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Why Do Dogs Dig The Carpet

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Digging the carpet might not make any sense to us humans, but it’s one of those things dogs love to do.

To be honest, my pooch looked hilarious the first time he scratched the carpet, but things stopped being funny when I discovered that he’d ripped the carpet fibers to shreds. If your pup is anything like mine, you’re probably wondering why in the world dogs dig at the carpet.

Hearing the sound your dog’s nails make while they are tearing into the carpet fibers may give you chills, but there are many reasons why dogs do this.

It may be as simple as your pooch trying to dig out a crumb of their favorite treat that got stuck between the fibers. Or they might just be trying to create a cozy spot for their afternoon nap.

By the time I figured out why my dog was digging the carpet in the first place, he had ditched the carpet for the bedding. Now, he is scratching the blankets and pulling the bedding left and right every night while my cat sleeps in the super cozy dog bed. 

This was just a preview of what your life might look like if you don’t figure out why your dog is digging the carpet and address the issue right away.

To help you get to the bottom of your dog’s digging problem, I’ll share all the reasons why dogs like to engage in this type of behavior. Continue reading if you’re fond of keeping your carpets the way they are!

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Why Does My Dog Dig At The Carpet?

As I already mentioned, there are many explanations for this type of digging behavior. While your dog’s fascination with the carpet might seem random to you, there is a logic behind everything our canine companions do. So without further adieu, let’s dig into all the possible reasons for your dog’s carpet-digging obsession:

1. Digging Up Crumbs

Even if you like to keep your home tidy and have a powerful vacuum for pet hair, there is still a chance that you missed a few crumbs here and there. Thanks to their powerful sense of smell, dogs can sniff out a single crumb buried in the carpet fibers and will try to dig it out. 

If there is even the slightest chance that your carpet can serve as a buffet table to your pooch, don’t be surprised if they start digging and scratching at the carpet as if their life depends on it. If this seems to be a likely cause for your dog’s digging activities, take out your vacuum and clean the entire house thoroughly. 

While tedious, try to spend more time vacuuming your carpets and rugs to remove all food crumbs and any trace of dog treats and other goodies. If your dog stops digging the carpet after you’ve cleaned it, your problem is solved! 

To prevent future digging attempts, vacuum your carpet regularly and don’t let your dog chew and munch any treats on the floor. This way, you will minimize the risk of any specks getting stuck in between carpet fibers. 

2. Making A Cozy Sleeping Spot

Some dogs, mine included, like to set up their sleeping area by digging and turning around in circles before lying down for a nap. This type of behavior goes way back to when dogs lived in the wild and didn’t have cozy orthopedic dog beds.

In the wild, dogs had to make their sleeping area safe and comfortable by stomping grass and digging up the dirt, and rearranging the surface of the ground. 

Although our dogs are living in much cushier conditions now, and don’t actually need to rearrange their beds to make them more comfortable, this is a natural behavior and some dogs do it out of habit. Your own dog may dig the carpet for the exact same reason. 

If this is the reason for your dog’s carpet-digging behavior, you should get them a comfortable dog bed and encourage them to sleep in it.

And when you catch your dog digging the carpet, say “NO” and take them to their bed. Praise your dog and give them treats when they go in their bed instead of trying to dig the carpet and sleep on it. 

3. Enticing Smells

You know how some dogs, while outside, like to dig and then roll in a particularly smelly patch of grass or dirt? If your pooch is like this, they may also try to dig and scratch your carpet if they sniff a new and enticing smell. 

You might not even realize that your carpet smells any different, but dogs have extraordinary scent receptors and can smell things a mile away.

Let’s say you went outside or worked in your garden a bit and, as you came back home, you transferred a bit of soil to your carpet. Your dog’s keen nose sensed a new smell, and they are now compelled to dig into the carpet and investigate. 

If this sounds like the most likely reason why your dog digs the carpet, you’ll need a good carpet cleaner. Take a few minutes to locate the spots on the carpet that your pooch is most interested in and use the carpet cleaner to thoroughly scrub them of all smells.

Once the new and enticing odor is gone, your pooch won’t be so hell-bent on digging a hole through your carpet. 

4. Excitement

Sometimes dogs will dig and scratch the carpet frantically when they get extremely excited about something. 

To you, it may seem like your dog is taking it out on the carpet for no apparent reason, when in fact your pooch saw a bird or a squirrel in the yard. Your pooch may also sense another dog outside, but since they are not able to go out, they may release all the pent-up energy and excitement on your poor carpet. 

If your dog is easily excitable about seemingly random things, you’ll have to find ways to redirect their attention. To distract your dog from digging into the carpet, try playing with them or taking them for a walk.

If you are short on time, giving your dog puzzle toys or a stuffed Kong toy can be a great way to keep them occupied and less interested in destroying your carpet. 

