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Dog Behaviour Problems: Your dog's behaviour

House-soiling (not clean in the house), Too clean:

Question: We have recently rescued our dog who is a retired racing greyhound. she is 5 yrs. and has we believe settled into family life well. However she does urinate in the house sometimes and even while we are present occasionally. Can you offer any advice?

Answer: Greyhounds in kennels don’t have to wait for a time when they have access to a garden to urinate as they can do go anytime they feel the need.

They are naturally clean, especially around their nest area and so are not difficult to housetrain. However, she will probably not yet have learnt what to do when she needs to go and there is no obvious access to the toilet (i.e. outside). When you have to go out or cannot supervise her, leave her in one room and make an obvious ‘toilet’ area for her with newspaper (dab a spot of previously-collected urine in the centre).

Pay a bit more attention to her at times when you think she may need to go, i.e. when she has drunk a lot of water or had a meal and hasn’t been outside for a while. Eventually, you will notice her behaviour change. She will begin to get restless and may circle or sniff the floor. Immediately reinforce any movement made in the direction of the door by getting up to let her out.

Gradually, she will begin to realise that she can ‘ask’ for the door to be opened and, gradually, she will begin to learn to hold on when she is left too. Make sure all previously soiled areas are cleaned with biological washing powder solution and, when dry, wiped over with surgical spirit.

You may like to read The Rescue Dog which has more information on understanding & correcting this behaviour.

Please also see Gwen Bailey's articles on A Greyhoud or Lurcher in the Family and Predatory Aggression in Lurchers and Greyhounds

Question: My dog Honey is a seventeen week old bitch german shepherd puppy. She is generally clean in most of the house, even where she sleeps during the night. She will, However persist in urinating both just outside and in my wife's bedroom. Is there any way of stopping this habit?

Answer: Make sure the areas are cleaned thoroughly so that the smell of previously marked areas is not attracting her back to the same spot.

Do this with a warm biological washing powder solution, allow to dry and rub over with surgical spirit. Place large items such as small tables over the marked areas once dry for a few days to break the habit.

If she chooses another spot near to or in your wife’s bedroom, it could be that she is marking territory rather than just needing to go to the toilet (territory marking usually involves small amounts of urine whereas toileting usually produces lots).

If this is the case, look for signs that she may feel insecure about something.

Look at the times she urinates and see if there is a pattern, e.g. whenever visitors arrive, whenever she is left. If insecurity is the problem, treating the cause is the solution.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding & working on the house-training.

Question: Our six-month toy poodle urinates when she gets excited. Other than this, she is fully house-trained. Is there anything we can do about this?

Answer: You can try to build her confidence by using only praise and reward for good behaviour and by keeping rebukes for unwanted behaviour to a minimum. This is a common problem in young females of the toy breeds.

Being small and gentle-natured, it is not unusual for them to view the big humans they live with as creatures that need to be appeased.

By producing a small amount of urine during greetings and excitement, she is displaying to us that she is only a baby and of no threat (unfortunately, our sense of smell is not as good as theirs and we do not appreciate the gesture as they would!). Try not to scold her when she does it.

Keep towels handy so that you can put these underneath her. Be gentle with her and treat her with kindness and, hopefully, she will soon develop enough self-confidence to stop feeling the need to do this.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding & working on the house-training.

Question: How can I stop my Boxer puppy soiling in the house at night? She spends a lot of time outside during the day, and we take her out late at night to go to the toilet. We do not feed her after 6.30pm, but she has always soiled when we go downstairs in the morning. Please help, this problem seems to be going on forever.

Answer: You don’t say how old she is. Some puppies take longer to learn to be clean at night than others and you shouldn’t expect puppies younger than 6 months to be able to hold on all night.

The best thing to do would be to take her upstairs with her bed to your bedroom at night and tie her so that she cannot get out of her bed. (If you do not want her in your bedroom, put her somewhere within hearing range and leave your door open. Be very careful how you tie her and do not use a check-chain.)

Pay no attention to her after you have said goodnight, but if she wakes up during the night and fidgets, wait a few moments and then take her down to the garden. Put on a coat and wait with her with a torch until you see her do something. Then praise her and take her back to bed.

Since it is inconvenient to go in the night and she has to wait until she is taken out, you will find that she will slowly grow out of the habit and, after being clean for 2 weeks, can be returned to the kitchen at nights.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding & working on the house-training.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Ingredients for the Perfect Puppy

Question: My Chihuahua dogs are caged trained and always do there business in the cage and are kept in the bathroom at night but when my hubby wakes up in the morning to go to work he finds that the dogs have done there business all over the floor and nothing in the cage. What could be the cause of them doing this?

