You should adopt a consistent approach to re-house training, therefore setting up a routine for your dog. Be aware that there are many reasons why a dog may do this. Additionally, scents and odours from other pets, or being in a new home may stimulate some initial urine marking.  Remember that you and your dog need some time to learn each other’s signals and routines.  Even if he/she was house trained in his/her previous home, if you do not recognise his/her “bathroom” signal, you might miss his/her request to go out, causing him/her to eliminate indoors.  The process will be much smoother if you take steps to prevent accidents and remind him/her where he/she is supposed to “go”.

House training. House training a dog requires time, vigilance, patience and commitment.  Following the procedures outlined below, you can minimise house soiling incidents, but virtually every dog will have an accident in the house, during this process (more likely several). It is part of raising a dog; the more consistent you are in following the basic house training procedures, the faster your dog will learn acceptable behaviour.  It may take several weeks to house-train your dog and with some of the smaller breeds, it might take longer.

During house-training your dog should be always be in one of the following situations;

  • In its crate, or containment area.
  • Loose but under your direct supervision.
  • Outside at its toilet area or on a walk, again under your direct supervision.

Times and signals that may mean your dog needs to urinate or defecate.

  • Just woken up/ been let out of its crate or confinement area.
  • Stops playing abruptly, wanders away from a play area.
  • After eating or drinking.
  • Sniffing with its nose directly on the floor.
  • Circling, (possibly sniffing at the same time).
  • Standing near or going to the door that it usually goes out of to urinate or defecate.
  • Moving towards an area that it has previously soiled.
  • About to squat!

Establish a Routine. Dogs need a regular routine.  Always take your dog out immediately after he/she wakes up from a nap, after playing and after eating.

  • Take your dog out at the same times every day. For example, first thing in the morning when he/she wakes up, when you arrive home from work and before you go to bed.
  • Praise your dog lavishly every time he/she urinates or defecates outside, either in the garden or when on a walk. Give him a treat.  You must praise him/her, give him/her a treat immediately after he/she is finished and not wait until after he/she comes back inside the house.  This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for urinating or defecating outdoors is the only way he/she will know that is what you want him/her to do.
  • Choose a location not too far from the door to be the bathroom spot. Always take your dog, on leash, directly to the bathroom spot.  Take him/her for a walk or play with him/her only after he/she has eliminated.  If you clean up an accident in the house, leave the soiled rags or paper towels in the correct bathroom spot.  The smell will help your dog recognise the area as the place where he/she is supposed to eliminate.
  • While your dog is urinating or defecating, use a word or phrase like “be quick,” for example, that you can eventually use before he/she, “goes” to remind him/her of what he/she is supposed to be doing.
  • If possible, put your dog on a regular feeding routine. Depending on their age, dogs usually need to be fed once or twice a day.  Feeding your dog at the same time each day will make it more likely that your dog will wee or poop at consistent times as well.  This makes house-training easier for both of you.

Supervise, supervise, supervise. Do not give your dog an opportunity to soil in the house.  He/she should be watched at all times, when he/she is indoors.  You can tether him/her to you with a six-foot lead, or use baby gates, to keep him/her in the room where you are.  Watch for signs that he/she needs to eliminate, like sniffing around or circling.  If you see these signs, immediately take him/her outside, on a lead, to his/her bathroom spot.  If he/she “goes”, praise him/her lavishly and reward him/her with a treat.

Confinement. When you are unable to watch your dog at all times, he/she should be confined to an area small enough that he/she will not want to eliminate there a crate is ideal for this process.  It should be just big enough for him/her to comfortably stand lie down and turn around in.  If he/she has spent several hours in confinement, when you let him/her out, take him/her directly to his/her bathroom spot and praise him/her when he/she eliminates.

Oops! Most dogs, at some point, will have an accident in the house.  You should expect this as it’s a normal part of your dog’s adjustment to his/her new home or routine.

  • If you catch your dog in the act of urinating or defecating in the house, do something to interrupt him/her like making a startling noise (do not scare him/her). Immediately take him/her outside to his/her bathroom spot, praise him/her and give him/her a treat if he/she finishes urinating or defecating there.
  • Do not punish your dog for urinating or defecating in the house. If you find a soiled area, it is too late to administer a correction.  Do nothing but clean it up.  Rubbing your dog’s nose in it, taking him/her to the spot and scolding him/her, or any other type of punishment, will only make him/her afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence.  Animals do not understand punishment after the fact, even if it is only seconds later.  Punishment will do more harm than good.
  • Cleaning the soiled area is very important because dogs are highly motivated to continue soiling in areas that smell like/of urine or faeces.

Other Types of House Soiling Problems. If you have consistently followed the house training procedures and your dog continues to eliminate in the house, there may be another reason for his/her behaviour.

  • Medical Problems:  House soiling can often be caused by physical problems such as a urinary tract infection or a parasite infection.  Check with your veterinarian to rule out any possibility of disease or illness.
  • Submissive/excitement urination: Some dogs, especially young ones, temporarily lose control of their bladders when they become excited or feel threatened.  This usually occurs during greetings, intense play or when they are about to be punished.
  • Territorial Urine-Marking: Dogs sometimes deposit urine or faeces, usually in small amounts, to scent-mark their territory.  Both male and female dogs do this and it most often occurs when they believe their territory has been invaded. Speak with your Veterinary Practice regarding the benefits of neutering your dog if appropriate.
  • Separation Anxiety. Dogs that become anxious when they are left alone may house soil as a result.  Usually, there are other symptoms, such as destructive behaviour or vocalisation.
  • Fears or Phobias. When animals become frightened, they may lose control of their bladder and/or bowels.  If your dog is afraid of loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks, he/she may house soil when he/she is exposed to these sounds.