5. Boredom

Dogs resort to all sorts of destructive behaviors out of boredom, and digging holes in your carpets can be just the thing that your dog finds the most entertaining. If your dog stays alone at home a lot or doesn’t have fun toys to play with, digging into the carpet can seem like the only way they can have fun while you aren’t around.

If you suspect that the lack of mental stimulation and exercise is causing your dog to tear into your carpet, provide suitable fun alternatives. If you work long hours, make sure your dog has access to a lot of different and fun toys they can play with while you aren’t around. 

You should also consider hiring a doggy walker who will take your dog out for a walk and a romp in the park. This way, your pooch will have a chance to release pent-up energy and be more interested in napping than destruction while you are at work. 

6. Separation Anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety may start digging into the carpet to relieve their anxiety and stress when they are left alone. If your dog frequently digs the carpet and floor near the front door, chances are they are feeling anxious every time you leave the house. 

If you fail to notice the first signs of separation anxiety, your pooch may come to the point of tearing up your carpeting or creating scratch marks in your hard floors. Most dogs with separation anxiety resort to destructive behaviors to find comfort and to forget that their owners aren’t there in the first place. 

If separation anxiety is the reason why your dog is digging the carpet, you should make a plan and take steps to treat your dog’s anxiety. Bear in mind, curing your dog’s separation anxiety won’t happen overnight, and your dog may need professional help and medication.

No matter how long it takes and how hard it seems, take things one step at a time and be patient. 

7. Hiding Things

While any type of carpeting won’t be thick enough to hide anything from plain sight, your pooch may still attempt to dig into it to hide their valuable treasures. Burying items of value is an instinct for dogs, and your pooch may attempt to hide toys, treats, bones, or food for later use. 

The fact that nothing is really hidden or that you can clearly see your dog’s chew toy sticking out of the carpeting won’t deter your pooch from their efforts. If this is the reason for your dog’s digging, the only way to stop it is with training. 

The best way to train your dog to stop digging the carpet to hide things is by using positive reinforcement techniques.

So, whenever your dog seems like they want to bury the toy into the carpet, ask them to bring it back to you. Praise and play with your dog for a few minutes so they can see that bringing the toy back leads to rewards and positive results. 

8. Temperature Control

For dogs, digging is an innate behavior and something all of them do to some extent. This is mainly because dogs are descendants of wolves, which had to dig up dens that would shelter them and their offspring from harsh weather. 

If your dog is digging into the carpet, perhaps they are feeling too hot or cold, and are trying to regulate their body temperature. Digging a cozy den is just the thing their ancestors would do to cool down or stave off the cold. 

While most dogs will resort to digging holes in the dirt to control their temperature, when no dirt is available a carpet will do. too. If you think that your pooch is feeling too hot or too cold try to adjust the temperature in your home to make them feel more comfortable.

During the hot summer months, turn on the air conditioning and make sure your pup always has access to fresh, clean water. And during winter months or colder days, dress your dog in a sweater, get a heating pad, or add an extra blanket to their bed to keep them warm. 

9. Seeking Attention

If you responded to your dog’s previous carpet digging attempts, they know this is a sure way of getting your attention. If your pooch feels ignored and just wants to play with you, they may start digging into the carpet just to provoke a reaction.

Your dog knows that you’ll say something, or interact with them in some other way, and that is exactly what they want. So, if the long working hours and the busy schedule have kept you from interacting with your pooch as much as you’d like to, now is the time to make some time. 

Take your dog for a walk or a jog, play with them, or have a short training session to show them there is still time for them in your busy life. And to stop your dog from digging into the carpet, set out time every day to play, interact, and cuddle with your pup.

10. It’s A Breed Thing

While all dogs have an instinct to burrow, certain breeds were specifically bred to possess a strong urge to dig. Terrier breeds, for example, have been bred throughout the years to hunt, dig up, chase, and catch mice and other vermin living in the ground. 

If you catch your fox terrier in the act of digging out a hole in your carpet, know that they are doing the thing they were bred to do. In this case, there isn’t much you can do, except to ensure that your terrier is properly exercised and has plenty of toys that may help curb their digging urges.

FAQs About Your Dog Digs At The Carpet

Why Is My Dog Scratching At The Carpet?

There are many reasons why dogs dig the carpet. It might be that your dog is bored, too excited, trying to dig up food, setting up a cozy place to sleep, or suffering from separation anxiety.

The only way you will ever stop your dog from scratching your carpet and making holes in it, is by figuring out what is causing this type of destructive behavior. 

How Do I Stop My Dog From Digging Up The Carpet?

The best way to stop your dog from digging into your carpet is to clap your hands or make some noise when you catch your pooch in the act. But don’t yell or do anything that will startle your dog, since this will be completely counter-productive. 