Answer: People usually encourage their dogs to sleep in their cages and it is unkind and undesirable for them to learn to go to the toilet there.

Since dogs are naturally clean animals and do not like to mess close to their nests, I would think that your dogs are trying to separate their sleeping area from the toilet area - this is perfectly normal.

To expect them to sleep in the cage and to go to the toilet in it is not fair. So give them a toilet area which cover the whole floor using newspaper with polythene underneath. (Clean the whole floor thoroughly first using biological washing powder solution.)

Put soft bedding in the cage so they can rest comfortably.

They will soon get into the habit of going on the newspaper. Once they have, you can reduce the area to a more manageable size but ensure it is kept as far away as possible from where they sleep.

Once they have got into the habit of going in a certain place, you could even teach them to use cat litter trays which would be more convenient for you to clean.

Please also see Gwen Bailey's article on Indoor Kennels (Wire Cages & Crates)

Question: We got our dog at about 8 months-old, not knowing his history. When he gets excited, for example when we return home, he goes to the toilet on the floor. He also does this if he thinks he has done something wrong.

I have sought advice before and tried everything, from ignoring him when we return home, letting him straight out if we think he is going to do it and not telling him off he does anything wrong, but he continues to do it.

We know it is a psychological problem, probably due to being abused as a puppy, but what else can we do? I'm at my wits end with him. We don't tell him off for doing it, as we know this will make the matter worse, but its getting to the point where we can't take him to other people's houses because of his bad habit.

He's got a regular daily routine and has calmed down a lot since we've had him, but short of making him wear a nappy, we don't know what else to do. We are expecting our first baby in March and I don't want this to make him worse. Apart from this problem he is very good in most ways. Please, please help!

Answer: Puppies produce a small amount of urine when they encounter a bigger, stronger member of the pack so they can smell that they are only baby animals who mean no harm. It is a form of appeasement which saves them from being attacked.

Unfortunately, humans don’t always understand this message and punish them for wetting on the floor.

Although you don’t do this, he has had enough mistreatment in the past to keep doing it just in case.

To stop him, you need to build his self-confidence. Do this by stopping all negative reactions to him, and using only positive methods to get him to do what you want him to do.

Don’t tell him off, no matter what he has done, and use toys and treats to train him.

Sensitive dogs like this want to please – they just need to be shown how, so try to make him feel he is wanted and part of the family.

When you greet him, keep it low key and expect him to wet the floor.

Take him through to the kitchen and have a towel ready to put underneath him. This can be taken to other people’s houses with you too once you have got the technique sorted out.

Try to lower your expectations of him and you will give him the space to gain enough confidence to behave as you want him to. If you change your attitude, he will change his and once he has gained enough confidence, the problem will stop.

Question: We got our Otterhound from a rescue centre and had to house train him. He is now 2 years-old and has generally been all right. However, during the past two months he sometimes gets out of his bed in the middle of the night and deposits faeces at the side of his basket. He does not ask to go out, and the vet says that there is nothing physically wrong with him. We always let him out before we go to bed, and he has a long walk at about 6pm. Could it have anything to do with the times at which we feed him? His first feed is at 9am, and his last at about 5.30pm. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can stop this?

Answer: It could be just a bad habit, especially since you had to house train him when you got him although you don’t say how old he was then.

If he was used to just getting out of bed and going whenever he felt the need for most of his early life, he probably hasn’t learned to hang on at night time and wait until someone is there to let him out.

I suggest you take him upstairs with you at night for a while and confine him to his bed so that he cannot get out.

Be careful that he cannot injure himself if you tie him, and do not use a check chain. Keep him in your room or have him just outside so that you can hear him if he begins to move around in the middle of the night.

Take him outside, without giving him any fuss or attention, and wait with him until he relaxes and goes to the toilet.

Since it is inconvenient for him to go because he is confined to his bed, you will find that he tries to hang on and, eventually, you should find that his body will adjust and you will have a quiet night’s sleep.

It shouldn’t be necessary to change the feeding times, but you could do this if, after 2 weeks, you haven’t seen an improvement.

Once he has been quiet and clean at night for at least 2 weeks, put him back in the kitchen but keep him confined to his bed for another week or so to strengthen his new clean habit.

