Dogs and cats make terrific pets. So what could be better than having a loving feline and an attentive canine companion in your home? But that doesn’t mean owning both does not come without its challenges. For instance, what do you do when your dog keeps peeing near your cat’s litter box? Is this a cause for concern and more importantly, what can you do to stop it from happening? Well, keep on reading and your questions will be answered.
So, why is my dog peeing near the cat litter box? Territorial behaviour is the most common reason for a dog peeing near your cat’s litter box. They may need some re-training to correct before the situation escalates. However, peeing near the litter box can also be caused by an underlying health condition. So, always seek the advice of a vet if you are concerned.
Ultimately, a lot is going to come down to the individual circumstances.
As such, you will need to ask yourself questions, like:
- How long have your had your dog?
- How long have you had your cat?
- Have you recently attempted to introduce them?
Those will help identify if its territorial behaviour, or a medical issue.
For instance, if owning both pets is a relatively recent development, chances are its territorial behaviour.
But if this has come out of the blue – it’s more likely to be medical.
So with this in mind let’s continue to explore these potential causes, before turning to some things to try to help resolve it!
- 1 Why Is My Dog Peeing Next To The Litter Box?
- 2 What To Do When You Catch Your Dog Peeing Next To The Litter Box
- 3 How To Stop Your Dog From Peeing Near The Cat Litter Box
- 4 Finally
Why Is My Dog Peeing Next To The Litter Box?
The main cause of a dog peeing next to your cat’s litter box is territorial behavior. Dogs and cats are both territorial by nature, which can lead to competition and dominance displays in the home. In the wild, dogs fight for the best territory with the most valuable resources, including hunting grounds, shelter, water sources, and toilet spots.
As A Display Of Dominance
Despite the fact that dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, this instinct still runs strong.
It’s particularly prevalent in certain breeds such as German Shepherds and Dobermans because they have been bred specifically to be guard dogs.
Displays of dominance can vary widely, but common signs include:
- Excessive barking
- Urine marking (including around your cats’ litter box)
- Aggressively guarding toys, food, and other favored items
It’s worth mentioning, that if your dog starts to display aggressive behaviors towards any family member, stranger, or another pet, you should separate them immediately.
If these behaviors persist, you may need to seek advice from your local vet or animal behaviorist.
In Response To Anxiety
Territorial behavior can also be caused by anxiety.
If your cat and dog don’t particularly get along, your dog may start peeing by the litter box to cover the scent of your feline companion.
Scent is an incredibly important sense in both cats and dogs.
You will probably have witnessed your dog sniffing the behind of another dog when out on a walk.
This simple act can tell a dog about the identity of another, including their age, gender, health, mood, and whether they have met before.
Both dogs and cats can get the same information from poop and urine.
Both species will of course pee when they need to!
But they will also mark areas with a small amount of potent urine to say ‘this is my territory’. Any other individual that passes this area will immediately pick up the scent.
So, by urinating right next to your cat’s litter box, your dog is trying to replace your kitty’s scent with his own.
Both cats and dogs can suffer from anxiety, stress, and even depression in a very similar way to humans.
However, whereas we would curl up with a cup of tea and a soppy film, dogs and cats comfort themselves by establishing a safe territory, which includes urine marking.
If your dog suffers from anxiety, you may notice some of these other symptoms too:
- Repeated lip-licking
- Unusual and unprovoked aggression
- Ears facing backward
- Tail held low or tucked underneath the body
- Lowered body posture
- Constant yawning
- Pacing and panting
Underlying Health Issues
Alternatively, especially if your dog has only recently started urinating in unwanted places, he may be suffering from an underlying health condition.
Bacterial urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common infectious diseases in dogs, affecting up to 14% of all canines.
This occurs when bacteria get passed the usual biological defenses and travel up the urethra.
Symptoms of a UTI include:
- Cloudy urine
- Straining or whimpering when attempting to urinate
- Repeated toileting accidents
- Constantly licking the genitals
Luckily, urinary tract infections are fairly easy to treat if you catch them early.
However, your veterinarian will probably want to run additional tests to rule out more serious conditions such as a kidney infection or certain types of cancer.
If you notice blood in the urine, you must contact your vet immediately.
What To Do When You Catch Your Dog Peeing Next To The Litter Box
If you catch your dog peeing near your cat’s litter box, the first step is to identify the cause of the behavior. Then, you can begin to resolve the issue with training or veterinary assistance.
NEVER scold your dog for inappropriate toileting as this will just make the situation worse. In fact, it’s more likely to cause your dog to become withdrawn and anxious.
Remember, all animals perform behaviors for a reason, so it is up to you as the owner to work out what’s wrong.
Watch Them Closely
One way you can begin to determine the cause of your dog’s inappropriate toileting is to watch them. This may sound odd but it works!
- Is your dog straining or whimpering when peeing near your cat’s litter box? This could indicate an infection
- Is there a lot of urine or just a tiny amount? Does your dog always pee in the same place, particularly after you have cleaned it? These circumstances suggest territorial marking.
- Is your dog more withdrawn of late? Or does he appear nervous around your cat? This could suggest anxiety or stress.
Remove The Scent
Once you have determined the cause, you can then move on to trying to fix the problem.
