I adopted a 6-year-old Jack Russel that the previous owner let pee on the carpet. At first, he would go inside whenever he felt like it. I've gotten him to the point where he'll hold it until he goes outside for a walk or to the backyard. I used positive reinforcement by giving treats and praising him when he peed outside, and whenever I let him out into the backyard he'll go pee as if go outside = go pee. He'll even try to pee forcefully when he's already spent. But only when I'm watching... and only for the reward. This causes several problems:

  1. He might need to poop as well, but he immediately runs back inside for my attention after finishing peeing. I don't know if he needs to poop or not with 100% accuracy, so this sometimes leads him to poop inside
  2. If I'm stuck in meetings for an extended period of time, he won't use the dog door to go outside on his own (he knows how. He does it all the time while I'm watching) and goes and finds a place to pee on a wall inside in secret.

I haven't fed him treats for several months at this point. At most, I only say good boy now, but he doesn't seem to have realized that. When I say "Want to go outside?", he'll go to the door and wait for me to watch him before going out. When he goes out, he'll double check that I'm watching again before running off to pee outside. I've caught him in the act peeing inside (not after the fact -- during) and told him "no, bad dog", so I'm sure he knows he's not supposed to go pee inside. He'll make sure I'm not watching and will double check a few times before peeing inside.

I'm not sure why he is still peeing inside when he knows not to, knows peeing outside is good, and is able to go out on his own through the dog door. I have another dog that pees outside fine, so he has a good role model too. The outside climate is comfortable, so it's not an issue of not wanting to go outside because it's too cold/hot. Why would he still be peeing inside at this point, and how can I rectify that?

1 Answer 1


Hmm, there are some dogs that go so bonkers for treats that treats are no longer an effective tool. But I think in this case, the treats are something for him to do, a mental exercise. Sometimes dogs can be naughty on purpose in order to get their owner's attention because the attention is worth the consequences of the naughty action.

I think what is really happening here is that this is a Jack Russel. These are high energy dogs. Try to get him outside more to expend some of that physical energy, and try to get him some activities that help him perform some mental exercise as well. Maybe teach him a new trick, or a supervised puzzle, for example. To test this theory, for one week straight, try to keep this dog in a state of being utterly tired, konked out, going-to-bed-thank-you-very-much!, and see how that helps. Once you know that this is working, then you can work on ways for you to expend less energy and time doing these activities, say, doggie day-care, for example.

Remember that you also need to clean the indoor soilings very well with an enzymatic pet cleaner (say, Natures Miracle?). A blacklight can help you identify any spots that you may have missed. When a dog smells that another dog has gone potty (even himself), this now becomes a latrine-spot and that's it's own issue.

Lastly, you can encourage your do to physically go outside a bit more by randomly placing a treat outside so the dog has to go outside to get it. This is called the Treat Room technique. The "treat room" area needs to be away from the latrine area. You can certainly train him to wander outside a bit more but you can't make him go potty out there. Usually though once a dog is outside they will wander around and smell this or that, watch a squirrel, smell a plant, and 10 distractions later, oh! time to go potty! And off they go to their potty corner.

Not at all what you wanted to hear, I'm sure, but I'm thinking this dog actually far more intelligent than you are giving him credit for.

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