How to Deal With Your Dog Peeing in the House

Is your dog peeing in the house or on other things he shouldn't? We've got tips to identify why it happens, how to stop it — and how to clean up dog pee!

A dog looking scared or nervous.
A dog looking scared or nervous. Photography ©MichaelRenee | Thinkstock.

Have you ever screamed, “Who peed on the carpet?!” knowing full well it wasn’t your teenager or mother-in-law who just happened to be out for a visit. It’s safe to say that any human in your house is not a suspect. You didn’t really have to ask the question and certainly didn’t have to scream it out loud. It was the dog. Your adorable, sweet and loving pup is the one peeing in the house. If you live with a dog, you can expect pee to happen. But don’t worry. I’m here to help you understand the whys and what to do about a dog peeing in the house.

Understand the reasons behind a dog peeing in the house

A bulldog next to a cleaning mop and bucket.
Why is your dog peeing in the house? There could be a few things at play. Photography ©John Mcallister | Thinkstock.

There are four main reasons for a dog peeing in the house, or in other places he shouldn’t:

1. Your pup isn’t housetrained yet.

I’m often asked how I housetrained my darling 12-year-old pup, Riggins. I can tell you that it included a celebratory chant and march.

When Riggins successfully “did his business” in the sod box on the balcony of our third-story apartment, I would march around the dining room table clapping and chanting a few rounds of, “Treat for the good boy!” My proud pup would march right behind me, head held high, as we made our way to his edible reward.

The positive reinforcement was obviously very important. I’m not sure the rest of the ritual was necessary, but it made it more fun.

2. Your dog is dealing with anxiety.

With a dog peeing in the house while you’re gone, he may be suffering from separation anxiety.

Tips: Turn to a professional trainer or behaviorist for the most effective way to solve this problem.

Also, take your dog to doggie daycare to keep him distracted and mentally engaged in healthy activity. As an extra bonus, your sweet baby will probably be pooped when you pick him up.

3. Your dog is marking.

More likely than not, you’ll have to deal with a dog peeing in the house due to dog marking at some point in your dog-owning life. As a dogsitter, I can’t tell you how many times a dog and his owner would come in for a meet and greet, and the pup would make a beeline to a piece of furniture and pee on it. “He never does that!” the pup’s parents will exclaim.

It turns out they aren’t liars. It very well may be the first (or one of the few times) their pup has marked inside. Imagine if you were that pup. You walk into a strange place, with all new things, everything smells like dog — EVERYTHING. What’s a pup to do? Claim a piece of the pie, that’s what!

4. Your dog is sick or a senior.

If you suddenly notice your dog peeing in the house, check in with your vet. There are several health-related issues that could be causing the new behavior.

Like us humans, senior dogs can have an issue holding their bladder. I have a senior Chihuahua friend who likes to spend time lying on my chair behind me while I work. Every time I pick him up to set him on my office furniture he pees a little. I deal with it because I love him!

Dog peeing in the house? How to clean it up

Get to the pee when it’s wet.

  1. The faster you clean up after a dog peeing in the house, the less likely you’ll get stuck with lingering smells.
  2. Place paper towels, newspaper or an absorbent chamois on top of and under (if possible) the messed area. Blot, don’t rub, until all the moisture is removed.
  3. Blot that same area with clean water.

Waited too late and now it’s dry?

  1. Don’t use a steam cleaner. You’ll want to, thinking it will make things better. It won’t. The heat will reactivate the smell and make things worse. Try a wet-vac on these spots instead.
  2. Use pet odor neutralizer, or try the natural solution of covering the area in baking soda overnight and blotting with a vinegar/water solution in the morning.
  3. Try hydrogen peroxide to help with stubborn areas, but spot test an area of your flooring or furniture first to make sure the bleaching properties in the liquid won’t be a problem.
  4. When all else fails, call out the professionals. Carpet cleaners will often charge more for areas that are pee stained, but it’s worth it!
  5. If you, like Riggins and I did for the first year of his life, live in an apartment or small place, consider a sod box or pee pad as an option. Personally, I got sick of changing out sod and the amount of effort it took to clean the sod box, so I switched over to kitty litter. That’s right, my big 70-plus-pound German Shorthaired Pointer mix is kitty litter trained. It cut back on smell and overall maintenance time. Now, 11 years later, you can get actual doggie litter. Brilliant!
  6. Try a synthetic pheromone diffuser, spray or wipe. This synthetic pheromone mimics a dog’s natural comforting pheromones and can help with anxiety.
  7. Train with positive reinforcement for your dog to use a specific area of the yard as his personal bathroom, and reinforce his actions with a command like, “Go potty.”
  8. In your house, an area where a dog doesn’t visit is often seen as a “safe” spot to do his business. If you find your dog peeing in the house in the same general area and notice it isn’t a place of high traffic, make it one. Spend some time every day in that part of the house with your dog until he realizes it isn’t his bathroom.
  9. Keep dogs in rooms with easy-to-clean flooring and only allow on furniture and beds where covers can be removed and cleaned.

