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How to Stop a Dog From Peeing in the House – 5 Steps for Toilet Training Your Puppy

Why is my dog peeing in the house? The ultimate toilet training tips for puppies.

A puppy’s internal schedule consists of 4 main categories: Eat. Sleep. Play. Repeat.

If you noticed that the bathroom break is not in the itinerary, then you may be one of many facing the toilet-training challenge. With such busy schedules in place, puppies can’t be inconvenienced with silly things like going to a designated place to pee.

And why should they when right, where they’re standing, is a perfectly good spot? No matter the age or time you’ve had with your pup, it’s important to understand why your dog may be peeing in the house before facing this challenge head (or tail) on.

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In this post we’re going to explore how to stop a puppy from peeing in the house, and look at a few reasons why older or senior dogs might face the same challenge as well.

Why Do Dogs Pee in The House?

One thing you will notice early on when bringing a new fur-ball into your home is their tendency to drink a lot of water. Puppies that have unlimited access to drinking will continue to do so until they literally can’t hold anymore.

As anyone can guess, a small excitable bladder and a giant bowl of water is a recipe for certain carpet related disasters. It’s better for you and your pup if access is limited by providing them with several small amounts throughout the day. This will become easier once you are more in tune with their schedule and potty indicators.

Like puppies, older dogs can have a hard time holding their pee as well. When a pup reaches senior status, it becomes more difficult for them to contract the necessary bladder muscles needed to keep it all in. So you might be reading this article to find out how to stop an older dog from peeing inside the house.

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However, there is always the chance at any age that your dog’s peeing habits could be a sign of something more serious. Stress and anxiety can be a major leading factor as well as possible health issues. If you notice other odd behaviors and signals (fatigue, frequent licking, strong odors, etc.) it’s important that you call the vet to get them checked for UTIs or other infections.

You can read more about the symptoms of UTI’s and other conditions here.

At the end of the day, the most likely reason your pup is still peeing in the house is because they truly don’t know any better! In this case, training and consistency are your best solutions.

5 Steps for Effectively Potty Training Your Puppy

For those about to potty-train, we (and your carpet) solute you. While many struggle with the burden of teaching a dog proper pee etiquette, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task! There are 5 simple steps you and your pup can take towards a happy and mostly pee-free puppyhood!

1. Establish a Consistent Schedule

As mentioned before, your puppy sticks to a schedule, just not one that involves potty breaks. Therefore, it is important to be consistent when working it into their day. A puppy needs to be taken outside to pee every 2-3 hours. If they sleep in a crate at night, start with going as soon as you take them out.

TOILET TRAINING TIP FOR DOGS: puppies should be able to their pee about an hour for every month of their age. 2-month-old puppies = 2 hours. 4-month-old puppies can hold it for up to 4 hours. And so on. Always adjust accordingly to your dog and their needs.

Schedule their potty breaks around their meals (or vice versa) so that you know they are going when they really need to go. Young puppies usually need to go 10-15 minutes after they had a meal and access to water, while most adult or senior dogs need to go 30-40 minutes after a meal

Take them to the same pee spot every time and practice patience. Puppies tend to squat a couple times before they are truly relieved, so wait it out and of course – reward when it happens.

By establishing a consistent routine, you are creating a structured environment that helps your puppy learn quicker, which is an essential part of house training a dog.

2. Implement Crate Training

Puppies need constant supervision. You must keep a watchful eye at all times and unless you plan on not sleeping and not going to work until they mature, that is clearly impossible.

That is why crate training is an essential part of any dog’s learning process.  While crates can have a negative connotation in the minds of many loving pet owners, having a space that your pet can feel and remain safe from hidden household dangers is one of the best things you can do for them and your home!

