Why Is My Dog Peeing Inside The House?

I think most of us have been there.

We are working around the house and all the sudden we take a deep breath and we smell the sweet (or musky) smell of urine. If it's truly your lucky day, there's some poop around the house too! 

What's going on here and why is this happening? Specifically if your dog is "house-trained"?

It happened to us, for about 3 months straight when we first adopted him. Funny enough, the adoption papers and foster notes said he was completely house trained. The dog involved: Bullet. Below, I will outline why this is happening and some steps you can take to cut your cleaning bill and help your dog. It's a win-win... Clearly!

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Before we got into dog training and studying how emotions and prey drive are an integral part of the dog, our approach to nipping this in the bud was very different. The vet we had at the time, told us that Bullet was showing dominance, it would be impossible to break him of the habit, and that he was marking his territory. It was even presented to us that he should be up for euthanasia. The vet also told us to act dominant and be the true "pack-leader" in the house - all this ended up doing was making the dog terrified of people.  With a few other recommendations from the vet, we were turned off. So, like all rebels do, we ditched the vet and found a trainer (soon-to-be Mentor who we apprenticed with) who explained what was happening and why.

When dogs pee and poo on things outside, they are in the act of hunting. When dogs hunt, it helps them to have an outlet, release pressure (literally), and connect to their surroundings. Hunting in itself is social behavior. In short, defecating and urinating on stuff (whether inside or out) is your dog being social. They aren't showing you "who's boss" or "marking their territory", rather the act of relieving themselves allows them to release a buildup of pressure. We must put ourselves in their shoes and understand this perspective to help the dog eventually feel good physically and emotionally. 

We were advised to get a nice cavernous crate to help Bullet decompress because the actual reason he was relieving himself indoors is because he was trying to connect with us. Our only type of connection at the time was extreme cuddle sessions or me saying "no" whenever he went to the bathroom inside. Big mistake on our part. It led to more carpet cleaning, separation anxiety...and some gnarly dog aggression.

If your dog is going to the bathroom indoors, he's either trying to connect with the human, and/or in a constant overload state of not being able to feel good.

So, we got the crate as per instructions from our mentor. He struggled in it for awhile, specifically with the separation anxiety, but with some time he had a den of his own - you can read more about crate training here. What Bullet really needed first and foremost was a place to decompress and give his nervous system a rest. He spent a lot of time in the crate when indoors. At first, a big wave of guilt washed over us... but then we reminded ourselves that we really wish we could sit in a meditation or yoga studio for a few hours. Because when this happens (i.e., the nervous system calms down), that's where the true healing begins.

Along with crate training Bullet, we also started working with his prey drive outdoors. We taught him to bite big police jutes... HARD. We had him jump up on us for food, push for food, bark on command, carry a toy while we went for walks in nature, collect himself, gave him long deep belly rubs inside, and most importantly - we played with him and soon got a nice "soft mouth" like other dogs do when they play. Now, he had more of an outlet for his constant overload state of being completely overstimulated. By practicing all these movements with him, he felt more of a connection and stopped going to the bathroom in the house.

Now, when Bullet is indoors and chilling in the house, we are happy to say that there is no longer a smell of musk. Instead, it smells like home and we have a happy dog that feels good (most days). And when he doesn't feel good, we know it's time to throw him a big bite or go for a walk in the woods.

If you're struggling with this problem, get a cavernous crate and work with your dog's prey drive. Give them an outlet and embrace their innate wildness... they are trying desperately to connect with you. If you need help and guidance along the way (and maybe some moral support), reach out to us and we will walk you through it!