How to Train Your Dog to Not Pee on the Rug

Hard
1-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

It's not the nicest rug in the world, but you like it. So, apparently, does the dog--but for different reasons. 

At first, it was an inconvenience; stepping on a damp patch first thing in the morning. But he keeps going back to the same spot and peeing, despite your best efforts to clean the area. 

The whole situation is very frustrating. Not least because you work hard at getting rid of the smell, but a friend told you that the cleaning fluid contains bleach and is heightening the urine smell to the dog. 

If you can't punish the dog and shouldn't use household cleaners, then exactly how do you end this anti-social habit?

Defining Tasks

Unfortunately, peeing in the wrong place (such as a rug) is habit forming. This is because urine contains a number of scent markers that are highly attractive to dogs and mark the place as an area of interest. Continued peeing keeps the signals fresh and will repeatedly draw the dog back to re-offend. 

Therefore, it's crucial to develop a strategy that involves retraining the dog as to where the correct place to go to the toilet is, alongside a rigorous deodorization of the area. Even then, this requires considerable dedication and patience, if you are to win out in the end. 

Tempting as it is, never punish the dog. This is liable to make matters worse, rather than better, and damage your relationship to boot. 

Getting Started

Be prepared for the long haul when teaching a dog not to pee on a rug. How long he takes to drop the habit will depend on how well established it is, and how consistently you apply the rules. You will need a variety of cleaning equipment and props, such as:

  • Paper towel
  • Tin foil
  • Biological washing detergent
  • Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • Food and water bowls.
  • A collar and leash

The Remove Markers Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Understand the idea
To a dog, scent is a powerful means of leaving messages. Their pee is especially potent as it can warn other dogs that this patch is already taken or it can comfort an insecure dog because he's marked the area as his own. In addition, a strong urine smell marks an area out as a toilet, which draws the dog back, as he believes it's the right place to go. Getting rid of any lingering odor is therefore critical to successfully training a dog not to pee in a particular place.
Step
2
Blot up fresh spills
If your dog has done a fresh pee, mop up the wet using disposable paper towels. It is best to use a disposable product, since the smell can linger in sponges or clothes, even after washing.
Step
3
Wash with biological washing powder
To clean up the area, first test an inconspicuous part of the rug with the cleaning solution to make sure it is colorfast. Use a solution of biological washing detergent and work it well into the rug, then rinse well with clean water. Repeat this as many times as necessary until the water comes away clear.
Step
4
Now rinse with bicarbonate of soda
Once the area is cleaned, apply a solution of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). This is a great deodorizer and can help neutralize any odors that aren't detectable with the human nose, but are to your dog. Work this solution in well and then rinse, as before, with clean water until you are convinced the area is totally clean.
Step
5
Dry the area
Blot up excess moisture and if the weather is cold and the rug risks remaining wet for a long time, use a hair dryer on a warm setting to speed up the drying process.
Step
6
Repeat daily!
Expert behaviorists advise the only way to be sure of getting rid of the odor is to clean using the method above, once a day for two to three weeks. This extreme is because of the dog's sensitivity to smells, which can detect lingering urine markers way beyond basic cleaning.
Recommend training method?

The Discourage Rug Use Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
A wider strategy
Preventing a dog going back to a favorite (but inappropriate) spot requires a multi-faceted approach with thorough deodorization, making the area less attractive to pee on, and potty training the dog to go in the correct place.
Step
2
Caught in the act
If you catch the dog in the act of urinating on the rug, do NOT punish him. However, it's fine to screech or squeal or make some alarming noise that interupts his train of thought and stops him mid flow. Then grab his collar and whisk him straight outdoors to the place where you do want him to urinate.
Step
3
Don't punish
Never punish him during or after he pees on the rug. The dog won't link the punishment to the rug, but to you, which will make him more secretive and he'll probably hang on until you leave the room to pee on the rug.
Step
4
Make the rug less attractive
Dogs are less likely to pee on surfaces that splash back. Although it will look a little odd (it's a price worth paying), cover the rug in tin foil while you are retraining the dog.
Step
5
Use dog psychology
Dogs are less likely to soil in places where they eat. Again, in the short term while you break the dog of the habit, try putting his food and water bowls on the rug. He'll be much less likely to foul close to important resources such as food.
Recommend training method?

