What to Do if Your Old Dog Suddenly Started Peeing Inside Because of Emotional Reasons

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This article was updated on October 25th, 2022

We have reviewed in depth the reason causing old dogs to suddenly start peeing inside the house. Most of the time, these “accidents” are the result of a medical condition. However, there can be emotional triggers for your older dog’s sudden incontinence. Your old dog may be peeing inside the house due to territorial behavior, anxiety or stress.

In this article, we will review the top reasons and what to do.

1. Your Old Dog is Peeing Inside due to Territorial Behavior

If your dog is male, and he hasn’t been neutered, then when he reaches sexual maturity or adulthood he might begin scent-marking. This is a normal territorial behavior and has nothing to do with house-training! A dog who is lifting his leg to urinate on door-frames, furniture legs, wall corners and so on could simply be staking his claim. He’s basically saying ‘this is mine!’.

Older adult dogs who have never shown this behavior before can suddenly start to if a new dog joins the family, or a new person moves into the home.

Consistent correction (a firm ‘No’ and redirecting Fido’s attention), often reduces the problem over time, it might even eliminate it. Failing that, belly-bands can be used to ‘catch’ the urine so that your furniture, carpets and home aren’t constantly being sprayed.

Combining these 2 methods will give you the best results, because the belly-bands protect your home while your dog is learning that this behavior is a no-no in the human world.

2. Your Old Dog is Peeing Inside due to Anxiety Or Stress

Dogs of all ages can get nervous or stressed when there are big changes in their lives (or sometimes even small ones).

Plus, some dogs are naturally just more anxious than others. But some older dogs become especially fragile emotionally as they age, and loud noises, strange people, car rides, storms…. even things they were previously fine with are suddenly scary for them.

This kind of anxiety can lead to all sorts of nervous behaviors, including urinating indoors at odd times.

Submissive urination happens when your dog fears the person/dog/object he’s being confronted by, or if that person/dog is seen as the ‘alpha’ or superior.

Separation anxiety happens if he suddenly becomes terrified when you’re not within sight, or when you leave the house. If he gets hysterical, he could quite easily lose control of his bladder and bowels, no matter where he is.

ANY significant change, especially big ones like a new dog/pet in the family, a new baby, a house move, someone moving in, or moving out…. can destabilize your older dog’s emotional balance.

And physical changes such as hearing or vision loss, canine dysfunction syndrome, or chronic pain can all make Fido ‘jittery’ or worried, which makes everything more difficult for him to handle. Learn more about anxiety in senior dogs: Old Dog Anxiety.

Read more about senior dogs peeing inside:

Old Dog Peeing Inside: Our Veterinarians Explain What to Do


  • Dr. Winnie, Veterinarian

    Dr. Winnie earned a Master in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria's Veterinary School. She is a full-time Veterinarian specializing in internal medicine for companion animals.

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Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

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