Once you have your dog’s attention, try to redirect their behavior by asking them to do some simple task. Tell your dog to “sit,” “lie down,” or “give paw,” and reward them whenever they perform well. 

Why Do Dogs Dig At The Carpet Before Lying Down?

Some dogs dig at the carpet before lying down to set up their sleeping area and make it more comfortable. Scratching the carpet before lying down can also help dogs find the best and most comfortable sleeping position.

Digging into the carpet is an innate behavior for dogs, since it gives them a feel of burrowing into a cozy den, just like their ancestors did while living outdoors. 

Why Does My Dog Scratch The Carpet In The Middle Of The Night?

The main reason why dogs scratch the carpet or bedding in the middle of the night is because of their inherited burrowing instinct.

Dogs want to feel comfortable and safe while they sleep, so they will scratch and dig the carpet to create a comfortable sleeping area for the night. Some dogs will also turn around in circles for a few moments before settling down for a good night’s rest.

Conclusion

Knowing why dogs dig the carpet can help you curb this undesired behavior and also save your carpeting before it becomes threadbare or riddled with holes. Digging is an instinct for all dogs, but most start scratching or digging into the carpet for one of several reasons. Some of the most common causes of indoor digging in dogs include:

  • Setting up a sleeping area
  • Boredom and separation anxiety
  • Hiding food, toys, and treats

Figuring out what is causing your dog to sink their nails and dig into your carpet frantically is the best and the only way you’ll be able to stop this behavior once and for all. Keep in mind that some dog breeds were bred to burrow and dig, and they may have a stronger urge to scratch your carpet.

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Why Does My Dog Dig The Carpet? - How To Stop Indoor Digging - Yellow Lab puppy digging carpet next to pee spot

Top Picks For Our Dogs

  1. BEST PUPPY TOY
    We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack – Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
  2. BEST CHEW TOY
    We Like: KONG Extreme – Great toy for heavy chewers like our Labrador Retrievers.
  3. BEST DOG TREATS
    We Like: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites – One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
  4. BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
    We Like: The Farmer’s Dog – A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer’s Dog.

For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the PuppyInTraining.com blog.

Why Do Dogs Dig The Carpet – How To Stop Indoor Digging? was last modified: March 23rd, 2021 by LTHQ

Dog Training and Behavior

My Dog’s Reactive! What Should I Do?

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my dog’s reactive! what should i do?

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So your dog goes ballistic when he sees a dog walking on leash a block away. He barks, whines, and lunges as if he was Cujo.

Your Max is usually such a sweet dog at home.

You’re embarrassed and don’t know what to do. Don’t feel bad. Some great dogs are also reactive.

One of my rescues, a Lhasa apso named Mikey, was one of the most reactive dogs I’ve ever seen.

He was the poster dog for reactivity.

He would bark and lunge in a very menacing way when he saw another dog. 

Mikey was a stray found on the streets. He had bite wounds and apparently a very rough life.

He was the cutest, spunkiest, black-and-white ball of fur. 

As a dog trainer and behavior specialist, I wanted to help him live a happy life. 

But I realized that it would take a lot of time and patience to see any progress.

And so our adventure began.

In this article, for simplicity I am using reactivity to another dog as an example. But the same techniques can be used for other things that your dog is reactive to, such as people. 

I am dealing with leash reactivity in this article. 

Dogs may be reactive at home too. Some dogs bark out the window when they see someone.

We call it the “mailman syndrome” because the person goes about his/her business. But your dog thinks that his barking sent the person away.

Again, as in every situation, manage it. Block your dog’s view. If your dog’s reactive to noises, play soft music or a television to block the sound. Or close the window.

And dogs who are reactive in their yards shouldn’t be left alone to practice their reactivity. Do the exercises below, then, when he’s ready, practice them in your yard.

So, first identify what your dog’s triggers are. Then, you can work with him.

Contents & Quick Navigation

What Is Reactivity?

Reactive dogs overreact to certain stimuli or situations. They respond to stimuli in a higher-than-normal level of intensity.

Some may react adversely to men or women or dogs. Or they may react to very specific things such as men with beards or women with hats. Others react to cars driving by or a bike passing by.

Each dog’s an individual.

Reactive dogs may demonstrate the following characteristics: 

  • Hypervigilence (a high state of alertness)
  • Restlessness (pacing)
  • Vocalization (barking, howling, whining)
  • Systemic effects (urinating, defecating, vomiting)
  • Displacement or stereotypic behavior (spinning, tail or shadow chasing)

I’ve successfully worked with many reactive dogs over the years. I’ve even conducted classes for reactive dogs for a local shelter. 

Reactive dogs are anxious, stressed dogs in the situations in which they’re reactive.

