Dog training advice Part 2: Housebreaking

So it’s me again with my adorably annoying little puppy Toby. As the title says, I’m having a hell of a time housebreaking him. He’s a min pin/chihuahua mix, about five months now, and not fixed yet (he will be). When I first had him as a tiny little puppy at eight weeks, I was trying to get him pad trained. That didn’t work out so I moved to just training him to go outside. To cut to the chase, he STILL is having issues. He will literally just stop wherever he is and pee. He shows me no signs he has to go. I can take him outside, get him to pee and he’ll come inside and pee on the ground ten minutes later. Same thing with poo. I will stand outside with him for sometimes up to twenty minutes and finally come inside and he’ll poo/pee. We clean it up, we’re using the spray, the whole shebang. I’ve tried even taking him outside every 30 minutes with the same results. I’ve tried making a HUGE deal out of him peeing outside, lots of praise, etc Nothing is working. I’m at my wits end. I have never seen a dog pee this much! And I KNOW he can hold it cause he goes through a whole eight hour night with not an accident. So…does anyone have some magical advice that’ll work? :frowning:

I know its not popular but I still wack mine with a newspaper, not realy hard just enough to get his attention. You have to catch him in the act and be very consistent. I have had dogs that would have occasional accident but aside from that it seldom takes longer than 2 weeks.

Crate training has always worked beautifully for me. The dog is in a small crate anytime you do not have direct control. When he is allowed out of the crate he goes outside immediately. If he is out of the crate and your phone rings, he goes back in until your call is finished.

Also I train not just to go outside, but to go in a specific spot outside and I pair it with a command. This morning I took my three dogs outside at 5 am. We all walked down to the corner of the meadow, I said, “go pee” and all three squatted simultaneously.

  1. Doggie door.

  2. Clean inside-the-house dog messes very well and spray dog odor eliminator all around the spot. Then spray dog repellent around the area.

  3. Dogs do not go where they eat. Feed the dog where it has gone to the bathroom inside the house. (In its bowl of course.)

  4. Watch the dog constantly. If it gets up and starts sniffing, take it outside.

  5. Catch the dog in the act of going to the bathroom outside. Then instantly praise the dog and give it a treat. This has to be a caught in the act thing!

  6. Move poop from inside the house to outside. Leave poop outside until dog potty trained.

  7. Follow the dog around inside the house. If it starts to go, IMMEDIATELY growl at the dog, pick it up, and take it outside. Growling or a low voice NO means “no” to a dog. Nothing else works, Don’t spank or punish. And this is also a “catch it in the act thing”. Don’t growl at the dog after the fact. Only while it is in the process of going to the bathroom inside the house.

Crate training works pretty well. They have to train themselves to pay attention to this process for their own needs before they can do it for you. And definitely concentrate on the reward system.

I won’t add to the advice except to say I feel your pain, and it does get better.

It took months for my maltese boy to stop having indoor accidents, then one day, about 9 months in, we just realised he hadn’t done it inside for a while, and that was that.

He still expects a treat every single time he sets a paw out the back door though, so that gives you a hint about MY house training technique.

Wish I’d known about the growl thing.

In the last year we’ve trained both our lab and pitbull puppies to hit the “jingle bell strip” hung on the door to the backyard. We bought the bells from an Amazon dog equipment vendor, but aside from sporting an embroidered bone they are basically Christmas bells.

They both “got it” within in a week. The way we did it is to jangle the bells, open the door, walk the pups around the yard until they pottied, then awarded – with great excitement and fanfare – a biscuit. They caught on very quickly that “using my snout to ring the bells = time outside with mom = go potty = TREAT!”

There were still accidents, but they were far fewer. Baxter is six months (today!) and hasn’t gone potty inside for more than two months.

Yeah - dog has to know you are displeased when it goes inside.

I don’t know that I agree that nothing other than a growl or low “No” works. Dogs are not above using corporal punishment on each other, and an intentionally administered swat is not (IMO&E) going to harm the dog.

You have to figure out how to convey to your pup that you are serious. A loud, low “No” is awfully darned effective. Many folk have no idea how to command dogs. Be sure you aren’t one of those folk who are giving lengthy explanations to the dog, in a singsong voice, interspersed w/ giggles, etc.

What do you do when he goes inside? You do not say anything other than cleaning it up. “No” is one of the few commands I’ve taught every one of my dogs. And it simply means that they have to stop whatever they are doing, and pay attention to me should I wish to give them add’l commands.

You also need to make sure you admonish him IMMEDIATELY. Restrict access to areas of the house, to keep him off carpet and where you can see him.

Proviso, I’ve only had/trained 5 or so retrievers and other largish dogs. No experience with little dogs, and never considered pad or crate training. But housebreaking has simply never been an issue, and has always gone exceedingly quickly.

Some small breeds are notorious for being hard to housebreak, and I think Chihuahua is one of them. I would work with him as if he was a Chi only, ignoring the min-pin mix. Here is one link:

That link also says something about how unfixed Chi’s tend to mark a lot, so you may want to get him castrated as soon as you can.

You have to confine him to a small area, usually his crate. Dogs won’t go in their immediate area, near their food or beds. But to a tiny dog, the whole huge house is not “their” personal space.

