Dog training advice desperately needed or - How do I learn to speak dog?

We got a new dog (my fiancé and I). He is a wonderful collie/retriever cross from the humane society. He is not a puppy per se, he is almost two years old. Now the problem, he seems to be sort of housebroken, that is he will go to the bathroom on walks, the problem is, he doesn’t seem to know how to ask in a way that I understand that he needs to go. What can I do? I am trying to be patient, but my fiancé is not a dog person and will not wait while the dog pees all over the house. I have a kennel/crate but don’t want to be cruel by leaving him in there all the time except to take him out.


What do you do when you meet the Queen?

Dog: Bow!

How is homeless life?

Dog: Ruff!

What’s the outside of a tree called?

Dog: Bark!

What sound does a dog make?

Dog: Woof. (of course)

Mercutio: Bad boy! Go home! :slight_smile:

Long time dog owner & amateur dog trainer here!

You basically have to start from scratch, as if this was a new puppy. There are times when every dog has to go: Right after they wake up, after eating, after drinking. After each of these times, take your dog right outside. Have a treat stashed in your pocket. The minute Dog does his thing, give him a treat & praise lavishly…after all, he is the BEST DOG ON THE PLANET right now, for doing this!

When you’re inside with him, be aware of his “I gotta go” cues.When he’s gotta go, say “Wanna go outside? Let’s go outside & pee, yay!” Make it happy, hustle him out & repeat as above. Use the same word…“outside” or whatever, as you go out with him. Dogs are smart…If you use the same word for the same procedure they make the connection pretty quickly. My dogs have a huge vocabulary…Truck, walk, outside, Want to eat, in, out, wait, stay, sit, touch, toy, NO, shake, sit pretty, down, who’s at the door…on & on. Repetition & consistency is the key!

If he goes in the house, don’t correct him unless you catch him right in the act…he’ll just be confused.

Good luck with the new dog! Feel free to ask me dog training questions all you want. :slight_smile:

I used to work with dogs a lot and I’ll just back up Carina’s advise. Positive reinforcement is the key. Dos, especially mixed breeds, are smart enough to understand certain words (my dogs both understand BATH and run like hell) and that he needs to go outside to do his doggy thang.

Greyhound rescuer (and adaptor to home life) here.

It’s all true. Choose a word, ANY word, and say it in a energetic, happy way. Your dog will learn, over the days, that that word means to go outside and empty him/herself. They’ll be good and solid about it fairly quickly.

But you must always be consistent. Even the smartest dog is only so smart. Maybe 100 words (if they’re really bright) will they ever actually understand.

My recommendations:

No (this is an imperative, do it NOW)
and the names of your immediate family

Get those words into your dog and he or she will bend over backwards to do what you want. Dogs really want to please. They just can’t always understand what’s needed or wanted. So it’s up to you to make it clear.

Enjoy the dog. We have two right now and they’re just great!

Actually, at the moment you should watch the dog. Most will give you clues when they have to go out. They go to the door, they go where you put the leash, or come up and ask by barking or nudging you. Hey, you may be boss, it only IT knows when it has to go. You can also try going for walks at set times - an hour after dinner, etc. They get used to the routine. Then, after you have the clues down, you worry about the next step - making sure it knows who is boss.

sorry, that was me, not TP.

Everyone is right on. Let me add this: as soon as he/she has done his thing and you’ve praised him, * immediately ** take him back inside ** *. Even if you are planning to have play time or a fun walk, go back inside first. That way, he will make the connection between “outside” and “my bidness”.

My sister is excellent with dogs, but she got one that was really giving her fits with the housebreaking. When she added this extra nuance, all was well within just a few days.


Sometimes bringing a dog back inside immediately after going to the bathroom can backfire. Dogs like to play outside and if they come to learn that going potty=end of outside play, they’ll hold it. Eventually you will think, “I guess he doesn’t have to go afterall,” and bring him inside…and then…accident in the house.


I was perhaps unclear. The idea would be:

Go out
Dog goes
Major praise
go back inside, couple minutes.
Go back outside to play

Carina is on the money. However, let me add two things -

  1. Very occasionally, you may have a dog who doesn’t have any signals, or who is so subtle you miss them. You can also have a rescued animal whose former owner(s) really screwed up the potty training and left the dog with bad bad habits. In these cases, use the crate. It should only take 7 days if you use the crate correctly, and if the alternative is problems in the family, well, it’s better that way. (If you don’t know how to use the crate as a potty training tool, email me privately - it’s sorta beyond the message board’s scope. I’m also available if you’ve got other questions, btw - I’m not a professional or an expert, just a fellow owner and sometime rescuer, but I can often get ya pointed in the right direction.)

  2. If you’re having family strife over the dog, or if you’re uncomfortable or unused to training, it may be helpful (if you’ve got the extra cash) to buy a few private sessions with a professional trainer. This person can come to your house and give you lots of pointers, and can address all kinds of things we can’t even see here - like the dog’s body language and so forth. This can really be helpful if something is needed ASAP. Some trainers will offer discounts for recently rescued or adopted dogs. If you need recommendations, you can call a local rescue group - these people usually have an excellent idea of which trainers are good. Vets sometimes also know.

Good luck! And hang in there - this will not last forever.

We actually already registered for an obedience course. :slight_smile:

I have had dogs before and am used to their little “quirks” but my SO is not, and I felt we could all benefit.

Thanks for the help.

And if it comes to it, don’t feel bad about using the crate, Poysyn. Dogs are den animals and will adjust to a crate nicely and start to think of it as “their spot.”