Why do dogs break their toilet training?

Housetraining can be a challenging part of training a new puppy, but with plenty of reward and effort on our part we can achieve good results relatively quickly in most cases. However, sometimes adult dogs who we assume to be completely housetrained will suddenly surprise us by urinating indoors in the most surprising of circumstances. Usually, if we examine when and where this happens some common factors are involved. Places where many other dogs congregate, especially unknown dogs, are the most common sites for ‘accidents’ to happen; at the vets, groomers, doggy day care and so on.

Dogs will mainly start to urinate indoors even if they are fully house trained when they feel they need to leave a scent marker for other dogs. If one breaks the rules and there are lots of other dogs around then this can rapidly escalate into more dogs urinating inside or on the same spot. It becomes very tempting for the rest of ‘the pack’ to join in and mark territory, especially if the odour of urine remains in that area when not cleaned up properly.

Dogs have a truly incredible sense of smell. They have a staggering 300 million scent receptors in their nose compared to our 6 million, and the part of the brain devoted to interpreting smell is 40 times bigger than ours. So, even a few molecules of urine scent left behind can trigger an urge to add to this social signpost. The more dogs in a small space, the more tempting it is to break house training in these scenarios and effectively say: “Hey, it’s my territory too”.

Here are tails.com’s top tips for preventing housetraining accidents when you have doggy visitors to your home, at the vets and groomers or whenever your dog is in an environment with lots of other dogs indoors:

  •  Try to get them out for regular toilet breaks throughout the day, especially if they have had some accidents recently; a full bladder makes it all the more tempting to break the rules.
  •  It’s really important to clean up urine properly and get rid of all traces, not just dry the area. Use a bristle brush and pet safe cleaning products so that any area of the carpet or flooring they’ve urinated on can be really scrubbed to remove any trace of it being there.
  •  Just mopping it up with paper towels will still leave an invisible scent beacon to dogs that it’s a good area to mark, even if we can’t detect any smell left behind. Remember how much more acute our dog’s sense of smell is.
  •  After cleaning and drying properly, pet scent deodoriser sprays can be used over the area to mask any traces we have missed at the scrubbing stage.
  •  If a dog has urinated on an object like a box, blanket, toy then that object should be washed, sealed in a bag and taken up off the floor if possible so it doesn’t act as a temptation for the rest of the day for dogs to use again.”

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