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 Healthy & Happy Pup Method

Effective
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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

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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?

The Smell Association Method

Effective
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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?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ivy
Basset lab mix
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ivy
Basset lab mix
9 Months

My puppy will not use the potty outside. I can stay outside all day and as soon as she comes back in she just pees wherever. We just put down new flooring and my hubby is not happy with her. I just don't know what to do... Please help!!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
30 Dog owners recommended

Hello Christy, Some puppies who have been punished in the past for peeing inside will avoid going in front of you, regardless of where they are. Try taking her outside on a twenty or fifty foot leash, so that she can wander away from you safely, and go potty when she think that you are not looking, then when she goes praise her quietly and toss treats over to her. Tossing her treats should help her to warm up to going in front of you overtime. As she warms up, you can gradually get closer and closer to her while she pees, until you can use a normal leash again. The problem also might be an aversion to going outside, rather than an aversion to going in front of you. Something traumatic might have happened outside, she might be too distracted to go, or hates the wet ground or something similar. If that is the case, try taking her to different surfaces, such as grass, mulch, gravel, or leaves. She may hate going on grass, but be OK with going on gravel. Also go purchase a spray from your local pet store or online that is designed to encourage elimination. It's usually called something like "Go Here", "Hurry Spray", or "Training Spray", and can be found in the training or house breaking department. Right before you take her outside, spray the spray onto the area you want her to eliminate on, then take her over to the area quietly, and let her sniff the area, and wait patiently for her to circle around, sniff, and go. Also, make sure that you are cleaning up previous accidents with a cleaner containing enzymes that will break down the pee and poop enough to eliminate the smell well enough that she cannot smell it anymore. Cleaners that do not contain enzymes will not remove the smell enough for your dog to not smell it, and a smell left will encourage her to eliminate in the same area again. Also avoid any cleaners containing Ammonia because Ammonia smells like urine to a dog and will encourage elimination in that area. Last, look into crate training for house breaking. Overtime crate training will force her to eliminate outside by not giving her any freedom in the house until she goes outside, and by making the experience of eliminating outside pleasant again. Here is an article on how to teach that, all of the methods in this article can help, but the crate training will tackle the issue of not eliminating outside the quickest. Disregard that the article talks about pooing outside, it should work just as well for peeing outside too. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Duke
Lab/Dane mix
5 Months
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Question
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Duke
Lab/Dane mix
5 Months

We just brought him home from a rescue. He has never been with a family and so has spent his life in a shelter. He won’t pee outside. Has had several accidents inside. 2 which have been while laying down. One being in his crate. We take him out every hour but he will not go pee outside. He pooped for the first time outside today. Not sure what to do to break a life time (only 5 mos but) habit.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
30 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kerri, It sounds like Duke is afraid of peeing outside because he has not experienced it before, or possibly he had a bad experience doing it once. Take a couple of days when you are home and not at work and it is nice outside, such as a weekend, and spend the entire day outside with him each day. If you can do this more than two days in a row, then that would work even better. While outside feed him all of his meals there and give him plenty of water to drink there. Play with him and get him excited, and make sure that he has shade if it is hot. Doing all of that should make him need to go potty. If your yard is not fenced in then purchase a long leash such as a thirty foot leash and attach it to him and allow him to wander several feet away from you whenever he wants to go potty. He might be afraid to go in your presence because he has been punished by someone for having accidents in the past. After he is comfortable peeing outside, then you can gradually decrease the amount of distance between you and him, until he will pee in your presence too. When he does eventually go, quietly praise him and toss him four treats, large enough for him to find in the yard, as a reward for going. Do this every time that you catch him using the bathroom outside. Overtime he should become more comfortable going outside. Once he is comfortable going outside, then you can use a typically potty training schedule and techniques to teach him to not go potty in the house. Because of his uncertain past do not punish him for having accidents in the house, instead distract him quickly if you see him begin to go potty inside and rush him outside to finish, but do your absolute best to prevent the accident in the first place after he is comfortable eliminating outside and can be taken outside frequently. Make sure that you clean up any accidents with a pet safe cleaner that contains enzymes. Only enzymes will break up the pee and poop enough for him to not be able to smell it still, and be attracted to eliminating in that same spot. Also if there is a particular type of material that he tends to have accidents on, and he does not tend to pee on another type of material, then once you get him over his fear of peeing outside, keep him confined to areas with the material that he does not pee on between his potty breaks. For example, if he is used to peeing on the hard floor of a shelter or crate, and has accidents on your kitchen's hardwood or linoleum floor but he does not pee on carpeted areas, then confine him to a carpeted area, or even better, find an old piece of carpeting or an old rug and use that on the floor of a room where he can stay when you are not able to completely supervise him, between his potty breaks outside. Be sure to give him interesting toys while he is in there, such as food stuffed Kongs, puzzle toys, wobble toys that he can tip over to dispense food, and chew toys, to remove any anxiety about being in that room and to prevent bad chewing habits. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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