Signs of an Anxious, Stressed Dog

A dog that’s reactive is usually very anxious and stressed. He may show the following signs: 

Yawning when not tired: shedding dandruff; lip licking; tail tucked under body; leaving paw prints when it’s not hot; drooling; and sudden scratching.

A stressed dog that’s highly aroused by a stimuli or situation may show the following body language: 

Whale eye (whites of eyes showing); intense stare; tense/stiff body leaning forward; tail held high with a slow wag; raised hackles (hair on back of neck/shoulders); straining on leash/lunging; and ignoring redirection

What Causes Reactivity?

Generally, reactivity is fear-based. The dog is put in an environment where he’s scared.

Many things may cause a dog to be reactive. His genetic make-up may play a part. He may not have been properly socialized.

Or he may not have been sufficiently trained to have impulse control. He may even have had a frightening experience.

Any of these–or any combination–may cause reactivity.

With my rescue Mikey, it was obvious he had been attacked by or in a fight with dogs by the various wounds on his body. 

All he had to do was see a dog and he barked and strained at his leash.

The first few months with him weren’t easy. But he was worth it.

What Dogs Are Likely To Be Reactive?

Any dog can be reactive. But some breeds and mixes are more likely to be.

This is usually because of the job that they were bred to do.

Herding dogs are often reactive to moving objects. They may bark and lunge when a person on a bike passes by.

Or go ballistic when a car or motorcycle or jogger zooms past them. 

Shelties, border collies, German shepherds, and Australian shepherds are some popular examples. Their herding instinct makes them want to chase moving objects.

Working breeds such as boxers, doberman pinschers, and rottweilers also tend to be reactive with new things. They were bred to be watchdogs and family guardians.

Terriers can also tend to be more reactive than some other breeds. 

Scotties, for example, were bred to hunt and they make excellent watchdogs and, in the breed standard, they are known to be cantankerous towards other dogs. 

Westies also tend to chase after anything that moves.

So sometimes it’s truly in the genes. But that doesn’t mean the reactivity can’t be managed. 

I’ve had herding breeds for over 22 years.

Some have been obedience dogs, therapy dogs, and participated in other activities. 

Of course if I didn’t manage their innate predisposition to bark and chase things, there’s no way they could have participated in these activities.

And it would have been much more difficult for them (and for me) in everyday life.

Safety First

It’s important that everyone remain safe when working with a reactive dog. People and dogs should be at a distance that your dog cannot reach. 

Being too close passes the threshold of what your dog can handle.

Make sure that your dog can’t get out of his training equipment. I recommend a well-fitted harness that he can’t escape from.

If you feel that your dog can get out of the harness, try a different one. 

You can also use a double-leash system with one leash attached to the harness and another to a well-fitted Martingale collar from which dogs shouldn’t be able to get loose.

A leash with a tight collar conveys something’s wrong to a dog. This can set him off to be reactive.

When training a reactive dog, use a six-foot leash, keeping the dog close to you with slack so that the leash forms a “J.” 

Don’t use a flexi-leash or long-line. Your dog should never be able to rush another dog.

What Can You Do To Help Manage a Reactive Dog?

There are many things you can do to help your reactive dog make progress. 

First, his environment must be successfully managed.

For example, if you know he’s reactive to other dogs, you don’t want to take him to PetSmart on a Saturday afternoon where there will be a lot of canines.

Doing so will inevitably set back your behavior program and training. It will be too much stimulation for him.

1. Remain calm. 

I know that this is easier said than done. 

When I took Mikey out to walk him, I was always somewhat on edge about how he’d act when he saw a dog. 

But, as much as possible, I’d try to remain upbeat and calm. 

Dogs read our body language and scent; they can even sense our fear or     stress.

2. Train your dog. 

Training can not only get verbal control of your dog, it can also give him confidence.

It teaches him what’s expected and can give him something to focus on rather than being reactive to the environment.

You can teach him to look at you on command to redirect him away from what he’ll be reactive to.

Mikey developed a default behavior to look at me, which I rewarded.

Your pup can learn to sit on command to help get some impulse control.

3. Keep your dog under threshold. 

This just means not overstimulating him with things that he can’t handle.

Generally, this is done by keeping a safe distance from what he’s reactive to.

So if he’s reactive to moving cars or dogs, you want to stay at a distance at which he’s not reactive. 

This varies by dog. Some dogs can be fine at 20 feet away, but not at 19. 

When I first adopted Mikey, he couldn’t see a dog at even 60 feet away. He would bark and lunge at the dog even when the other dog was nonreactive.

I learned to work with him at his pace and what he could handle and wasn’t triggered.

4. Do science-based behavioral work. 

In classical conditioning, the appearance of another dog means food appears. So, when he sees a dog, give your pup high-value treats. 

This is what you’ll do in the beginning. 

