This article is aimed at anyone who is in the process of or is considering house training a new adolescent or adult pet dog (approximately six months or older) as opposed to house training a puppy, although the same tips will hold true for puppies.
Some pet dogs, through no fault of their own, reach adulthood without being fully house trained. The wonderful news is that with commitment and patience new habits can be established to house train a new dog.
Apart from not being fully house trained there are several other reasons why a new dog may poop or pee in the home. These include stress or tension in the household, anxiety about being left alone, territory marking or just not feeling well.
Lack of House Training Symptoms
It is common for only a few areas in the house to be used, these tend to be near the doors of the rooms used and the dog will usually return to these sites on a regular basis.
It may be that the dog urinates and defecates in the home whilst in other cases he does either one or the other in the home whilst doing the other outside. Usually, but not always, a dog will sneak away to go rather than do their toileting in front of humans. This can happen at any time, not just when left alone in the home. Even after a walk, your dog may come home and go to the toilet when back inside. In this situation it is important to remain calm and avoid punishing or admonishing him.
Something many dogs learn is that it is wrong to go to the toilet in the home in front of their owners. In all likelihood this is because they have been scolded or punished in the past when caught toileting in the home.
All too frequently puppies are just put out into the garden and left there. Once outside, a puppy that finds being alone frightening or uncomfortable will concentrate on getting back inside to their owner, rather than learning to go to the toilet outside.
What then happens is that the dog often learns it is wrong to go in the presence of people but doesn’t learn that it is wrong to go in the home. For a dog who has learned this, their only option is to wait until the owner is not looking or to sneak away into another part of the home where they can relieve themselves. Dogs who are worried about toileting in front of people may take longer to house-train than other dogs; you will need extra patience in this event and it will be good to remind yourself that your patience here will pay off.
If your dog has previously gone to the toilet on the carpet it is highly likely that he will still be able to smell it after it has been cleared up. Thoroughly clean all areas your dog has used and avoid using ammonia based products; these will irritate your dogs sensitive nose and can prove harmful. Use either a solution of biological washing powder; a teaspoon in a cup with warm water or a specially formulated solution from your vet.
Establish a Routine
First thing in the morning, last thing at night and regularly throughout the day, take your dog outside to a part of your garden you have chosen to be his toilet area. It is worth having soiled newspaper or faeces placed in this area as the smell will help him determine where to the toilet area is. Let your dog walk up and down or run around sniffing the area as both exercise and sniffing help stimulate toilet activity.
Absolutely avoid playing exciting games during this process as this is likely to distract your dog from the main purpose of going outside! If they want to come back inside straight away, or look confused, patiently walk up and down slowly to encourage them to move about and sniff the ground. Stay outside with your dog until they have done their business, once they have been is the point at which it is advisable to give gentle praise.. Notice the word “gentle”!
If your dog hasn’t been within five minutes come back inside the home and keep a close eye on him. After twenty minutes have passed repeat this process again and keep repeating it until he does go to the toilet. This may call for a great deal of patience but be assured that persistence will pay great dividends.
Make sure to supervise your dog when in the home between trips to the garden. This means keeping him in view at all times and being aware of what he is doing, particularly during the first two weeks of this training. Pay particular attention to the times after your dog has eaten, woken up or after periods of excitement such as play or someone visiting you.
Watch for any signs that your dog may need the toilet; these can include such things as sniffing the floor, circling, looking restless or going into a room they have previously used for the purpose. Take your dog immediately to your chosen place in the garden and wait patiently until they have done their business and praise gently.
When You’re Not There
Inevitably there will be times you have to go out or can’t be with your dog for some reason, ideally this will be after his new toilet habits have become established. If you have to go out for less than two hours you could leave him in a dog crate, but only if you know he can cope with this. For this purpose dog crates are marvellous tools when used correctly.
Be sure to exercise your dog and give him the opportunity to relieve himself before you leave him. If you have to leave him for more than two hours, leave him in a room which is easy to clean in case there are any “accidents”. You could put a large polythene sheet on the floor for him; whilst this won’t teach him where to go to the toilet it will prevent the area becoming soiled and it will also be easier to clean up.
Through The Night
The majority of adult dogs will sleep through the night without needing the toilet. For those that haven’t got the hang of going outside yet the simple solution is to put your dog’s bed or crate either in your bedroom or close by. If he is outside the bedroom, leave the door ajar so that if he wakes needing to go during the night, you will hear whining or movement. Get up, follow the daytime routine and calmly take him outside. Put him back to bed again calmly when you come back in.
At night it is particularly important not to excite him in anyway. We don’t want him to learn that going into the garden in the small hours is a fun activity. If you can’t have your dog near your bedroom and you are waking up to a few accidents, then it is advisable to set an alarm clock and experiment with the time at which to get up, aiming to coincide it with the time your dog needs to go. Whilst this may sound like a bit of an effort it shouldn’t last for long and when the new habits have been established it will have been so worthwhile.
Upon Finding a Mound or Puddle
Although you may feel angry or frustrated it is vitally important not to punish your dog. He won’t be able to associate your feelings of annoyance with something that has happened in the past or when you weren’t there, so it will teach him nothing constructive. It is likely to have an adverse effect and make things worse as your dog will become more anxious about you returning home which may cause even more toileting indoors. If your dog has gone to the toilet just greet him in the normal happy way before cleaning up any mess.
- Make the commitment in both time and effort to hose train your dog.
- Meticulously clean your home of animal toileting smells, paying particular attention to previosly soiled areas.
- Establish and maintain a structured routine.
- Adhere to the training routine for at least two weeks.
- Be assertive with your dog, treating him firmly with the love, patience and respect he deserves.
You will need to continue with this routine for at least two weeks and some dogs may need a little extra time and help. During the process your dog learns to get praise for going to the toilet outside. Because he doesn’t have the chance to go inside he will get into the habit of going outside instead. For the first few weeks afterwards continue to go out to the garden with your dog in order to praise him until you are confident he knows exactly what to do.
After two weeks of this routine gradually increase the time between visits to the garden. Your dog will eventually want to go to the toilet at times when he needs to relieve himself. When this occurs he will probably become more active, perhaps wandering over to the door. Watch for a change in his behaviour and take him out quickly. Gradually, as you start to recognise the signs that he needs to go you can relax your supervision in the home.
At this point, all the effort put into house training your new dog will have been worthwhile, you can feel justifiably proud of yourself and thoroughly enjoy the companionship of your new house trained companion. For the sake of ease of writing I have referred to your new dog as he, him or his and this article is equally applicable to both male and female dogs.