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Potty Training: My 5-Month-Old Puppy is Having Accidents – Help!

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Dogue puppy ImageThis is pretty common. Potty training is rarely a straight line but rather a spiral upward from constant clean up to constantly clean. When pups are around 5-months-old, I often get this call from distraught puppy people: “What happen? Things were going so well; my pup is having mistakes again.

Here’s what can disrupt things at that age:

Teething – Puppies start to teeth, with those needle sharp puppy teeth changing over to their adult set, somewhere between three and four months of age (usually). By the time five months rolls around their molars are coming in. As with children, puppies can experience various symptoms of teething with house training mistakes being one.

Solution? Talk to the veterinarian to confirm this is the issue, up your crating routine for a bit and supply him with some good chewies that are not consumable. 

Too Many Treats – When pups start teething hard, we can give them more edible chewies to keep them occupied. Too many of those can lead to drinking more water (which means more peeing) or more volume in the gut that leads to more volume on the rug. Too many rich training treats can have the same effect.

Solution? Provide inedible chew toys for the time being. Select tummy friendly treats for training or use plain, dry dog food.

Too Much Freedom – It is human nature that, when things are going well, to ease up on structure. Constantly supervising a pup is demanding but a puppy who is clean with constant supervision can make us think – before we should – that our puppy is house trained. He’s not. He’s probably almost there but not quite.

Solution?Keep up supervision. Keep him on leash next to you or gated in the same small room with you or crated. Those are your options. He’s not ready to roam the house yet unless he is roaming with you, on leash, under your watchful eye. Most pups really put house training together somewhere between six and seven months of age. Your house can be clean well before that, but only because you’re on top of the situation.

Urinary Tract Infection – Your puppy, usually female, is peeing in the house a LOT. Each pee is pretty small but it is frequent. Same outside. She may well spin and lick herself after she urinates because it hurts here. More likely with long-haired puppies as the hair, if not trimmed, can wick urine back into the body where infection can grow.

Solution?Trip to the veterinarian is necessary. After meds have cleared up the issue, consider a supplement (approved by your vet) to help prevent this from happening again as well as carefully trimming of the hair in that area. Not confident about that? Ask your vet or local groomer to do the deed.

The Weather Changed – It is very hot out (causing more water drinking) or is has snowed (causing snow eating) and now your puppy is having major flooding accidents.

Solution?More quick walks. Major flooding pees are a good sign – a messy one, but a good one. Your puppy is holding it but what you have is a failure to communicate. If your pup drinks a lot she’ll have to go outside a few times to truly empty. That’s normal. A hassle maybe, but normal.

Change in Schedule – Lastly, a change of schedule can throw your puppy back to start for a few days. Going back to work after summer break can do it. No worries, with a little help from you, all will be right again soon.

Solution? – More supervision and crating, more going outside to reward jobs well done, more correct clean up. I always use a Stain/Odor Remover and, on carpet, I am a fan of the spot cleaning machines.

Have faith. You’re probably almost there! This too shall pass, and soon now, if you can keep that structure, supervision and crate time going. Good luck!

23 Comments

  1. My pup is almost 6 months, I had him almost completely trained and now I’ll take him out for 30 minutes and he’ll poop on the carpet. I’m getting super frustrated and don’t know what to do

  2. I have a 5-6 month old pitbull/lab mix. He is a rescue dog, someone left him tied to a tree for death, since he has been with us he has gained 12lbs. He had no training when we found him, he was aggressive with his food, pooping and peeing in his crate. We have the food under control now but we cannot get him to stop pooping and peeing in the crate. When we let him out he poops and pees outside, but when we put him in the crate to go to bed, we wake up and there is poop/pee in the crate, over the weekend, we had given him 8 baths because he has pooped and peed so much. I have been consistent taking him outside to make sure he goes but he still in consistently doing his business in the crate. We’ve only had him for 2 weeks now and I know it’s going to take a lot of time, but my husband is tired of the house smelling like poop and giving the dog a bath. What can I do? I need help.

  3. We have a female Australian Shepherd. She is just 5 months old but we have only had her for a little over a month. With her previous owner she was crated during the day while he worked. When he was home there was a tray with pellets for the younger puppies. Our problem is she will go out in the morning and do her business but the rest of the time we can be out there for a half hour or more and bring her in and she will mess in the house instead of outside. She only has gone in her bed one time.

    • Hi Karen – She’s just confused. The fact that she’s going outside in the AM is great! Now, unless she has JUST gone outside, keep her on leash with you inside so you can see her signs or put her in her crate until the next walk. She just needs help understanding your new rules. A couple of weeks of this routine should get you a decade or more of a clean house. Good luck! Sarah

  4. My puppy is just almost 5 months old, she was doing great at potty training and would even go to the door to sit when she had to go. but soon enough and very suddenly, she started going in the house again. I think She has separation anxiety, when I let her out in the backyard with my other dog to do her business I say “go potty” and walk back inside. That used to work great before. Now She immediately runs after me and cries at the door until I let her back in. Then when I do sit out with her, if she doesn’t feel like going or if the dogs barking next door spook her, she will continue to run to the door and shortly after go in the house. A lot of the times she knows it’s wrong and tries to hide it by going under furniture. Why is she suddenly doing this and what can I do to fix it?? I’m getting very frustrated 🙁

    • Hi Kara – This is usually because she has learned that when she goes outside you bring her in. She likes being outside so she’s getting slower and slower to go. My suggestions are: if she has not gone outside, keep her on leash inside or put her in her crate and try again in a few minutes. Keep her on leash outside and walk her back and forth in the area you’d like her to use. Once she goes THEN let her off leash to play and have fun. That way pottying = freedom and play rather than going back inside.

