How to Train Your Rescue Dog to Pee Outside

Medium
1-4 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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.

The Smell Association Method

ribbon-method-3
Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Healthy & Happy Pup Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
3 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Routine Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Catherine Lee-Smith

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

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Luna
Goldendoodle
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Luna
Goldendoodle
2 Years

Eating. Potty train sit command

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Debbie, 1. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for her. Make sure the crate is only big enough for her to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that she can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the small and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. The method I have linked below was written for younger puppies, since your dog is older you can adjust the times and take her potty less frequently. I suggest taking her potty every 3 hours when you are home. After 1.5 hours (or less if she has an accident sooner) or freedom out of the crate, return her to the crate while her bladder is filling back up again until it has been 3 hours since her last potty trip. When you have to go off she should be able to hold her bladder in the crate for 5-7 hours - less at first while she is getting used to it and longer once she is accustomed to the crate. Only have her wait that long when you are not home though, take her out about every 3 hours while home. You want her to get into the habit of holder her bladder between trips and not just eliminating whenever she feels the urge and you want to encourage that desire for cleanliness in your home - which the crate is helpful for. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If she is not already used to a crate expect crying at first. When she cries and you know she doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give her a food stuffed hollow chew toy to help her adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. If she continues protesting for long periods of time past three days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" but using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell her "Quiet" when she barks and cries. If she gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If she disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at her side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If she stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward her quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Only use the unscented air from the Pet Convincers - don't use citronella, it's too harsh and lingers for too long so can be confusing. 2. I would use the Treat Luring method for teaching sit from the article I have linked below. Even though Luna isn't a puppy, you would teach this the same way to an adult who had never learned to sit unless there was some complication like aggression. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-sit 3. Is pup eating at all? Is pup being given human food? How often is pup being fed? If pup isn't eating at all, I would speak with your vet and rule out a medical cause, especially if pup is a recent addition with an unknown medical history. Even if the issue isn't something that shows up on labs like an infection, there could be a food ingredient sensitivity or bacterial imbalance needing a probiotic, or stomach acid problem, or tooth infection, or other source of pain causing pup to not want to eat. I am not a vet. As a pet owner, if the issue isn't behavioral and isn't something that shows up on tests, it might be something that makes pup uncomfortable eating so they dislike eating unless heavily bribed due to the past experience of discomfort when eating. If pup will eat food that's tastier just fine but is simply refusing the plain kibble in hopes of something better (which can often happen when a dog is given human food, especially if they hold off eating and then get something better eventually), I suggest mixing her food with something she likes the night before feeding her. Start with a higher quantity of food she likes and a bit of dog food, then gradually increase the dog food and decrease the food she likes overtime. Test out freeze dried meat dog food toppers, like stella and chewy or nature's variety first. If she likes those, crush them into a powder in a ziplock bag, then place that and some of her dog food in the bag overnight to flavor and scent the food. Feed that regularly if she will eat it, then gradually decrease how much powder you use and increase the dog food slowly in place of it - go slow so that eating the new food has become habit and he doesn't think about it changing gradually so keeps eating it. If she likes the kibble topper, you can also feed something like Ziwi peak or nature's variety raw boost long term - which is composed of freeze dried food or has it mixed in, if that's in your budget. If pup doesn't like the freeze dried stuff, then do the same thing but use things like minced chicken, liver paste, or goats milk mixed with the dog food and refrigerated overnight (you may want to do the goats milk last minute because it will get soggy though). Another option, is to have pup work for all of their kibble. Have pup perform commands and tricks and use the dog food that has been mixed with freeze dried powder from a ziplock bag, as rewards for pup obeying commands. Many dogs are actually more enthusiastic about their food if they have to earn it and consider it a treat. Feed pup entire meal amounts this way so that he is hungry during training in place of the bowl for a while. When you do so, act like the food is treats - you should act like you have a great prize not like you have to temp pup to eat. It may seem opposite but what a dog can't have without working for it, often makes it even more appealing. Once pup is doing well with that I like to use things like Kong wobbles, to put the food into for pup to work for. When pup is working for the food in the wobble well instead of having to take it from you, you can transition back to the bowl by unscrewing the top of the wobble, which leaves the bottom that's shaped like a bowl, and pup now associates with fun and enjoyment. I would also ask your vet how long pup is okay to go without eating. Sometimes you will need to offer the food three times a day, taking the food up after an hour each time if pup doesn't touch it. Often, pup won't eat the first couple of meals if the behavior is related to pup begging for human food or holding out for something better, but they will then get hungry enough to eat the next meals if they see that you aren't going to handfeed or give table scraps instead. For this to work, you need to stop giving any human food to pup right now, other than what's used for mixing with the kibble daily. If you are using a bowl that is reflective, makes the food move, or pup's dog collar is clinking on the bowl, I would switch out your bowl and put a plastic dog collar tag cover over pup's tag to keep it quiet. Some puppies are scared of bowls that reflect, move or make noise. If pup is fearful of you in general, as a new addition to the family, pup might need to be fed their meals alone, like in a crate or single room with the door closed, to get them to relax enough to eat. In this situation, I would mix something enticing with the food also. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Layla
Australian Shepherd
6 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Layla
Australian Shepherd
6 Years

