Toby is a rescue & about 1.5 yrs old. Very needy dog. Previous owners showered the puppy (6wks) with love when they first got him since he was just a little fur ball. But once he grew they began to hate him. They were not home & had no yard to leave him in so he never got potty trained. They began to verbally abuse him until I took him away from them.
He is a poodle, not large, not miniature but about 10 lbs. He can be outside all day long but when he comes in the house, he pee’s any & everywhere. I only know to scold him & put him back outside. That is not working & from what I have read is not the way to train him. PLEASE PLEASE help!! I have carpet & he is ruining it. He is too small & too short hair to stay outside in winter but I need help.
Thanks so much for your time.
I want to start off by thanking you for giving Toby a loving home. I understand how frustrating it can be to have a dog that is not picking the appropriate places to eliminate. Typically the longer the dog has been rehearsing the unwanted behavior, the longer it will take to “break.” The goal is to teach him an entirely new behavior, which is eliminating outdoors.
In order to teach this new behavior you need to find something that Toby loves, like chicken, turkey, hot dog etc. The idea is to only use this reward when he makes the correct decision. (Eliminating outdoors.) Timing is very important when teaching this. Whatever that last behavior the dog has done is what you are rewarding. For instance, if he goes outside and urinates, you call him back to you, he comes, you tell him “good boy” and give him his food reward. What you are technically doing is rewarding him for coming back to you. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to teach this behavior. Going out with the dog is a must when teaching this. My advice is, as soon as the last drop hits the ground, a reward should be in the dog’s mouth. This will ensure that the dog knows what it is getting the reward for. As long as the reward is good enough, it will motivate Toby to continue to eliminate in that spot.
Setting Toby up for success is extremely important. If you don’t currently have a crate, I highly recommend getting one. The crate should be big enough for him to be able to stand on all fours and turn around. If the crate is any bigger it will give him enough room to eliminate in one side, and hang out in the other. If it is the proper size he shouldn’t eliminate because he won’t want to sit in his own mess. (Unless he is dealing with something else like separation anxiety.) Using a crate can be an excellent tool. The idea of it is to put him in there when he can’t be properly supervised, or if you think he has to go, but isn’t going. If everything goes to plan the crate gives you a safety cushion of guaranteed time where he is not eliminating.
I would throw punishment out the window on this. The best thing you will get from punishing this behavior is a dog that is afraid to eliminate in front of a human. If the dog is scared to eliminate in front of a human it makes it impossible for us to tell him where the correct place to go is.
How long would you say he can currently go in between eliminations? If the answer is an hour, for the next week give or take, I recommend getting him out every 45 minutes. If he is still having accidents within those 45 minutes, it will be important to get him out even more often. Once he is having success with that amount of time, start to increase the amount of time in between being let out. Make sure you increase the amount of time in small increments. If you increase the time too fast you will set him up for failure. For the record the general rule of thumb is for every month old a dog is, equals an hour they can hold their bladder.
I would start using play time outdoors as a reward for eliminating the proper spot as well. Meaning I wouldn’t let him out to play just so he can come in and eliminate. Use walks to your advantage. Typically on a walk a dog will get most of its elimination out of the way if it’s allowed to. I would also recommend regulating the water intake. I don’t think he is ready for a full bowl of water to be lying around at all times.
One last thing in regards to the crate: I use a system with the crate when I think the dog has to eliminate, but is not doing it. I will put the dog in the crate for 15 minutes or so. After that time I will let him directly outside to eliminate. If he goes, I will reward and then allow him the freedom of being in the house with me supervised. If he doesn’t eliminate I will put him back in the crate and wait another 15 minutes. (Repeat the cycle until you get the desired behavior.)
Another good idea is to use a tethering system. What I mean by this is his leash is tethered to your waist so you know where he is at all times. This system works for some, but not all. One other thing you could do is take him to see his veterinarian to rule out anything medical like a Urinary Tract Infection.
Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA
Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org) and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V, follow him on Facebook by clicking here.
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