How to Train Your Dog to Stop Peeing on the Carpet

Easy
1-2 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

A new dog in the home generally means good things! Whether your dog is young or old, they provide you with so much excitement and fun when they finally come home to stay. Well, at least until you realize that they might not be as housebroken as you’d first thought. Stains on the carpet, not-so-nice smells, and repeat offenses by a dog who isn’t sure how to ask to go outside are not the most pleasant experiences. It can be downright frustrating having to break out the cleaning supplies two or three times a day because your dog had an accident.

Housebreaking your dog doesn’t have to be stressful, however. There are many ways to ensure that he learns the appropriate places and times to relieve himself and generally, it will take some adjusting for a dog who is not used to the way your house is run. With a regular routine, you can be at ease knowing that your carpet will survive another day.

Defining Tasks

Housebreaking your dog in order to prevent him from using your carpet as a bathroom is really just a matter of prevention. Dogs will often relieve themselves multiple times in the same place, especially if the scent of their previous accident lingers. It’s important to take steps to keep this from happening in the first place and ensure that you thoroughly clean any area where he does pee to keep him from being drawn to the same spot again.

Keeping your dog from peeing on your carpet may seem difficult the older he gets, but these methods can be utilized for a dog of any age, puppies included. Each one takes just a few days or a week or two to adjust to and can solve your problem with relative patience and repetition. Staying committed, using positive reinforcement, and remaining persistent will help you get your nice and comfortable carpet staying clean.

Getting Started

Establishing a routine for dogs is important. No matter which method you use, you want to be consistent with it. Don’t do it one way on Monday and do it differently on Tuesday. Your dog will thank you for the easy-to-remember process to relieve himself and you will be much happier as a result.

If your dog is older and has suddenly started using the bathroom indoors, have him looked over by a veterinarian to rule out any medical causes. Otherwise, get some treats together for a reward and set aside a few minutes several times a day to adjust your dog to his new bathroom routine. The younger a dog is, the more often they may need to practice.

The Schedule Method

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Step
1
Determine how often to use the bathroom
Younger puppies will need many more bathroom breaks than older dogs. Figure out how often your dog uses the bathroom and make a note of it on paper or in a computer document.
Step
2
Learn the typical bathroom times
Your dog will more than likely need to use the bathroom in the morning after waking up, after any meals, after drinking water, after being let out of a crate or kennel, before going in for the night, and possibly in the middle of the night. These are times you will need to be aware of.
Step
3
Avoid punishment for slip ups
Negative reinforcement may not always work to prevent your dog from using the bathroom indoors. If you catch her making an attempt to use the carpet as a bathroom, calmly relocate her outside and clean up any mess thoroughly.
Step
4
Go out and go out often
After determining her bathroom schedule, start taking your dog outside whenever you get the feeling she may need to go. This typically means about five minutes BEFORE she usually uses the bathroom. This may require you going outside several times a day and possibly a few times at night, depending on your dog’s needs.
Step
5
Praise and reward!
For any successful attempt at relieving herself outdoors, offer lots of excited verbal praise. Treats and toys are fantastic rewards for appropriately using the bathroom outside. Even if the amount of waste is small, continue to reward at all available opportunities.
Step
6
Adjust the schedule with progress
Puppies will typically outgrow the need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and older dogs may pick up on an established schedule pretty quickly. Adjust your schedule as your dog’s needs allow. If you’re realizing he can go a little longer without a bathroom break, feel free to remove one from your daily routine.
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The Kennel Method

