Animal Behavior – messing inside house

Dear Your Own Vet,

I have a eleven year old Staffordshire Terrier.  I cannot get her to stop peeing and pooping in the house. I have been unemployed for over a year, back to work full time, she hates it. Help!!!!

Lori Kunalein,


Old dog pooing in house
Separation anxiety may cause a dog to toilet inside

Dear Lori,

With regard to an 11 year old Staffie “peeing and pooping” inside, we need to look at the following:

Has this behavior just started, or has the dog been doing this ever since it was a puppy?  If it has just started, then it is because of something physical, or because you have gone back to work and the dog is showing separation anxiety?  If she has been doing this since she was a puppy, then you need to start with house training from square one, as if she was eight weeks old again. As soon as she wakes up, take her outside to a special area and wait for her to do something. Praise her if she does. Dogs will often toilet just before or just after eating, and once again take the dog to this special place. Make sure that you leave a stool there and a paper towel (that you used to clean up inside) with a urine smell. This encourages the dog to use the area.  It is a good plan to take the dog out on a lead and wait with her, so she can’t walk away and be distracted.  Also, if the dog is on a lead, and doesn’t do anything you can bring her inside (still on the lead) and walk around with her on the lead. As soon as she starts to squat to toilet, you say “uh uh” and take her outside quickly to the same spot and if he toilets there, PRAISE her.

Any dog that is not correctly house trained should not be allowed free access to roam the house (they just learn to mess anywhere). Until a dog is reliable in the house, it should ALWAYS be under the control of someone – on a lead is the best way.  The dog will learn not to wander off and do it’s business anyway. For the rest of the time, the dog should be free outside where it learns to use the garden.

Toilet training older dog
Older dogs may have arthritis, kidney or bladder problems

Another point to consider – an older dog can lose bladder control, maybe have a bladder, or kidney problem or some other medical conditions. This Staffie is a “senior citizen” and needs to be taken to the vet for a thorough medical. If given the all clear, then the owner must make sure that she is not giving the dog so much attention when she is home, that the dog suffers when she is away. A dog that is used to having someone around, cannot take the quiet when a person is away. leave a radio on (as there is usually noise when someone is at home) and even have some clothes in the dog’s basket with the owner’s smell. In desperate situations I  have even recommended dressing a mannequin in the owner’s clothes and sitting this on the couch for the dog to see and smell.

It is also very important that the owner cleans the house to get rid of the urine smell.  Dog will return to the same spot if the smell is there. DO NOT USE ANYTHING that has an ammonia smell – nearly all household cleaners are ammonia based, they smell nice to use, but just encourage dogs to return to the same spot.  Also do not use vinegar. I suggest the area is cleaned with surgical spirits and then use citronella oil mixed with water to spray around. (Dogs don’t like that smell)


Kathy Clayton

Accredited Companion Animal Behaviourist &Professional Dog Trainer
011 783 3042   082 454 1750



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