Sometimes things can change and our once perfect dogs can suddenly start toileting in the house! That is not something that's fun to deal with. We expect it when they're pups, but not really when they're adults.
So I'll share some tips and insights into why it might be happening and what you can do about it.
Why Did it Start?
The weather can be a factor. Some dogs hate toileting in the rain. So it's important to make sure we take them out between showers, or we could provide a tray with Astroturf over it for them to toilet in on a covered porch instead of going out in the rain. We can also put a rain coat on our dogs to keep them warm and dry.
Did we move to a new house? Maybe the previous dogs, children or cats had accidents inside that weren't properly cleaned. Yes, even my toilet trained dogs will pee where it smells like pee. Their noses are just far more sensitive than ours.
It could be that our dog may have had an accident one time that wasn't cleaned up properly, and then the smell told them well, it's OK to toilet inside, because it smells like a toilet.
Whatever happened though. Dealing with a dog that uses our home as a toilet is not really fun. So, best to get it sorted.
Firstly: Health Check!
When our dog's behaviour suddenly changes the first thing to do is get a health check. Things like bladder infections or too many liver treats can lead to accidents, so it's best to get our dogs checked over first, to make sure everything is OK.
If it's particularly tricky to get your dog to the vet, we can always take a urine or fecal sample in for your vet to test first to see if there are any obvious issues. That doesn't mean our vet won't want to see our dog as well. But it can be something to get out of the way! Be sure to use a sterile container or the information might not end up being useful.
The Nose Knows!
Next up, the most important thing to take care of is proper cleaning of areas where our pups have had accidents. Everywhere an accident touched needs to be cleaned.
Our dog's noses are sensitive enough to sniff out cancer. In fact no machine is currently better at detection than a dog's nose. So proper cleaning is super important!
We need to use proper pet odour cleaners. The normal cleaners we buy from our local supermarket will not be good enough. Though if you're looking for a low cost solution to making sure we get rid of that odour properly, you can use white vinegar, diluted up to 50%. However remember vinegar is acidic, so can damage flooring.
Limit Potential Accidents!
If we limit the areas our dogs can be in we can make sure we clean one area well, rather than giving our dogs freedom over the whole house and ending up with accidents everywhere. Areas with hard flooring like tiles or linoleum are usually easier to clean. So an ideal small space would be a laundry, bathroom or kitchen.
We can also keep our dog in a crate (we call these our dog's "hut") when we can't watch them, and then taking them outside to toilet. If they go, they can have freedom inside for an appropriate period of time (make sure you know how long it is after your dog ate or drank before they need to go toilet). If we can no longer watch our dog, we can pop our dogs back in their crates or "huts" and then make sure we toilet them first before they get freedom again.
But what do we do if our dog won't go toilet? Well, then they can go back in their crate or hut for 10-30 minutes and we can try again. But unless we actually see them go outside, we don't give them freedom. It's important to break that habit. Because the more our dogs practice toileting inside, the more they will continue to do it.
Put a Schedule in Place
To help with toilet training, it's a good idea to put a feeding and drinking schedule in place so that we can be more accurate with when our dog needs to go toilet.
Many owners leave food and water out all the time. This not only causes many behaviour challenges, but it can also make toilet training a lot more challenging.
If our dog gets food and water at set times, it makes it easier to predict when they need to toilet. Be sure to make sure that our dog gets enough water and not too much food.
Can I Send My Dog Away for Toilet Training?
From the research I've done and understanding how dogs think, this may not actually work. If our homes smell like a toilet, no matter where they go, for training, if they come back home and home smells like the loo. No amount of money we could throw at the problem would have worked.
Another thing to consider is that a dog can behave in one location, but not another. Let me explain it this way. If I teach my dog to sit only in the kitchen, and then I ask them to sit in the back yard, they'll look at me like I have 2 heads. Because according to dog logic we don't sit in the back yard. We sit in the kitchen.
So in the case of toilet training, it might just be best to use a crate, reduce our dog's freedom and go outside with them to make sure they've actually gone toilet before they get some freedom. Also knowing our dog's routine and when they need to go will help.
But What if My Dog Needs to Toilet Inside?
Sometimes due to weather or illness we may need to allow our dogs to toilet inside. There are a few things you can do! I'd use all these strategies on hard flooring linoleum (you could also get a linoleum offcut to protect the flooring underneath).
You can get reusable toileting mats and place a dog Play Pen around it to keep toileting contained to the toileting mat. This is what I do when I raise puppies!
There are now also astroturf toileting trays that contain the pee. However, I'd still place these on a reusable toileting mat with a puppy play pen around incase our pups miss.
I hope these tips help you with your pups!
Luzelle & Raven
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