How to Train Your Rescue Dog to Pee Outside

How to Train Your Rescue Dog to Pee Outside
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-4 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

If you’ve got a heart of gold and are looking to adopt a new dog, then you’ll be looking to get a rescue dog. Giving a dog in a rescue shelter a second chance is an extremely meaningful and rewarding experience, as you’ll be helping with the problem of overpopulation on the streets, and most importantly giving a dog a second chance that they may never have gotten without you. 

However, owning a rescue dog is certainly a challenge. Of course, every dog is an individual and some will be easier to train than others. But as rescue pups are generally not puppies and will likely have an unknown background, they may have been a street dog for a long time and as such will have likely picked up bad habits. As your four-legged friend won’t be used to toilet training, it will likely be necessary for you to teach them to pee outside.

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Defining Tasks

Toilet training a rescue dog is very important for a range of reasons. Teaching him or her to pee outside is a form of obedience training and as such, if you successfully train them, they will respect you more and appreciate that they need to listen to your commands. Cleaning up pee is an unpleasant experience and if you train them to go outside you’ll save a lot of time and expense in not having to clear up after them or buy new items of furniture or clean the carpets. Urine contains a lot of harmful substances such as ammonia and it isn’t very hygienic for you or your family to be inhaling those fumes. Exposure can be detrimental to health if urine is not thoroughly cleaned and disinfected--another reason to get your pet to go outside. Also, cleaning up urine is an unpleasant experience and may result in you becoming frustrated with your pooch, without them knowing what they’ve done wrong. Therefore, training them to go outside can strengthen your bond.

This command can be quite difficult as your rescue dog is likely set in their ways, and although will hopefully only take a few days, it could take a couple weeks for them to learn.

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Getting Started

To get going, you’ll definitely need a patient but determined attitude, as rescue dogs can be that bit trickier to train than a new puppy with no prior experience of the way the world works. Delicious treats as a reward for going in the correct place are important. Sort out what your pooch's favorites are, however, high-value treats such as chicken, sausage or cheese can be good, as they’re extra tasty to puppers. A crate is also a valuable tool for toilet training your pup, make sure the crate is the right size for your breed and weight of pooch. Finally, make sure you also get a hefty supply of potty training pads for your pooch, they should be readily available at your local pet store, they will ensure that the clear up is much easier for you and will help save your carpets from urine staining.

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The Smell Association Method

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1

Clean up accidents ASAP

Make sure that if your pooch has an accident, you clean it up straight away with an antimicrobial disinfectant that gets rid of any remnants of the smell of urine. If any trace is left, your pooch will recognize the scent of his pee and want to go there again. Tip: stay away from ammonia-based disinfectants as these smell a bit like pee.

2

Same urination station

Always take your pooch to the same spot outside, so that he knows that it becomes routine and he remembers this is where he likes to go.

3

Leave soiled pads at the station

The scent of his old pee will encourage him to go in the same spot again, dogs are creatures of habit after all.

4

Meet his needs

You’ll need to make sure you’re taking him out enough for his breed and size; you can’t blame him for having accidents if he’s not going out enough. Look up how much your type of pooch needs to go out and take him out double the amount to begin with to be on the safe side.

5

Treat and praise away

Give your pooch lots of treats and tell him what a good boy he’s been when he gets it right. If he goes in the wrong place, try not to scare him by telling him off angrily, but disrupt his flow by making a loud noise and taking him outside to the correct place.

The Healthy & Happy Pup Method

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Vet visit

First things first, be sure to take your pooch to the vet, to rule out any problems he or she may have. For example if your pupper has a urinary tract infection or kidney disease (more likely in older dogs), they’ll be much more likely to pee inside as it hurts and they can’t hold it.

2

Make him at home

Going to a new home is an exciting and frightening experience for new dogs, making them more likely to have accidents initially. Make your dog at home by giving him safe spaces. Also, you could buy a pheromone diffuser, which will remind them of when they were a pup and with their mom, which is likely to calm him down a bit.

3

Use a crate

A crate can be a safe space for your pup and you can put toilet pads in the crate until he stops having accidents. Pooches don’t like to eliminate in the spaces they eat and rest in so they’re less likely to go in there.

4

Let him out regularly

However, he will go in his crate if he can’t hold it, so make sure you let him out regularly. How often your dog will need to pee will depend on his breed and size, also on his health status, as if he has an issue with his kidneys he'll need to go more. Make sure the amount you take your pup out meets his needs.

5

Reward him when he gets it right

Make sure you give him a tasty treat and lots of praise when your pooch gets it right.

The Routine Method

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Be with your pooch

Take some time off from work if possible, or get a relative or a friend to be with your pooch in the first week at their new home, as you’ll want to establish a routine.

2

Eight bathroom breaks per day

Taking him out more than he needs initially will ensure that your pooch's bladder is never so full that he needs to go inside.

3

Time the breaks

Time the breaks so that they’re all roughly at the same time throughout the day, for example one before breakfast, after lunch, after dinner etc.

4

Treats and praise

Give your pooch lots of treats and praise when he gets it right to let him know he’s been a really good boy. If you’re clicker training him, give him a click and a treat at the exact time he gets it right.

