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Navigating Accidents: What to Do When Your Older Dog Starts Peeing in the House

Updated: Jan 28


Owning an older dog comes with its unique set of joys and challenges. As your canine companion ages, you may encounter changes in behavior, and one common concern is the sudden onset of house soiling, specifically peeing indoors. While it can be frustrating and worrisome, understanding the potential causes and implementing appropriate strategies can help address this issue with compassion and effectiveness. In this article, we'll explore why older dogs may start peeing in the house and provide practical tips on how to manage and address this behavior.

Understanding the Why:

1. Medical Issues:

One of the primary reasons for sudden house soiling in older dogs is underlying medical conditions. Conditions such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney disease, and arthritis can contribute to changes in bathroom habits.

2. Cognitive Decline:

Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (similar to Alzheimer's in humans) can affect older dogs, leading to disorientation and forgetfulness. This may result in them forgetting their house training.

3. Incontinence:

Aging can bring about a loss of muscle tone, leading to incontinence. Hormonal changes, especially in spayed or neutered dogs, can contribute to weakened sphincter control.

4. Mobility Issues:

Arthritis or other mobility issues can make it challenging for older dogs to reach their usual outdoor bathroom spots, prompting them to go indoors.

5. Emotional Factors:

Changes in the household, such as a new pet, a move, or the absence of a family member, can cause stress or anxiety in older dogs, leading to changes in behavior, including house soiling.

Practical Steps to Address the Issue:

1. Consult Your Veterinarian:

The first step when you notice changes in your older dog's bathroom habits is to consult your veterinarian. A thorough medical examination can identify and address any underlying health issues.

2. Establish a Routine:

Older dogs thrive on routine. Establish a consistent feeding schedule and regular outdoor bathroom breaks. This can help minimize accidents and provide a sense of predictability for your furry friend.

3. Monitor Water Intake:

Keep track of your dog's water intake, especially if there are concerns about conditions like diabetes. Consulting your vet can help determine the appropriate amount of water your dog should be consuming.

4. Adapt the Environment:

Make adjustments to accommodate your older dog's changing needs. Provide easy access to water and consider placing pee pads or creating a designated indoor bathroom area if needed.

5. Use Incontinence Products:

For dogs experiencing incontinence, consider using doggy diapers or belly bands. These products can help manage accidents and keep your home clean.

6. Maintain a Clean Environment:

Accidents happen, but it's crucial to clean up thoroughly to prevent repeat offenses. Use enzymatic cleaners to eliminate the scent and discourage your dog from marking the same spot.

7. Behavioral Training:

Reinforce positive bathroom behavior through praise and treats when your dog goes outside. Redirecting them to the designated bathroom area indoors can also help if outdoor access is limited.

8. Provide Comfort:

For dogs experiencing cognitive decline or anxiety, provide comfort and reassurance. Create a cozy and familiar space with their bed and toys to help reduce stress.

9. Consider Environmental Changes:

Evaluate any recent changes in the household that might be causing stress. Addressing these factors, such as introducing new routines gradually, can help your older dog adapt.

10. Professional Behaviorist Consultation:

If behavioral issues persist, consider consulting a professional dog behaviorist. They can assess the situation and provide tailored strategies to address specific challenges.


Dealing with an older dog's sudden house soiling can be a complex and emotionally charged situation. By approaching the issue with patience, understanding, and a proactive mindset, you can navigate this challenge with compassion and effectiveness. Remember, changes in behavior often signal underlying concerns, and addressing them promptly, in collaboration with your veterinarian, ensures the best possible outcome for your aging canine companion.

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