      It can take a week or so but that usually gets things back on the right track. Good luck – Sarah

  5. We have had our Shar Pei – Boxer since she was 6 weeks old. The home we got her from already had dogs that were teaching her to use the dog door. I took her out ever half our and praised her until she finally got the hang of it. Now she is 4 months and still having pee accidents in the house after I take her out in the morning. We also have a dog door and a huge backyard so she can go anytime I don’t know what we are doing wrong? Any suggestions?

    • Yes, she is still a baby and only just now beginning to get the muscle control required to be more reliably potty trained. Your best bet is to get her on to a routine and either take her outside every half hour or crate her then take her out. The crating tends to remind them to “hold it” so can help build that skill. With a “go outside – supervised play/training time – crate time then go outside” schedule, you can both be happy and your house can be clean shortly. Hang in there! Sarah

  6. My husband and I adopted a 12 week old Rhodesian Ridgeback/Boxer mix who is now 5 months old. She’s been doing fine with potty training. We use bells on both the front and back door, so whichever door I am closest to is the one to which she will go and wait for me to let her out. She rarely doddles when I give her the command “Go pee”.

    However, our latest issue is that she isn’t holding it, at all, unless she is sleeping or laying on the chair with my husband. I bring her to work with me 1 or 2 days a week and as soon as she cries, we must go outside, or she’ll have an accident. She doesn’t have accidents in her crate at night, so I KNOW she can hold it for up to 8 hours while she’s sleeping.

    Recently (this week) she has started peeing in her crate while we’re away! She is NEVER in her crate for more than 4 hours (unless we’re sleeping). And a 5 month old pup should be able to hold it for up 5 or 6 hours. How can I get her to stop this behavior before she isn’t “crate trained” any more?

    • First, she’s teething and teething can throw off her system. Just get her out more and this too shall pass.

      Sudden peeing in the crate could mean a trip to the vet. She could have a UTI.

      Another possibility is a new chewy of some sort. Many chews that pups consume (and she is teething so you may be upping the chews) cause more drinking and that causes more peeing. So, stop all chews that she can actually consume and see if things go back to normal.

      If she’s whining to let you know. GREAT! Sounds like you all doing just fine at 5 months. She’s still very young so stay the course. You’ll get there soon. – Sarah

  7. I bought our bully breed pitbull when she was 8 weeks. I’ve kept her on a constant feeding and watering schedule. Our entire routine is repetitive. She is not house trained at all. I’m doing crate training and she will pee and poop in her crate! Idk why she won’t house break or why she has always gone in her crate then whines because she’s peed. I’ve taken her to the vet for a bladder infection and that came back neg. help 🙁

    • If she’s been peeing and pooping in her crate since the beginning, then she has, sorry to say it, been un-crate trained, not crate trained. You now have a dirty puppy and need to do fix-it work. That involves no crating for a while but a pen instead, keeping her on leash with you when you are home so you can notice and get her out and feeding her off the bottom of her crate but no closing her in there. First, she must get clean again and then you can use that desire to be clean to potty train her. Good luck!

  8. Hi we have a 5 month old cockapoo. He is great when we are in the house and sits at the door when he needs to go to the toilet outside. However if we leave him in the kitchen and go upstairs to get showered/dressed etc he has a wee. We have had a few dry nights but most mornings there is a poo and a wee!. We have tried everything! he goes out before bedtime, I have tried getting up as early as 5.30am – makes no difference. He doesn’t have a crate as he hated it from the beginning so we sold it. I do think he has separation anxiety as when we leave the room he cries and barks and scratches at the door. Please any advice would be much appreciated.

    • Hi Claire – This won’t be a popular suggestion but I’d get him used to the crate or a small pen. That space is too large for him to keep clean yet. Good luck – Sarah

  9. We have a five month old schnoodle puppy (female) – she’s been very hard to potty train but we seemed to have it, and now she’s started peeing all over the house – including my grandsons’ crib!
    I’m beside myself!! We have hardwood floors and in places carpet. She’s peeing on the carpet (not the floors).
    My question is about crating. We haven’t created her yet. Can I start now? And, do I crate her all the time, only letting her out to potty and eat?
    I am really frustrated.

    • Yes, you can start now. My guess is this is a teething issue and she is uncomfortable. Get her out more often and limit her access to other areas of the house. If it IS her molars coming in, she should feel better very soon and be back to normal.

      HOWEVER, do have a vet check her out. Might also be a urinary tract infection so make sure she is well before all other things.

  10. I have a 4month old maltipoo who was kennel trained at 5weeks.. He has been doing really well going to his peepad but for the last month 1/2 he has been just going where ever he feels… these last 2weeks has been the worst… Not sure if it\’s because he has to much freedom or what… tried kenneling- he goes in there… we are extremely frustrated… My expensive rug, wood floors, tile… everything is a free for all for this little pup… What should we do😱😭

    • Too much freedom too fast, I am guessing. Find a good local trainer to help you get him back on track. If he’s been having accidents for the last 6 weeks then he was never actually house trained. Keep him on leash with you in the house so you can walk him back to his papers and use a pen with papers instead of a crate, for now. Good luck!

  11. We have a 5 and a half month old Aussie who was ornery for about the first two weeks and then had been great! Now he’s reverting back and a couple times a week has an accident at night without giving a sign that he has to go out. Tonight I let him out every time he went to the door (7 times within a half hour) and he peed a lot each time. 15 minutes after going out he had an accident. He’s crate trained and we don’t give him much freedom out of our view, but this happened when he ran out of the room and I wasn’t there quick enough. At first it wasn’t the same spot but these last 2 accidents have been.

    • New snow fall? That amount of peeing means he got into some large amount of snow or ice or water. The body can’t make urine without fluid to match. I’d keep him on leash with you, if this is still an issue, and speak to his vet, too. Just to make sure all is well.

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