You decided to get an older dog to avoid the midnight puppy pee sessions and shoe chewing. You also assumed he would be house trained (he’s not a puppy anymore, right?); but when you got home, you soon found out that he thinks the carpet is the bathroom… as well as his crate.
Whether you got him from a dog rescue or from a breeder, it’s possible that he was never house trained or that he was kennelled too long and thinks it’s normal to pee in his (and your) space! Here are a few tricks to un-train your dog from peeing inside and show him how to pee outside!
It sounds mean – you want to give your pooch a comfy place to sleep! But, if they pee on something absorbent like a towel or a blanket, they’ll never have to be uncomfortable and sit in it, which means they’ll just keep using it as their bathroom place. Removing the blanket may result in a few messy mornings, but eventually they’ll despise sitting in their wet pee and wait till morning.
Do they often pee in their crate overnight? Make a rule of no water past 8pm and be sure to take them outside for a last pee right before you put them in their crate for the night. Also, take them for a pee first thing in the morning as soon as you wake up. This establishes routine – if they know you’re going to take them out first thing, they’ll make a point to hold it until then.
Note your dog’s behavior – do they always seem to go on carpet or on a mat? Do they pee out of site? Remove or block the things that are helping them fail. Put up baby gates to keep them out of the carpeted living room or to prevent them from being out of site, and remove the mat in the kitchen. If the things they like to pee on are inaccessible or if they can’t hide and pee, they’ll wait to go out.
Is your entire house carpeted? Is it too hard to keep them in sight? Then keep them on a leash while indoors! Dogs are less likely to pee right in front of you, so if they’re on a leash you’re more likely to pick up on the signs that they need to go out – take note if they’re sniffing, can’t sit still or pulling towards the door – they’re probably trying to tell you something.
Do they seem to pee inside every few hours? Then they probably haven’t trained their bladder to hold it. If they tend to pee every 2 hours inside, then Be one step ahead of them and take them out every 1.5 hours. Prevent them from failure and help them succeed.
Did they accidentally pee inside? Draw no attention to it, just take them outside to where they should have gone and say ‘go pee’. If they do it, then click and give them a treat. If not, no treat and try to take them out before the accident happens next time.
There’s a whole theory behind it with many books and lengthy courses, but the simple version is – when you click after they do something right, it helps them understand good vs. bad. We don’t speak their language, so they have trouble differentiating an angry yell with an excited tone. The click lets them know ‘yes, you did a good thing’ as a treat follows it. Once the clicker method is instilled on them, they’ll do whatever they can to hear that click, because they want to make you happy! To assist with your training, when they pee outside make sure you click as soon as the stream of pee stops and then follow up with a delicious treat. Only use the clicker for pee time until they have it under control. Once that is mastered, It can then be used for tricks and other training!
Choose a spot outside for bathroom time and always take them to the same place. This will help them recognize that when you take them to that special spot, you want them to use the bathroom. Choose a spot away from where they normally play to help keep them separate.
Depending on your dogs age, it could take months to a year to get them to break the bad habit. Make these tips part of your daily routine and have patience. Just when you think they’re not picking it up, they’ll come around! Be consistent and give lots of praise when they pee outside.
Once your dog starts picking up on things and you’ve been accident free for quite some time, then start to give a bit of freedom. Expand the gates to a larger area, give more off-leash time indoors, extend the time between taking them out. If your dog starts to go back to old habits, then reverse back to when they were doing well and continue. It will take time, but the more times you help them succeed, the more they will understand where they should use the bathroom!