Housetraining: The 3 Most Common Reasons Why Your Dog Is Having Trouble

Housetraining your dog quickly and easily can only be done by understanding what is causing him to use the bathroom inside the house in the first place. Many times the issues are not what they seem, and in fact the problems are typically connected to behavioral reasons.


Dogs can eliminate inappropriately for a number of behavior-based reasons. However, clinical signs vary for these types of issues and are not always distinguishable between medical problems or housetraining relapses.

For example, urine found on upright objects or in a place out of sight of the owner suggests an intentional marking of a surface. Urine found only in a bed at night could suggest unintentional incontinence, although there are plenty of dogs that make a point of urinating on their beds. And diarrhea could be from a physiological problem but could also be from internal stress in the animal.

A recent poll taken from experts in canine behavior problems around the country, identified the following tips as the most common causes of behavioral elimination:

1) Submissive & Excitement Urination

Submissive and excitement urination may not be under the dog’s control as it is a reaction to a social stimulus. There are lots of submissive and excitement urination in dogs younger than 1 year of age. With this behavior, dogs tend to dribble or wet when their owners come home, when they’re scolded or petted, or in the presence of other dogs.

2) Territorial Marking

Territory marking in the house occurs most often in intact (unneutered) male dogs older than six months of age, although spayed females and neutered males sometimes exhibit this behavior.

Usually, areas are marked with small squirts of urine (seldom feces) in response to a need to claim or reaffirm a territory in the presence of other dogs (including neighborhood dogs and cats seen through a window) or involving household changes (like a new baby or a new spouse).

3) Anxiety

Arousal or increased activity of the dog caused by anxiety can bring about defecation and urination. Dogs with separation anxiety may eliminate with regularity whenever the person to whom the dog is attached is physically separated from the dog.

Fear of noises, novel objects outside or an attack by another animal outside can cause a dog to refuse to go outdoors to eliminate. Some dogs refuse to leave the porch if it is raining or snowing, thus not eliminating when given the opportunity. Some dogs refuse to go in the presence of the owner.