Dog Having Accidents Only at Night — Causes and Solutions

Why is your dog having accidents only at night, and behaving well during the day? Don’t worry — it’s not just your dog that is weird.

In fact, many dog owners struggle with the same behavior regularly.

So let’s explore it in more detail and try to find solutions for it.


A Few Starting Facts…

  • Dogs can have accidents at night for many reasons — some of which are late eating or drinking, marking their territory, lack of exercise, or medical issues.
  • Don’t feed your dog and don’t give it any water before bed.
  • Give your dog a lot of exercises — it should get exhausted and sleep through the night.
  • Take your dog outside for potty breaks at least once or twice in the evening.
  • Restrict your dog’s movements — teach it to sleep in a crate or keep it on a leash.


Why Is Your Dog Having Accidents Only at Night?

Since it is quite a mysterious behavior, you probably want to try and understand what your dog is thinking.

Does it enjoy breaking the rules out of spite? Is it trying to prank you?

Although it may seem so, it’s highly unlikely that your dog is leaving you “presents” on purpose.

Instead, here are potential causes of night accidents.


It Eats and Drinks Late

If you let your dog eat or drink right before bed, it’ll probably wake up in the middle of the night ready to “go.”

It surely happens to you too sometimes, but unlike dogs, you can go to the toilet and relieve yourself.

Dogs don’t have much of a choice — either wake you up to let them out or do their business wherever they can.

Unfortunately, they often choose the latter because they don’t think in the same way that we do.

Accidents caused by late eating or drinking most often happen to puppies and young dogs. They are smaller, so their bladders are small too, and they empty faster.

So if you let your puppy drink too much before bed, don’t expect it to hold it until morning!


Marking the Territory

If your dog has previously already peed on the carpet at night, it’s likely to do it again.

Even if you’ve scrubbed the carpet clean, traces of smell could still remain.

That’s enough to convince your dog that peeing at that same spot is allowed, so it will keep doing it as long as the smell is there.


Not Enough Exercise

When you can’t sleep, what do you do? You probably get up from your bed, read a book, or watch TV.

Your dog is similar — if it can’t fall asleep, it will roam around the house and explore.

That doesn’t automatically mean that it will relieve itself somewhere. However, the longer your dog is awake, the more likely this scenario is.

As you know, the urinary and digestive systems work slower when the body is asleep.

So it’s far less likely for your dog to feel an urgent need to “go” if it’s sleeping soundly.

And since dogs aren’t typically plagued by worries and anxieties, we can assume that they can’t fall asleep due to a lack of physical exhaustion.

A dog that sits around all day and doesn’t get much exercise is much more likely to stay awake and wander around the house.


Medical Causes

Whenever your dog exhibits some new and unusual behavior, it’s important to rule out any potential medical causes.

Dogs that suffer from bladder infections, kidney stones, or urinary tract disorders may urinate more frequently.

Similarly, your dog may be having diarrhea, so holding it until morning becomes impossible.

Also, spayed female dogs can develop incontinence.

Usually, these dogs aren’t even aware that they are urinating — it may even happen in their sleep!

And if you have an older dog, there’s a host of problems that can cause it to have accidents at night.

For instance, a dog with cognitive dysfunction, a condition similar to Alzheimer’s, may experience memory loss.

This dog won’t remember where it should do its business and may even forget where the door is.


How to Avoid Dog Accidents at Night

There’s no single solution for a dog having accidents only at night.

It’s always best to address the cause first — and since there are a few possible ones, there are also several solutions.

Here are some of the things you could try.


Don’t Feed Your Dog Before Bed

If you suspect that the cause of your dog’s night accidents is eating or drinking late, pay attention to when you feed it.

Make sure to remove its food bowl around five in the afternoon and don’t give it back no matter how much it whines.

You can keep water around longer — but don’t let it drink right before bed.


Give Your Dog Potty Breaks

Obviously, you need to let your dog out during the day to relieve itself. However, when it gets dark, you may be more inclined to keep it inside.

Still, you should let it out for one or two more potty breaks before bed.

That way, your dog will not feel the need to go in the middle of the night.


Play With Your Dog

If you want your dog to sleep through the entire night, you need to really exhaust it.

Take it out for walks in the park, let it run, chase birds or sticks you throw. Aside from tiring your dog out, running and jumping encourage a bowel movement.

Therefore, it’s likely that your dog will relieve itself right there in the park — which is exactly what you want.

If the weather isn’t nice enough to go out, play with it inside.

There are so many dog toys and ways to keep your pup active.

By the end of your play, it will be just about ready to roll over and get some well-deserved sleep!


Clean Your Carpets Thoroughly

As I’ve said, the smell of its pee is enough to encourage a dog to urinate at a certain spot.

If that happens to be your carpet, you’ll need to do more than simply clean the area.

Often, only a heavy-duty cleaner can remove the smell, but sometimes you’ll need to take your carpet to a cleaning professional.


Crate Training

Your dog may relieve itself in your home, but it definitely doesn’t want to sleep in its own waste.

So if you want to stop night accidents, training your dog to spend a night in a crate might be just the solution.

First of all, make it cozy enough for a dog to want to lie in, but not too roomy. If there is too much space, your dog might choose some corner for peeing.

Then, put a treat inside to get your pup interested.

Reward it every time it lies in the crate — that way it will learn that that space belongs to it.

Soon enough, your dog will start spending the nights in its crate — just like you sleep in your bed.

That should limit its roaming around the house, as well as unpleasant accidents.

Still, you should take your dog out to relieve itself before bed every night.


Put Your Dog on a Leash

If you find no other solution, you may try to put a leash on your dog at night.

Since dogs don’t like sleeping at the same place where they eliminate, that might stop accidents for a while.

However, if you do opt for a leash, make sure it’s a harness that allows your dog some freedom.

Tugging and pulling on a leash can hurt your pup, and that’s the last thing you want.

Also, you could tie one end of the harness to your ankle or wrist. That way, when your dog wakes up and tugs on it, you’ll feel its movement.

Then, if your dog wants to go out, you can get up and open the door.

Keep in mind that this method doesn’t actually solve the problem. It’s only a temporary fix while you’re looking for a real solution.


Take them to a Vet

If you suspect there is an underlying medical issue behind these accidents, don’t hesitate to take your dog to a vet.

Even if you’re not sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Besides, your vet could give you further advice on how to prevent these accidents from happening.


Dog Having Accidents Only at Night — Final Thoughts

A dog having accidents only at night can be difficult to deal with — but certainly not impossible.

Try to understand why this behavior keeps happening, and once you do, finding a solution won’t be so hard.

And remember — don’t get angry with your dog.

It’s not trying to annoy you or make your life difficult. It’s only doing what is natural to it.

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