Is your housetrained dog having potty accidents when left alone? This messy situation can be a sign of separation anxiety. In mild cases, the potty accidents are usually just small spots of urine near the front door or another exit point. In more severe cases, these accidents are involuntary on the part of the dog (they’re not doing it to be spiteful — they just can’t help it), and the accidents typically involve large amounts of urine or diarrhea found in various locations, including on the dog’s own bed.
To find out if your dog’s potty accidents could be a sign of separation anxiety, take a quick quiz.
Are Your Dog’s Potty Accidents Separation Anxiety or Something Else?
There are a variety reasons a dog could be having potty accidents:
A dog may start urinating inside the home as the result of a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, diabetes or other condition. Diarrhea can be a sign of intestinal parasites, pancreatitis, an infection or dietary issue. It’s important to see your veterinarian to rule out these possibilities.
Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD):
Also known as dog dementia — a dog’s mental function can start to decline with age, causing them to forget their housetraining. If your dog is a senior and having frequent potty accidents, talk with your veterinarian — especially if they’re showing other signs of CCD, such as changes in sleep habits and disorientation.
Puppies can’t go for long stretches of time without a bathroom beak. As a general rule, their age in months + 1 is how many hours you can expect them to be able to “hold it.” If you have a 4-month-old puppy, they should be able to hold their bladder for 5 hours. A 5-month-old puppy should be able to hold it for 6 hours, and so on. Most dogs are housetrained between 6 months to 9 months of age. Some dogs need a little more time than others to fully understand the concept of housetraining.
As dogs age into their senior years, they might need more frequent potty breaks.
Did you recently adopt your dog? Housetraining regression can happen in dogs that were already potty trained but are transitioning to a new home and learning a new routine.
For some dogs, thunderstorms, fireworks or other noises can create stress and trigger a potty accident.
Male dogs and even some female dogs are known to “mark” high-traffic locations in the home with small amounts of urine. This behavior is seen more in unneutered males and unspayed females about to go into heat.
Decoding Your Dog’s Potty Accidents
To determine why your dog might be having potty accidents when they’re alone, we recommend setting up a pet camera. Here are some things to look for:
- After you leave, how much time passes before they have a potty accident?
- Before an accident, do they show signs of needing to go potty (e.g., pawing at the door, circling, sniffing or whining)?
- Are they drinking a lot of water before a urine accident?
- Do they seek out a particular spot to go potty, or suddenly urinate or defecate where they are?
- Is there particular noise that might be triggering an accident?
- Is your dog showing other symptoms of separation anxiety, such as escaping and destructiveness or watchful waiting?
Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?
Take our quick and free quiz to learn if your dog potentially suffers from separation anxiety.
Instant results and a customized report
Treating Potty Accidents Related to Separation Anxiety
If your dog’s vocalization is due to separation anxiety, there are options for treatment, including the Calmer Canine Anxiety Treatment System, behavior modification training, compression wearables, and more.