Question: I have a two year old beagle who has a dog door to the outside and has started to go to the bathroom in the house. Sometimes the back door is open and she will still go inside. Help!
Photo by Soupboy
Answer: Occasional indoor urination is a common problem that can suddenly appear in adult dogs. Another Dog Guide reader recently asked about her Dachshund’s habit of urinating on rugs. If, like the Dachshund described in that post, your dog was not housebroken as a puppy or may have been born in a puppy mill, the same phenomenon may be to blame: When the bladder is full, the dog recognizes the familiar texture of the surface on which was originally taught to urinate, and goes there.
As with all sudden housebreaking lapses, your Beagle should see a veterinarian to eliminate a physical problem like a urinary tract infection. If the dog is not spayed, you should consider having her spayed. Unaltered dogs of both genders are more likely to forget to urinate in appropriate areas.
If you are able to eliminate any health problem that could be causing the inappropriate behavior, start by cleaning every spot where she’s used the bathroom thoroughly with an enzyme cleaner. You may need to send some rugs out for cleaning, if possible. Shampoo the carpets with a pet stain and odor removing product if the problem has gone on long enough that urine has soaked deeply into the carpet.
Once the house is cleaned of all doggie odor, start by returning to puppyhood training. Get a six-foot cotton leash and use it to keep your Beagle with you at all times when you are home. Watch her for cues like circling and sniffing the carpet that may suggest she needs to urinate or defecate. As soon as you see such a cue, take her outdoors immediately, and praise her if she eliminates outdoors. When you are not home, she should be confined to a crate or to a room like a bathroom where accidents are easily cleaned up. Make sure to leave her lots of entertainment, like a Kong stuffed with frozen canned food.
When an adult dog lapses in its house-training, in most cases, retraining it like a puppy in combination with a thorough house cleaning will do the trick. You may never know exactly what triggered your Beagle to start eliminating in the house, but the problem behavior should be easily eliminated. In the future, it may be best not to rely on the doggie door, and to make time to take her outside at least 3-4 times each day. She should be getting three walks or outdoor play sessions each day in any case– all you’ll have to do is make sure she eliminates during these times.