22 answers

My Dog Is Going to the Bathroom in the Basement.

My dog has been continuesly using the basement as her bathrroom. She did not start this until she got really sick one day around December, and there were multiple areas in the basement where she went. Since then, sick or not, she has continued to use it as her bathroom. There are very few days when I have come home and there has been nothing. I let her out in the morning before work and I have watched her go to the bathroom, I even tell her "go potty" and watch her go. I spoke with the vet and they said its a sign of seperation anxiety. She is on Clomacalm. Family has even gone to my house during the day to let her out and either find something, or I do when I get home. I have a naughty corner that she goes in when I get home if I find something. She knows she has done something wrong too. When I get home and walk downstairs, because it smells, she follows me down with her ears back and immediately runs upstairs, Any suggestions?

A little bit about our situation. I work a full time job. I got my dog from Anti-Cruelty in March of last year. Everyone who meets her says she was an abused dog. When I would come home from work prior to the bathroom useage, she would chew, even though I would provide her with plenty of bones. I take her to training, now two times a week, to socailize her and to help her. Her punishment for doing something bad is the naughty corner. I do not hit her, though sometimes have a tendency to raise my voice. She is a great dog when I am at home. She follows me around and just wants to be loved, which she is!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi N.,

I don't think it is separation anxiety, I think he just needs more trips out doors then you can give him. Have you considered "doggie day care"? When my dog was getting older, I took him to day care so he could go in and out as much as he needed....


More Answers

My dog is a former puppy mill guy who suffers from anxiety due to a lack of socialization. He had issues with using the house as a bathroom and we decided that when he was home alone he would be crated. He seems to feel more comfortable in his crate where he's safe.

I make sure he goes for a 30 minute walk in the morning and another 30-45 minute walk after dinner.

2 moms found this helpful

Have you tried using a kennel in the basement for a few days? Most dogs will not potty where they have to lay/sleep. Of course, I am not suggesting that you keep it in there forever :) But sometimes, kenneling will break a bad habit. I have had to do it a couple of times with my dogs (usually after I go out of town because the person who watches them while I am gone lets them out on a different schedule and they get thrown off) and it does the trick.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

my grandma had an old dog that was incontinent and went in the living room more than once. Every time she got a dog after that, it always wanted to go in that same spot, because it smelled like the pee, even after she'd cleaned the carpet. This didnt stop until she had the carpet and pad both replaced. Until then, she put a gate up to keep the dog out of the living room. I would suggest a gate on the stairs to keep your dog from going downstairs. We kennel our dog because otherwise she pees on the floor, then knowing she's in trouble, makes herself vomit. It's just easier for everyone for her to be in her kennel while we're at work. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like you're doing all you can do. I do want to point out one other possibility, though.

I had a dog who I loved dearly growing up. She was housebroken, but in her later years, she started using our basement to go to the bathroom because her bowels and bladder were weak and she couldn't hold it like she used to. Even with a dog walker, she still did this, until she was too old to get down there.

Like your dog, my dog knew what she was doing. But I just got an understanding that she picked the basement because she knew there was no carpet and it was easily cleaned up and very far away from where the living space was. In her own little way she was trying to be good and respectful.

Perhaps take your dog for a vet check and see if there is something medical going on. Just a thought.

1 mom found this helpful

Our first dog had severe separation anxiety.

We crated him when we left and it was so much safer for him and our home.

Some people see a crate as a punishment. Don't force her in. It is her "safe" place. Perhaps she only gets a special treat when she goes in the crate. It might take her a while to get used to going in, be patient with her.

In the mean time, I would definitely get the stains/smells out of the carpet in the basement.

Good Luck.

Make sure the area is cleaned with enxymatic cleaner such as Nature's miracle. if she can still smell it chances are she will keep going there. Also if it is stress/anxiety related it can be much harder to stop. You can try shutting into a smaller area or crate while you are gone. She may be more comforatable in a samller area too and feel safer while you are gone.
It's great that you have family to let her out during the day. Personally the naughty corner doesn't really work when you are coming home and finding something, she is probably reacting to your behavior-voice, tension in your body, etc. Make sure to use lots of praise when she does go outside. Maybe try some extra exercise in the morning before you leave to.

