Bringing home a new dog is tons of fun! But those first few weeks can be quite the hassle. Both you and your pup have to get used to life with each other. For most puppies, this means learning where they should – and should – not pee!
You'll lose the rose-colored glasses of puppyhood fast if your house starts to smell like a kennel. Some dogs just don't know where they are supposed “go.” Others are trying to claim various possessions by sprinkling them with their signature scent. Either way, you're probably going to want your pooch to not pee in your house.
Teaching canines to only pee outside is called “housebreaking.” It's pretty standard for puppies to learn this hygienic habit, but sometimes an older dog will have to learn it too. This is often the case of rescue dogs, or dogs who have lived their entire life outdoors.
The goal is to help your four-legged friend understand that peeing should only happen when the dog is out of the house. Eventually, you can even train your dog to pee on command! But you've got to crawl before you run. Most pups will need to start at the very beginning of housebreaking. And the whole process may take several months to perfect!
To help you on your puppy-potty-training journey, you're going to need a few things. Below are a few essentials to help get the job done.
It's important to mention that in rare cases, your pooch might be peeing inside because of a health problem. Take the dog in for a check-up to be sure all is well.
Following are some of the best tried and true ways to teach your dog to keep the urine on the grass and off of the carpets. No matter which one you choose, remember that consistency is key!
Bentley has been trained to go outside or use a pee pad when it's cold out but when he gets scared he'll do his business in the house. This usually happens during thunderstorms and we won't notice the spot until much later. How do we calm his anxiety so he's not peeing in the house? And how do we let him know it's wrong to do so even when he's scared?
Hello Ashley, Thunderstorm phobia is unfortunately a common problem for many dogs. To help him remember to not pee in the house I would begin by making him a safe enclosed area in the house, where he can feel secure and have a potty area on the pee pad close by. Many dogs feel safe in closets or bathrooms or inside of their crates during storms. Pay attention to where he tends to go when scared and if possible set up an area for him there that includes a pee pad, a bed, and something he can hide under, such as a crate with a blanket over it, a cardboard box, or a piece of furniture. Keep this area separated from the rest of the house so that he is less likely to eliminate in other places that are further from the pee pad when you cannot pay attention to him. When you are with him you can distract him from his fears by playing with him or having him perform his tricks for food, if he is food motivated. It is important to act confident, calm, and happy around him when it is storming, pitying him or acting angry can encourage him to be more afraid. Once he is acting happier and more relaxed, take him to his pee pad and encourage him to go, if he does give him another treat or play a game. Pay attention to how long it has been since he has eliminated last and if enough time has passed then take him to his pee pad area again and encourage him to go and reward him. You may need to help him relax right before with training rewards and play. If you work on telling him "Go potty" every time you take him to the bathroom when it is not storming, and reward him for going then, then you can use that phrase when he is on the pee pad during a storm to remind him what to do then. Some people also find success using the Thundershirts for dogs, or talking to their veterinarian about medication that can be used during a storm for severe anxiety, or by getting a dog use to the sounds of thunder gradually ahead of time by playing a recording of a storm very quietly and rewarding with play or treats and very gradually increasing the volume over time if the dog is relaxed. I hope Bentley feels better during storms! Caitlin Crittenden
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I work Monday through Friday 8-5 and am having a hard potty training my dog. I don't have consistent help at having someone to him out on the daily. Also, every time he gets super excited(often) or if he's scared, he'll unrinate..
