What Would Cause a Previously Housebroken Dog to Start Lifting His Leg Inside?

I’m just full of questions today…

My male Gordon Setter Nick is my heart and soul. He has always been such a good boy. But recently he has started lifting his leg in the house, in 2 specific spots- the corner of my bed and on any dirty clothes left on the bathroom floor.

Nothing has changed in the house at all. He is not neutered because he is a show dog.

Anyone have any insight?

Obligatory photos of Nick:

(he is on point in this one… he is not just a show dog, he still has his hunting instinct and is a fantastic bird dog too!)

My immediate thought is “bladder infection.”

(And he’s a beauty!)

Have you had any other dogs in the house that may have had an accident?

My dogs are housebroken, and they never piddle in the house. However, if I bring them to my Mom’s house, I always have to remember to close the bedroom doors. There’s a couple places where another dog peed years ago, and despite carpet cleanings, treatments with pet-cleaner stuff, etc, they always go right to those spots and piddle if I don’t keep them away.

They have no problems anywhere else in the house, just those two spots. And every dog that comes over does the same thing. That must have been one smelly dog that pissed there years ago.

PapSett - I actually have the same problem right now, but I don’t know which dog is doing it. That’s very frustrating because I have 4 neutered male dogs. I think I could do some training reinforcement if I knew which one. The dog door is right there if they need to go out. It’s got to be a dominance thing, because mostly they’re just marking, not a full flood, so to speak.

What I’ve done, which has helped, is removed the thing they’re urinating on. I have a large oil painting in a cardboard crate in my kitchen, not 3 feet from teh outside door. The picture is to go to my sister, but it’s large adn heavy and I’ve been waiting for her to come from Phoenix to get it, instead of shipping it. I moved it to a spare room, and there have been no more incidents there. I also moved a bookcase the dog was marking. Getting the scented item out removes the need to mark over another dog, or reinforce their own territorial marking.

Strangely, it only seems to happen when I’m at home and awake. They’ll be home all day while I’m at work and I won’t see any sign. I leave them free at night and I don’t see any sign. I sit down to my computer and it happens. Very frustrating!


He’s beautiful! I <3 black and tan dogs.

If he’s a show dog, presumably still intact? Bitch in heat somewhere within smelling distance, change in home dynamics making him uneasy or somehow compelled to mark, strange dog coming in and peeing…other than that, the only thing I can think of is the standard advice to rule out medical reasons.

Odormute is fantastic for neutralizing pet odors.



I do have other dogs, and the little Papillon girls certainly have accidents (they are spayed) BUT he isn’t marking where they have gone. The 2 specific places he marks are places that smell stongly of ‘mama’… ME. My bed (on my side) and on my dirty clothes. I am wondering if he is trying to mark me as HIS… he is a huge mama’s boy.

No strange dogs, nothing at all changed in the home. He is being treated for an ear infection right now but I don’t see how that would be affecting his pee habits…

Oh, and thank y’all for the complements… he is my pride & joy!

You don’t say how old he is. While a dog’s personality is largely determined by 12 weeks, it doesn’t mature until 3 years old. It could be he has decided he is a big boy now and is letting you and everyone else know it. Have you obedience trained him? It is a good way of maintaining your position of leadership. Some good, long walks with him remaining in heel position help too.

Note, the suggestion of females in season was a good one too. Beware of unexpected efforts to dart out the door if so.

He is 6 years old, and yes, obedience trained. NO attempts to run out the door… that is ingrained in each and every canine brain from puppyhood.

He is lovely!

I’ve been through this with one of my dogs. There’s no one answer for every dog, so you have to go through a list and figure out what it could be. Some of the things that were suggested to me:

  • Does he have a UTI or other infection
  • Is he drinking more/at a different time
  • Is something upsetting him/making him more anxious (it could be your bitches are coming into heat, or the ear infection is making him anxious and unhappy)
  • Did you clean the areas with an ammonia based cleaner
  • Is he getting more or less exercise than normal or at different times (my dogs always have to go if they get into a really vigorous play session)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t narrow it down to any of those or other causes. Nearest I could tell, I was probably a smidgeon of a minute late getting home one day, and my dog went in the house. Then he figured “hey, that’s not so bad” and didn’t bother to hold it anymore.

I went back to outrageous praise and treats for going outside and I kept him out of the indoor pee area for a couple months until I knew housebreaking was re-installed.


Not drinking more, same as always

No bitches in heat, everybody is spayed. I personally have been a little more on edge due to work pressure, I have considered that as a possible reason.

No ammonia based cleaner

On whole, more exercise with the weather cooling down, we ALL feel more like playing & walking. There have been a few rainy days where he is less active but that’s really the norm, and he is more than happy to snooze at my feet.
I appreciate all the thought you guys are putting into this! :slight_smile:

None of the obvious answers seem to fit. One last straw to grasp, see the vet. I can’t say what it might be, but often behavior changes in a older dog have a physical cause.

Maybe the bolded bit above, if he tends to be a bit Mama’s boy/velcro dog and feeling insecure.

Not likely in the scenario you describe above, but my skinny little JRT x heeler hates cold weather or rain and every fall when it starts getting chilly (Michigan) I have to go outside with her and praise her when she goes, otherwise she just won’t. If I don’t, she won’t pee and when I’m at work she pees on the rug by the back door during the day. :rolleyes: Which is how I know Odormute works so well!

And she is an extremely well-trained little goggie, but a stubborn little byotch. I don’t know where you live but is it possible Nick, now that he’s a bit older, has decided not to stay out in the cold to finish all his peeing?

My teenage thug Rottweiler is still intact, and if a new object appears in the house, I have to watch him initially because he still sometimes does the mindless brief hike on it. But with Nick only peeing on your stuff, it could be mild separation anxiety due to stress. Maybe temporarily crate him when you think he’s likely to hike a leg, like for a week or two?

My only other thought, is when was his last blood chem work-up? Some conditions - diabetes comes to mind - have more frequent urinating as the first observable symptom.

The weather’s definitely not the problem, it’s been lovely here in Southern Indiana except for a couple rainy days. He LOVES being out in the backyard with my Gordon Girl Kharma.

I really am leaning toward him picking up my stress and acting out. I have found myself snapping at him more than normal for petty little things. Really trying to stop that.

Normally he doesn’t have access to the bathroom unless I’m in there, I keep a baby gat up agross the hall, but if I forget to put the gate up he will rush right in to pee. And he only has access to the bed at night when we’re asleep. It’s only about once a week that he pees on the corner of the bed… but that’s once a week too much. :frowning:

My dogs like to pee on plastic, so when I bring in the potted plants for the winter they piss all over them. I am lucky in that all of the plants are quite large, and the pee trickles down into the plant tray and not onto the floor. But still. And mine have a doggie door with 24/7 access to a fenced in yard.

But we have been fighting this battle for a long time. I’ve got no advice - just sympathy!

You don’t go into detail, but if you haven’t actually had him tested, a vet visit might be in order if the behavior persists.

This is a big deal. Dogs sense our emotions and stress flows down the leash.