PRO-TRAINER TIP: Use extremely high-value treats. For this work, you want to use something that your dog loves–not just his kibble. It should be a treat that he gets only for this. Some suggestions are: cheese, hot dogs, chicken, or Happy Howie’s meat roll. Cut up the treat in small, pea-sized pieces. Make sure that what you use is something that your dog’s stomach tolerates.

In operant conditioning, the dog learns that the appearance of another dog  means great treats will be given.

He learns to feel relaxed rather than tense what the other canine appears. He’ll learn to look to his owner for reinforcement rather than lunging at the other dog.

The dog performs the behavior of looking at the owner or away from the other dog without having any cue given by the owner.

The dog makes the choice to not react to the other dog and is reinforced for that behavior.

5. Do set-ups to work with the reactivity.

In the above method in #4, you can use a handler with a test dog. The handler with the other dog shouldn’t look at your dog and their dog must be nonreactive.

And, like all your training, the handler/test dog duo must be at a distance at which your dog isn’t reactive or stressed.

You can have them go in-sight, then out-of-sight.  When the duo is in sight and your dog is calm, you give him a series of treats until the duo goes out-of-sight.

Do this about three times during your session. You don’t want to over-do it and stress your dog.

Alternatively, you can have the duo in place and you and your dog go in-sight, out-of-sight. 

Of course, you give a stream of treats when the other dog is in sight and give no treats when the other dog’s not in view.

How long should your dog be able to view the other dog? It depends on your dog. You want to end the session before your dog shows any stress signals. 

Generally, it should be no longer than a minute or so.

Once your dog understands he gets treats when a dog appears and he’s not reactive, you can add the cue, saying in a happy tone “where’s the dog?” when the dog appears.

What if you don’t have someone with a nonreactive dog to practice? I’ve used pet shop parking lots.

I’ve stayed at a distance where my dog isn’t triggered as dogs exited the store or their cars.

Of course, do this for only a short time with a few dogs coming and going.

6. Make a u-turn. 

Life happens. So I teach clients to train their dog to make a u-turn and walk 180-degrees away from a trigger. 

A person walking a dog suddenly appears around the corner. That’s when you make the about turn.

Train it without distractions before you need to use it. Walk straight, then have a treat lure in the hand next to your dog as you make the u-turn. 

Also give the cue “turn” simultaneously. Practice a few times per session.

After practicing this with your dog without any distractions, then you can use it in real-life situations.

7. Redirect your dog to something else. 

Train the following exercises without distractions so that you can use them when there are distractions.

Teach your dog to redirect to a game. Have a favorite toy and throw it right in front of him (not too far so that it’s well within the range of his leash).

Tell him “get it” and play with him with it.  After he understands the game, you can use it on his walks.

Another useful game is to have about five high-value treats in your hand and throw them down, telling your dog to “find it.” 

This engages his natural scent ability. 

Most dogs love this. Play this game without distractions. 

Once he understands it, he’ll look down to the ground upon your “find it” cue, looking for his treats when a dog suddenly appears in the distance.

These redirection exercises help your dog focus on something else. 

They also make him more relaxed, which helps because reactivity is usually caused by stress.

8. Teach a “settle” command. 

This is a great impulse control exercise. It teaches a dog to calm down on cue.

Granted, most reactive dogs won’t be able to do this with distractions in the beginning. But, after doing some of the exercises above, they often are.

Always start training in a calm atmosphere without distractions. Add distractions only as fast as your dog can handle them. 

There’s no cookie-cutter approach.

They need to learn that they are safe when they’re with you. 

Check out how we teach our dogs the settle command.

9. Teach a “place” command. 

Teach your dog to go to a place like a mat or bed, Then teach him to settle on the mat as described in #8 above. 

Although this is a command that you’ll probably only use inside or not far outside your house, it’s very important for impulse control.

Training exercises in which your dog learns impulse control will help him in other situations.

Check out how we teach our dogs the “place” command.

10. Exercise your dog. 

A dog who receives a sufficient amount of physical and mental exercise is less likely to be reactive.

It’s difficult when you have a leash reactive dog.

Try playing fetch or other games at home before your walk. Have him play with puzzle toys.

The more stress relief he has prior to the walk should help him.

Is It Aggression or Reactivity?

Both may stem from fear, anxiety, or stress. A reactive dog may become aggressive but not all reactive dogs are aggressive.

A reactive dog may become aggressive if pushed too far. 

As indicated above, there are certain stress signals that a reactive dog will send. 

An aggressive dog will escalate those behaviors. In the spectrum of fight or flight, the aggressive dog will fight.

He may: have a stiffened body; lip licking; muzzle punches (pokes with a closed muzzle); snap; or bite.

A good example of a reactive dog who wasn’t aggressive is my Lhasa Mikey. He had all of the posturing. 

But one time a beagle got off his leash and ran at us. Before I could pick him up, Mikey hid behind my legs.

