All Things Dog

Housebreaking 101

A storm hits, a stranger comes to the door or another dog enters your home: suddenly your dog, who was housetrained as a puppy, forgets peeing protocol and makes a mess in your house. It's a scenario that can test the patience of even the most loving dog owner. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to give your dog a refresher course on proper bathroom pettiquette.

Why your dog has "accidents"
Your dog doesn't pee or poop inside the house out of spite or to get attention. The reasons why he might be behaving this way, are because he:

  • Is ill or has an infection
  • Is marking his territory
  • Is showing submission
  • Is suffering from separation anxiety
  • Is overly excited
  • Is frightened
  • Wasn't taken outside in time
  • Was unsupervised or left alone too long
  • Wasn't trained properly to tell you when he "has to go"
  • A clean start
    If your dog has accidents, you should first take him to the vet to rule out any underlying health conditions. Next, it's time to clean the old "accident areas" in your home. The best way to clean pee stains is to use a half and half mixture of white vinegar and water. Don't use products containing ammonia, as they only intensify the smell of urine - which may encourage your dog to pee there again.

    You should designate an area outside as your dog's "bathroom spot". After cleaning up an accident in the house, leave the rags in this spot. The smell will help your dog identify this area as his official "washroom".

    Know when he's "got to go"
    The most important thing you have to do when "retraining your dog" is recognize when he has to go to the "bathroom". When dogs have to pee, they give off signals like sniffing around or circling. As soon as your spot these signals, take him outside on his leash. If he eliminates outside, praise and reward him immediately - not when you get home.

    Tips for keeping your home pee free

  • Keep an eye on your dog. Look out for his bathroom signals and don't give him an opportunity to pee in the house. You may want to keep him tethered on a long leash or use baby gates.

  • If you can't watch your dog at all times, confine him to an area that he won't want to mess. It should be just big enough for him to easily stand, turn around and lie down in. You also might want to consider crate training your dog.

  • Keep your dog on a schedule. Take him out at the same time every day - such as first thing in the morning or right after work. Also, feeding your dog on a set schedule will make his bathroom times more predicable.

  • Only take him for a walk or play with him after he's eliminated in his bathroom spot.

  • If you catch your dog going in the house, startle him by making a noise. Then take him directly to his bathroom spot. Don't punish him by scolding him or rubbing his nose in the area. It's important to remember that dogs don't understand punishment after the fact - even if it's only a few seconds later.

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