I'm sure since you have a trainer and have talked to the vet they have given you some helpful hints on separation anxiety. Try changing how you leave the house and don't make a fuss over her when you are doing so, leave her with a kong or something before you go. Also you can try acting like you are getting ready, but not leaving the house or getting your keys and walking out for a brief second and then back in. Then increase the time to help break the cues, so she does not get worked up when you are leaving. When you come home try and ignore her for a few minutes if she is excited until she calms down.

If she is drinking more than she used to, you may want to have some bloodwork or urine checked. You are right it sounds more behavioral, but you may want to have her urine checked if you haven't already if it continues just to be on the safe side.

sounds like maybe a crate is in order

I'm no dog expert, but I think she has figuured out her potty spots. Whether it's anxiety or whatever, she has made her potty spots. This is something you will have to break her from.
If you're getting her out enough, that's a good thing.

I wish you the best.
I like dogs but I would never have one. My friend's dog tears the whole house to shreds even if they just go to the grocery store for 15 minutes. I mean ripping the screens, chewing the furniture, peeing everywhere, jumping on the counters and knocking everyting off. A BIG dog, mind you.
Watch "It's Me or the Dog" on Animal Planet. That lady has some great gentle training techniques.

Best wishes!

If you talk to your vet she/he may be able to prescribe anti anxiety meds. You may also want to look into piddle pads ( a place that is ok to potty when inside) I know lots of people crate train animals but I have always felt it was cruel.


If you talk to your vet she/he may be able to prescribe anti anxiety meds. You may also want to look into piddle pads ( a place that is ok to potty when inside) I know lots of people crate train animals but I have always felt it was cruel.

Hi N.,

I don't think it is separation anxiety, I think he just needs more trips out doors then you can give him. Have you considered "doggie day care"? When my dog was getting older, I took him to day care so he could go in and out as much as he needed....


I would start to crate her when you are gone. It might give her some security, Put some toys in with her and water bowl. No food, but a treat for when she just gets in.

Wish you and your furry friend the best.

Usually when dogs start going to the bathroom in certain places, they keep smelling their urine and that makes them wanting to keep going there. If you can I would start taking her out more...at least three times a day. I usually wash my floors with bleach if my dogs have an accident. That way they can't smell their urine. Could you crate her when you are gone? My dogs love their crate, because it's a place where they know if they want to be alone like away from the kids or the other dog. I wouldn't leave her in the basement if you crate her. Any places where you could keep the crate like around people? That way she will feel it's not a punishment. I do noticed that my dogs will not go in their crates because they like to keep clean.
Good Luck!

Oopps, I forgot to tell you if you can play the radio when you you are gone? this is a way I had my puppies get used to being alone when I am at work. Hearing a human voice soothes the dog making it believe she is not alone.

Do you use an enzymatic cleaner to get rid of the smell? Dogs will continue to go in the same spot if there is a smell.

Also, have you considered having your dog tested for a UTI? It is possible that he just can't make it until you get home. Does he have a pet door?

I'm sure you've already thought about these things. I had a dog who started doing this after we brought a new baby in the house. The dog had such issues with the baby that she had to go (to a great home with no kids), but it was def. and emotional issue.

It sounds like you have maybe never gotten the basement completely clean and she can smell places she has gone before. Is there any way to block her out of the basement? If you block her out, will she go somewhere else in the house, or is she only going in the basement? I would try that first.

Sending her to a naughty corner when you get home will not have any affect. Yes, she may know she's done something bad, but it is too late to discipline her by the time you get home. IF you cannot block off the basement, or if she goes upstairs if you deny access to downstairs, I would consider crate-training. I would be happy to talk to you about crate training if you are not sure how to do it, so send me a PM. If it works correctly, you MAY be able to wean her off the crate so that she can go back to having free run of your house in the future.