Luckily, the beagle was very friendly and nothing happened. But Mikey then–and at other times–never followed through with his warnings.

Rule Out Medical Causes

Sometimes there are medical reasons for the dog’s stress and anxiety. A full physical should be conducted and any tests run, like a full thyroid panel, that your vet recommends. 

If there’s a medical reason for your dog’s reactivity, you won’t be totally successful in your behavior modification and training program unless that’s treated.

Get Help If You Need It

If you feel overwhelmed or if you haven’t seen progress, I recommend getting professional assistance. The same is true if you’ve seen any aggression.

A veterinary behaviorist or positive reinforcement trainer who has a successful record with reactivity and aggression issues can help.

Don’t Try This at Home: What NOT To Do

There are some things that you shouldn’t do. They can make the problem worse–much worse.

Don’t punish your dog. 

Doing so will make him more stressed and more reactive. 

And suppressing his reactive behavior may lead to him being aggressive and biting someone seemingly without warning. He may feel he has no choice.

Don’t let others ruin your training program. 

Be your dog’s protector and advocate. As much as possible, don’t let dogs or people (if that’s his issue) greet your dog unless you invite them.

And don’t feel obligated to let someone say “hello” to your dog. Depending on your dog, he may never greet dogs or other people face-to-face.

We have to respect what our dogs can handle.

Move at his speed.

Final Thoughts

If you have a reactive dog, don’t despair. Help is available. 

Many reactive dogs’ behavior can be very successfully managed to the point where a casual observer wouldn’t even know he has an issue.

Believe it or not, my reactive dog Mikey got to the point that I could take him places and he was a different dog. 

He went to obedience classes and learned to ignore other dogs.

I even showed him in obedience and he was a top Lhasa. 

Of course it took a lot of patience, work, and time. But it was worth it.

Have you had a reactive dog?

If so, please tell us what you did to help him in the comment section below.

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My Dog Is Reactive! What Should I Do - Yellow Labrador Retriever growling

Top Picks For Our Dogs

  1. BEST PUPPY TOY
    We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack – Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
  2. BEST CHEW TOY
    We Like: KONG Extreme – Great toy for heavy chewers like our Labrador Retrievers.
  3. BEST DOG TREATS
    We Like: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites – One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
  4. BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
    We Like: The Farmer’s Dog – A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer’s Dog.

For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the PuppyInTraining.com blog.

Debbie

CPDT-KA, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist. Winner Channel 17’s Philly Hot List #1 Dog Trainer. Debbie has been training dogs for over 24 years and has nationally ranked obedience and rally dogs, agility dogs, trick dogs, and therapy dogs.

Debbie

My Dog’s Reactive! What Should I Do? was last modified: May 10th, 2021 by Debbie

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Dog Training and Behavior

My Puppy Keeps On Peeing Inside After Being Outside – WHY?!

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my puppy keeps on peeing inside after being outside –

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If you just started to house train your new puppy, you are prepared for accidents to happen. But, the thing no one warns you about is that your pup will pee outside and then go inside and pee again! What’s that about, and is it normal if a puppy keeps peeing inside after being outside?

The first time my puppy did that, I was completely baffled by his behavior. We had just come back inside from a successful potty, and as soon as he was off leash he squatted and peed again in the middle of the carpet. And let me tell you, cleaning up urine stains from a white carpet is even harder than it may seem!

PRO TIP: you’ll want to use and enzymatic cleaner when cleaning up potty messes. Our favorite is Rocco & Roxie’s Stain And Odor Remover.

Needless to say, the whole experience left me extremely frustrated, and I was worried that my pup would form a habit of peeing inside the house.

As someone who is obsessed with cleanliness, I decided then and there that I couldn’t live in a home that smells of puppy pee. Armed with enzymatic cleaners and potty training guides, I was determined to nip this problem in the bud!

In this article, I’ll tell you why your puppy pees inside after going outside and what you can do to stop it from happening. Keep on reading to learn more!

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Why Does My Puppy Pee Inside After Going Outside? 

If you are in the process of potty training your puppy, certain behaviors such as peeing inside the house after being outside will leave you scratching your head. The first thing you will ask yourself is “why?” 

I know I wondered why my puppy was doing this and whether this was some sort of revenge. But if that were the case, what did I do wrong to deserve this?

Knowing what I know now, I realize how silly I was being—my pup wasn’t on some bizarre revenge quest or trying to make my life miserable. As it turned out, he had an actual medical problem, which I’ll tell you about in a bit. 

The only way you will ever resolve inappropriate urination is to figure out why your puppy keeps on peeing inside after being outside. Once you identify the reason behind this behavior, you will know what to do to stop your pup from peeing inside the house. 

Below, I’ll list the most common reasons puppies may pee inside after being outside on a regular walk.

