Frequent Dog Urination -
Incontinence or Lack of Housetraining?

A variety of conditions can cause frequent dog urination. They range from not enough housetraining to separation anxiety, territory marking or a medical problem.

If your canine companion is suffering from frequent urination, then it is important to carefully analyze the problem before assuming it is merely a lack of house training.

Because frequent urination in dogs may derive from an underlying medical problem, the very first step should be a veterinary visit.

Once medical problems are ruled out, further steps can be taken to determine the exact cause so to treat it accordingly.

Medical Causes for Frequent Dog Urination

Urinary tract infections are a common cause for increased urination and are often mistaken for lack of house training. Other potential causes for frequent urination and urinary incontinence include congenital abnormalities, urinary stones, prostate disorders, canine cognitive dysfunction and a weakened bladder sphincter.

Some conditions also known for causing increased urination include Cushing's disease, diabetes and kidney disease. It is also important to keep in mind that certain medications may also cause frequent dog urination as a side effect.

When you schedule an appointment for frequent dog urination, you may be asked to bring along a urine sample. Make sure the sample is fresh and kept in a sterile container.

If you are unable to catch a sample, your vet may try to get one or he may alternatively collect a sample directly from the bladder in a procedure known as cystocentesis. A urine sample is important because it can determine the presence of bacteria, crystals and other abnormalities of the urinary tract.

Frequent Dog Urination

Behavioral Causes for Dog Frequent Urination

Once medical causes have been ruled out and your dog has obtained a clean bill of health, your next step is to consider frequent dog urination causes triggered by dog behavior.

For instance, if your male dog is hiking his leg on your furniture, consider that he may be urine marking. Dogs generally mark to claim territory, communicate sexual availability and to leave "pee mail" for other dogs to "read". While dog marking territory behavior is more common in male dogs, females partake in this behavior as well.

Following are some other causes of frequent dog urination.

Submissive Urination

Submissive urination in dogs is also a behavior that causes frequent dog urination and is often confused for a house training problem.

Often seen in young puppies, submissive urination is simply an appeasement behavior meant to tell you that he respects your authority. In such cases, it helps to avoid scolding the puppy, looming over him or engaging in any behavior the puppy may perceive as intimidating. Fortunately, most puppies outgrow this problem as they mature and gain confidence.

However, some puppies and young dogs also urinate submissively when excited; greeting guests and the owner upon returning home from work may translate into a puddle, so watch your step! In such a case, try to keep greetings low key and maintain the puppy's attention focused on something else.

For instance, telling your puppy to go to his place and offering a stuffed Kong icon will keep the puppy's mind occupied on the interactive toy rather than the guests. Once the puppy is done eating, he will be calmer because the guests are no longer perceived as "novel stimuli" as compared to when they showed up at the door.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is another behavior problem known to be confused for lack of house training.

In this case, dogs grow anxious as they detect cues signaling their owner is about to leave the house. Once left alone, these dogs become highly anxious, often pacing, howling and urinating in the home. Often, upon returning home, dog owners notice only the puddles of urine and are totally unaware of what is really going on.

A dog suffering from separation anxiety requires a detailed and systematic behavior modification program meant to allow him to get gradually accustomed to increasingly longer time frames of the owner's absence. In severe cases, medications may be required during the initial stages of treatment. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, consult with your veterinarian.


At times, urinary incontinence takes place because of fear.

It is not unusual for a fearful dog to urinate when exposed to a very frightening stimulus. In some cases, drastic changes such as recent moves, a new baby or a new dog may turn a dog's life upside down. In such cases, stress may trigger a form of fear-based urine marking. When a dog engages in this type of marking, he is virtually attempting to self-sooth and make "things smell familiar again". This is often the "modus operandi" of a dog that marks a guest's suitcase or a newborn baby's blanket.

Whichever type of fear is affecting your dog, his main intention is to convey a message of discomfort. If you suspect your dog is urinating out of fear, consider taking some steps to make him feel better.

For instance, if your dog urinates when there are thunderstorms, consider investing in anxiety wraps and desensitization CDs to help him overcome his fear. If your dog is marking due to a recent move, consider investing in a pheromone plug-in diffuser and try to stick to a routine so to make him feel at home again.

Here are some additional tips to help you put an end to fear-based frequent dog urination:

  1. Never force your dog to an area associated with his fears
  2. Never hit or scream at your dog
  3. Don't try to reassure or pet your dog when he shows signs of fear. Reassurance will only encourage more phobias. Demonstrate with your own behavior that there is nothing to be afraid of
  4. When your dog shows signs of fear, distract him with his favorite toy or a tasty dog training treat
  5. And finally, if you know what scares your dog, and can easily avoid it, then... avoid it!

But the best way to protect you pet from phobias and fears, and fear-based frequent urination, is by socializing your dog while he is still young.

Other Causes for Dog Incontinence

Of course, a dog will also engage in frequent dog urination when its fluid intake increases. If you recently switched your dog from canned food to dry kibble, he may feel more thirsty than usual. Take your dog outside on a more frequent basis if he has just finished gulping down a whole bowl of water on a hot summer day or after extensive exercise.

Finally, if your dog is not urinating inappropriately because of a medical problem or behavioral issue, consider that it may ultimately be a house training problem. Whether your dog is a puppy or an adult dog that has never been housebroken before, make sure to provide gentle guidance and use positive training methods.

Provide your dog with plenty of opportunities to soil outside and minimize the chances of accidents inside by carefully supervising your puppy or dog during the day. Should your dog have an accident in the home, make sure to use an effective enzyme-based dog urine remover.

As seen, with a little bit of investigative work, patience and perseverance, your current frequent dog urination problem will become a problem of the past!

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

I also suggest you study and follow this housetraining guide. In addition to learning about the causes of frequent dog urination and how to house train your pet, you'll learn valuable behavior and obedience training techniques.


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