Hello Zak, At four months Parker is struggling because he is only able to physically hold his bladder for about five hours during the day, and that is assuming that he completely understands that he is supposed to hold it while inside, which he may not. A general rule of thumb is that puppies can hold their bladder for as many hours as they are months in age plus one. So being four months old, Parker can hold it four hours plus one, equaling five hours. Because of this, the only way for him to learn at this age is for him to be taken out before he reaches five hours. Dogs naturally will try to keep their crates clean if the crate is small enough that they cannot eliminate in one end and then hang out in the other end without touching the poop or pee. After dogs have been forced to eliminate in their crates too many times many dogs will loose that instinct to hold their bladders while in their crates. If that has already happened then potty training will take longer, if it has not happen yet it is essential that you hire someone like a dog walker to let him out to go potty midday to prevent that from happening. If he is crated with an interesting chew toy such as a kibble and peanut butter stuffed Kong that has been frozen overnight, then he can self entertain and sleep in his crate throughout the day, and will likely attempt to hold his bladder until the dog walker takes him to go potty. This will encourage him to only go outside. He needs to build a habit of peeing outdoors. The more successes he has outside and the less accidents he has inside, the quicker potty training will go. Crate training and finding someone to let him out will be the quickest way to train him, the other option is to teach him to potty in a designated area inside and then transfer that area outside later, when he can hold his bladder for longer. Since I am guessing he is a small dog, you can use an exercise pen, also called an X-pen, set up in a circle somewhere without carpet, such as a kitchen or large bathroom. Connect his crate to the X-pen wall securely so that he can go in and out of his crate from inside of the X-pen, or place his entire crate inside the X-pen if it will not connect securely. Now create an elimination area inside of the X-pen, away from the crate. For a dog this size I actually recommend using an open cat litter box with a layer of grass sod or kitty litter or other natural, but non toxic, material that can mimic the outdoors but be scooped or changed as needed. You can also place a puppy pee pad in there. Pee pads work well for attracting a dog to that area to eliminate but do be aware that because of the material that pee pads are made of some dogs will also learn to eliminate on other fabric type material such as door mats or even carpet. This is not all dogs but there is the risk. When you are home, work on walking Oliver on leash over to his X-pen toilet area at a time when he is likely to go. Puppies typically need to go if it has been a couple of hours since they last eliminated, if they have just woken up, if they have been playing or getting excited, have just finished eating or dranking water, or just finished exercising. After he has just woken up from a long nap in the crate that would be a likely time. When you have directed him to the area on leash gently, then tell him "go potty" while he is standing there, and give him time to sniff around. If he goes then praise him and offer him three tiny but tasty treats, one at a time. If he does not go, place him back in the crate and try again in thirty minutes. Repeat this process until he goes there. You can also further encourage him to go by spraying a special spray that smells like urine onto the bottom of the toilet area right before taking him over or placing one of his own small feces from outside, to make the area smell like a toilet to him. It sounds gross but it can really help until he learns. Most large pet stores will carry the spray, you can ask the store clerk where to find it. Once he is regularly eliminating there, then when he is older gradually move his toileting area closer and closer to where you want him to be eliminating outside, until you can remove it entirely. After he learns to go in his potty area, then any time when you are home do still take him outside on leash to eliminate so that he will be learning that as well to help the transition later on be easier. When you take him outside, repeat the same things you did to teach him to eliminate in his potty area. Lead him to where you would like him to go on leash, to prevent him from becoming distracted, tell him "go potty" to teach him to go on cue, and when he goes praise him and deliver three small treats, one at a time. It will help to keep a container of small treats by your exit door, so that you can grab some every time you take him outside while teaching him. For the peeing while excited or scared. That is what is called excited or submissive peeing. Many young dogs go through a period where they will do that. The best thing to do is to come in the house very calmly and ignore him until he has calmed down. Take him potty without speaking to him or getting excited and then once he has gone potty and calmed down then you can love on him and say hello. Many dogs will grow out of this behavior if you can prevent it from turning into a habit. To prevent that, you simply help him remain calm during times when you know it will be hard for him to hold his bladder, such as after you have been gone all day and he is excited to see you and his bladder is full. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Since we’ve had June, she’ll sneak off and do her business in the house before we even realize it.
When we adopted her, she had been returned to the shelter twice. We are guessing that she was never trained in peeing in a proper spot (outdoors). We were hoping she’d eventually learn but it seems maybe once a week she’ll pee and or poop in the dining room (which I have told my parents needs to be closed off).
At this point I don’t know what to do.
Hello Dianne, you are probably right that June was never taught to pee outside. She could have also been improperly taught to pee on puppy pee pads, but it was not done correctly so she associates peeing with the indoors. I would treat her like a puppy that has never been housebroken. First you will need to clean all of the areas that she has previously eliminated on with a pet specific enzymatic cleaner. Look on the bottle and make sure that it says that it contains enzymes, because it is the enzymes that actually break down the protein in the poop and pee that the dog can smell even when we humans cannot. Also be sure to avoid any cleaners containing ammonia because ammonia smells like urine to a dog, and can actually encourage them to eliminate in the cleansed spot again. Once things have been cleansed, create a small enclosed area for June to be in whenever she cannot be completely supervised. A crate is the best place because it will utilize a dog's instincts to hold their bladders while in their den. The crate will need to be small enough that she cannot eliminate in one end and sleep in the other. but large