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We have a 1 year old puppy, part Anatolian Shepherd and the rest unknown, who has been with us since she was 5 weeks old. We went to adopt a 2 year old Basenji from a rescue but it didn't work out, and the kids fell in love with this little girl while we were there. This is our first dog and we're still learning as we go.

My partner was not comfortable with crate training as the puppy whimpered horribly even at being in a box or crate for the night, and it felt cruel to leave her there (in retrospect this was probably a mistake). She was allowed in the linoleum hallway and kitchen and the carpeted family room, including on the couch, gated off from the rest of the home. We took her hour every 30 minutes for the first 6 months, every hour for the next 3, and every 1-2 hours since then. We also take her out any time we see sniffing or agitation, though we can't watch her 24/7.

She both urinated and defecated on the family room floor and hallway floor at first. This was easy to clean from the latter. The former we soaked all we could then treated with Nature's Miracle to eliminate the odor. When we did so we scolded her when we caught her in the act and then led her outside. When she goes outside, even now, she is verbally praised and receives attention, which makes her happy. Over time she has tended to go outside more and more.

She seems better about urination outside than about defecation. Our morning routine was to wake up, let her out, feed her while having breakfast, and often by 20 minutes later she had defecated on the floor. We've begun letting her out a second time after breakfast, but she still sometimes comes in and goes on the floor instead. It seems like she may not be able to control it, but by this age I had thought she should be able to. My only remaining thought is that the scent from past 'accidents' may be making her want to go, though I shampooed the carpet last month with Nature's Miracle mixed in.

Last night we returned home from a 2 hour shopping trip. She had managed to undo our gate, go up the stairs where she is only allowed to be on the way to bed at night, and urinate in the hallway. There has never been an accident upstairs and should be no scent, so I was very confused at why she would do this. All of my hypothesis seem to have been invalidated now.

Is this likely a training issue, and age issue, or a medical issue? How do I address it? The longer it goes on the worse the smell gets inside, which I fear will eventually make it impossible to stop.

I would like to add that she is a very good girl otherwise, though very stubborn at times.

  • Crate training from the start would of helped, if you leave the pup to cry for the first couple of nights, she should stop on the third or fourth day and understand there is no point in crying. Is your pup drinking too much water? Dogs on kibble normally drinks a lot more water than raw diet dogs, but it's a good idea to stop giving her water after say, 8pm and let her out before bed time. I start potty training by giving her a reward when she potty outside and if she ever does it inside, I would push her nose close to her waste and verbally discipline her. – Huangism Jan 8 '15 at 19:43
  • I have a 10 month old Toy Australian Shepard that has been a bear to train. He will go when I take him outside, and has gotten better about not going inside. But he is home by himself most of the day, and will urinate in his crate. How do you teach them to hold it 9 or 10 hours until you get home? and he still has not learned how to tell me he needs to go outside. What to do there? – Tim Dec 3 '18 at 15:18
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When we got our puppy, the breeder already warned us: He's a fast guy. He'd signal us that he wants to get outside and 5 seconds later it would be too late. That's been true, often without any signaling or anything. Dog looking at me and there's a small pond. Ew!

What we did was grabbing some puppy training pads. Those are a bit like big diapers you can put on a special plate or glue to the ground using some crepe tape. They shouldn't be too expensive, like 5 to 10 for around 10$.

Put one of those down close to where your dog goes. Rather then pointing the dog's nose into any mishaps (never ever do that, it's counterproductive), tap some paper towel into it and then tap/rub it around the training mat a bit (you don't have to get excessive, even if you can't see it, it should be enough). It should suck it up rather quick and be dry within seconds. While this might be a bit disgusting to some, it's still better than having the dog do their business literally everywhere. If you still don't want to do it, there are ready to use scents you can buy for this as well. Put some drips on the mat and you're good to go.

Depending on the dog, it should accept that new "toilet" rather quickly. If it does, keep the mat there for now. If it doesn't, try to raise the interest. Throw some treat close, get the dog to walk over it, etc.

Once that works, you can use the pad as an indicator. See the dog going there and sniffing? Get it outside. If you're too slow or don't notice it in time... be faster next time. You usually don't have to replace the pads immediately. Depending on the brand they might be good for two or three uses (also depends a bit on the amount put on there) and you should remove any stool of course.

When you have to replace the pad, pick a new position that is a bit closer to the door. It doesn't have to be far, even one or two feet help already.

With some patience you should be able to get your dog to go to the door when it's time. Just keep moving the pads, finally having them right outside the door.

And always have some treats ready. If you can, get something special. Within a week or so we had our puppy far enough (didn't even have to go all the way to the door) to always want to do its business outside on a small patch of grass, just due to getting treats alone. Heck, even while taking a walk he sometimes started to just run home (while on the leash!) just to get on that patch of grass.