Not to mention, it is one of the most effective potty-training methods. By placing your dog in a crate that is comfortable (not too big, not too small) you are creating a space that is exclusively theirs. This is helpful in potty-training progress for 2 reasons:

  • A house is spacious and provides ample opportunity for a puppy to pee in one area, and play/relax in another. Dogs are less likely to use the restroom in a small space where they can’t get away from their own mess. By taking them directly outside from their crate, you are teaching them to hold it inside and only go outside.
  • No one wants to sleep where they pee – Including dogs! If your dog associates their crate with comfort and security, they will aim to keep it that way. Instinctually, they will consider this an inappropriate area to go potty. This in hopes that your dog will also start to consider your home as a secure space and in turn will not want to soil it.

You can learn more about specific steps to take towards effective crate training on the Human Society Website.

3. Reward Wanted Behavior & Interrupt Unwanted Behavior

Stop a Dog From Peeing in the House - potty training

Food is the number one motivator of all dogs. If your pup knows that they are going to get a tasty treat for being a good dog, then naturally they will want to be a good dog all the time! Positive reinforcement will encourage them in the direction of wanted behaviour.

When taking your dog out, keep a small bag of treats with you to reward and praise them when they potty. This helps them to know that peeing outside is good dog behaviour and will be treated as such! 

At the same time, it is equally important they are made aware of unwanted behavior, without directly punishing them. Punishing them for peeing in the house will only create unnecessary anxiety for your pup and may end up adversely affecting your progress.

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If possible, try to interrupt their behaviour instead. Pick them up while they are peeing, not after, and take them outside to their designated spot to finish. If you wait until they are done to interfere, they will have a harder time associating the actual act of peeing with their impromptu trip outdoors.

If you are not in a position where you can easily get to grass, try keeping a puppy pad out nearby and placing them there. It will be helpful for them to know how to use puppy pads in the long run, should a situation call for it. But training a puppy to pee outside directly is always best.

4. Create an Obvious Cue

When watching them, you’ll start to notice indicators of oncoming pee storms. These cues might include sniffing the floor, barking, scratching at the door, etc.

Learning these behaviours will help you grab their attention long enough to take them where they need to go. However, the cues your dog gives you might not always be that obvious. Teaching them one specific cue, like ringing a doggy door bell, is an easy way to close the gap in communication.

Start with holding the bell and asking your pup to nudge it with their nose. Reward them and have them repeat this several times. Then try hanging it on the door and continue practicing the command. Once they are able to nudge the bell when you ask, begin teaching them that it will result in them going outside.

This time when they nudge the bell, open the door and take them to their potty spot instead. With consistency, they will eventually realize the true purpose of ringing the bell. Be sure to take them straight to their designated area and back. Otherwise, your dog may start ringing the bell just to go outside and play!

5. Properly Clean Accidents

Mistakes are inevitable no matter how keen of an eye you keep on your dog. The most important thing to remember when erros happen, is proper clean up. If your dog gets any whiff of their previous mistakes, they are more likely to use that area again.

Make sure to address the mess as soon as it happens, or at best, when you find it. Calmly place your dog in their crate without indicating punishment and clean the area thoroughly. Go back and check your pup to make sure they did not step in it and track it to other areas. Keep some puppy wipes handy for their paws.

If you notice your dog keeps returning to the scene of the crime, there is most likely a lingering scent. Puring baking soda on the spot of the accident is one of the best ways to deodorize. Lightly coat the entire surface of the area to make sure you are not missing any key spots. Let it soak in for around 30 minutes and then vacuum up as much as possible.

Just because you can’t smell it anymore, doesn’t mean that your pup can’t. Remember that their scent is a lot better. That’s why it’s also recommended to use a non-toxic special pet stain remover spray and clean the area thoroughly.

