Canine bladder incontinence is a problem that can occur at any stage of a dog's life. It can happen when a dog is sleeping or fully awake. Most dog owners encounter it when housebreaking a new puppy; after adopting a new, adult dog; or when an elderly dog loses bladder control and has indoor "accidents." Separation anxiety, the addition of a new, disliked family member or pet, and insufficient house training are some of the behavioural reasons why a dog might urinate inside the home (See References 1). Several steps can be taken to stop dogs from peeing inside the home.
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Bring your dog to your vet to rule out any medical problems that might be causing inappropriate urination. It's important to do this before starting any type of training to solve the problem. At around nine years of age, some older dogs may develop physical conditions or impaired cerebral functions that result in urinary incontinence (See References 1). If this is the case, dog owners may have to adjust to the animal's problem and learn to live with it in a manner that is least inconvenient for pet and owner.
Use verbal cues to let your dog know where and when it's appropriate to urinate (See References 3). Choose a word or phrase like, "Outside?" or "Do you want to go out?" to signal to your dog that it's time to go outside. Make sure every family member uses this exact word or phrase when communicating with the dog. Once outside, use another verbal cue like, "Hurry up," or, "Go potty," to encourage your dog to urinate. Make sure you use this verbal cue as soon as you see your dog display any "pre-potty" behaviours, such as sniffing the ground. When your dog urinates while you're using the verbal cue or right afterward, warmly praise him immediately. Repeat this procedure a few times each day, or every few hours for puppies.
Reprimand your dog by saying, "No," in a stern voice, only if you catch him in the act of peeing inside the house. If you scold a dog after he urinates inside, he'll have no idea why he's being scolded (See References 3) If your rebuke startles the dog enough to interrupt the "accident," quickly hustle him outside, carrying him if his size permits. Use your verbal cue to encourage the dog to urinate outside. Be sure to warmly praise him when he's finished.
Stick to a routine (See References 4). Take your dog outside for bathroom breaks the same times every day. Take puppies outside at least every two hours. If you won't be home for an extended period of time, hire a dog sitter to let your dog out at his regular time. When house training, take your dog outside on a leash and always lead him to the same spot to urinate. Use your verbal cue for encouragement and follow with immediate praise when he's done. Exercise or play with your dog only after he urinates.
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