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Dog Housebreaking Help


I'm currently dogsitting 3 dogs - one of which is a ~2-3 year old beagle female that is not housebroken. (She was an animal research dog ; pretty normal except for that and being a little bit emotionally vacant).

She has never gone in the house while I have been inside with her - but the second I am out (usually just the room they are allowed to be in) for longer than 5 minutes, if she has to go she will go. I've pretty much been cleaning up piss for the past 10 days. And some crap.

When I see a newish puddle, I will put her nose in it, tell her no, and spray her with a squirt bottle before putting her in a pantry with a little room for moving. Essentially crating her but I dont want the create associated with punishment.

When I see her go outside, I give her a favorite treat.

The biggest issue, and something that I've never encountered with a dog before, is that she is willing to go IN HER CRATE. The crate is proper size for her as well - she ends up covered in whatever she does in there (which = another bath for her). Clearly, when I go to bed for the night, she goes in the crate (usually poops too) which just leaves an enormous mess for me to clean up.

It was suggested to me that I might try using hte puppy pads (thoese things you put on the floor for the dog to pee on) and leaving her out of her crate overnight - so I did. I woke up to a mess of urine AND chewed up puppy pads all over the room.

Oh I feel it should be mentioned they have a dog door so it's not like she can't get outside or something when I'm not there.

I kind of feel that just giving her time should fix the issue - I am giving some kind of reward and punishment for appropriate/inappropriate behavior, but I'm used to non-housetrained animals going whenever, not just when you aren't there. Makes it easier to correct it for sure, but I'm also thinking at this point she should have some idea it's not a good thing to do, but nothing has changed.

I'm up for any recommendations, I still have over 2 weeks here.

The owners have already been trying to fix this for the 2 months or so they have owned her, and she's not a stupid animal. Hopes are not high.


Keep her outside all the time, fixed. It sounds like she was kept in the house all day and the only time she could go to the bathroom without getting into trouble was when her masters were not in the room.

If you are having trouble with this and you want to keep her in the house keep her on a leash. As for at night, stick her outside in your backyard until she learns in the day time.


That is a hard one to fix. We had a similar issue with a pup several years ago, since my wife and I were both in the service at the time. He was in the crate most of the day, and he basically got used to going in his crate. He wasn't fully housebroken till almost 1 year.

A dog like you describe, was probably left in her metal cage at whatever lab, never let outside(to avoid any outside stimulus beyond what they were testing), and got used to messing her home.

Like I said, hard fix. If she only goes when you are not there/out of the room, I would say put her outside when you can't be right there with her. Not a fix, but saves you extra work until the owners get back. If you end up leaving her outside during the heat of the day, make sure she has water and proper shade.


I would cage the dog while you can not watch it or let it outside, the dog may come around


Do not rub the dog's nose in it when you find a puddle. She doesn't understand that. Dogs associate punishment/reward only if it is immediate. I know you probably have the best of intentions, but your whole method of dealing with it is creating more anxiety for her. Isolation when the rest of the pack is present (e.g. you are home and the other dogs are out, or you leave and she is crated and the other dogs are free) is interpreted as fairly severe punishment. She won't associate it with her in-house bathroom habits.

Keep her with you as much as possible. When you are in the same house, put her on a leash and tie it around your waist so she is with you all the time. She might fight it at first if she is not used to a leash, but just make her go along with it and tell her in corresponding tones when she's being bad and when she's being good and a pleasure to be a companion to. Take her out every couple of hours and praise her exuberantly after she finishes peeing/defecating (stress on after, or she'll get excited and stop peeing).

Dogs are naturally very house trainable, so I'm thinking it is her history (probably left in a crate all the time) plus a lack of exercise which contributes to anxiety which adds to the problem. You didn't mention any walks or high activity, which a beagle really needs.

What is your schedule with them like? Can you take her with you when you go to work or wherever else you go, and either take her in with you or leave her in the car? This can help a lot.

Also, where does she sleep at night?


Sorry, but this is all very counterproductive. Maybe it fixes the OP's problem but it worsens the issues the dog has.


Showing her the puddle won't work. You have to say "No" while she's peeing. Push her tail between her legs,bring her outside & let her do her business. Most trainers claim that the dog will not associate it as a problem if you yell at them after they pee.

Do you leave her in her crate for a couple of hours? is there treats & toys in there? Dog's won't Poop/pee in the den they live in.(unless sick)

Honestly I would suggest crating her half the day & bringing her outside every 2-3 hours to pee. It took me months to house break my pup. Now if I mention the word "Crate" he runs in thier. Good luck.


