bladder simply can’t contain it all. Only your vet can rule out these possibilities. If you think your pup is drinking a lot of water, be sure to mention it to your vet.

If nothing is amiss medically, getting to the root of what is causing this new behavior is important. Maybe your dog was startled while doing her business outside and simply doesn’t want to go back out to the same spot. If this is the case, go back to housetraining 101—with lots of praise and treats—to teach her that good things happen when she goes outside.

Maybe she DID have a urinary tract infection and urinating was painful. Housetraining 101 can help re-teach her that good things happen when she goes outside, after the infection has been treated by your vet, of course. Some dogs who experience this may start to urinate somewhere they associate with comfort—such as your bed. Until you can teach them that it’s okay to go outside again, preventing them from sharing your bed for awhile may be the only way to break that habit. Many vets can help you and your dog work through behavior issues that may be causing inappropriate urination. Dog behaviorists can help with this issue as well.

If you find your dog suddenly having accidents, while you’re treating the issue, consider hiring a pet sitter to give your dog a break midday. Asking your dog to hold their urine while dealing with an infection is a sure way to come home to an accident, and potentially make the infection worse while your dog tries to hold it as long as possible.

Unless you’re okay with pee pads being a long-term solution, try not to use them at all. You’ll have to teach your dog to use them in the first place, you’ll still have the mess to clean up, and some dogs find it difficult to transition back to going outside once you decide not to use pee pads anymore.

The only way to solve the issue is to talk to your vet. Fear not—getting your housetrained pup back IS possible. It may take some medication, or some more housetraining, and definitely some time, but it is possible. Our pets don’t have accidents out of spite—if your previously housebroken dog regresses, something is wrong. They don’t want to be having accidents in the house anymore than you want them to be.

By Rachel Leisemann Immel