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 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 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 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
Angel
Miniature Pinscher
10 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Angel
Miniature Pinscher
10 Years

Our foster dog (age estimated between 9 and 12) has been peeing inside very often. She goes immediately when we get her outside, but will then pee again soon after we get back. We have been interrupting her every time and taking her out, but she just doesn’t seem to be getting it. She is crated when we’re not home, and in the bed with us at night, and she doesn’t pee either of those times. But when loose in our home she seems to pee inside frequently. She also is peeing really often just generally— she seems to need to go every hour or more (despite holding it for 8 hours at night and for 3-4 hours in the crate when we’re away). What can we do? We’re using Nature’s miracle to clean up but is it possible we’re not getting it all? Is she just a slow learner?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
112 Dog owners recommended

Hello Julie, It sounds like she needs to be evaluated by your vet for a medical issue, like urinary incontinence or a urinary tract infection, especially a urinary tract infection. A urinary tract infection could cause her to pee every hour in an effort to relieve discomfort. She would still be able to physically hold her pee but it would be very uncomfortable to do so. Some forms of incontinence could cause the same thing. She could hold it, but it is very uncomfortable to do so, so she would empty it whenever her bladder started to fill to relieve discomfort. If it is a urinary tract infection, then your vet should be able to deal with that quickly. If it's incontinence, then your Vet might be able to give you a couple of options. If he cannot give you options, then she might need to wear a doggie diaper when loose in the house, and be trained to use an indoor toilet area or given a doggie door, so that she can relieve herself often. If you rule out all medical issues, or deal with them but are stuck with the bad habit of peeing inside that was formed, then I suggest using a strict crate training method for a month to stop all accidents and give you enough opportunities to reward her good efforts outside. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Crate Training" method. This article was written for a puppy but because of her limited bladder control these time frames should work for her also. If you find a medical issue, resolve it, and she is able to hold her bladder for a more normal amount of time, then you can take her outside every three to four hours instead of every hour. She might even be able to go five or six hours when necessary, but I would start with smaller amounts because of her age and general comfort. At first, limit her free time to no more than forty-five minutes at a time, after she has peed outside though. As she improves, if she is not having any accidents inside and is able to hold her bladder for longer, then you can gradually work her up to two hours of freedom after she pees outside. If she starts having any accidents again though, subtract thirty-minutes, and repeat that until she stops having accidents. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Once you find out if anything medical is going on, if it turns out it is incontinence and she will never be able to hold her bladder for longer, then check back here if you need more help. There are a few indoor potty training options, diaper options, and schedules you can try instead of standard potty training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Jack
Chihuahua
10 Months
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Question
0 found helpful
Jack
Chihuahua
10 Months

I potty trained my dog using the puppy pad method. He learned how to properly relieve himself on the pad and was doing a great job for a couple of months. Just recently my dog started peeing and pooping on the carpet during the nights while we are sleeping. Now he will not use the pads at all and goes all over the carpet. I am not sure how to re-train him.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
112 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kenia, The most effective thing to do would be to train him to go potty only outdoors and strictly confine him indoors anytime that his bladder is not completely empty, until he is no longer having any accidents. To do that, follow the "Crate Training" method from the article that I have linked below. Since your puppy is older he can go much longer between potty breaks than the article mentions. He can stay in the crate for up to eight hours, but I suggest taking him out every four hours to help him learn faster. When he does pee outside, then he can have two to three hours of freedom outside of the crate. After that time, put him back in the crate while his bladder is filling back up until it is time to take him back outside again four hours after he last went potty. That way he will not have the opportunity to have an accident. If he does not go potty when you take him out, then try taking him out again in an hour. Have him spend that hour in the crate though. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you are very set on him using the bathroom somewhere inside, then I highly suggest switching to real grass disposable toilet pads instead of pee pads. Many dogs confuse pee pads with carpet because they are made out of fabric. Once that happens it's best to switch to something else. Real grass has a natural smell and does not resemble other surfaces in your home. To do this, he will need to be strictly confined while relearning to prevent further accidents. Use an exercise pen that is stable and safe and follow the "Exercise Pen" method from the article that I have linked below. That article is about litter box training, which is an option but slightly less effective than grass, since you will be using grass pads simply use a grass pad in place of a litter box and follow the rest of the instructions. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Here is a link to a grass pad: https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI Regardless of which method you choose, purchase a pet safe cleaner that contains enzymes and thoroughly clean the carpet and any other areas Jack had an accident on. Only enzymes will break down the poop and pee molecularly, getting rid of the smell to where a dog's sensitive nose cannot still smell it and be encouraged to pee in the same spot again. To break the cycle you need to clean with something with enzymes. Also, avoid using cleaners containing ammonia in the area. Ammonia smells like urine to a dog and will encourage peeing and pooping in that area. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Marley
Beagle basset
3 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Marley
Beagle basset
3 Years

