I and my roommate both have dogs and we recently (6 months) moved into a new place. I thought the dogs were getting adjusted fine, we walk the dogs around the new area to get familiar and now have a backyard so they can play as well.

Every morning I am the last to leave and usually leave my bedroom open so my dog can walk around. Last month, twice, I came home and one of the dogs had an accident in my room.

The first time, I cleaned it up and caulked it up to getting familiar. The second time, I put my dog's nose in it and said "no" forcibly. That night my dog was so anxious and walk around the room for over an hour panting and shaking. Now this went on for about 2 weeks and finally, I just let him sleep outside.

I talked to my trainer and she said I had over corrected and he didn't associate the correction with the mess, but with being in the room. I have tried playing with him, treats and praise but whenever I get him in the room and get ready for bed, his anxiety comes up and he pants, shakes until I let him out. Now, he waits and at some point sleeps on the couch which is a no no for me.

Long story short, how do I get him comfortable again to sleeping in his bed in my room and not outside and/or on the couch? Any help appreciated.

Update: Thanks for the answers - I am trying the praise and reward and leaving the door open so he can come and go.

1 Answer 1


This is a very unfortunate situation and is causing a lot of stress for your dog.

In every situation, whether you want to reward or reprimand your dog for something he did, you have to do it within 3 seconds of the action / behavior. Anything that happens later than that might be associated with something else entirely.

One example most people misunderstand:

  • The dog chews on your shoes, which is fun for him.
  • You come home and see your destroyed shoes. You call your dog, point at the shoes and reprimand him.
  • Your dog has already forgotten that he chewed on the shoes. He only notices that you are very angry and it has something to do with your shoes, but he doesn't understand.
  • Since you were so angry when you saw the shoes, your dog will start behaving submissive whenever you are pointing at your shoes. To you it looks like he feels guilty for doing something wrong, but in reality he doesn't understand why you're angry and tries to defuse the fight. He will never associate your yelling with his chewing.

Now why did one of your dogs (you don't even know for sure who it actually was) poop in your room?

One reason could be that your dogs need more potty breaks. How long are your dogs alone in your new house? Could you leave them in the backyard if there's no-one at home for several hours? Please keep in mind that dogs need to do their business more often during the day than the night. "My dog can go all night without needing to pee" is no argument to not give them the chance to pee all day long.

Another reason - which sounds more likely judging by the strong reaction to your reprimand - is that your dog is anxious. He becomes nervous when he's left alone and poops out of anxiety. Reprimanding him for his anxious behavior is just going to make it worse. Anxiety is hard to treat and I cannot give you a sure solution, so please ask your trainer how to proceed.

To make your dog feel safe in your room again, you must associate your room with positive emotions.

  1. Every time your dog goes into your room and into his bed, praise him and give him a treat.
  2. Train him to go into his bed on command. Praise him and give him a treat every time he follows the command, then turn around and ignore him for a minute. The ignoring is important to tell him that the training is completed and you don't expect him to do anything after going into his bed. Train this several times each day at random intervals.
  3. When he goes willingly into his bed on command, start with the next training step: When you get ready to sleep, call your dog to his bed, praise him and give him his treat. Then ignore him and go to bed. If he becomes nervous again, allow him to leave the room for today, but repeat the training each night until he's comfortable.
  • Have you got a source for 3 seconds or is this just accepted time frame for a dog's attention span? I was surprised by how short it was!
    – Henders
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 10:53
  • 1
    @Henders 3 seconds is a rule of thumb. All training guides agree that praise/punishment must be given right after the behavior, but few give a concrete number. There's a study that found dogs responding less (or maybe delayed) to commands they already know if the trainer delays his praise by only 0.5 seconds (link: sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1558787808001366)
    – Elmy
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 17:22

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