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Step
1
Find a proper kennel or crate
Crates are often used as a resting area for dogs until it’s time to go out to pee. An appropriately sized crate should be large enough that your dog can stand up and turn around in it comfortably. A crate that is too large may just end up being the next bathroom area and a crate that is too small is uncomfortable and cramped. Take some time finding one that is just right.
Step
2
Make the kennel a nice place
Use a comfortable pillow or blanket to line the bottom and provide some nice chew toys or treats. The crate should be relaxing and fun.
Step
3
Teach your dog to go in and out
Using words like ‘in your crate’ or ‘let’s go’ can help put verbal cues to what you’d like your dog to do, whether it’s going into the crate or coming out of it. Use treats or toys to entice him to do what you’d like when you’d like him to so he associates the behavior with a reward.
Step
4
Create a specific ‘kennel time’
Your dog shouldn’t be in the kennel all day, every day. Figure out an appropriate span of time when he’ll need to be in the kennel, such as when you’re away at work or school or are busy with other things at home. Try to limit the amount of time he is in his kennel, especially for higher energy breeds. A bored dog can become destructive.
Step
5
Go outside immediately afterwards
After each ‘kennel time’, take your dog outside to relieve himself. Dogs will generally not use the bathroom in the same area where they sleep, so this is a good chance to teach him that kennel time will always be followed by a bathroom break.
Step
6
Reward for good bathroom behavior
Offer your dog playtime or yummy treats any time he uses the bathroom outside. He’ll soon look forward to leaving his kennel to use the bathroom outside because it means good things!
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The Puppy Pad Method

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Step
1
Find the right size puppy pads
Puppy pads or ‘pee pads’ are often used for young puppies, smaller, or senior dogs who may not always enjoy relieving themselves outside. These pads can vary in size and quality, so be sure that you’re buying the right size for your dog. They may not be ideal for large dogs who eliminate a lot, as absorbency and required clean up may also vary.
Step
2
Find a specific place for the pad
The puppy pad will need to remain in the same area for your dog to adjust to using it. Try not to move it or relocate it once you do find a place for it. An ideal place will be somewhere in a room with tile or wood floors to make accidents easy to clean. Make sure it is accessible to your dog at all times. A closed pantry or closet is not ideal.
Step
3
Visit the pad often
A few minutes before your dog’s usual bathroom time, encourage him to come with you to the pad. Let him sniff at it, even if he doesn’t have to use the bathroom just yet. If he stands around for five minutes and does nothing, leave the pad and come back in another ten to fifteen minutes.
Step
4
Reward at bathroom time
Any time your dog uses the puppy pad to go to the bathroom, make a huge deal about it. Give him lots of praise and pets for doing it. You want him to feel good about using the puppy pad.
Step
5
Clean the pad regularly
Most puppy pads are disposable, so be sure to change them out whenever necessary. Leaving a small pee spot alone for a little while is usually fine, but letting the pad soak through before changing it can leave a mess and give the whole area an unpleasant urine smell. Keep your dog’s bathroom area as clean as possible.
Step
6
Move to the outdoors if necessary
If you’d like your dog to eventually transition from the pad to the outdoors, the simple way to do so is to move the pad gradually over the course of a few days. Move it closer to the door until you can open the door and set the pad right outside. Then gradually move it out and onto the grass, if that’s what you prefer. Take your time doing this to prevent your dog from having accidents and always make sure that your dog has plenty of access to the pad.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Riley
Bernese Mountain Dog
5 Years
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Question
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Riley
Bernese Mountain Dog
5 Years

Hi! We adopted Riley back in December 2020, so we’ve had her for about eight months now. She was previously kept in an indoor/outdoor kennel by her previous owners, so we’re told. When we got her, she had zero training, so we’ve been working on teaching her her name and simple phrases like sit and calm. We have a dog door, so she has access to the yard to use the bathroom at any time. She was housetrained when we got her, and we had no issues with that at first. However, over the past couple months, we have noticed her finding carpeted areas of our home to Pee on, and poop on at times. It’s so frustrating, because she clearly knows to go outside and has access to the doggie door. There’s nothing in the backyard she is afraid of, and she will rattle use the dog door at any time. Any suggestions on how to break this habit? at times, she will be right in front of us on the carpet.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kristin, Since pup is having the accidents right in front of you at times, I would actually check with your vet to make sure there isn't something causing incontinence like an infection. I am not a vet. If the issue is purely behavioral, I suggest going back to the basics with her for a couple of months and act as if she isn't potty trained at all to stop all accidents from happening so that she will develop a habit of holding it consistently while in the house and wanting to keep your home clean. After a couple of months if she has been completely accident free, very gradually give her more freedom - but when you start, still go outside with her at first to ensure she is going potty and not getting distracted. To crate train for at least two months to get her back on track more strictly at first, 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 or k9ballistics.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 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 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) of 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 5-8 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" by 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. Do NOT spray in the face - only side or chest. While home, you can also tether pup to you with a leash to prevent her from sneaking off to have an accident - this isn't quite as effective as crate training but you can combine the two a bit if you want pup to be out of the crate a bit more while you are home. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Reesie
Mini golden doodle
4 Years
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Question
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Reesie
Mini golden doodle
4 Years

