I’ve written before about how to potty train your puppy, but I haven’t spent much time addressing the issues many of us face during the process. I’ve received a lot of questions about potty training issues, many of which ask how to handle certain setbacks, so today I’ll address the most common questions and concerns.
Here are 5 common toilet training problems and how to solve them.
Your dog repeatedly soils the same area
One of the most common toilet training problems is when dogs go to the toilet in the same place. It’s frustrating, but chances are they do it out of habit, and because they’ve ‘marked’ the area before, thinking it’s a good place to go.
Chances are your dog will pick up the leftover urine odors, even if you think you’ve cleaned the area properly. It is estimated that a dog’s sense of smell is at a minimum 10,000 times better than ours, and they can pick up residual odors that we don’t even notice.
Dogs tend to prefer to go to the toilet in the same place, and if urine odor remains in the house, they will be attracted to that spot. So if you’re in the middle of potty training, leftover odors indoors can undermine your dog’s desire to go to the bathroom outside.
If your dog smells urine in a certain spot inside, he may not think twice before using that spot again. It is completely normal for dogs to keep going in the same area over and over again. To avoid that setback, you need to thoroughly clean up any accidents with your dog. It is imperative that you remove any odors in that area that your dog may pick up.
To remove urine odor from your carpet, use an enzymatic cleaner made for removing pet stains. The enzymes in these cleaners bind to and break down specific molecules, making it easier to clean up messes and remove stains. The enzymes in pet-specific cleaners To finish chains of molecules that cause the unpleasant odors found in pet urine. You can find enzymatic cleaners from amazon and most pet stores.
Your dog has an accident while you are at work
Another potty training problem that many of us face is our dog having accidents when you are at work or away from home for a while. In general, a puppy can only hold his bladder for about approx one hour per month of age. Your three-month-old puppy may only be able to hold his bladder for three hours, and that’s a problem for those of us who work full-time. It’s not realistic to expect a 3 or 4 month old puppy to hold it for more than 8 hours while you go to work.
A few dog owners are lucky enough to work for a company that allows them to bring their dogs to work, but for most of us that’s not an option. So how do you prevent your dog from having an accident when you go to work? If you don’t have someone else at home to walk your pup during the day, you have a few options:
- Have a friend, family member or neighbor walk your dog during the day.
- Come home during your lunch break to walk your dog (if you work close to home).
- Rent one dog sitter or dog walker to walk your dog while you are at work.
- You can bring your dog dog daycare (can be prohibitively expensive).
Crate training is often brought up as a way to prevent your dog from having an accident while you are at work. While I think crate training has many benefits, such as keeping your dog safe while you are away, I want to emphasize that it is not a foolproof method when it comes to preventing accidents. It’s true that most dogs won’t want to soil their crate if given the choice – but remember that most puppies can’t last eight hours straight, regardless of whether they’re in a crate or not.
I’m not suggesting that crate training is bad, I’m just emphasizing that it is not the panacea for potty training that some make it out to be. Dogs are less likely to get dirty in their crate than if they are free to roam around the house, but that only works as long as they are physically able to keep it in.
Your dog won’t go to the bathroom when you’re outside
How many times has this happened to you? You take your dog to go potty, only to find out he’s interested in everything except going to the toilet. You are certainly not alone, this happens to all of us. One of the most common potty training problems is dealing with a dog that won’t go to the toilet when outside. It’s why the meme below is so popular – it’s something we can all relate to.
If you take your dog with you and he doesn’t go potty, it could be for a number of reasons. Some dogs ask to go out because they want to play, some dogs want to get out and explore, and sometimes it’s because we just take them for walks when they don’t have to go.
As dogs get older, their bladder grows and they can hold it for longer. As you progress in your potty training, you will notice that your dog does not need to go potty every hour or two like he used to. If you take your dog out every two hours and notice that he doesn’t go potty every time, chances are he doesn’t need to go outside as often anymore. Instead of taking them out every 2 hours, try 3.