We adopted her a couple weeks ago from a rescue who got her from a breeder surrender. She is so shy and timid but slowly coming around.
Having trouble with bathroom training. Her “crate” is our office where she has her dog bed and food and water. We keep her in there when we are gone during the day. She had never been on a leash before. We do not have a fenced in yard. When we first got her she would not walk or go on the leash. We started using our next-door neighbors fenced in yard for the bathroom. We have since bought a fenced enclosure for her. My husband has had success walking her on the leash around our neighborhood going to the bathroom. But she doesn’t always go. Last night we had been out and I took her on a long walk when we got home. But she didn’t do anything. 10 minutes later she Peed on the carpet in my dining room. She has done that a few times. She does not seem to be food motivated with any types of treats or turkey or cheese that we try to give her when she does go potty as a reward. Our vet suggested getting a stake with a long cord so she could have some free reign in the back yard to do her business. And that it’s best if she goes to bathroom in her own yard instead of out on a walk. We are kind of struggling to get some consistency and to know what would be the best way to train her. My husband’s been walking her in the morning and then we put her in the office. We walk her after work and again before bed. And 1 or 2 more times in there. But a lot of times she doesn’t do anything on these long walks. She seems to prefer the street and concrete sidewalk and hardly wants to walk in the grass.
Need help figuring out the best plan for her.
Thanks!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Stephanie, I would work on getting her used to the crate. When she doesn't go potty, I would crate her for 30-60 minutes, then take her back outside again - preventing all the accidents when she comes inside without going. The cleaner you can get her to keep the house, the quicker that natural desire to keep a confined space clean should be generalized to your entire house - continued accidents tend to extend that from happening. How big is your yard? Movement and smell tends to stimulate the need to go potty, being staked out might be hard due to the lack of movement until pup is better trained, but you could walk pup around on the leash in your own yard, telling pup calmly to Go Potty, then as soon as pup goes - if pup considers the walk rewarding, take pup on a short walk then as a reward. This routine tends to teach dogs to hurry up and go in the yard in order to get on with the walk if they like walks. You wouldn't have to take pup on an exercise walk after every potty trip, but during times when you are in more of a hurry pup would be trained to go potty in your yard quickly before being brought back inside, and walked after during times when she needs exercise also. Check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below for introducing a crate. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate When you are home, pup can also be tethered to you with a hands free leash too for 30-60 minutes if she doesn't go potty outside, to help prevent an accident during that lull between potty trips. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lilly
Golden Retriever
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lilly
Golden Retriever
4 Years

we got Lilly from a breeder she has spent her life in a kennel. She had 4 litters she absolutely the sweetest dog. She was raised with a doggy door and come and go as she pleased. She will not pee or poop when I'm around her she wants to always be at may feet. For the most part we have gotten her to go outside through our sliding door and will go out with our other dog. However she doesn't always pee when she goes out and get anxious to come back in. Then when we come back in the family room where we leave he she has peed