So keep him in his crate and maybe the kitchen. If he’s out of his space, then he’s on a leash so you can scold him if he starts to go. If he squats, immediately grab him and run him outside. Don’t wait for him to finish - just grab and go. Then it’s big praise outside and a treat.

Unfortunately, ruthless consistency is the only thing that helps. Try to get him on a three hour schedule for his waking time. Or even two hours. Then you can start extending it.

That is another thing which helps. For the first couple of weeks you have the dog, take it outside 10 or even 15 times a day. Give the dog plenty of opportunities to go outside. And then praise, praise, praise when it does!

Really not a good idea. All this teaches dogs is to not-potty when a human is present, which makes it kind of hard to get them to potty on leash or when you need them to potty, such as before a long car drive or when you want to sleep.

Have you taken the puppy to a vet? there is a possibility of a health issue such as a UTI.

Housebreaking 101: puppy is NEVER loose in the house. He’s either in a crate, tethered to you, or under your complete and full supervision (aka you’re not trying to do something else while watching him). This is important for keeping him from developing any bad habits in addition to potty training.

You set an alarm and take the pup out every single hour around the clock (you decrease the interval as the pup gets older, but an 8 week old puppy should go outside very frequently). You go to the potty area and stand there being boring. If pup potties, you issue the “go potty” command of your choice at the same time and then and only then does the party start. Now you walk the pup, play with the pup, you do fun stuff but only AFTER the pup potties. If the pup doesn’t potty, he goes calmly and quietly straight back in the crate.

If pup is starting to have an accident in front of you say uh-oh and scoop pup up and run outside to the potty area.

Some dogs are “motion activated” as in they don’t appear to feel any need to potty unless they are walked. If the pup is routinely pottying shortly after coming back in, this may be the case and it just means you haven’t stayed outside long enough.

I’ve never had an trouble getting a pup housebroken within a week using the above methods; it’s exhausting and time-consuming, but well worth it.

Some pups from bad breeders have their cleanliness instinct broken due to being confined in tiny filthy cages and you’re going to have an uphill battle with such dogs because they were trained to potty where they eat and sleep.

Also note - some dogs just sort of grow out of it when they are a year old. But it’s a long, smelly year.

Have you used a clicker before? It’s the best way to communicate to your dog that he’s doing something you like. The basic premise behind clicker training is, reinforce (click and treat) behaviour you want, and ignore behaviour you don’t want. That way, you increase the likelihood of the wanted behaviour happening more often, and the unwanted behaviour decreases. You don’t need to punish bad behaviour, in fact, it’s better not to. There are lots of good books about clicker training, but the Karen Pryor classic, “Don’t Shoot the Dog,” is a great place to start. Once your pup is “clicker savvy,” you can capture the behaviour you want, i.e., wee and poo outside only. It’s important NOT to click or praise while he’s in mid-stream - let him finish! Once he’s going reliably, you can even add a cue - my dogs know what “hurry up!” means.

Little puppies, especially when they’re excited, DO need to pee and poop very often. Like, every 15 minutes often. The most likely times are after they wake up, and after they eat/drink.

Are you planning on attending a puppy class? A trainer can help you and your pup understand training basics, which make all aspects of learning/teaching easier.

Also, after playtime :slight_smile:

Lots of good suggestions, aside from the rolled up newspaper one.

I’ll add consistency and as regular a schedule as you can right now for feeding, elimination, play and rest.

Puppies usually need to pee/poop after eating, playing and sleeping. I think at his age, there isn’t a whole lot of time between urge and action, so you almost have to anticipate his need, or look for the often very subtle signs - sometimes its no more than a slightly glazed expression, or a pause, and then get him outside as quick as possible. He may not be physically mature enough to signal his need and wait more than a moment at this age.

Also, I will also suggest, as did **spamforbrains **, a vet check to ensure that there are no urinary tract or other health issues.

I said this same thing, and I was wrong; my dog was sick.

Seconding the crate training and tethering advice.

Newspaper is old school. Whack him with a URL.

No, seriously, whacking him just teaches that YOU are arbitrary and mean.

What worked for us, more than once, was dipping paper towels in the mess and taking dog and smelly mess outside. Place smelly thing in grass, point, and praise. No nose-rubbing!

Dogs have a much easier time processing what you want them to do than what you anttthem NOT to do. Even when you may think you’re associating punishment with the moment of offense, it’s not necessarily obvious to the dog. “What is he on about THIS time? Did I miss something? He looks pissed.”

Carrying the smell outside, coupled with patience and vigilance, has worked very well for us. Also, with puppies, my rule is simple. If, at any time, I find myself comfortable, it means it’s time to get up and take the little one out.

Wow guys. Thanks for all the great advice!! I’m going to try a couple suggestions here. I do wonder how much of it is actual marking of territory tbh. my stupid vet refuses to spay/neuter before six months so I’ve got a month to go still. He’s lucky he’s cute lol. And just because. Super cute piddle machine

Have you asked why?

Our vet advocates spay/neuter between 8 and 12 weeks of age and provides papers showing decreased morbidity/mortality and improved behavior and health when the surgery is prepubertal.