My wife and I adopted a 2-year old rescue Daschsund/Jack Russel mix a week ago. She's settling in quite well but we're having trouble potty-training her.

We bought a little fake grass potty patch that we want her to learn to use most of the time, so that when we're asleep or away at work she doesn't have to be outside in the cold. We don't have a garden, just a very small outside area with a stone floor, so she's not missing much.

We know that she was taken from her previous owners by an animal cruelty organisation, but we don't know details. We don't know what kind of training she had or what abuse/trauma she might have experienced. I'm guessing that when she was caught peeing indoors she was punished, and as a result has merely learned not to be caught. She often pees on the floor when we're not around to see it - once even when I went outside for just 10 minutes. On rare occasions I catch her in the act of peeing or looking like she's about to pee, say 'hey!' or something (not forcefully, just enough to stop what she's doing), pick her up, and place her on the potty patch. This simply scares her and she immediately goes back to bed, not at all understanding that I want her to pee on the patch. In general it's a struggle to guide/direct her to a location, or to get her to do anything if I'm watching.

We regularly transfer her pee from the floor to the toilet patch so that she can take a hint from the scent of her pee. It doesn't seem to have any effect.

Only once has she apparently peed on the patch in the night, as it was wet in the morning. Never have we witnessed her doing it, so there hasn't been any opportunity to reward her.

Strangely, we once found that she had peed in her water bowl. We thought maybe she had been trained to use an actual potty in the past, so we bought her a similar bowl for that purpose. She hasn't used it.

We walk her every day, and she pees/poops on about half of these walks. So she seems to have some idea that this is the time to do her business but it's not strong enough. In any case we don't want daily walks to be the only time she can pee.

We've taken her outside a few times, but she's never done anything there, nor does she ever show any signs of wanting to go outside if we don't take her there.

I know it hasn't been long and there's a good chance that over time things will improve as she becomes more comfortable with us and we learn how to communicate with her. But right now I'm out of ideas to make concrete progress, and I'm getting pretty tired of cleaning the floor. Any suggestions?

  • 1
    Are you sure your dog doesn't have separation anxiety? Dogs with it will often eliminate inside when left alone due to the anxiety. It may be easier to try training your dog to eliminate on command. Then you can work on using the command while your dog is in the desired spot. dogs.kinja.com/…
    – Kai
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 23:45
  • 1
    Sounds to me like she somehow believes peeing is wrong (no matter where).
    – Roflo
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


Train her the command to pee or poop outside on the walks, so you can transfer it to where ever you like. Every time she pees/poops on the walk, praise him, give him treats and/or affection. Then introduce a "code word" (remember to choose one you're comfortable to use when around other people :-) and as soon as he learned to associate it with the action, you can use it where ever you like. Overall it will make your live easier since you don't have to wait on your evening walk until he decides to to his business on his own.

Also try to clean the places he accidentally peed/pooped in the house with vinegar or special dog products removing smells, to prevent further peeing. Dogs will choose the same place again, if it smells like a dog toilet.

Generally I wouldn't recommend it at all to let your dog pee/poop inside, no matter if you have a "special place" set up. It's very hard to understand for a dog and therefor to train your dog to distinguish between the right and wrong place. Dogs normally don't pee or poop near their den (in your case your house) and it might prevent him from seeing your home as a place of rest and relaxation. An adult, medium sized dog should be able to contain it for up to 12 hours (don't know exactly about smaller breads) and therefor it's absolutely OK to have him do his business outside three or even only two times a day.

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