The Beef Up Basics Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Take stock of the situation
Assess why it is the dog is soiling the rug. Review his potty training and see if he has slipped into bad habits (he's stopped asking to go out) or is he being asked to hold on for too long between comfort breaks and therefore chosen his own spot? The latter is easily sorted by setting yourself a reminder on your phone to let the dog out every couple of hours or so, and then praising him when he does pee outside.
Step
2
Constant vigilance
Keep the dog under your watchful eye at all times. Keep him on a leash attached to your wrist and if he makes to go toward the rug, then take him straight outside. Praise him when he then pees in the right place.
Step
3
Crate train
Cut down on his opportunity to soil the rug when you can't be there to watch him, by crate training. Only confine him to the crate when he is happy to go inside, and don't abuse the crate by keeping him in it for hours on end.
Step
4
Comfort breaks
Give the dog plenty of comfort breaks. Hot spots for wanting to wee are immediately after waking, after eating, and every few hours. Therefore make a point of taking the dog out when he wakes, after meals, and every couple of hours.
Step
5
Stay and praise
When the dog goes outside, stay with him so you are there when he toilets and can praise him. When he gets rewards for peeing in the right place, he'll start to hold on so that he can pee in the right place and earn a tasty treat. This, along with making the rug less attractive as a toilet, should sort the problem.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Pippa Elliott

Published: 02/08/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Sage
Mutt
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sage
Mutt
7 Months

Sage will only pee inside on the rug. She will not leave the porch to go potty and won’t go to the bathroom on walks. Before adopting her she was kept as a backyard dog and was never potty trained.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kimber, First, when you take pup potty outside, I would take pup on a 20-30 foot long leash so pup can wander a bit away from you in a safe car-free area to go. Pup may not be comfortable going in front of someone or on a leash due to their past. The long leash can make pup feel like they are off-leash nd have more privacy. When pup is going, tell pup "Go Potty" calmly, then when pup finishes, toss a couple of treats over to pup, large enough for pup to find on the ground, to help pup associate going potty around you with good things. Once pup is comfortable going potty that way and going more quickly when you take them outside, over several weeks, gradually coil up your leash, one foot at a time, until the leash is as short as a six foot leash and you can transition back to a normal length leash again. I would also spend some time simply sitting outside with pup calmly or training with treats or playing with pup outside in a calm area if pup will play, to help pup get used to the area outside, in case pup is refusing to go due to nervousness or distraction while outside in that new area. When you take pup potty and pup won't go within 15-20 minutes, bring pup back inside and crate pup for 1 hour, then take pup back outside to try again, repeat this every hour until pup finally goes potty outside. Once pup goes potty outside, you can give pup three hours of supervised freedom in the home, less if pup has an accident sooner than 3 hours, before starting the process of taking pup out and crating if they don't go, until they finally go potty again when you take them. If you reward pup for going potty, are consistent with not giving freedom unless pup's bladder is empty, and stick to a schedule most dogs will get to the point within a few days where they will go potty more quickly when you take them out, but that initial process might be a whole lot of waiting, crating, and taking pup potty until pup finally starts going potty outside. Remove ALL access to the carpet and rugs unless pup's bladder is empty right now in order to make progress. Check out the article I have linked below and the crate training method. This method was written for younger puppies so the times can be adjusted to what I have listed above, but you will find more details on taking pup potty, tips like using a potty encouraging spray, keeping pup slowly moving around, and when to anticipate pup needing to poop. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Surprise method for crate training if pup isn't used to the crate yet. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Chester
Toy Poddle x Mini Foxi
6 Years
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Question
0 found helpful
Chester
Toy Poddle x Mini Foxi
6 Years

