How to Train Your Dog to Not Pee in the House

Medium
1-12 Weeks
General

Introduction

Your dog is the center of your world, which is just as well because he has an annoying habit of peeing indoors. You are devoted to your pet pal and are therefore prepared to put up with soggy carpets and the unpleasant odor. However, not all owners are so dedicated. Indeed, house soiling is a major reason dogs are given up to shelters or rescues. 

Most dogs can be toilet trained, it just takes some longer than others. Be prepared to be patient and to dedicate several days of concentrated attention to training the dog. Remember, some learn faster than others and some dogs have deeply ingrained bad habits which need to be unlearned.
If yours is an adult dog with bad habits, it's a good idea to get him first checked by a vet to ensure there's no medical reason for his antisocial behavior. 

Defining Tasks

Whether toilet training a puppy from scratch or retraining an adult dog with bad habits,  it's important to send out a consistent message to the dog about his expected behavior. When teaching a dog not to pee in the house, you need to teach him where it is OK to toilet. This is best done by reducing his opportunities to relieve himself in the wrong place, along with rewarding him for going outside. 

It is never appropriate to punish a dog for urinating indoors. While this might serve to give you temporary satisfaction, it will only confuse the dog and make him more devious and secretive about his toilet habits. In truth, it's best to know where he pees, (so you can clean it up) rather than have a dog who secretly goes behind the sofa. 
Ultimately, once the dog learns to go outside, you can use a cue word. This is extra helpful as it puts toileting on command, which is great on a wet windy night when you don't want to stand outside forever while the dog thinks about toileting. 

Getting Started

You need to dedicate time to toilet training, so it may be worth booking some time off work. This means you can be utterly consistent in the message given to the dog, as to where he is allowed to toilet, which speeds up training. 

You'll also need: 

  • A crate
  • Treats
  • A collar and leash
  • Food and water bowls
  • Biological washing powder, bicarbonate of soda, and washing materials. 

The Crate Train Method

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Step
1
Understand the idea
A crate is the dog's equivalent of a den. Instinctively, dogs are reluctant to soil their own den as it alerts predators to their presence. By confining the dog when you aren't there to supervise toileting, you can prevent indoor accidents and be there to reward him for peeing outdoors.
Step
2
Select the right crate size
The crate must be big enough for the dog to stand in without banging his head, and to lie down with legs extended. However, it shouldn't be so large that the dog has a spare corner in which to toilet. Sit the crate in a quiet corner of a room, where the dog can feel part of family life but rest undisturbed.
Step
3
Seed the crate with treats
Leaving the crate door open, hide treats or a favorite toy inside the crate. As the dog learns their are goodies inside, he will investigate regularly.
Step
4
Feed inside the crate
Give the dog his meals inside the crate, so that yet another positive association is made. When the dog is eating, quietly close the crate door for a second, then open it again.
Step
5
Extend the time the door is closed
Slowly leave the door closed for longer, gradually extending the interval before you open it again. However, only open the door when the dog is quiet (rewarding his calm behavior) and ignore his cries.
Step
6
Practice crate time
Once the dog is happy with the door closed, leave the room briefly. Return and let the dog out only when quiet. Extend the amount of time he is left alone.
Step
7
Understand where crate training fits into Toilet Training
When confined to the crate, the dog doesn't have the opportunity to pee in the house. This allows you to take the dog straight outside to the toilet spot, and reward him for peeing outdoors. Avoid leaving the dog crated for long periods of time. Instead, when you're home have the dog on a leash attached to your wrist so you can spot and interrupt pre-peeing behaviors.
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The Reward Outdoor Toileting Method

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Step
1
Understand the idea
Successful toilet training teaches the dog where it's appropriate to pee, rather than punishing him for going in the wrong place (indoors.) Reward the dog when he pees in the right place outdoors, and he'll become keen to hold his bladder in the house, in order to 'spend' his pee outside to earn a treat.
Step
2
Find a treat the dog loves
Offer the dog a selection of treats, until you find one that motivates and excites him. You'll be using this treat as motivation for him to do what you ask.
Step
3
Identify a toilet spot
Chose a location close to the house, which is sheltered from wind and rain, and preferably near to a landmark (such as a tree or bush) to make it easy for the dog to recognize.
Step
4
Show the dog to the toilet spot
With the dog on a leash (so he doesn't get distracted) take him to the toilet spot. Choose a time he needs to relieve himself, such as first thing in the morning or after a period of crate confinement. Ignore the dog so you don't distract him. If he happens to urinate, then give lots of praise and a treat. Give him 5 - 10 minutes to decide if he needs to pee or not. Do not leave him outside unattended or you won't be there to reward him when he goes.
Step
5
Add a cue command
Once the dog is regularly peeing in the right place, as a cue word such as "Toilet", "Get Busy" or the like. The idea is to teach the dog that when he hears that cue word if he urinates, he gets a treat. The dog should then start holding on in order to earn a reward.
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The Lack of Opportunity Method

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Step
1
Understand the power of habits
Unfortunately, peeing in the wrong place is habit forming. Therefore a crucial part of teaching him not to pee in the house is to break the habit. This is done by removing any lingering odors, preventing the opportunity to pee, and making his chosen illicit spot unattractive as a toilet.
Step
2
Deodorize the indoor pee-place
Locate all previous indoor toilets using a black light. Blot up any lingering moisture with paper towel. Test all surfaces for color-fastness then use a solution of biological washing powder to scrub clean the 'spill'. Rinse and blot. Now wash over with a solution of bicarbonate of soda, rinse and blot. For wipeable surfaces, finish by wiping over with rubbing alcohol. Repeat this protocol daily, for 2 - 3 weeks, in order to be sure of removing any odor detectable to a dog's super-sensitive nose.
Step
3
Cover the indoor pee-place
Make the indoor pee-spot inaccessible. Cover with tin foil or place the dog's food bowl there. This makes it less attractive as somewhere to toilet.
Step
4
Supervise at all times
Keep the dog under supervision at all times he is outside the crate. Have him wear a collar and leash, and attach the leash to your wrist. This allows you to monitor the dog constantly and prevents him disappearing for a sneaky pee.
Step
5
Wise up to warning signs
Learn to read the dog's body language so you can predict when he's about to pee indoors. Most dogs sniff in a certain way and then move alongside a piece of furniture or go to a favorite spot ahead of peeing. When you recognize this you can interrupt the dog and take him outdoors so he goes in the appropriate place and avoids an indoor event.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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