You may like to read The Rescue Dog which has more information on understanding & working on this behaviour.

Question: I have a 5 month-old Schnauzer/German shepherd cross puppy. She is generally well behaved and has a lovely temperament. But when we are on walks, she barks and growls at people in quite an aggressive manner. Also, she will only go to the toilet inside, on the paper provided. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: At 5 months, the aggressive behaviour towards people is worrying and I would advise you to do something about it quickly. Both Schnauzers and GSD’s have a genetic make-up which makes them natural guard dogs, but if they are not socialised well as puppies or they have a few bad experiences, this trait can cause them to be so mistrustful of people that they may bite someone.

You need to start a planned socialisation programme now, introducing her carefully to a sequence of people who she can get to know well. If she makes about 10 good friends of strangers, she will begin to generalise and begin to greet others in a positive manner.

You will need to do this in a way that doesn’t overwhelm her with too much at once, but gradually introduces new people who bring treats and fun in the form of games with toys. You will need to do this both in her home environment and out on walks where you currently have the problem.

Since you are at such a crucial stage in her development, and it is important that you get it right straight away, I would suggest you find a good behaviourist who can help you.

Ask your veterinary surgeon for a recommendation or contact The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors. They will also be able to help you with the toileting problem that you have.

Please also see Training for Life (everyday life) easy & fun training classes you can do at home, including:
  • Audio tape of noises your dog must learn to be unafraid of
  • Video on how to raise a friendly, well balanced dog that can cope with everyday experiences in the modern world
  • Explanation of training using rewards, toilet training, learning to be alone, chewing, adolescence, setting boundaries and saying ‘no, solving behaviour problems, tricks, games and having fun.

Question: Our dog, Daisy, urinates when she is first let in to the house or when she is excited. Could this be the result of a traumatic experience from her past?

Answer: Yes or there could be another reason.

If she is a gentle, submissive dog, it could be that she sees it as a way of displaying her inferiority to other members of the pack. A

lternatively, she could have a weak sphincter muscle to the bladder causing her to ‘leak’ when all her abdominal muscles tense – this is quite common in spayed bitches and those that have had puppies.

If she is squatting at the same time, it could be that she is marking her territory for some reasons, through anxiety perhaps.

Or if she produces lots of urine, it could be a house-training problem, i.e. that she thinks her toilet is inside. If it is just a dribble and there isn’t a medical problem, try building her self-esteem by keeping rebukes to a minimum and praising her whenever she does something well.

Place an old towel underneath her when she does it and don’t scold her. Hold her collar to prevent her from running around, keep her calm and praise her gently when it stops.

Question: Our dogue de Bordeaux, Arnold, is 10 months old and urinates all over the house. He cocks his leg on all of our furniture, curtains, beds, clothes etc. He only seems to do it when we are either out or in bed. He does not have an infection, but the house is now starting to smell because of him. We have to wash the curtains and scrub the couch regularly ñ he is even making our wooden floor lift.

We have put up with it until now but, with a new baby on the way, it will be very unhygienic. Our vet has suggested an indoor kennel, but I don' t think I could find one big enough he already weighs 9 stone. Do you have any ideas or suggestions?

Answer: If he is doing it only when he is left alone, it could be that he is feeling insecure and worried without his protective pack leaders. Marking his territory with urine would make him feel better.

If this is the cause, it is likely that he will mark strategic points at the entrances to rooms and around the doorways.

Usually, only a small amount of urine is used to mark, but it will be enough to cause a smell over time. If large amounts of urine are left, it could be a housetraining problem.

An indoor kennel may cause more problems than it solves. If it is a fear-based problem your dog may panic and cause himself damage, or force him to get used to laying in his own mess if it is a housetraining problem.

The first thing to do is clean the areas thoroughly with biological washing powder solution to remove the bacteria that cause the smell.

Shut him into one room to reduce the areas soiled and get help to solve the problem by contacting The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors

Question: My 2 year old West Highland Terrier has taken to continuously barking outside in the yard where he exercises as well as this he continuously urinates at certail points throughout the house even after being out. He is extremely restless and distracted and highly strung. Can you help?

Answer: The answer lies in working out why he is behaving in this way.

Did it begin suddenly or has it been builiding gradually? If it began suddenly, did it coincide with anything? You don’t say whether or not your dog has been castrated.

A likely explanation is that another male dog may have moved into the neighbourhood with which he is competing, particularly if there are any bitches in season in the vicinity. This may account for his indoor marking of territory.