enough that she can stand up and turn around comfortably. If you have a large crate already, you can block off part of it the make it the correct size. An exercise pen with a crate inside or a small room like a gated off bathroom without any rugs or carpeting may work if she tends to hold it in areas that size also. While she is in this space you can provide her with puzzle toys with kibble inside or with Kong chew-toys stuffed with food to keep her entertained. She will need to be taken to go outside very often at first, as often as every two hours if someone is home with her and able to supervise her completely while she is loose in the house. While crated she may be able to hold it for as long as five or six hours, but the more times that she successfully eliminates outside, the quicker this process is likely to go. When you take her outside, take her on a leash to an area where she has eliminated in the past so that the smell will encourage her to go. Tell her "Go Potty" or a similar simple word or phrase that she will learn to associate with going. Stand still and give her time to sniff around and think about what to do. If she just sits, then you can take a couple of steps every time she does it to get her interest again, but then stand still again and let her sniff. If she goes, praise her enthusiastically as soon as the finishes and offer her four tiny but flavorful treats, one at a time. Taking her on leash will help her to not get distracted while outside. Once she has eliminated she can go play if you would like, but not before. If she does not eliminate while you are out there after seven minutes, then bring her back inside and put her in her small area for forty five minutes. After forty five minutes try taking her outside again. Repeat this until she eliminates outside. If you try to enclose her in the small room or exercise pen instead of a crate, but find that she eliminates there too, then she will have to be in a crate for this to work. You can experiment though. The idea is to teach her that eliminating outside is very fun while also teaching her to hold it while inside by utilizing her instincts to keep her den area clean. The more times that she eliminates outside and less times that she eliminates inside, the quicker the process will go. It takes several times of eliminating outside to make up for one mistake inside, so if you do not feel like you can be vigilant watching her while she is loose in the house and taking her out every two hours, then either utilize the crate or have her on a leash that is attached to you so that she cannot sneak off while she is learning. Many dogs prefer eliminating on rugs and carpeting because it is absorbent so be especially vigilant around those. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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So I’m convinced my dogs aren’t very intelligent, I was always told dogs aren’t supposed to potty where they sleep “lay” well my dogs don’t seem to care they will poop and pee on themselves with no care in the world so kennel training has been completely horrible So we’ve tried puppy pads they chew them up I’ve tried feeding and watering them around the same time every day and not feeding or watering them after a certain time long story short I can not seem to potty train. My dogs at all I will take them outside FOR HOURS and the moment we come back in literally they will have a accident
Hello Stormy, Did your puppies come from somewhere where they were kept in a kennel or crate a lot? When a puppy or dog is kept in a confined space for longer than she can hold her bladder or bowel movement for, then she is forced to eliminate there and over time will loose the desire to hold it in such spaces. It's possible that was the case with your puppies before they came to you or there are also rare dogs that simply do not care. It sounds like you have tried most of the usual things, so I have a couple of more creative suggestions that you may need to try. For the first suggestion, they will need to wear what basically amounts to doggy diapers while indoors. This will hopefully take away the comfort of peeing inside and remove the continual smell they are adding to everything, and will break the habit of eliminating on items in your house. You can buy Belly Bands for boys and menstrual cycle diapers for girls, and place doggie feminine pads, which can be purchased at the pet store, inside, or you can even use human Maxie type pads for absorption. You can buy both disposable and cloth versions, your dogs will probably be less likely to eat the cloth type and it will save you money. At first you may need to have them wear Elizabethan collars to prevent them from tearing the diapers up. With your dogs outfitted, you will need to get a good pet odor eliminating spray. It needs to say that it contains enzymes. The enzymes are what break down the poop and pee enough for the dog to not be able to smell it. If your dog can smell it, the smell will encourage your dog to eliminate where the smell is over and over again. You will also need to take your dogs outside to potty as frequently as possible, ideally every hour and a half while teaching this, if you have that option. Be sure to take off the diapers and Elizabethan collars and to walk them on leash to a soft, ideally grass, spot. When one of them goes potty outside offer five treats, one at a time. The more accidents that you can prevent inside and the more that you can reward outside, the quicker your dogs will become potty trained. The second option that you can try is another type of indoor potty that resembles the outside environment more. To create this, enclosed your puppies in an exercise pen or very small room with a baby gate at the entrance, such as a half bathroom. Set up a no chew, non absorbent bed area. I recommend purchasing PrimoPads online, or something similar, for this. Then, on the opposite end of the enclosure, place a doggie toilet. You can either create a toiet out of a wooden or plastic box with a piece of sod grass wedged tightly inside, or you can try using a litter box with cat litter in it to train them. You will need to use an open top type litter box. You can also purchase spray that smells like pee to a dog. If you spray this spray onto the toilet area it will encourage your dog to go there. If you catch your dogs using the toilet area offer them a treat and gently praise them. Be careful not to startle them though. Once they are toilet trained in that area, if you do not want a doggie toilet to remain in your home you can gradually move their enclosed area closer to the door to outside, and then move the actual toilet gradually outside, and then deconstruct the toilet until your dogs are doing their business on the ground outside. If you have ever watched one of those movies where a dog owner, with a notoriously hard to housebreak dog, ends up getting their dog to pee outside by gradually transferring the dog's favorite peeing chair or pillow to a grassy spot outside, it's a bit of the same idea, as goofy as it may seem. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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