5

Don't punish if you didn't see it

Don’t punish your pooch if he’s had an accident and you weren’t there to witness it. If you catch your dog in the act, give him a clap to get his attention and stop him, then take him outside so he knows this is where he’s supposed to go.

By Catherine Lee-Smith

Published: 11/22/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Missi, Mary & Mo

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Bichon Frise

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One Year

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Question

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I have three dogs who were rescued from a Puppy Farm - they spent their entire life in a cage being fed through a chute. Because of this they just pee and poo wherever they want. I have had them 7 weeks now and although they will go outside, if we go out or overnight they will mess. I have tried closing them in their crate overnight but they just wee in the crate too. One of the dogs just will not go to the toilet outside, it is like she is scared. If I go inside she will just sit at the back door. If I stay outside she sits in a corner of the garden.

Oct. 31, 2022

Missi, Mary & Mo's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello, First, for the dog who is scared, it's likely due to the lack of socialization. I recommend spending intentional time outside with that dog times other than when you need to take them potty. Take a book out and simply relax out there for 30-60 minutes with her on a 6 to 20 foot leash. If she will play with a toy or take treats, practice tricks with treats, play games with treats, play with a toy, or give her a toy like a kong wobble, puzzle toy, or dog food stuffed kong - pay attention to what she likes and do those fun things she is interested in while relaxing outside If she won't eat or play yet, that's okay, that's due to stress, just start by resting outside with her and letting her take things in and get used to it. As she relaxes, you can try adding some of those fun things when she is open to them. Do this as often as you can, everyday if you can make the time. For the potty training, check out the Tethering method from the article linked below. Whenever you are home use the Tethering method. Also, set up an exercise pen in a room that you can close off access to later on (pups will learn it's okay to potty in this room so choose accordingly). A guest bathroom, laundry room, or enclosed balcony - once weather is a safe temperature are a few options. Don't set the exercise up in a main area of the house like the den or kitchen. Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Use the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below, and instead of a litter box like the article mentions, use a real grass pad to stay consistent with teaching pups to potty on grass outside - which is far less confusing than pee pads (Don't use pee pads since it sounds like the end goal is pottying outside). Since your goal is pottying outside only use the Exercise Pen at night and when you are not home, or have some of the dogs stay in the pen while others are tethered to you if it's too hard to tether all of them to you. When pup will hold her bladder while in the rest of the house consistently and can hold it for as long as you are gone for during the day and overnight, then remove the exercise pen and grass pad completely, close off access to the room that the pen was in so they won't go into there looking to pee, and take them potty outside only. If they are still chewing on things they shouldn't even after potty training, when you leave them alone, be sure to leave them in a safe area that's been dog proofed, like a cordoned off area of the kitchen with chew toys - until they are out of the destructive chewing phases too - which typically happens between 1-2 years for most dogs with the right training, but might take a little longer for these guys if the lack of socialization with a home is contributing to chewing for them also. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad brands - Also found on Amazon www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com You can also make your own out of a piece of grass sod cut up and a large, shallow plastic storage container. If any of the dogs are marking for smell also, I would use a belly band on that dog while in the home and not in the exercise pen, being sure to take it off when they are taken potty outside or to the grass pad. You will probably also need to cover the exercise pen floor with multiple grass pads at first, then transition to grass pads and a non- absorbent bed like www.primopads.com, then gradually remove the extra grass pads one by one as they are successfully using them to go potty. Whenever you catch the going potty on the grass pad or outside, give a treat. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Oct. 31, 2022

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Cardi

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Mixed Pit Rescue

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5 months

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Bought a rescue mix pit. She’s adorable but as a puppy was found on the streets and brought to a rescue where surroundings were worse @ the rescue unfortunately. She will hold her poop and pee all night long (not in the crate) but only associates pooping and peeing with the crate. You can have her out for 1/2 hour and she will not go, bring her in and if you put her in the crate she will immediately go. The rescue place was horrendous and dogs were left in crates and in their own filth. How do I train her that outside is where she needs to go.

July 23, 2022

Cardi's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello, Unfortunately in situations like these the crate is often never a good means of potty training. I recommend following the Tethering method from the article I have linked below. When you need to leave pup for longer than you know pup will hold it for or you simply can't leave pup free because of chewing risks and you aren't able to use a crate (which would normally encourage pup to hold it), then I would have an exercise pen set up in a room that can later be closed off (in case pup learns to go potty in this room), and place a large disposable grass pad in the exercise pen, along with a non-absorbent dog bed, removing all mats and rugs. Choose a small room without carpet that pup would be okay not to be allowed in long term later, like a bathroom or guest bathroom. When you can't tether pup to yourself for potty training or need to leave the home, pup can stay in that exercise pen with the grass pad, non-absorbent bed, and a dog food stuffed chew toy for entertainment. Tethering method for potty training: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Disposable grass pad brands - also can be ordered on Amazon. www.freshpatch.com www.porchpotty.com www.doggielawn.com Surprise method for getting pup used to being confined in the exercise pen alone - this method mentions crating pup, but follow the steps with pup in the pen instead of a crate, avoiding the use of a crate. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Non-absorbent bed options: www.primopads.com https://k9ballistics.com/collections/crate-pads Or a cot type bed Once pup has been consistently potty trained for a few months you may be able to introduce the crate again for future travel, but I wouldn't plan to use it during the training process. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 25, 2022


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