Alternatively, and more likely, he may be anxious about something which is causing him to be worried when outside, hence the barking, and making him feel that is it necessary to mark his territory with urine to feel more secure.

It may be necessary to seek advice from The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors to help you tease out this problem and find a solution.

Question: Charlie is a crossbreed terrier. We had one or two minor accidents when we first got him then he was OK. A friend brought another do into the house which urinated against my curtains since then Charlie continues this practice but we very rarely catch him doing it. I have tried almost everything I can think of to stop him but nothing works.

As I have a young grand-daughter who comes to stay quite a lot I really need to know that the house is clean for her. With Charlie doing this I cannot be certain where he goes as he varies his places. He even does it when people are in the house albeit not in the same room and has been known to do it even with access to the garden available. Any help or suggestions would be very much appreciated.

Since this started my daughter has got a lurcher and they get on well together. It has been suggested that this is a dominance thing with Charlie being the smaller of the two. As I say the main problem is not being able to catch him doing it.

Answer: Since Charlie does this when people are in the house, when other dogs come to visit and when he is first introduced to a new place, I suspect it is his way of coping with anxiety. He is probably marking his territory to make himself feel more secure.

If he doesn’t do it when everything around him is familiar, this is almost certainly the case. If this is so, being aware that he is worried by changes and helping him to overcome these fears will help. Introducing him to new people and other dogs gradually and away from the territory will also help.

Clean any areas that have been marked with biological washing powder solution so that he isn’t attracted back to the same place. In a healthy dog, urine, although unpleasant, is not infectious to humans.

You do not mention where or not Charlie is castrated. If he is not and he only does this when other uncastrated male dogs visit your house, this may be the cause. If this is so, a visit to your veterinary surgeon may help to sort out the problem.

Question: We have two cocker spaniels, one is 2.5 years old and the other just over two years old. Our problem is toilet training, we trained them to use paper, but since the second one arrived the older one seems to have got an attitude problem and now the two of them go to the toilet nearly every night in the kitchen even though they sleep upstairs. We still leave paper down at night - should we get rid of it? Please help as it is just getting too much for us.

Answer: Dogs tend to be very substrate-specific when it comes to going to the toilet, just as humans are. We tend to look for a white china bowl, whereas your dogs tend to look for paper or grass.

If paper is down, the toilet door is open, and you may as well use it when you feel like going in the middle of the night!

If you were to take the paper away, you may find that they go to the toilet on the floor since they have now got into the habit of going at a certain time.

To prevent this, I would suggest temporarily taking both of them to a place close to where you sleep and either tying them or barricading them into their beds (be careful if you tie them and make sure they cannot damage themselves). If they wake in the night and become restless, take them downstairs to the garden and let them go to the toilet.

Continue to do this until they sleep all night. This won’t take long as it is now very inconvenient to go to the toilet (they have to wake you up and wait until you are ready to take them out) and you will soon find they try to hold on. When they have slept all night for a week, return them to the kitchen but don’t put the paper down.

Before doing so, clean the floor thoroughly with biological washing powder solution to remove any trace of smell that may encourage them back into bad habits.

Question: I acquired Summer, a Rough Collie puppy at the age of 11 weeks and trained her to use her use a particular are of the garden as her toilet. On the command ‘go on’ she would usually perform what she had to do and would receive a treat and lots of praise. I was very pleased with this as even up to this day she never goes to the toilet on a walk and will always wait until we return home.

However, we have a busy social life and regularly spend weekends away at shows, or with friends and family and I have great trouble getting her to ‘go’ in other people’s gardens or in any place that is unfamiliar to her. I usually find myself spending evenings in strange gardens saying ‘go on’ on a regular basis to no avail. Summer gets stressed in the process and will wait until she can wait no longer, usually at around 3 a.m.! Summer is absolutely perfect in every other way and we would love to take her on holiday with us in future. Any ideas would be gratefully appreciated.

Answer: I think you trained Summer very well and the problem lies not in her training but in her self confidence.

Many dogs, especially bitches of sensitive breeds, find it very difficult to go to the toilet in strange areas, especially places were other dogs go. Many show dogs wait all day to urinate until they get back home, even though they may be very uncomfortable, rather than go on strange ground.

This may have something to do with not wanting to leave their scent on another dog’s territory in case of reprisals, or it could be that they are not relaxed enough to go when outside of their own safe environment.