Unless they've grown up with no other option.

Puppies who have been raised in a poor shelter or other restrictive environment know nothing other than their crate and their run. With those options, hey, what you have to go you go. It's very difficult to housebreak them.

If this dog was in a similarly controlled environment as the OP states, she might not have much reference as to where is acceptable to eliminate in.


How is it counter productive to keep a dog outside? Not all dogs are house dogs.

Second, it was partly a joke, and the second part I am not sure how you got that is counter productive.


I personally keep all my dogs in their crates for their first year, except for exercise/bathroom/training. After that they get their own run, and I keep them their chain unless they are traveling.

So, I am thinking in reverse how you'd fix the problem. I would suggest keeping her outside and getting her to go regularly outside in a designated area. After this, you can take her inside, just keep her on a leash. If you cannot consciously watch her (you are asleep), this is when she goes outside. Do this until you trust her that she will go outside to go to the bathroom. After this if you want to keep her in a crate this is fine, I personally do not crate my house dogs after they have been house broken.


One suggestion I havent seen, but helped us (although this was with a puppy, so not sure it will work here) is to keep the paper towels you use to clean up her pee/poop in a little zip lock bag. About 5-10 minutes before taking her outside on a walk, take the ziploc bag out and deposit the paper towels in strategic locations, ie where she is most likely to pee/poop (under a tree, bush, a little clearing, fire hydrant, whatever). When you take her for a walk, make sure to bring her very close to the paper towels. she should smell it and go sniff to investigate. She'll associate this as "her" place to pee/poop. Keep it up and she'll get the idea

... at least, my dogs did when they were pups, best of luck in this instance


Thanks for the suggestions guys - I'll just respond in no particular order and I'm too lazy to quote.

About rubbing her nose in her pee (or close to it, I don't want her covered in pee when shes licking me later!) ; I'm aware it's not exactly the most ideal method of training, but I always catch her very soon after (to the point where the pee is still moving on the floor) and I figured it's the most I could do.

This past couple days or however since I posted I've been spending a lot of time outside WITH her so that I can give her a treat when she uses the bathroom out there. It doesn't happen very often, but I've managed to watch her i think 3 times.

I'm also of the mind that keeping her outside or crated most of the time would be the ideal manner to tackle the problem, but I'm not willing to do it. The reason people hire me over the kennel is that they want their dogs to have lots of individualized love and attention throughout the day, and I just wouldn't feel right about keeping her outside or crated (or on her leash) a lot. Maybe I shouldn't let that bother me, but it does and my job is to care for, not train (not that I don't do what I can).

I've also found if she sleeps in the bed with me at night she won't go, which is great. Lets me take her out first thing in the morning with a treat and wait for her to use the bathroom.

And I believe someone asked about my schedule - this is my job for now since I'm a college student (currently on summer break til the 27th when I start some summer classes). The owners are comfortable with me having people over that I know well so I only end up leaving the house to go to the gym or shop (or to take the dogs on a walk / to the dogpark but taht doesn't really count toward the angle of the question).

She's getting plenty of exercise throughout the day (I should have mentioned that); I'm walking them 3x a day and she plays a lot with the other dogs as well. They also get to go to the dogpark sometimes.

Thanks for the advice everyone! I'm pretty sure I addressed most things.


If you want to give dogs love, having them well trained is giving them love more than letting them run a muck.


Correct. You need to CRATE train her. They never shit or piss in their sleeping den. When the dog goes in the house, you immediately say "NO" take her out put her on the grass and praise her "Good Potty". This way she knows it's good outside, and not inside.


I'd hate to be your dog. Why even have one?


Pig hunting/Coyote hunting. I have one that stays in the house (yeah right, he goes outside all the time even though he is the only one allowed to be inside with the AC). The others like it outside because they pig hunt, and play/train outside almost all day.

As well, the dogs have their own AC.


Ahh, the country and working dog.

My point is that putting them out will not solve the problem, and i'Ve seen too many neglected dogs left in the yard chained up to let that comment pass.


I agree with sluicy.

Pushing the dog's nose in it doesn't work, especially after the fact. Most dogs make associations between things 1-3 seconds apart - or less. The most effective corrections is timed when the dog BEGINS to do an unwanted act, or is thinking about doing it. Literally when the INTENTION first enters its mind is the best time to correct unwanted behavior.

