Peeing or pooping in the house

Housebreaking a dog is a common challenge among many dog lovers. Although the solution is a simple one, I have seen many struggling to housebreak their best friend, puppy or adult.

The good news is that whether you have a pup or you have just rescued an adult, the steps are the same and easy if you follow them. However, if you have an adult dog who is not yet housebroken, you must determine two things before following any of the below steps:

  1. The problem is not a medical one
  2. The problem is not a behavioural issue (due to stress or excitement)

Your veterinarian can guide you for medical issues and you may need to consult a canine professional if the soiling is connected to a behavioural problem.

If you are convinced that the problem can be resolved by training then you need to follow the article below.

Another bit of good news here is that mother nature comes to your help as your dog does not naturally want to soil their nest. They will be much happier if you provide them with a space outside to do their business.

Throughout the process, remember my training formula of Patience, Consistency and Repetition.

Your dog is not going to learn new behaviours overnight and an incident may happen, so you need to be patient. You need to be consistent with the below steps and repeat them all until the risk of peeing inside your home is eliminated.

Step 1. Consistent feeding

Dogs instinctually follow a routine: sleep-feeding-outside. Your best friend is more fulfilled if you determine a feeding schedule for her, so that she knows with certainty when she will be fed. Write this down so everybody in the house remembers the schedule and knows to follow it. Routine feeding will lead to routine elimination.

Step 2. Consistent elimination time

Dogs usually want to relieve themselves around 20-30 minutes after feeding time. You need to remember this and take your dog outside.

Your best friend needs to be let out at least four times a day. Even mature dogs cannot hold their bladders and bowels for many hours. Make sure you walk them after eating and before you leave them alone at home. The solution is not to withhold water and also do not assume that just because your dog can hold her urine overnight, she should be able to hold it equally as well during the day. Pets are typically better able to hold off eliminating during the night time sleep cycle.

Step 3. Reward good behaviour

Focus on the positive, not the negative. You will experience faster progress if you encourage and reward your dog for positive, desirable behaviour on a consistent basis. Praise your dog each time she eliminates outside. This can be in the form of a very tasty treat or merely your verbal praise. Remember, you telling your best friend that you are feeling great can be the best treat ever and does not have to be a piece of cheese!


 Step 4. Do not scare your dog

You will only delay learning if you punish your dog. Remember, dogs do not have long-term memories and if you come home and realise they have relieved themselves inside, they will not understand why you are yelling. I have heard dog owners say, “oh, he knows he has done something bad”. No he does not, if he is scared, it is because you are yelling. He will likely be confused about why he is being scolded and may learn to fear your approach.

If you catch your dog in the act of eliminating indoors, view it as a teaching and learning opportunity. Clap so that you startle them out of what they are doing or say ‘no’ in a low, firm voice that is sharp enough to startle, but not so forceful as to frighten the dog.

Step 5. Supervise closely

Avoiding accidents is better than acting after the incident. Some dogs give you a very clear signal when they need to go outside, such as sniffing the floor, pacing, whimpering, staring at you, looking restless, slinking behind a couch, or walking towards a door. Watch for signs that your dog has to go outside.

You may want to crate your dog in order to train them to hold it until you can take them outside. Most dogs simply won’t eliminate in their crate. You still need to observe step 2 and a crate is not a substitute for taking your dog outside.

Step 6. Be patient and scrub and scrub

Accidents happen. Relax. This does not mean your dog is not trainable, it takes time and if you become impatient, you simply make the process longer.

Unfortunately, dogs tend to continue going where they have gone before to eliminate. Therefore, you need to ensure you clean the area after the accident to get the smell out.

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