If your dog asks to go out and he doesn’t go potty in about 5 minutes, chances are he wanted to go outside for something other than a bathroom break. Maybe they want to play, or maybe they want to go out and track down that interesting scent they noticed earlier. I don’t normally deny play and exploration, but if you’re still in the middle of potty training, I recommend bringing them back inside when they don’t go to the potty rather than spoiling them.
The reason for this is that during potty training you are ultimately waiting for the moment when your dog can reliably ask to go outside when he needs to be potty trained. If they ask to go outside for other reasons and you encourage them by playing along, they are more likely to ask to go outside to play again. Again, it is a personal choice whether or not you want to spoil them with outdoor play. For me, I try to keep potty training simple and avoid the confusion of “is she asking to go outside to potty train, or does she just want to play?”
I’m not a complete grinch, and I don’t encourage you to be either. If your dog asks to go outside and he only seems interested in playing, then I recommend that you bring him back inside and play indoors. As they get older and closer to full-blown toilet training, that rule may change. But for the first month of potty training, I recommend making the outdoors revolve around potty breaks as much as possible.
Try to prevent ‘you have to go outside’ from becoming more than just toilet training. If you want to play with your pup outside, do so when you choose to go out with him, rather than when he asks to go out.
Your dog doesn’t let you know when he needs to go outside
One of the biggest problems with potty training is teaching your dog to let you know when he needs to go outside. There is a misconception that dogs quickly figure out how to let you know when they need to go. Unfortunately, most dogs don’t immediately pick up on a sign such as scratching at the door when they need to go outside. One of the most common potty training problems is finding a reliable way for your dog to let you know when he needs to go outside.
If you feel like your puppy isn’t letting you know when to go outside, you’re not alone. Many dogs circle and sniff around when they need to go outside, but we don’t always pick up on those subtle signals. To avoid missing the cues your dog uses when he needs to go outside, you can work on teaching him to use a specific cue.
Teaching your dog to use a specific cue when they need to go outside, such as barking at the door or using a bell ensures your dog has a way to reliably get your attention when he needs to go outside.
Choose whichever method you want your dog to use to let you know he needs to go outside and stick with it. Stand next to your dog and encourage him to use that cue before you take him outside, praising him like crazy when he uses it. With enough repetition, your dog will come to associate that signal with going outside, and with enough practice he will start using it himself to let you know when he needs to go.
If your older dog pees in the house
If your older dog suddenly goes to the bathroom in your home, it could be a urine spot, or a sign of an underlying medical problem. The same goes for younger dogs; certain medical problems such as UTIs can cause dogs to urinate frequently.
Urine marking, also called marking their territoryoccurs when your dog deliberately marks certain areas with his urine. Our dogs often mark things while we are walking (peeing in certain areas), but this behavior can also occur at home. Some dogs can mark new things in the house (a new piece of furniture), and some dogs may start marking when a new animal is introduced to the house.
Has there been a big change in your home lately? Is there a new animal or baby in the house? Does your dog have a new schedule? Have you moved to a new house? Is your dog left alone longer than usual? All these changes can cause stress, leading to indoor urination.
The good news is that older dogs usually respond well to a quick potty training refresher. Don’t punish your dog for accidents. Clean the areas they have soiled well and get back into the habit of praising them for going potty outside for a while.
If your dog repeatedly urinates on a particular piece of furniture, you can cordon off that area with a baby gate. Does your dog seem anxious when you leave for work and start urinating in the house? If so, start working on steps to reduce separation anxiety.
If you haven’t experienced any major changes at home that you can attribute to your dog urinating indoors, it’s time to pay a visit to the vet. In older dogs that are already house trained, urinating or defecating in the house may indicate a medical problem. Some of the most common medical problems that can cause your dog to pee in the house include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Bladder stones
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Cushing’s syndrome
If your housebroken dog suddenly goes to the toilet in your house, consult your vet.
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