My dog has been potty tried since we first got her. She has a doggy door that leads out to a big cage filled with grass that is cleaned regularly. But the past few months she has chosen to go to the bathroom on our rugs inside. Nothing is medically wrong with her and we have no ideas as to why? Any tips?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hailey, It's hard to know for sure. Its possible something in the yard scared her or was unpleasant so she had a couple of accidents due to that, then got comfortable having accidents inside in general so know its become a habit. You will need to clean the carpets where she has had accidents really well with a cleaner that contains enzymes. You may even want to rent a carpet cleaner, but make sure any carpet cleaner you use also contains enzymes, because only enzymes will fully neutralize remaining potty smells in the carpet (even if you can't smell them), to the level pup's sensitive nose needs. Any remaining pee or poop smell in the carpet will encourage pup to go potty there again. You will also need to stop the accidents from happening through strict management of pup's schedule and freedom for a while to break the cycle and make forward progress. You can do this in one of two ways generally. 1. you can keep pup tethered to yourself with a hands free leash whenever you are home, and set up an exercise pen type area in the corridor right in front of where pup goes outside through the doggie door, if that's a safe area to have pup stay. You would have pup stay in the small area right in front of the doggie door, so that pup doesn't have access to inside potty spots and is more motivated to go outside through the door on their own whenever they need to go potty. When you are home, reward them with a treat whenever you see them go outside to go potty, right after they go. I would watch pup go outside, watch through the window to see if they are going potty, then go outside and give a treat as soon as they finish going, praising them right when they are done, so they realize the treat is specifically for going potty outside. 2. The second option is to crate pup whenever pup's bladder hasn't been emptied within the past two hours and they are not tethered to you with a hands free leash, then taking pup outside every 3-4 hours, telling pup to Go Potty, and reward with a treat and praise as soon as they go potty outside. I would follow one of the above routines for at least three months, then very gradually give more freedom if pup has been completely accident free for at least 1-2 months. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Phoenix
German Shepherd
9 Weeks
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Question
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Phoenix
German Shepherd
9 Weeks

The first few nights we had her she did fine not peeing or pooping in the bedroom when we sleep ( we put blankets down on the carpet just in case she did have an accident) but the past few nights she’s been going on the blankets and not whining before she has to go to let us know she has to go. What is the best way to stop her from doing this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Dani, During the night I highly recommend crating pup. The confined space of a crate will utilize pup's natural desire to keep a confined space clean, to motivate pup to wake you when they need to go potty. Additionally, a young puppy is not safe left unsupervised at night. They are teething and chewing around this age, but around five months of age their jaw strength will increase and they will be able to really chew things apart. Leaving pup unattended while asleep can be dangerous right now, but its especially likely to cause issues in a few months, and it will be a lot harder to crate train if you wait until then. You also will not be able to potty train due to the lack of supervision without pup being confined in the crate. Potty training is based on a dog generalizing that desire to keep a space clean to the rest of your home. In order for that to happen, accidents have to be prevented well through management of pup's freedom and schedule. Another option besides the crate is to have pup sleep in an exercise pen with an indoor potty, like a disposable real grass pad to use, but since pup is a larger breed that will need to go potty outside in the future and there are other reasons for wanting pup to be crate trained when older, doing this will be more work for you in the long run than just using the crate right now, since you will need to transition pup to outside potty training later, which will essentially mean starting over with potty training and having to crate at that point in order to prevent inside accidents during the transition. To get pup used to sleeping in a crate at night I recommend the following. Check out the Surprise method from the article linked below and practice crate training with that method often for 30 minute -1 hour periods during the day to help pup adjust to being alone more quickly. Pup will also need to be crated for longer periods during the day, but having these shorter sessions with treat during the daytime can help pup adjust to those longer nighttime periods that don't involve treats sooner. Surprise method for the day: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate At night, ignore any crying unless it has been at least 2 hours since pup last went potty. When it has been at least 2 hours and pup wakes up crying, take pup potty on a leash and keep the trip super boring - no treats, talking, or play, and return them immediately to the crate after they go, ignoring any crying that happens when you return them. Keeping trips boring helps pup learn to only wake at night for potty needs and not play or food, to begin sleeping longer sooner. Pup will need to go potty 1-2 times at night right now at this age, even when fully crate trained, but being consistent, practicing crating during the day, and keeping trips outside boring, can help pup wake less at night, cry less when first crated, and start sleeping through the night sooner as their bladder capacity increases with age. Know that its normal for pup to cry in the first two weeks. The first three nights tend to be the worse, with pup gradually getting better and better after that. This will mean some lost sleep, which I know from personal experience isn't fun! The lost sleep temporarily is much easier than the months of undoing inconsistent potty training later though, and this too shall pass. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lizzy
Doxiepoo
10 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Lizzy
Doxiepoo
10 Months