My 3 year old dog loves peeing on carpet! She is potty trained and kept out of any carpeted areas when we are not home. She can go a full 8 hours without going potty when there is no carpet around. We recently just put new carpet in our bedroom due to the odor and we noticed she has been peeing on the new carpet. She sleeps with us at night, so it must be happening at night or in the morning before we wake up so we never see it happening. Help! What can we do to save our carpet?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
112 Dog owners recommended

Hello Meghan, The first step is to purchase a pet safe spray that contains enzymes. Only enzymes will fully remove the smell to the point where Marley cannot still smell it and be attracted to the same area to pee there again. Clean any accident spots well with the enzyme spray. The second step is to prevent the accidents from occurring because the more times that she goes there while unsupervised the stronger that bad habit will get and the harder it will be to undo. So at night put her in a crate while you are working on breaking this habit. No more freedom around the carpet when you cannot supervise or block off the area 100%. The third step is to take a look at your potty training routine and make sure that she is being taken outside regularly to pee outside AND start giving her treats for doing so. When you take her out to go potty for now, go with her, tell her to "Go Potty", watch her go, then give her four small treats. The treats can be pieces of her dog food if she is pretty food motivated. Keep the treats in a zip-lock bag or bowl out of her reach next to the door so that you will remember to bring the treats and be more likely to do it because it is convenient to do so. Rewarding her for going potty outside and teaching her the "Go Potty" command will help her to WANT to pee outside because she only gets treats for peeing there. This is an important step. It might be inconvenient if you are simply letting her outside into a fenced in backyard right now but do not skip this step. This step is just until the peeing inside habit is broken. After the habit is broken, if she still needs to extra treat incentive to go outside, then you can give her a treat when she returns to the door after walking herself into the yard and peeing. Simply open the door into your fenced in yard, tell her to "Go Potty", peak out the window to make sure she actually goes, and give her the treat when she returns to come inside. At first she will need you to walk her outside though and give her the treat immediately, or she will not learn everything you need for her to learn. The fourth step is to set up times when she is on a six foot leash with you on the carpet. You can hold the leash or let it drag behind her but you want it attached to her for the next part. Only let her on the carpet when you are specifically practicing this and watching her. You can pretend like you are not watching but pay attention. When she starts to circle, sniff, squat, sneak off, or generally act like she needs to go potty, clap your hands loudly and then quickly rush her outside on the leash. When you get outside, tell her to "Go Potty" and let her sniff. If she goes potty outside make a huge deal of it with treats and praise. You can also set up something to surprise her remotely while you watch her on a camera. Your smartphones or tablets can be used as a camera. GoPro with the Live App, video baby monitors, and video security cameras also work. As soon as she is interrupted from looking for a spot to go potty by your surprise you need to run in there and take her outside with the leash clipped onto her though. Using a camera and being able to trigger something remotely from a distance that will surprise her may help more with the peeing while you are not with her, since she is doing while alone primarily. Only do this after you have spent a lot of time rewarding her with treats for peeing outside in your presence though. If you skip going outside with her and rewarding her with treats, then she might think she is getting in trouble for peeing in general or in your presence and not simply for peeing inside. Reward her peeing outside so that she clearly understands that outside is fine and in your presence is fine. It is simply inside that is the issue. There are a number of ways to surprise her remotely. Look online for a device you feel comfortable that will surprise her but not cause much pain. If you choose to use a spray collar, then avoid the citronella ones, only use unscented air. Vibration collars, making a noise over your camera speaker, or simply rushing into the room while clapping are just a few options. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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