How to stop dogs peeing in the vehicle

You’ve bought a lovely new van, and kitted it out with crash-tested crates, it’s new, clean and shiny.

Then your first walk of the day has an entire, uncastrated male in the group who jumps in and immediately cocks his leg peeing not only in his own crate but across two more and down the side of your van’s interior.

If you’re using a car it’ll be even worse, soaking into the interior carpet, seats and floor.

Frustrating right?

But why does he do it and more importantly, how can you stop it from happening again?

Let’s look at how to stop dogs peeing in the vehicle.

Why do dogs pee in your van?

Medical causes.

A sudden change in peeing habits such as inappropriate urination or excessive urination can be a sign of a UTI (urinary tract infection) so if a regular client of yours has only just started doing this then it would be wise to let the owner know.

Ruling out any medical causes should always be the first step in trying to resolve a behaviour problem, especially if the change in behaviour has been sudden.


Occasionally anxiety may cause a dog to pee inappropriately however there will be some other signs to look out for in addition to the peeing.

Signs that a dog is anxious in the vehicle. 

  1. Reluctance to enter the vehicle
  2. Ears flat to the head whilst in the vehicle
  3. Head lowered and crouching whilst travelling
  4. Drooling or vomiting when travelling
  5. Pawing at the door or crate to get out

How to help an anxious dog

Speaking to the owners will help you understand if this is an issue for them as well, or if it’s specific to your vehicle.

There are several things that could be making the dog anxious about being in your vehicle.

  1. The vehicle itself. Is it different to the owner’s vehicle? Is yours a van and they have a car. Would the dog be calmer if they could see outside? 
  1. Containment. Do you have crates but the owner doesn’t use them? A dog not used to being crated might understandably become anxious, especially if he’s sliding about on the bottom. Find out how to line your dog crates.
  1. Other dogs. Is the sight or smell of the other dogs making this dog anxious? Have you tried collecting them first? Do they seem less anxious when entering an empty vehicle? Perhaps this dog might be more suited to a solo walk.
  1. Travel time. Is the length of travel making the dog anxious, perhaps they’re used to much shorter travel times with their owners. Try reducing the trip time by collecting them last, or trying a solo walk on one of your quiet days.
  1. Is it the walk? Does the dog enjoy the walk once the travelling is over or are they also anxious whilst they’re out with you and the other dogs? Perhaps try a solo walk, or a smaller group walk to see if that lowers their anxiety.


Similar to anxiety, over-excitement can cause a dog to inappropriately toilet.

When collecting the dog for their walk aim to keep the energy level low until you reach the start of the walk.

Be calm and relaxed whilst you collect and load the dog into the van, rather than firing them up with an excited voice and body language.

This can be difficult when a dog is so excited to see you so this might take practice from you both!

Try and ensure the dog has a quick wee before getting onto the van as well. Depending on the house’s location, this may mean letting them out into their back garden prior to taking them out for a walk. 


The majority of ‘van peeing’ culprits will be uncastrated young male dogs.

When a dog is uncastrated it will have the urge to ‘mark’ (a short wee with a cocked leg) in as many spots as possible for two reasons.

Firstly, it allows fertile mates to be aware that he is nearby by leaving his scent.

Second, over marking (peeing over another dog’s scent) ensures it’s his scent that the females smell and not his rivals.

So when a young male in this frame of mind enters your vehicle he will be aware of the scent of all the other dogs, male and female, and will instinctively ‘mark’ his territory.

This marking behaviour is a common complaint among home boarders also for the same reasons.

Unfortunately, this is the most difficult cause of peeing in your vehicle to resolve.

Even with an excellent hygiene and cleansing routine, we won’t be able to remove every trace of scent from the vehicle and, of course, as soon as we put one dog into the car the scent is added back.

Encouraging the dog to pee before getting into the vehicle is also unlikely to work as male dogs will pee in short bursts rather than emptying their bladders fully. So even if they pee before getting into the vehicle they’re still likely to mark once inside.

Management of territorial peeing.

With uncastrated dogs, the only thing we, as dog walkers, can really do is manage the area so that it becomes easier to clean up, or alternatively place the dog on a solo walk from the house without being transported anywhere.

Management options include;

Belly bands.

These are fabric wraps which are placed around the dog’s waist enclosing their penis and attached to itself with a velcro closure so that if they cock their leg to pee, the pee is absorbed into the fabric pad (like a nappy). The wrap is then removed and can be washed.

This keeps the vehicle clean but you’ll have the pee filled wraps to deal with and you’ll need two per dog, one for the trip from home and one for the return journey. 

You’ll also need somewhere to store the soiled wraps in the van and be happy to be putting them through your washing machine, or hand washing.

Waterproof Crates.

Another management option is to make the crate the dog is loaded into waterproof, enclosing any urine and making it easy to remove and hose out to clean it.

A fast but temporary measure would be to use a cheap tarp and cable tie it to the inside of a normal crate effectively lining the base and sides and leaving the top open for ventilation.

A longer-term option would be to upgrade the crate to the type used for airline travel which is commonly made from solid plastic with ventilation holes along the top of the sides.

This design would reduce any risk of pee escaping the crate, however, the crate would need to be removable in order to clean it and the dog may well stand in its own urine whilst in the crate.

How to clean dog pee.

In order to effectively remove the smell of another dog’s pee, and therefore reduce the likelihood of other dogs peeing in the same spot, the urine must be biologically broken down by an appropriate cleaner.

There are many options on the market to do this but all of them work in the same way a biological washing powder would which has been designed to remove bodily fluids and food deposits on clothing.

Using biological washing powder is also a much more cost-effective way to clean. Just mix a little powder/liquid with warm water.

Never be tempted to use bleach to clean. The smell that bleach has is from the ammonia content, and the smell you have with urine is from the ammonia content so bleach basically smells like pee to dogs.

Cleaning up with bleach will only encourage them to pee in the same spot time and time again despite the fact that you’ve cleaned it repeatedly with a bleach-based cleaner. 


Whatever the dog’s issue, and however you decide to tackle the problem, remember to be open and honest with the dog’s owners.


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