As you know, Rough Collies are gentle, sensitive dogs that are easily unsettled. When she is taken to shows or to friend’s houses, I suspect that her anxiety levels increase making it difficult for her to relax enough to go as normal. Rough Collies are great at not showing their feelings, so it is unlikely that you would see outward signs of this anxiety.

Anything that will help her to relax will help the situation.

Take her out into the garden, but have fun with her, rather than instructing her to go. If she cannot obey your command and you get annoyed or stressed yourself, she will sense this and become even more anxious. Instead, play her favourite game, relax yourself, feed her treats, massage her or stroke her and try to make being out in that garden a happy experience.

When at home, collect some of her urine on a piece of kitchen towel and keep it in a plastic bag. In the unfamiliar garden, dab this on the grass in several places so that her scent is there. When she has relaxed and is enjoying being outside, take her to this area and ask her to ‘go on’.

If she doesn’t, or can’t, take her back inside and try again later. If she will stay outside on her own without getting stressed, you could also try leaving her out there for a while to see if this allows her to relax enough to go.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding & working on this behaviour.

Question: My husband and I have a sixteen-month-old female Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Matilda. We have owned her since she was a 9week old puppy.

We are having terrible toilet training problems with her, she is fine during the day, as she will scratch at the door to be let out and go out into the garden. However every night, when the door is closed and we are asleep and so obviously cannot hear her scratching she will just wee on the carpet usually in the same place.

We make sure that she is let out last thing at night and she stays out until she goes to the toilet, so she should be able to get through the night without going to the loo on the carpet. She basically does not seem to understand the concept of holding on and that the door is closed and there is no one there to open it, she has to hold on and not just go when and where she feels like it. She knows its wrong, because she cowers and looks terrified in the morning when we walk towards where she has wet, but that does not seem to stop her.

We have tried smacking her (which hasn’t worked) and now lock her out in the garden for fifteen minutes when we find she has wet (which doesn’t seem to be working) I hate doing these things, but we do not know what else to do.

Please give us some advice, as we are getting desperate and our carpet is starting to rot.

Answer: It sounds as if Matilda has never learnt to be house-trained at night, although she has obviously successfully managed to work out what is required during the day. It also sounds as though you are getting very frustrated and cross with her as your attempts to stop this fail. I’m pleased you are seeking advice as we should be able to clear this up quite quickly.

Check with your veterinary surgeon first to make sure there are no medical conditions that are causing this problem. Check also that your feeding times are not contributing to the problem. For example, some dogs are fed a dry diet and, after it has been in their stomach for a while, begin to feel very thirsty. They overcompensate by drinking more water than they need and, if this happens in the evening, they may need to go to the toilet in the middle of the night to get rid of the excess. If this is the case, try soaking to food or changing her feeding time.

It is important to stop any punishment or scolding for ‘accidents’ as this does not work as you have found out and can lead to other problems. Matilda now anticipates ‘punishment’ when you enter the kitchen in the morning and begin to look cross (you get angry because she has wet on the floor, but she won’t be able to make the connection and just thinks you are sometimes very aggressive in the morning!). She is likely to show submissive body language when you do this in an attempt to appease your anger. Unfortunately for her and the rest of her species, submissive body language is often misinterpreted by owners as ‘looking guilty’

Young puppies are like young children and when their bodies tell them that they need to go to the toilet, it has to be soon as they generally can not hold on for long. Holding on is something that comes with practice and needs to be developed as they learn that access to the outside is not always immediate. It is something that needs to be learned at night in exactly the same way as they learn it during the day. In Matilda’s case, she has learned that is okay to use the carpet as a toilet (no one is there to show her otherwise) and so there is no need to learn to hang on until morning.

Before you begin to teach Matilda to be house-trained at night, you must firstly clean the areas of carpet that she wets on with a solution of biological washing powder or a special product from your veterinary surgeon. This will remove the smell of urine completely (it may be necessary to take up the carpet if it is very heavily soiled). If you do not do this, the smell will encourage her to return to her ‘toilet’ whenever she feels the need in the middle of the night.

For the next few weeks, take her up to your bedroom at night and confine her to a small area near to your bed. Matilda will naturally want to leave her bed when she wants to go to the toilet. If she wakes up and makes an attempt to leave the area in which she is confined she must be taken downstairs and into the garden, and given an opportunity to relieve herself. If you are a heavy sleeper attach a bell to her collar, so that you can be sure she will wake you when she needs to. Put on a coat and go outside with her so that you can praise and reward her for going in the right place. Be sure that your night-time trips do not become exciting enough for Matilda to wake you up more than is necessary – keep them calm and low key and only speak to her or praise her when she goes to the toilet outside.