On a side note, good for you for adopting a rescue dog! I have worked with animals rescues for over 10 years, both shelters and private rescues, and I have fostered dogs for years, as well. All three of my dogs (and both cats!) are rescues, and I would never get an animal any other way! Not all rescued pets need extra training or support, but when you adopt an abused dog, like an abused child, you get a special set of consequences. I wanted to thank you for opening your home and your heart to a dog that didn't get the best start in life. ^_^

anyway to close off the basement? If she went in the basement and never got punished, she will think it's okay to do it over there. Whenever our dog peed in the house, I would put his nose close to the stain and raise my voice and say NO and then lead him outside and say "go potty". I've never heard you can put a dog in a naughty corner (but heck, I learn something new everyday).

You can also buy an orange ball with a hole in in and put some dog food in that ball and let him roll it around to allow pieces of dog food to come out. It usually kept my dog busy for an hour or so.

Good luck.

There was a time when I was gone each day 13 hours due to work and commuting (I'm now a single mother with 15 mo. old twins). I trained my 2 dogs when they were puppies to go on newspapers with pads underneath and I set it up in the basement. I have always let them out and take walks with them (now with the kids, we're quite an entourage!) and though I no longer work those type of hours any more, I still use the newspaper thing as a back-up (i.e., if I have to go out for extended time, bad weather, middle of the night, etc.). I pick up the newspapers and pads and clean the floor each day.

Unless you catch her in the act, she doesn't know why she is being punished...as others have said, she may be upset when you come home, knowing she will be punished. You need to talk with your dog trainer, and perhaps do crate training..but not as a punishment. She needs to be walked more frequently, also...Doggy day care would be a great idea.

I have worked in the animal Business for 17 years, have had 3 dogs of my own with severe seperation anxiety. It's a hard one to overcome.
Can you close the basement door, the more room they have the more trouble they get into. Also she should really be crated, it would become her safe/secure place, she can have her bones in the crate with her, she would feel safe and stop going potty in your basement.
It did take one of my dogs weeks to get use to the crate, he lost 2 teeth, dewclaws etc, it was very difficult, he would even escape from the crate.
If I can help you in anyway just ask.
Good Luck

I agree with those that say to use a specail cleaner to make sure you get all of the smell out. When she goes is it solid or liquidy? We have an older dog who used to potty on the floor of our master bath. We always cleaned it, but he kept having issues. We took him to the vet and they said nothing was wrong. We ended up trying diffferent types of dog food, until we found one that didn't give him these issues. We also read the bag and limit his food intake to what is recommended for his weight. I think it was a mixture of the type of food and amount of food. He also gets very few table scraps now. The food that worked best for us was purina dog chow. It has a digestive health formula that includes lots of whole grains and things like that. Good Luck. I hope you find something that works. I know what it's like cleaning up dog messes all the time!

Our dog is also a rescue dog, and we went through the same issues for a while with "pottying" in the house anytime we were gone. The vet also diagnosed separation anxiety, and told us to crate him to give him a "secure place," as having the run of the house was too much for him when we were not there. This has worked beautifully for our dog; he willingly goes into his "house" when we need to leave, and he has never once pottied in his crate. The longer we have him, the more secure he seems to be that we will come back each time and that he is not going to be abandoned once again. He is like your dog ~ follows me around everywhere and just wants to be loved! Hang in there and just keep loving her ~ our rescue has been such a great addition to our family and gives so much love back to us! He just needed time to be sure he'd found his forever family! :)

I agree with others that she has no idea why you're punishing her when you come home. Punishment really only has any effect when they're caught in the act. Crating is a great idea--they feel secure there because it mimics a dog den. They rarely will soil their own environment. You can include a piece of your clothing so she has your scent when you're gone. Also, any chance you could afford a dog-walker in the middle of the day? Good luck!

Once you get rid of the smell (Nature's Miracle) train your dog to "go" on a piddle pad in the tub or shower - lock or gate off the basement so that is not an option. Once your dog learns to go somewhere that's easy to clean, you can skip the pads. Just flush the poops and rinse the tub/shower when you get home.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.