2 June 2021

Hi! I've had Lizzy for almost a year now. She didn't used to pee on the carpet before. But now she always pees on the carpet on the exact same spot. In the same area, to be more specific!

I have tried both, negative and positive reinforcement, but it just doesn't work! She might stop for a day or two. But that's the longest she has gone without peeing.

I try my best to not get angry at her. But sometimes it gets just so irritating and frustrating that I can't help it! I even once thought of giving her away. But then I realized that it's not the right thing to do. The information I've been able to get from the internet is basically just that the dog needs to be neutered. And I really don't want to do that!

Well, I hope you can help with this.

Thank you,
Shayyan

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shayyan, This is an issue that would be worth consulting a trainer who specializes in behavior issues about, simply so that can ask questions about pup's history, what you have tried, and other factors that related, to give you options to try based on knowing those things. Was/is pup pee pad trained in the past? If so, I would transition away from pee pads and crate train pup for potty training. I would take pup potty every three hours. If pup doesn't go when you take them, return inside and crate pup for one hour, then take pup outside again to try again. Repeat this process until pup goes when you take them outside - at which point you can reward with five small treats and praise. Once pup goes potty outside, the three hour clock starts over again, so that pup is never free when their bladder isn't empty. If pup is still having accidents before three hours, pup may be marking. I would tether pup to yourself with a hands free leash, have pup wear a belly band or doggie diaper to catch any urine if pup attempts to squat, and clap whenever you see pup about to mark to interrupt then, then take them outside. I would also deep clean that area of the carpet, using a cleaner that's enzyme based to neutralize the smell to the level that pup won't still smell it. I would then block off that area of the carpet for a few months while doing the above, until the new clean habit has been thoroughly cemented and pup isn't having any accidents. Once you get ready to stop blocking off that area, tether pup to you for a bit or supervise closely in the same room, to interrupt any marking attempts in that area and ensure pup doesn't attempt a mark there when its first available again. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ollie and Duckie
Yorkshire Terrier
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ollie and Duckie
Yorkshire Terrier
1 Year

My puppies started potty training on pads. They are crate trained and know how to tell me to go out. They won’t stop peeing on my rugs since I stopped with the pads! I’ve throw out and put away my rugs and got a great enzyme cleaner. They will even sneak off to one of my bathroom rugs to go. I’m at a loss!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cindy, I recommend only giving pup's freedom out of the crate while their bladder's are empty. If pups are still peeing even right after they just went potty outside, then you can tether them to yourself with a hands free leash. For pup's to make progress the accidents need to stop, and at first that will have to happen by limiting freedom for long enough for pups to keep the home clean for a couple of months, so they will begin association the home with cleanliness. Check out the Crate Training and Tethering methods from the article I have linked below. Since pup's are older you can take them potty every 3 hours instead of one hour, if you find they can hold it that long without an accident consistently. When you take pup outside at hour 3, if they don't go potty while out there, bring them back in and put into the crate for one hour, before taking back outside to try again. Repeat the potty trips every hour and crating if they don't go, until they go - at which point you can give three hours of freedom again (or two if you find pups have an accident after just two hours). If pups are having an accident before hour 2 or 3 of freedom, the issue may be marking and not a need to pee - in which case you will need to tether to yourself, interrupt with clapping if they start lifting a leg to mark, then take outside, and have them wear a belly band (like a doggie diaper for males), to prevent the spread of smell associated with marking. Crate Training and Tethering methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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