Cleaning pee on your dog

Stop laughing. It happens. I’ve seen my tall dog pee on his little friend’s head — accidentally, of course. More than once, an epic pee has made a puddle so big it hits my pup’s feet. Then there’s just plain sloppiness when different body parts get in the way.

  1. For dried pee stains, always start by brushing with the tool that works best for your dog’s coat.
  2. Try dry shampoo if you don’t have time for a full bath.
  3. Disposable wipes are an easy solution and can be carried in your pocket for those pups who never seem to be able to step around their own puddles. If all else fails, seek out a professional groomer.

Plus, tips to keep a dog peeing in the house due to dog marking to a minimum

  1. Clean up right away. Marking equals more marking. It feeds on itself like a horrible monster.
  2. Keep new things safely out of the way. That includes your mother-in-law’s suitcase. If it’s something new to your pup, it’s more likely to be a target.
  3. Diaper up. Dogsitters who take pets into their own home use diapers — especially on male pups. These male wraps don’t have to be ugly. Go online and get your fashion-forward boy some classy threads.
  4. Get your dog spayed or neutered. Check with your vet on the best time to do this.

Thumbnail: Photography ©MichaelRenee | Thinkstock.

This piece was originally published in 2017.

About the author

Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned dogsitter, which keeps her busy being a dog chauffeur, picking up poop and sacrificing her bed. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area. Learn more about them on Facebook at The Active Pack and on Instagram at @wnewell.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you! 

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43 thoughts on “How to Deal With Your Dog Peeing in the House”

  1. Recently my dog has been peeing inside the house and I was very worried. I came across this article and it helped a lot. Now, he’s peeing outside. Thanks! Also, I want to teach him to shake hands. I came across this article online about how to teach your dog to shake- Can you take a look at this article and tell me will this work or not? If not, then how else can I teach my dog to shake hands? Any suggestion would be appreciated.

  2. Recently my dog has been peeing inside the house and I was very worried. I came across this article and it helped a lot. Now, he’s peeing outside. Thanks! Also, I want to teach him to shake hands. I came across this article online about how to teach your dog to shake- . Can you take a look at this article and tell me will this work or not? If not, then how else can I teach my dog to shake hands? Any suggestion would be appreciated.

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  13. We just got a golden retriever puppy 2 weeks ago. He is 12 weeks old. He knows what to do when we take him outdoors but will come right in house and pee again. He does sleep 8 hours without going but the daytime is a nightmare. Should I have vet check him outchery

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  15. I have an approx. 1.5 year old Australian Shepard Mini/ Border Shepard who me and my wife basically rescued from her previous owner a year ago. Her previous owner was her second owner we believe. Her behaviors suggest that she was mentally and physically abused. We originally had major issues with her using the whole house as a bathroom, this included beds, couches , where-ever, and on what ever. Finally got her to stop that to a very rare occasional pee accident on the floor.

    The pup constantly drinks water whenever she can to the point that she has to be let outside every 1 to 2 hours. We have taken her to the Vet many times and run many tests to see if there might be any medical issues going on, all came back negative.

    As of last week she started peeing all over the living room floor again, and last night she peed on my step-son’s bed. These have all happened when we were all away from the house. Now normally if we are going to be away from the house for longer then 2 hours we kennel her, and the incident last night happened less than an hour after my wife left the house. And if we are only going to be gone less than 2 hours we started to pick up the water dish so she couldn’t constantly drink while we are gone, but I guess the drinking prior to leaving gave her the ability to pee on the bed.

    I have looked into local K9 Trainer’s and their prices are in the 1000’s of dollars for help, which I don’t have. I am truly lost on what to do next. Also have to figure out how to clean the rugs now as well. I should also mention that I also have a 5 year old Australian Shepard miniature who doesn’t need to be kenneled.

    1. Hi Dave,

      Thanks for reaching out. We do suggest working with trainers or behaviorists, and doing research to see if you might be able to get help at a reduced price.