1. Your Puppy Has A Medical Condition

Puppies, like older dogs, can unfortunately develop all sorts of diseases and infections that can cause increased urination. There is no point questioning or changing your puppy’s training routine if the answer to your problem is as simple as a prescription for antibiotics. 

A lot of different medical conditions can cause a puppy to repeatedly squat and pee inside the house after peeing outside. The most common one is a urinary tract infection, which was exactly the problem my puppy had.

If your puppy pees inside the house after being outside and is also only releasing a few drops of pee, they may have a urinary infection.

Furthermore, other medical conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease can also cause your pup to urinate frequently. Your pup may also obsessively lick its genital area, drink more water, and ask to go outside repeatedly.

Even if your puppy isn’t exhibiting any of these other behaviors, you should take them to the veterinarian. Inappropriate peeing in itself can be a sign that your pooch has a health problem. 

Your vet will most likely take a urine sample from your pup and do a urinalysis and probably a urine culture. These tests will show if your pup has bacteria and abnormal cells in its urine. If the tests confirm a urinary tract infection, your vet will prescribe antibiotics that will kill all the bacteria that are causing your pooch to frequently pee inside the house. 

However, if it turns out that your puppy doesn’t have urinary issues, your vet may want to do additional tests to rule out other conditions that can cause inappropriate urination. These tests will depend on your pup’s other potential symptoms, and the treatment will be determined based on a diagnosis. 

2. Your Puppy Isn’t Completely Potty Trained Yet

Another reason your puppy pees inside after going outside is that they aren’t entirely potty trained yet. It’s not uncommon for first-time owners to think their puppy is completely house trained just because a few days have gone by without peeing accidents. 

Naturally, you start to relax, giving your puppy more alone time inside the house, when all of a sudden you come across a puddle on the floor. And because you believe that your pup is already potty trained, you fail to consider the alternative. 

House training a puppy won’t happen overnight—it takes a lot of time, patience, and consistency to properly potty train a dog. Generally, it’s safe to say that your pooch is potty trained only if they haven’t had an accident in the past six months. Anything less and you will be lying to yourself and expecting too much from your pup way too soon. 

In the light of things, be honest: Is your puppy really potty trained or not? If the answer is no, don’t worry! Start or continue house training your puppy as you did before, and don’t expect a miracle to happen in a day, a week, or a month. 

No dog was potty trained in one day, and it’s unrealistic to expect that from your pup, no matter how smart they are. If you’re struggling with house training and don’t know how many times a day a puppy should poop and pee, take them out on a leash every hour. When they go potty, praise and reward copiously.

However, if your pup doesn’t do anything while outside, take them back in and keep them on a leash close to you, to prevent accidents. Take your pup for another potty break in 20 to 30 minutes, and if they go that time, praise, reward, and repeat. 

As time goes by, you will be able to prolong the time between potty breaks and eventually train your pooch to hold it until it’s time for a walk. 

3. Your Puppy Isn’t Emptying Its Bladder Completely While Outside

Being outside is extremely exciting for puppies, especially first thing in the morning. Your pup may be too eager to see you and spend time with you outside that it fails to completely empty its bladder in the first go.

Some puppies also get so overstimulated or distracted by all the smells and sounds while in the backyard that they forget why they came out in the first place. 

In this case, the puppy will remember that they have unfinished business only after they come back inside the house. If your puppy quickly pees while outside and then comes inside and pees again, you may be dealing with an overly excitable pup. 

For an easily excitable puppy, staying outside a bit longer and giving your pooch extra time to potty should do the trick. Staying out a few minutes longer will give you a good idea of whether or not your puppy needs to pee more. Some pups may even pee three or four times when given the opportunity.

Another thing that helps with easily distracted puppies that forget that they need to pee is training them to go in a designated potty area. This means you will have to pick a spot in your backyard that will serve only for peeing and pooping. 

Taking your pup day in and day out to the same spot may be boring, but it will teach them to focus on the task at hand. To encourage your pup to empty their bladder completely, just walk around the designated potty area in small circles that will discourage sniffing and exploring. After your puppy pees, you should praise them and offer treats.

If you have a completely fenced-in yard, you can let your puppy off-leash after they finish peeing completely. This way, you are teaching your pup that they will earn some fun time to sniff around and explore only after going potty. And by going to pee in the same area day after day, your pup will be able to focus on peeing rather than be distracted by all the fun things in the yard. 

4. You’re Praising And Rewarding Your Puppy Too Soon

Picture this: You’re outside and your pup just started peeing in their designated potty area. You’re so over the moon about your pup’s accomplishment that you start doling out treats too soon, distracting your puppy and interrupting the urine flow. Now you have a puppy with a half-full bladder and a tummy full of treats!