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would start by crate training. When she hasn't gone potty while outside, when she comes back inside, crate for one hour then take her back outside. I would watch her from the window to ensure she goes potty, telling her to "Go Potty" when you let her out and letting her back in if she does go potty. If she doesn't, tell her to "Go Potty" and make her wait longer to hopefully get her to go potty before letting her in. When she goes potty she gets to come in normally. When she doesn't go potty, after a couple of reminds with still no success, crate for an hour when she comes in, then take her back outside again - so that going potty while outside equals freedom, and she will slowly learn what Go Potty means. Once pup is going potty outside better, I would send pup outside with the Go Potty command but attach a long training leash, like fifty feet, to pup, bring it around a tree like a pulley so that you can walk away while holding the end but pup's leash goes behind the tree before going to you so pup can't follow you while outside, tell pup Go Potty, and give enough slack in the long leash that pup can wander around to find a spot but can't come toward you with the leash as a pulley on the tree. When pup goes potty, praise, give a treat, and drop the leash so pup can come back over to you. Once pup has learned to go away from you to go potty before coming back to you consistently, then with pup on the long leash, have the leash on pup without it being looped around the tree and work on sending pup away from you to see with the normal long leash. If pup will go away from you to go potty that way, then you can gradually start coiling up the excess until pup will go potty with you standing nearby also; at which point you can switch to a normal six foot leash, to have pup go potty outside with you on a leash and on their own when you send them from the door with the other dogs. Introducing a crate - Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ziggy
Pit bull
2 Years
-1 found helpful
Question
-1 found helpful
Ziggy
Pit bull
2 Years

Me and my boyfriend rescued this dog and he won’t poop outside we take him out 5 to 8 times a day for 45 minutes he’ll pee outside but he won’t poop he waits until we come inside and uses the bathroom I need help getting him to use the bathroom outside

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Juanita, I highly recommend crate training pup and temporarily pup should always be either tethered to you with a hands free leash or in the crate while learning, unless you know he has just peed AND pooped and you have eyes on him 100%.. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for him. Make sure the crate is only big enough for him to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that he can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the smell and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. The method I have linked below was written for younger puppies, since your dog is older you can adjust the times and take him potty less frequently. I suggest taking him potty every 2.5- 3 hours when you are home. After 1.5 hours (or less if he has an accident sooner) of freedom out of the crate, return him to the crate while his bladder is filling back up again until it has been 3 hours since his last potty trip. When you have to go off he should be able to hold his bladder in the crate for 5-8 hours - less at first while he is getting used to it and longer once he is accustomed to the crate. Only have him wait that long when you are not home though, take him out about every 3 hours while home. If he hasn't gone poop yet during that half of the day, he needs to be tethered to you or returned to the crate, then taken back outside again in 30-45 minutes if you know he likely needs to go, less frequently if he likely doesn't need to poop. Pooping outside equals more freedom. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If he is not already used to a crate, expect crying at first. When he cries and you know he doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give him a food stuffed hollow chew toy to help him adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. Work on teaching "Quiet" by using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell him "Quiet" when he barks and cries. If he gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Whiskey
Mixed
3 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Whiskey
Mixed
3 Years

He was a shelter rescue, has been with me a week. He holds his bladder for an EXTREMELY long time, occasionally over 12 hours. I take hime out every 3-4 hours and most of the time he walks and walks, hardly even stops to smell or mark his territory. He has not had an accident inside. I can’t be good to hold it that long; is it possible he is still adjusting to his new home?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Dara, Is he holding it longer than eight hours? Some dogs might go eight hours without peeing and that is still within a normal range. If it's longer than that, I would suspect pup is nervous or excited about his new environment, or is wary of going potty in front of a person because of a possible past of being disciplined harshly for going potty in front of someone inside. If pup is nervous about his environment, I would spend some intentional time simply hanging out with pup outside in that area. If pup is interested in toys or treats while outside, play some calm games with those things on a long leash with pup, or simply sit and read a book and let pup relax next to you and observe what's around him. I would do this between 30 minutes to 2 hours at a time as many times a week as you can. If pup is nervous to go potty in front of you, I would take pup outside to an open area away from the road, on a long training leash, like 20-40 feet (shorter is pup likes to bolt away suddenly). Allow pup to wander away from you to sniff while you stay in the same general area. Once pup goes potty (probably will still hold it long the first few times), then calmly and genuinely praise from where you are and toss pup a couple treats large enough for pup to find from further away. As pup sees your reaction as pleased instead of reprimanding and relaxed more about going in front of you, you can slowly coil up the leash, one foot at a time, over a few weeks, until pup is going on a normal six foot leash again and comfortable. I would also keep an eye on pup's water intake. If drinking seems to be an issue or something seems not right, I would check with your vet. I am not a vet. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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