How To Train Your Dog To Use Pee Pads

If you work long hours and you’re unable to provide potty breaks every 2 hours or you want to teach your pup how to use the pee pads during the night, instead of relieving itself on your carpet or flooring, we recommend the following training strategy:

  1. Put your puppy in a secure area when left alone. You can use a large crate, a play pen for dogs or simply secure a room or section in your house using a pet gate. Ideally, this area would be no larger than a small bedroom or bathroom. Don’t forget to add their dog bed and a few toys, and make the puppy comfortable.
  2. Line up the entire section or room with pee pads. Surround the entire area where they are able to roam free with pee pads – and use some sticky tape on the bottom if necessary to keep them in place. We recommend to buy pee pads in bulk to save money and ensure you have enough until your puppy is fully housetrained.
  3. Supervise and reward your dog whenever he uses the pee pad. Keep them in the enclosed area when you get home and make a big fuss if they use the pee pads in your presence (treats always help as well).
  4. Start to slowly remove pee pads from the area, leaving a few empty spots, while still providing your dog with amble opportunity to go on the remaining pads. Take out one every few days, and if accidents happen, place one back. Then repeat the process until only 1 or 2 pee pads remain in the entire enclosed area, and your puppy is successfully choosing to use them.
  5. Continue to supervise your dog, reward the use of pee pads, and interrupt them if they are doing their business next to the pads, instead of on them.

This way, your pup will have a much easier time understanding that pee pads are for pee time, and this strategy works a lot better than placing just one pee pad in a large area and expecting your young dog to use it.

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We recommend buying your pads in bulk or getting large ones, ensuring you have enough to cover the entire room or play pen where your puppy will be enclosed.

By slowly removing pads from a room or enclosed play pen, your dog will naturally gear towards using a pad every time, helping you reduce the mess during the night or work days.

The Green Alternative To Using Pee Pads

When your personal circumstances don’t allow you to provide frequent potty breaks when housebreaking your puppy, or when you have an older dog that has trouble getting outside, pads are a heavenly solution.

But the problem with using pee pads long-term is that your dog can get used to them. In time, they might start to think that it’s ok to do their business in the house or they might get used to the texture of the pads, which makes it so much harder to potty training them to go outside.

Not to mention that they are not very eco-friendly and add a lot of unnecessary waste for a single-use product that doesn’t degrade in landfills easily, especially when it can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to fully potty train a puppy. So what can you use instead?

If you can, and if you have access to a garden, taking your puppy outside every 2-3 hours is preferred, and it’s going to quickly teach them that there’s no room for urinating indoors. This will get rid of a lot of the confusion and they are also going to learn to go on grass or ground only, which is going to discourage them further from using your brand new carpet.

It’s also going to teach them to hold it until they can get outside, which is a massive part of potty training a dog and strengthening their bladder muscles.

But if that’s not a possibility, we recommend using an indoor grass pads for dogs – such as Doggie Lawn.

These apartment friendly grass laws are brilliant substitutes for pee pads, and they teach your dog to go on grass and grass alone. And unlike the pads, that are non-recyclable and add to the waste problem of our planet, these patios are made of REAL GRASS, which means you can dispose of them in your green bin.

Other benefits of using Doggie Lawn are:

  • Odorles – the natural grass neutralizes odors, which makes this perfect for indoor use.
  • Low maintenance – lasts weeks, not hours! Simply scoop up any poops and let the grass do the rest.
  • Green-bin friendly and great for the planet – way better than pee pads or artificial grass.
  • Perfect for potty training, as it teaches your pup to go on grass.
  • Good for senior dogs with incontinence and/or arthritis
  • Scheduled deliveries to meet your needs, ensuring that you always have fresh grass available. (For puppies they recommend choosing the weekly or bi-weekly plan, because they urinate more frequently.)

Happy Puppy Training!

FREE TRAINING VIDEO: 5 Biggest Training Mistakes New Puppy Owners Make

Find out what are the 5 biggest mistakes new dog owners make, and how to avoid them so you can set your puppy for success from the get-go!

Watch the FREE webinar here! Enroll in the Perfect Pup Course!

As we all know, you must house break the dog before the dog breaks the house. With these steps and resources at your fingertips, you can conquer the toilet training regime in no time!

Before you go, make sure to check out our 15 items you need on your New Puppy Shopping List.

How to Stop a Dog From Peeing in the House – 5 Steps for Toilet Training Your Puppy


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