So once you go back inside, your pup will remember that they still need to pee and finish the job on your brand new carpet. If your puppy pees after going outside or is coming back to you excited after releasing a few drops, you might be an untimely reward-giver. 

Even if you have just realized the error of your ways, don’t despair! Just start waiting until your pup finishes peeing before offering praise and treats. And if your pup stops mid-pee and turns to you for a reward, don’t give any treats or praise until they pee again.

Dole out rewards only after you are certain that your puppy has emptied its bladder completely.

5. Your Pup Still Doesn’t Have Full Bladder Control

If your puppy will only pee inside the house, you need to remember that young pups don’t have complete control over their bladder. Most puppies aren’t able to hold it until they are about 4-6 months old, and this is the time most accidents happen. 

You should also monitor your pup’s water intake, since everything that goes into your puppy must come out at some point.

If your puppy drank too much water, they will have a much stronger urge to pee and may not be able to completely empty their bladder in one go. In that case, your pup will pee outside and then go back inside only to realize that they need to pee again. 

Keep in mind that puppies tend to drink the most in the morning, after waking up, after eating kibble, and after playing. That means that your pup is more likely to have an accident inside the house after these situations.

So, to prevent inappropriate urination, be one step ahead and take your puppy out for a walk first thing in the morning, after a meal, and after an exciting playing session. 

Don’t forget to give your pooch a chance to empty their bladder fully while out, even if that means prolonging the potty break for a few minutes. Also, always reward your pup for a job well done before heading back inside. 

FAQs About A Puppy Peeing Inside

What do you do when you catch your puppy peeing indoors?

Whenever you catch your puppy peeing inside, interrupt them right away and, using a firm voice, tell your pup “NO.” Then, pick up your pooch and take them outside to their designated potty area. Tell your puppy to go pee, or use your cue word for elimination, and then praise and reward your pup after they finish peeing in the proper place. 

Make sure that your puppy has fully emptied its bladder before you start praising them and giving treats. Don’t yell, scold, or punish your puppy for peeing inside the house! Rubbing your pup’s nose in the urine puddle won’t work either, so don’t do it, no matter how frustrated you are. 

Why does my puppy refuse to go potty outside?

Fear and anxiety are the most common reasons why a puppy refuses to urinate outside and continues to have accidents inside the house. There is a chance that your pup had a bad experience while being outside on a potty break and is now scared of reliving the same bad thing.

To get your puppy to pee outside comfortably, consider whether there is anything that may be stressing your dog out and causing it to be afraid. Are there any loud sounds such as a lawnmower or construction site nearby? Unfamiliar smells left by other dogs or leftover holiday decorations can also be the things that are making your pup nervous to pee outside. 

How long should you wait outside for your puppy to pee?

You should give your puppy 15 minutes to go potty outside. Take your pup to their designated potty area and give them the cue to pee. If you think that your pooch hasn’t emptied their bladder completely, walk around the potty area and give them a chance to eliminate again.

After you are sure that your pooch has finished peeing, praise and reward them and spend a few minutes playing in the yard. However, if your pup doesn’t pee within 15 minutes, take them back inside, put him in his crate, and wait around 15 min before taking them outside for potty again. 

How do you train a stubborn puppy to pee outside?

Although it might seem impossible, even stubborn puppies can be potty trained to pee outside. Keep in mind, it takes up to six months to properly house train a puppy, so stick to training and stay patient and consistent. You’ll also need to put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule, so they will eliminate at the same time every day. 

Don’t forget, puppies have small bladders and poor bladder control, so you will need to take them out to pee every two hours in the beginning. As your pup grows and develops bladder control, they will need fewer potty breaks. 

What is the hardest dog to potty train?

Small dog breeds, especially those from the terrier group, can be exceptionally hard to potty train. Jack Russel terriers and Yorkshire terriers are notoriously hard to house train due to their stubborn nature and the fact that they are easily distracted. 

If you have trouble potty training your small pup, set up a designated potty spot in your backyard. Make sure there isn’t anything that can distract your dog from the task at hand, and reward and praise them extensively after they pee in the right spot. 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many reasons why your puppy keeps on peeing inside the house after being outside.

While your pup’s accidents may seem like some type of revenge, there are many factors—some medical, some behavioral, and some training-related—that can cause your pup to pee inside the house. The most likely reasons for your pup’s peeing accidents are:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • The puppy isn’t properly house trained
  • Your pup is easily excited and forgets to empty its bladder completely

In the end, figuring out why your puppy is peeing inside after being outside is the only way you will deal with inappropriate urination and stop cleaning pee puddles once and for all!

Is your puppy having potty training problems?

If so, tell ask us questions or leave us a comment below.

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My Puppy Keeps On Peeing Inside After Being Outside – WHY?! was last modified: May 9th, 2021 by LTHQ

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