Advice for House Training Setbacks

Mug shot

What do you do when a faithful dog begins having house accidents again? Share these stories about dogs that are backsliding on house training and see the Dog Expert's advice for dealing with these setbacks.

Visitor's Dog Backsliding on House Training

I have a nine-year-old Bichon Frise that is currently on Proin to stop urine leaking. She has been house trained for years, and just this past month she has started peeing on the floor, quite often right after we have just been outside.

I know she can hold it longer than that since she goes all night long without peeing on our bed. What can we do? It would be different if she was a puppy and I felt I could train her, but she is already trained and having accidents any way. Help!

~~ Nicolmom

Expert Reply


The first thing I would do is let your vet know what's happening. If I understand you correctly, the house accidents began after you started administering the Proin so there's a possibility of a connection even though the medication is designed to stop leaking. Your vet may want to recheck her bladder, and should be able to tell you if there is a physical reason causing the frequent accidents.

In the meantime, I recommend you thoroughly scrub any area she's had an accident with white vinegar and water. This will remove any smells that may now be encouraging her to go again.

Does your dog urinate at all when she's outside, or is she saving it all for your return indoors?

I'm also wondering if:

She's had any recent traumas while outside If there have been any significant changes in your household, such as a new pet, a family member coming or leaving, a change in your work schedule, etc.

Retraining is entirely possible and may be necessary in your situation. Until you have a chance to see your vet, you will need to treat her more like a new puppy. Take her outside often and encourage her to do her business, then praise her or give her a treat when she goes where she's supposed to. Scold her verbally if she urinates indoors and immediately take her outside again.

Please let us know what your vet says and thank you for your question.

~~ Kelly

Another House Training Set Back

I know this is probably a common question. I almost have my pup house trained, but he still goes under my chair when I am not there. I think he is trying to tell me something. What is my best move?

Thanks~~ Spud

Expert Reply

Hi Spud,

Hang in there, you can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. It sounds like your pup may feel a bit anxious when you're away and is drawn to your favorite chair because he can smell your scent there. It's comforting for him. He probably just decided to take care of a little business while he was hanging out there one day waiting for you to come home, and since the smell of the accident may be imbedded there, he comes back to it time and again.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Scrub the scene of the crime thoroughly with a solution of white vinegar and water. Really saturate it. This should remove any residual smell and give your pup a better chance at a fresh start.
  • Let's give your puppy a few items to keep him occupied and distracted from his old haunt. I suggest picking one of your old T-shirts, wearing it for a day, and then giving it to him for a security blanket. It will carry your scent, so he may not feel so compelled to visit your chair.
  • I also recommend giving him a Kong toy with one of his favorite biscuits tucked in the hollow. This will give him some mental stimulation that will remove some of the focus from you.

Hopefully the suggestions above will do the trick, but you will still have to be diligent to complete your pup's house training. If all else fails, you may have to resign yourself to confining your puppy to a limited area while you're away.

Thanks for your question~~ Kelly

House Accidents Are Out of Control

Please help!

My husband and I adopted an 11-month-old Mini Poodle named Eddie in February, only to find that he has serious house training issues. We crate trained him right away using the command "bedtime," and since then he always goes straight to his crate when told.

From the beginning, it was hard to decide when to take him out because he simply will not eat at scheduled eating times. I had to break down and leave his food out. At first I kept him on a leash at all times, but even then he would sneak squirts inside.

Now we have had to move to an apartment. I knew right away that if my dog would probably begin having accidents there too, so we put up a sliding glass doggie door. I trained him to go through it easily. I also bought "potty grass" online for the balcony/patio and put it out for him. He started using it immediately, and I breathed a sigh of relief. That worked for about a week. Suddenly he began to have a "big poop" in the morning, but let a little squirt out in the dining room area in the afternoon. I've always cleaned the spots with enzymatic cleaner.

This last week has been terrible. I came home from work in the morning and found probably six little poops and four puddles in the dining room. The space that he's using is gradually widening out into the living room. Our roommates have been irritated to say the least, and after they found the fiasco in the dining room the other day it's been hard to stick up for our little guy.

My husband is threatening to send Eddie to our in-laws. I'm at my wits end. I made sure that I had time to supervise him during the day when we first got him, but now it's impossible. I work the night shift and sleep during the day, and I can't bear to lock him up in the crate the entire day when he is also confined to our room now at night.

I don't want to lose him. Can you offer any advice?

~~ Amy

Expert Reply

Hi Amy,

Under what circumstance did you get your puppy? Is there a possibility that he was never properly house trained by his first owner? If so, then the habit was already ingrained and will be hard to break.

I think using the potty grass sends a mixed message. There should only be one place designated as his exercise area. Any more spots than this will be confusing for him.

Now, let's address re-training. First, you need to treat him like a new puppy going through first house breaking. He needs to go outside immediately after he wakes up in the morning. Give him plenty of time to empty out because he'll probably need to go more than once. Bring him inside and feed him. Give him 15 minutes to eat, then pick up the food and don't offer it to him again until the next morning. He'll become hungry enough to eat when served, but he's not going to starve in the meantime.

Your dog needs to go outside again within 15 minutes of eating, and at least once each hour after that during initial training. Use a one word command such as "potty" to train him. It lessens confusion. When he's successful, praise him with love, not treats. Treats will interfere with the feeding time training. If he doesn't go outside, return inside without giving him the love reward.

If you catch him going inside of the apartment, interrupt him with a very loud firm "NO," and take him straight outside. Catching him in the act associates the house soiling with your displeasure, and it's the quickest way to teach him what he's doing is unacceptable.

As you can see, you have your work cut out for you. It takes a lot of dedication and diligence to break a dog of the house soiling habit, but it can be done. If you honestly feel you can't put in the amount of time it's going to take, perhaps letting your in-laws have the dog would be a good alternative solution. You would still be able to see your dog, but he would have someone who has the time available to solve the problem.

Thanks for your question, and I hope you're able to work out the situation.

~~ Kelly

Was this page useful?
Related & Popular
Advice for House Training Setbacks