Dog owners know that having a dog is a lot like having an extra kid with four legs running around. From the puppy phase through rebellious teenage years and into calmer adulthood, there’s a lot of challenges, to say the least. Once your dog is older and has been house-trained for a while, accidents become a distant memory that you can look back on and laugh at. That is of course until one day your house-trained dog suddenly starts going on the floor again. So, what should you do if this happens? First, it’s important to determine what is causing the accidents so you can take the right course of action.
Determine the Cause of the Accidents
Before you get angry and punish your dog for going back to old habits, it’s important to figure out why your dog is having accidents again. A dog that usually goes outside won’t suddenly start having accidents just to make you angry, even though it might feel that way. Some of the most likely causes of an older dog starting to have accidents again include:
- A new routine – if you get a new work schedule or something else happens that changes your daily routine, your dog will need some time to adjust. They may have accidents in the house around the time that they used to go outside on your old schedule while they adjust to the new routine.
- Stress – stress can cause a dog to revert back to having accidents in the home. Stress can range from a new baby coming into the home, a family member moving out, and even renovation work being done to the home.
- Medical causes – if nothing has changed that would be causing your dog emotional stress or confusing them with schedule changes, there is likely a medical explanation for the accidents. Infection, hormone imbalance, kidney disease, tumors, and more can all cause accidents in dogs who were previously house-trained.
Each of the potential causes for accidents in older dogs are out of your dogs’ control, so it’s important not to react towards them with anger. Focus on getting to the root of the issue and correcting it to prevent accidents moving forward, rather than punishing for the accidents that have already happened.
Consulting a Professional
Diagnosing a medical condition in your dog will require the help of a veterinarian. Consult your dog’s vet to discuss possible causes. If your dog is taking any medications, incontinence may be a side effect. A veterinarian can run bloodwork and other testing to rule out medical conditions before you begin behavioral training.
If accidents are still happening after medical conditions have been ruled out and addressed, an experienced dog trainer can help look at the issue from a behavioral standpoint. Getting your dog a few sessions with an expert dog trainer will help teach them to manage stress, follow direction, and limit the number of accidents moving forward.