One more note:

It's never too late to crate train or potty train a dog. Some aspects might actually be easier for an older dog, since you know its habits, favorite treats, etc. Also try to get the box more interesting, put some treat in a toy for example (there are all kind of rubber balls and similar where you can put treats inside; just make sure to pick one suitable for the dog's age and size). Put it in the kennel, get the dog inside and let it play a bit. Once done let him out. Rince repeat daily and slowly increase the time.

Don't give in and let the dog out early. You can stay close or even sit nearby, which sometimes is even enough for them. Just reduce that over time as well. Get the dog in the box, leave the room, return 5 minutes later. Training session complete. Don't expect immediate results, but over time it will get better and better.

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I had a very similar issue with my puppy around 10 months. What I did was keep her outside longer until she defecates. I don't believe it is a training, age, or medical issue.

Did you train her to let you know when she needs to go out? I have tried the bell trick (wrapping a bell on the door and showing her how to ring it before we go out.) I don't believe it is too late to teach that.

Maybe she got used to you taking her out every time, she never learned how to tell you when she needs to go.

Step 1 - When you go outside, make sure to stay out for a while until she defecates. Step 2 - Train her to let you know when she needs to go out (Bell method like I mentioned above, or even scratch at the door).

I would also try to feed her at the same time every day. This will help regulate when she goes. (I feed my puppy at 7am and 7pm.) She defecates at 6:45am and 5pm like clockwork.

I hope this helps.

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  • Thank you for the suggestions. We tried the bell trick but the cats had a field day with it :P. She does stand near the door in some cases, but she's so quiet I fear we miss it sometimes. Part of the problem may be that she often goes out alone; I'm at work fairly often and my partner has physical limitations (and the kids are kids). I can try to stabilize her eating schedule a little better. Any thoughts on how to train her how to tell us that she needs out? Or get her to go when she is out? – Nicholas Jan 8 '15 at 17:38
  • Ah. That could be the difference - my puppy is always on a leash (we live in an apartment building) when we take her out. If this has been recent it could be because of the weather - it might be too cold out and she wants right back in without doing her business (-15 windchill today). I would recommend taking her out on a leash a until she defecates praising her every time she does it. (I see you praise her in your original description, but how do you know if she actually went?) Try the leash first, praising her outside and give her a reward. – John Janssen Jan 8 '15 at 19:09
  • Reward her for going outside and punish her for going inside, and eventually she will figure out it's better to go outside. My pup just started waiting at the sliding door when she wants to go outside. No extra training was needed for wanting to go. Just make sure you tell her it is not ok to go inside. If you catch her going inside, immediately take her outside or you can make a loud sound to scare the dog to stop the peeing then take her out right away to give the potty command – Huangism Jan 8 '15 at 19:46
  • @JohnJanssen Yes, I should have clarified. I often go out with her, during which she is praised for going. Otherwise the praise is only if whoever let her out watched her go out the window. And the cold is definitely having an effect, but this has been ongoing. I'll try to be more hands-on and continual with the positive reinforcement; is it normal for it not to have taken yet after 10 months? – Nicholas Jan 8 '15 at 22:10
  • @Huangism We've done much of this. Unfortunately, although she's usually a scaredy-cat, its very difficult to startle her enough to stop her mid-stream; I've only managed it once and when we got outside she spent 25 minutes not going :(. I've shied from too much negative reinforcement for indoor accidents; I've read that 'rubbing their nose in it' can be detrimental, in that they learn to be scared of going at all and not just going inside. Thoughts? – Nicholas Jan 8 '15 at 22:12
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I guess this topic varies from person to person, but here is what I did with my puppy when I got her about 7 months ago.

If she starts doing something on the floor, pick up the puppy. (s)he will stop instantly. Carry the puppy outside if necessary, but with a 10 month it may be enough to carry the puppy to the door and take on a leash and go outside.

Punishing for going to the bathroom inside can work, but it is critical you stop the puppy every time the puppy starts doing something on the floor. Pick up the puppy, because they will not do anything while being held(Not sure if this applies to male dogs who have started peeing standing up). Walk the puppy outside, if necessary carry the puppy to somewhere the puppy can go to the bathroom.

Doing this every time, and I mean absolutely every time, the puppy will eventually realize that that is something they should do outside.

As for older puppies(or uncarriable ones) make sure they stand up and get them to stop. Stop them somehow. Make sure you get the puppy outside as quickly as possible after stopping them. After the puppy stops doing whatever the puppy is doing, get the puppy out as fast as possible. Then clean the floor.

For the best result, the puppy has to be stopped every time and taken out instantly every time.

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