Hi! I have had my dog for over 6 years now and have never managed to get him completely house trained. I have tried everything you could think of to sort this problem out. He is finally mostly house trained to the point where he will go to the door and wait for me to open it to go outside, however... every so often he will just walk into the bathroom and pee on the mat in there even when he has access to the outside, or has just been outside. He was a nightmare to potty train as a puppy as he would pee on everything that was made of fabric, including my bed, couch, towels or clothes laying on the floor (all of which have been replaced now of course). I believe this was due to him being trained with puppy pads initially, which he very quickly learned instead of peeing on the floor, and now associates everything made of fabric with a pee place. It also didn't help that my tolerance after a year of this was basically zero and I resorted to getting angry with him when it happened as nothing had helped stop it and I was just out of patience and ideas. I know this would only have made the problem worse. Because it is so infrequent I have no idea how to stop it now. It will happen once a month or even once every 6 months but it seems to never completely stop. Whenever it does happen I pretend that I haven't noticed and take him to another room, then go and clean it up without him seeing. I always to this day after 6 years give him a treat every single time he pees outside but still it doesn't change. I have also tried giving extra good treats just for peeing that are not given at any other time. The accidents have definitely become less and less over the years but I just don't understand why sometimes he just does it. He also seems to do it if he gets ignored or the attention is on someone else, for example when someone comes over. A couple of years ago I had a friend over and Chester wasn't given that much attention during the evening (had been for a walk shortly before) but decided to pee on the rug and then poop in the closet (which also happens on very rare occasions). This seems to be the most prominent time that he will do something like this as if he is protesting not getting attention. I know and have read that dogs do not pee out of spite but there is definitely a connection between him getting less attention and peeing on rugs. It also happens when there is a storm outside as he is anxious and also refuses to go outside in the rain. He is a very lovely and smart dog. He can learn tricks and commands very quickly and is generally very well behaved. He knows not to bother us while we are eating, he does not jump up on the couch or bed unless commanded to do so and he always sits immediately without commanding when you grab the treat bad. It only took a week to get him to stop chewing things as a puppy and to only play with his toys and not other things in the house. This is why I just cannot understand why he has this problem with peeing, as everything else with him is easily trainable.
I really appreciate any advice and help you can give me.
Kind regards,
Camilla.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Camilla, I would do two things. If pup isn't already really good at alerting you when he needs to go out, or if pup goes to the door but it sometimes takes you a while to realize he is waiting there, I would teach pup to ring a bell to go out, that's hung by the door pup usually goes to. https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out#:~:text=Start%20with%20your%20dog%20in,Repeat%2010%20times. Second, if the accidents are just happening on the rugs of the home, I would cover those rugs with something non-absorbent for a few months, so pup has no absorbent choices to choose over wanting to go outside. The plastic that's used to cover carpet when selling a house, saran wrap if it's just a small matt in the bathroom (this will slick to your feet and be more annoying for you thought), or replacing the rugs with non-absorbent mats, such as colorful rubber mats, like the links below. https://www.amazon.com/Verodley-Citrus-Kitchen-Microfiber-Non-Slip/dp/B07RLDPFNS/ref=asc_df_B07RLDPFNS/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=507941004686&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4757953923200897143&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015474&hvtargid=pla-1211815202076&psc=1 https://www.amazon.com/Toland-Home-Garden-Decorative-Colorful/dp/B00QNPSWI8/ref=asc_df_B00QNPSWI8/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=216493578477&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=17364658265017432289&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015474&hvtargid=pla-350980030298&psc=1 https://corkhouse.com/products/recycled-rubber-mats?variant=37311965626533¤cy=USD&utm_medium=product_sync&utm_source=google&utm_content=sag_organic&utm_campaign=sag_organic&utm_campaign=gs-2018-10-30&utm_source=google&utm_medium=smart_campaign&gclid=CjwKCAjw_o-HBhAsEiwANqYhp4Sj1OwRlg_E3xnaGsUvT5LSqYgd2-m0tPM_FrO4LqWHSuBhpa97aBoC4sEQAvD_BwE https://www.katebackdrop.com/products/kate-4x5ft-wood-colored-computer-printed-rubber-floor-mat?currency=USD&variant=32112051410&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google%20Shopping https://www.google.com/shopping/product/1?q=rubber+colorful+mat&prds=epd:18010486864176542958,prmr:3,eto:18010486864176542958_1,rto:1,pid:18010486864176542958,tpim:CKzQgreum4XTzAEQ9cji053Dov8wGMCU3g8iA1VTRCjgseKHBjC55-cD&utm_medium=tu_prop&utm_content=eid-lsjeuxoeqt&utm_campaign=7992249 https://www.wayfair.com/Corrigan-Studio%C2%AE--Feickert-Comfort-Heavy-Duty-Standing-2-Piece-AntiFatigue-Mat-Set-X112555290-L7355-K~W001444189.html?refid=FR49-W001444189 Essentially you want something that the urine would pool up on instead of absorb so it's not as pleasant for pup to pee on that. You want pup's only absorbent option to be outside for long enough for pup to get into the habit of only going outside. A final option is to teach pup to stay off of your mats and rugs completely. If you go this route you will have to think about how this will effect other behaviors, like pup being able to come over to you for affection while on the couch if you have a rug right there, or come into the bathroom if there isn't a good way in without stepping on the mat. If you do decide to go this route, I would use the scat mats used to stop counter surfing on the floor on top of the various mats, or edges of rugs that pup tends to pee on. There will be a mild static electricity type shock whenever pup touches that mat. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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