If the behavior is frequently performed, then it is always best to seek the advice of a vet to rule out any potential medical issues.
Be aware, that your cat may refuse to pee in the litter box if the area always smells of dog urine.
This can lead to a whole host of other issues!
For this reason, you will need to ensure you clean the ‘accident’ thoroughly to remove any trace of the scent.
Remember, dogs and cats have an incredibly acute sense of smell compared to humans.
So, even if we can’t smell it, it doesn’t mean they can’t! Let me put this into context for you.
Humans have roughly 5 million olfactory sensors in their noses, whereas cats have up to 80 million. Dogs are even more impressive, with 150-300 million olfactory sensors!
One cheap and effective way to remove the scent is to make a concoction of one-half water and one-half white vinegar.
Once you have wiped up the urine, spray this solution onto the area and leave for 5-10 minutes.
Then wipe it off with a towel or cloth.
You can also purchase enzymatic cleaners which are designed to break down urine particles.
By removing the scent completely, you are not only making your cat feel safe, but you are also discouraging your dog from peeing in the same spot again.
Be wary of using products that contain bleach or other harsh chemicals as they are toxic to cats and dogs.
You will also want to avoid using citrus-scented cleaning products because both species hate citrus.
It may well keep your dog away from the cats’ litter tray but it will probably keep your cat away too!
How To Stop Your Dog From Peeing Near The Cat Litter Box
There are numerous ways you can stop your dog peeing near your cat’s litter box once you have determined the cause. Many of these options involve re-training your dog (if the cause is not medical-related). Let’s run through the main ones now:
Indoor Doggie Lawns
These are a great solution to inappropriate toileting behaviors in dogs, as long as you are willing to put in the effort.
They are highly absorbent and protect your floors from any nasty odors.
Simply place a lawn next to your cat’s litter tray (or wherever your dog tends to pee the most).
When your dog urinates on the lawn, offer a reward in the form of treats or fuss.
After a few days, start moving the lawn away from the litter box and treat him whenever he pees on it.
Eventually, you will be able to move the lawn to a suitable toileting area.
If your dog continues to pee near your cat’s litter box, despite moving the pad, just go back a step and try again.
These lawns provide an indoor place for a dog to go and can be used indefinitely. They are ideal if you need to spend long periods of time out of the house and are designed to be hygienic, odor-minimizing and practical.
Spay/Neuter Your Dog
Both cats and dogs are more likely to urine mark if they have not been neutered. This procedure will also reduce other unwanted behaviors such as aggression.
Most vets will recommend you spay or neuter your dog between 6-9 months of age.
However, smaller breeds will mature much sooner (around 4-5 months), so it’s best to seek the advice of a professional if you are unsure.
Clean Your Cat’s Litter Box Frequently
If there is no poop or urine present, your dog is less likely to pee near the litter box. Some dogs may even attempt to eat your cats’ poop (known as coprophagy) in an attempt to remove the scent – not a nice thing to deal with!
So, by cleaning the litter tray immediately after your cat has used it, you will be reducing the risk of your dog being tempted.
In the beginning, you may need to clean up several times a day but your time will be worth it in the end!
Change The Environment
Introducing changes can break bad habits in dogs. Just make sure you don’t change everything as this can lead to anxiety.
Try setting up a personal space for each of your pets and make it as enticing as possible.
For your dog, set up a room with a comfy bed, his favorite toys, and any other desirable items.
You can also place a litter tray or puppy pads in the room but make sure they are not too close to food and water bowls.
For your cat, set up a separate room with a cat tree, toys, food and water, a snuggly bed, and a litter tray.
This will prevent competition between your furry companions.
Increase The Frequency Of Your Dog’s Outside Toilet Breaks
Learn to recognize the signs that your dog needs to relieve himself. Then immediately grab the lead or open the back door (if your garden is enclosed) and take your dog outside.
Do this every time and your dog will eventually get the message, especially if you treat him.
Signs to watch out for include:
- Sniffing the floor repeatedly whilst circling
Shift Your Dogs Attention
If you can catch them before they are about to go, divert their attention to something else.
Toys can be invaluable here
Keep Your Dog Away From The Cat Litter Box
If all else fails, you can simply restrict your dog’s access to your cat’s litter tray.
This can be done with the use of a dog gate or you can even place your cat’s litter tray up high on a suitable shelf.
Cats love to be in elevated positions because it helps them feel safe.
Whether the behavior is territorial or the result of an underlying health issue, there are ways to stop your dog from peeing next to your cat’s litter box.
If you notice that your pets are not getting along, you may even need to re-introduce them slowly by separating them and starting from scratch with short, supervised meetings.
However, if you put in the effort and with some consistency, you should find that this behaviour becomes a thing of the not-so hygienic and unsightly past!
Check out my other related articles and guides:
- Why Has My Dog Started Marking In The House?
- Why Does My Dog Pee In The House After Going Outside?
- Why Does My Dog Drink His Pee?
- Should I Carry My Puppy Out To Pee?
- How Long Can A Puppy Hold Its Pee?
- Why Does My Dog Nudge My Cat With His Nose?
- Why Do Dogs Attack Cats?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.