      These articles might provide some insight but we suggest having a professional help in person:

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  17. We have a little Chinese Crested that is about 3 yr old. She will go and pee on my son’s bed right after we have changed his bed. She will do that occasionally after I have changed my bed also. Because it’s not every day I tend to forget about it until I hear my son’s scream of rage! We do have puppy pads due to her hairlessness and she has always used them and gone outside with the other dogs. It baffles me. She’s such a wonderful little girl in all other ways. Any suggestions?

    1. That happened with a kitten I had once. The vet said that it happened because the bedding smelled like urine to the cat after the first time even though we couldn’t smell it. He recommended spraying the bedding thoroughly with white vinegar, letting it sit for a while soaking, and then washing it with more vinegar added to the cycle (no soap). After that cycle, wash the bedding again regularly. It worked like a charm and the cat never peed on the bed again. However, if the urine soaked into the mattress, you may have to replace it to get rid of the urine smell that triggers the peeing.

  18. Spray or pour affected area with white vinegar it stinks for a bit but when it dries and evaporates taking all the smells with it no more per even works on poo.

    1. I used to do it pretty often, but the smell of vinegar… I can’t stand it. Room smells disgusting after it.. I decided to put indoor dog potty in that place. It worked for me.

  19. I have two Swedish Vallhunds. 1 Male and 1 Female. Our male wants nothing to do with peeing in the house. Our Female will pee in the house when it’s raining outside ..
    She only pees in the house during the night time. She is trained to potty pads; show dog first 4 years of life and never had an inside accident…she’s fabulous in hotels.

    Okay, so what sort of advice can you give me .. always willing to try new things.

    1. It looks like your dog is “excitement or nervous” peeing. Some dogs pee when they are nervous or excited. Probably your dog gets nervous or excited when it’s raining outside during the night time. You can train her to not get nervous or excited due to the rain outside. For more detail on how to stop your dog from peeing when nervous or excited, check out this article-

  20. Christine Mickel

    My dog was a rescue when he,see my son he pees every where how can I work with him he has chew up my sofa,when left alone he was in a cage but Chloe

    1. Hi there,
      Please work with a vet and / or trainers on these issues. These pieces might help as well:

  21. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he poops and pees in the house A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for reaching out. We suggest working with a professional trainer / behaviorist. These articles might provide some insight but please check in with a pro:

      1. done with this dog

        we paid 1k for a professional trainer and our issue with our dog peeing and pooping is not resolved. We are doing everything required of us. The dog will even pee just as soon he comes back in from being walked / peeing outside.
        its frustrating and i can’t take it. two months in countless hours and time and money spent trying to housebreak him. same old stuff different day.

    2. Hi there, I have a senior American Bulldog and a 6 month old French Bulldog Pug, Aka (Frug) and My older dog ive had since she was a tiny puppy and my Husband and I found it necessary to crate train.And it worked like magic. as soon as it was time for us to go somewhere then we would put her in a small dog crate with a shirt or a peice of cloth that we each touched and had our smell on it.And put it in there with our dog.And everything was fine.She was pleased! And when we returned home, The very first thing I would do was go get my puppy and carry her directly outside and put her on a leash and walk her around until she did her business then bring her back in a give her a treat for being such a good girl…And the same happened when we went to bed. And the exact same everyday there on.And once I noticed she was getting the hang of it and was darting to the door to go potty as soon as i opened her kennel then I stopped putting her in it when we left the house.But instead I left the kennel door open letting her realize that its her option if she wants to go in.And so when We would return home she would be sleeping in the kennel. And as for our Frug we trained him the exact same way,, Altho we are noticing it may be alittle more necessary to ask for help off the web to house train/krate train him bc we’ve been noticing sprinkles of pee here & there next to items in the house and/or the furniture which indeed tells us that he is raising his leg and making items of our house.And yet We still do use the krate to train him, Every dog is different and We are gonna need some help with this little guy..Thanks for taking time to read my way I trained my dog/s to potty outside…

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  24. I have shiztzu cross i got from a shelter he is 6 yrs old has a doggy door he uses during the day but during the night he pees on the tles in the dining room i have not caught him in the act as i am asleep he has only been desexed in the last few weeks i spray with z product that takes smell away and then spray with a deterent wbich has a smell he hates ,have only done this twice would like to stop this, any advice.

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  26. I use SCOE 10x. It’s a probiotic cleaner, only available online. I swear by that stuff. Be warned that water used to dilute may effect how well it works. Filtered water is better.

  27. These are great tips! Our pup has been known to mark places in the house before. We’ve learned that if we don’t get to the spot quickly and clean it effectively, he’ll keep using the same spot. We don’t have as many “accidents” any more, but any time we do, we call the carpet cleaners immediately to take care of the the spot before he gets the chance to do it again. It truly is a vicious cycle!

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