Since it is now inconvenient for Matilda to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, you will find that she soon learns self-control and wakes you up less and less frequently. When she has been clean all night for a week, her sleeping area can be gradually moved back to the kitchen.

Question: Both of my dogs (11 & 3 years old) are toilet trained, but every few months they soiled in the house. Now it seems to be a permanent thing. It isn't every day, but several times a week. They especially do it if I leave the house, but sometimes even while I am sleeping. The 3-year old has also urinated on our bed a few times. She usually sleeps with us and I thought dogs did not soil where they sleep. Please help, we are at our wits end!

Answer: There could be a number of reasons for this. Firstly, check that one of your dogs is not doing it in their sleep.

Sometimes bitches will leak urine without realizing it, especially if they have been spayed, and you will need to go to the vet to sort it out. If she is actively getting up to do it, there could be a number of reasons.

Firstly, smell of previous ‘accidents’ could be drawing her back to the same area, so clean all areas thoroughly with biological washing powder solution, leave to dry and wipe over with an alcohol such as surgical spirit.

Then, you need to try to find the cause. It could be that there is a problem between the two dogs that they are trying to solve by territory marking.

Or one of the dogs could feel insecure about being away from you, so much so that they feel the need to go to the toilet when you leave them.

If they are defecating rather than urinating (you didn’t say which), this would be more likely. If, at night time, the 3 year old is too afraid to get off the bed for some reason (e.g. because she is afraid of what might get her or of the other dog), this may cause her to go to the toilet there even if she would prefer not to.

As a first aid measure, I would make sure al previously soiled areas are thoroughly cleaned, and get both dogs sleeping on their own beds beside you rather than on your bed.

Since this is likely to be a complicated case, I would also recommend you get further help (contact The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors).

Question: We have rescued a Japanese Shiba Inu who has now been with us for 1.5 years. She was two at the time and the rescue people omitted to tell us that she was not housebroken in any way.

Although she does not wee indoors, she does leave parcels! She is quite a nervous dog and if you shout at her she just wees in fright. Consequently, I only did this once! I am not sure what action to take. I have two other Shibas, both are perfectly behaved. Your suggestions would be appreciated.

Answer: If she usually defecates indoors (unless you work very hard to make sure she doesn’t), always uses one of just a few places inside, and often goes when returning home from a walk, it is likely that she has not learned that the toilet is outside. If this is the case, she will need housetraining from scratch.

If, however, she usually goes outside, but has the occasional accident inside, it is more likely that there is something that is causing her to be anxious which affects her toileting behaviour.

For example, she may not want to defecate on the areas that other dogs have marked with their scent out of deference to them. If your garden is small and your other dogs use it as a toilet, this may put her off going there. The presence of dogs or children that live next door may worry her and prevent her from relaxing enough to toilet.

On walks, she may feel too intimidated by the scents and presence of other dogs or other people, or children. Or she may have learned that it is dangerous to go in the presence of humans having been told off for it in the past and so may hold on until she can sneak away.

This is particularly likely if you keep her on the lead throughout the walk. In all of these cases, her only option is to use the house as a toilet as it is not convenient to go outside.

Alternatively, things that scare her inside the house, such as the presence of visitors, may cause her to be anxious and to need to go. Tensions or arguments in the household can have the same effect. Rather than draw attention to herself to get outside, she may leave the occasional ‘present’ at these times for you to find later.

To housetrain an adult dog from scratch, it is necessary to make an intensive effort for about two weeks, keeping them with you at all times or confining them too their beds when you cannot supervise them (for no longer than one hour at a time without a break).

Take them out to a quiet, clean area of the garden every hour and allow them to move around and sniff. A few pieces of faeces from inside the house and a square of carpet or whatever substrate is normally used may help to get the process started and encourage them to go in that area.

Don’t stare at them, but praise them quietly when they go and enthusiastically when they finish. If you see them looking uncomfortable, sniffing or beginning to squat in the house, walk them outside at once. Don’t wait longer than 5 minutes for them to begin to go, but keep a very close eye on them inside if they haven’t toiletted outside.

Clean previously soiled areas with biological washing powder solution, rubbing over the area with surgical spirit once it has dried to remove the last traces of smell that may attract them back to use the area again.


Also see Gwen Bailey's article on House-soiling problems

Back to Dog Behaviour Problems


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