My Dog & I: Not in the House!

Why do dogs make the “mistake” of “going to the bathroom” in the house?? This is one of my most frequently asked questions…in various formats!!

How do I stop my dog peeing on the carpet? He knows he did the wrong thing!! He runs back inside after I have had him in the yard for twenty minutes and poops on the floor!! She walks right up to the door and then pees!!!

It feels SO personal, doesn’t it? When we love and care for these guys and then they reward us by messing up our lovely new carpets or even, horror of horrors, peeing on our bed or couch!


Firstly, let me tell you that it is NOT an act of defiance or revenge, spite or stubbornness. If your dog is peeing or pooping in your house, it is because he or she does not understand the rule of going outside to do this.

A dog naturally wants to poop away from the place it sleeps, which is why crate training works so well. The idea is that other predators cannot discover the place where the dog is most vulnerable and therefore, it is the dogs plan to “throw the enemy off the scent”, as it were by leaving scat as far away from his “den” as possible. Unfortunately, if you have a ten pound dog and 3,000sq. feet of living space, away can be behind the couch in the living room as the little guy does not understand the concept of your “inside world” as a den.

Peeing can signify several other communications. Submissive peeing – “I am little and/or smaller than you and present no threat” – “I am leaving this message to say that I live here” – “I cannot help myself, my bladder is full” or “I have a Urinary Tract Infection”. In short, housetraining has many facets. Are you introducing an older dog into your home or are you bringing up a puppy?

If the former, then I always advise, starting with a very limited access to your home, an area in the kitchen to begin with perhaps and frequent access to an outside area, preferably with grass. Gradually allowing your new houseguest access to the rest of the house, s-l-o-w-l-y and if necessary, having him on leash. Keep your routine steady and consistent so that your dog knows how long he must control himself until his next opportunity. Do not allow access to water after 7pm and crate at night. Most dogs will go outside and pee almost immediately but pooping takes a little more time and focus (Really?) Put aside this time and don’t be trying to rush through the process…yes, it may be raining or cold…aren’t you glad you have a nice warm bathroom to go to?? A little hint about pooping – it is always easier after some exercise so if you take your dog for a walk, he is MUCH more likely to poop before he is confined. DON’T give treats for eliminating!!! The reward is inherent and if you give a treat to your dog inside the kitchen when he has gone outside to the bathroom, chances are, next time he goes out to pee, he will be so excited at the thought of that treat that he will be racing back into the house before he remembers what he went outside to do.

Now let me help you with your puppy!! Housetraining a puppy is a matter of forming the habit of leaving the house in order to eliminate and like children, puppies do not associate going to a door with doing this…Neither do they have much control!

There really are no short cuts to this process and I can only say, again that if you are getting a pup, you must put aside enough time to assume the responsibility of teaching him.

An eight week old pup will need to be watched and put outside many times a day in order to get into the habit. After a nap, after playing, after eating, when he is sniffing, when he looks distracted, when he first comes out of his crate…in short, many more times than you had bargained for…and there will be accidents! Do NOT make a big fuss about these when they happen, it was probably your fault. Simply take puppy outside, (not expecting her to accomplish anything as she already did) and thoroughly clean the area where the accident happened with an enzymatic cleaner so that no scent trace remains.

Crate training is a great idea but do not leave the pup confined for more than an hour or two during the day and be prepared to let her out at least once during the night for a couple of weeks.

The good news is that this process really only takes a month or two and by six months your puppy will reliably be waiting to go outside to use the bathroom.

One more tip…although you may initially have to carry the pup outside to pee and poop, as soon as you can, start using a leash to bring her to the door and outside so that she knows HOW to get there…otherwise she will expect to FLY every time!! You may also use an encouraging tone to call your puppy outside but be careful not to get her too excited or she will PEE!!!

There are many variables to this process and loads of exceptions to the rule but I have tried to cover the main points of this much-asked question.

Just be prepared to take on this job with a sense of humor and be ready to put off buying a new oriental rug until your new canine addition is mostly reliable!!! | Follow Janine on instagram @goodladd_dogtraining and hire her at!

HashtagWV #98. February 2018

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