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You stumble down the stairs, sleepy and desperate for a glass of water. However, as soon as you step foot in the kitchen you feel your comfy slipper get very wet, very quickly. You look down and sure enough, you’ve stepped in your dog's pee... again! He may be small but he still produces a large volume of pee. Even if he’s a puppy, he needs toilet training and fast.
Training him to pee outside will save your floors from an unpleasant aroma. It will also save you spending your weekends mopping the floors when you should be getting some well-deserved rest. Enforcing a peeing outside routine will also make it easier to enforce other rules.
Thankfully, training your dog to pee outside is relatively straightforward. You need to introduce a strict regime and always be there to carry it out. Once he’s in the habit of going outside he won’t contemplate going inside again. It will be time-consuming, but with some tasty incentives he’ll soon catch on. If he’s a puppy and still finding his feet, then it should be easy to form a new habit and training could take just a week or two. If he’s older and been in the habit of peeing indoors for many years, then you may need several weeks to finally put a nail in the pee-proof coffin.
Training him to pee outside will be undoubtedly worth it. You’ll never have to worry when you turn the light on again, or stress when you come home with guests.
Before you get to work you’ll need a few bits. Time is the most important training component. You need to be able to take him outside several times a day, every day. You can also rope another member of the household into training to share the load.
You’ll also need tasty treats or his favorite food to motivate him to relocate his toilet outdoors. Patience and a positive attitude will also speed up training and make it a more enjoyable experience.
Once you’ve got the above, you’re all set to get to work!
The Routine Method
Plenty of water
First, make sure he always has plenty of water in his drinking bowl. You don’t want him getting dehydrated and you do want to establish consistency. If he fluctuates between hydrated and dehydrated it will be harder to establish a regular routine.
Take him outside to go to the toilet each morning. If you give him his food first thing, you can wait a few minutes. That way he may pee outside and go about his other business too.
Make sure you take him back outside a few hours later. Some dogs may be able to wait until lunch time, but if he wines or pees inside before lunch time, he’ll need to go out earlier. If you’re always outside when he needs to go he’ll soon realize the toilet is strictly outside.
You may need to take him out again during the afternoon. If he has a strong bladder and hasn’t shown any signs he needs the toilet, you may be able to wait until the evening. Make sure you take him out at each of these points every single day.
While following a consistent routine is important, you also need to play close attention to him. If he’s still peeing inside then he’s not being taken out enough. Make sure he can expect to go out soon and then he’ll be able to hold it. If you do have any slip ups, simply clean up the mess and make sure you take him out earlier next time.
The Incentive Method
Just like the 'Routine' method, make sure you take him out to go to the toilet regularly. He needs to get in a routine of always being outside when he needs to pee. That may mean trips outside every few hours, but that’s what you need to do, especially to start with.
When you do take him out, give him privacy to go for his pee. If you stare at him you may give him stage fright and then he’ll just go on the floor when he comes back inside. Instead, look the other way when you can see him sniffing around trying to find the right spot.
When he does pee outside, give him a treat. You can also give him some verbal praise to further reinforce the point. If he thinks he’ll get tasty rewards and attention he’ll be more likely to pee outside next time.
Try and take him to the same spot every time to start with. It doesn’t have to be the same patch, but in the same field. If he can smell he’s been to the toilet there before, he’ll be more inclined to go there again.
Don’t punish him
It’s important you don’t shout at him or punish him when he does pee inside. Just calmly and quietly clear it up. If you scare him he may start peeing out of fear and then he’ll find controlling his bladder even harder.
The Verbal Cue Method
Take him outside to go for a pee several times a day. Once in the morning, once in the evening, after meals, and in the middle of the day are all times he’s likely to need it. If you’re always outside when he needs to go, he’ll soon develop a habit of only going outside.
When he does go for a pee, give a ‘toilet time’ cue. Give this as he starts peeing. Say it in an upbeat and playful voice. If you say this every time, he’ll soon start associating the command with the behavior and you’ll be able to use it to signal to him when to go in the future.
Once he’s done his pee and you’ve given the cue, head over and give him a treat. Also give him some verbal praise and make sure he knows you’re happy with him. The better the reward the bigger the motivation to go outside again. Practice this routine for a few days.
Bring forward the cue
After a few days you can start giving the cue earlier. Put him on his leash and then take him out. Then give the command and he’ll know what you want him to do. Eventually it will become almost a bodily reaction to go for a pee when he hears the trigger. Continue to give him a treat after he’s gone.
Lose the treats
After several successful days of him going after you’ve given the cue, you can start to lose the treats. Cut them out gradually over a few days. He’ll no longer need the incentive to go outside.
By James Barra
Published: 11/21/2017, edited: 01/08/2021