You are right that crate training is normally effective, but not when the dog has gotten accustomed to going in the crate, which makes things really tough.

If it were me, I would structure food, water, and exercise at the same time every day, then take the dog out when she SHOULD need to go -- after waking, eating food, drinking water, or exercise. When I take the dog out, I give her a potty command, then wait for her to show signs that she's about to go. The split second I see her thinking about going or starting to go I praise using the command "Good potty!" Treats are fine if she is eager to take them, but it's important to associate verbal praise and approval with the desired behavior. Your voice should sound happy and excited.

All that helps convey you want her to go outside, but doesn't teach her NOT to go inside. For the problem you describe, I would create the situation that usually results in her unwanted peeing by leaving the room, but I would be peeking around the corner waiting for the FIRST SIGN she was about to pee; then I would rush into the room with a correction the INSTANT she was about to pee. Hopefully you know enough of her temperament to give a meaningful correction without causing undue fear or anxiety. I would give her a pop on a prong or choke-type collar while sternly saying, "No! Outside!" and of course immediately take her outside. She probably won't go outside at the point, but if she does, of course praise her.

Another thing I would do is pick up an ultraviolet light and a big bottle of enzyme cleaner such as Nature's Miracle to clean up everywhere she has gone so far. They have a strong drive to keep going in the same place. With the UV light, you'll see the urine is far more widespread than you thought when you were cleaning it up. :frowning:

It also sounds like the dog is peeing out of separation anxiety or conditioning rather than the pure need. To improve separation anxiety, don't pay attention to the dog (playing, petting, etc.) right before leaving or immediately when you return. Make her hold a down-stay for a little while before you leave (and at other times so she doesn't make it an association). Leave in a low-key way without petting her, speaking to her, or playing with her. When you return, wait a few minutes before petting, greeting, playing. Leave for varied amounts of time to condition her to it. When you're in the room with her, make her sit and down frequently, and play/pet only as a reward for obeying a command. Control every minute of her life.


Because it is creating more anxiety in a pack animal to isolate her from the rest of the group. Sure, it solves the surface problem in that the OP doesn't have to clean up messes, but that's it.

As to "all dogs are house dogs," this is wrong. All dogs are pack dogs, they are pack animals. Dogs would rather be with their pack, be it their owners or whatever other social group, than be outside. The belief that dogs would rather be outdoors, as a blanket statement, is misinformed. Dogs desire a strong social bond more than any other instinct. The instinct to be outdoors and wander their territory is secondary, that is, they wish to travel under the direction of the leaders of the pack (hopefully the dominant human owners... a walk fulfills the need to roam as much or more than it fulfills the need for exercise).

If this dog is isolated, when she already has obvious confusion as to the expectations as to how she fits into the current pack, shoving her outside will just be seen as isolation and punishment. She needs constant contact and affirmation from the OP which she is getting, he's doing a great job.


I'm confused. You keep them both in a run and on a chain? Why would you restrict a dog to this degree when their behavior can be corrected in a much more relational degree if you kept them in the house with you, which would be much more satisfying to them, and (I hope) to you (and if not, you ought not to own dogs).

So, I am thinking in reverse how you'd fix the problem. I would suggest keeping her outside and getting her to go regularly outside in a designated area. After this, you can take her inside, just keep her on a leash. If you cannot consciously watch her (you are asleep), this is when she goes outside. Do this until you trust her that she will go outside to go to the bathroom. After this if you want to keep her in a crate this is fine, I personally do not crate my house dogs after they have been house broken.[/quote]

Keeping a dog outside all the time ensures that they will eliminate outside all the time. That's it. It usually creates a whole host of other problems. I agree that she ought to be in sight all the time so the OP can monitor and correct/reward her behavior, but that in itself will help with the underlying issues if she does have a poor history as he indicated.

Keeping a dog in the den during the period of sleep can correct a myriad of behavioral problems. I really commend the OP for doing this, and as you see, it has had good results.

If you have a number of dogs who are all kept outdoors, they likely have assembled a sense of pack and hierarchy of their own, which lessens the anxiety and issues which are present in this case, where the dogs are used to being kept indoors. I think you're giving advice from a point of view which does not associate with the situation the OP's posting from, and this is why your advice is unhelpful.

As to the hard and fast rule of crating for a year, why would you do that when it may be unnecessary? I'm sorry, but you seem to treat dogs pretty callously, as if one rule applies to them all and they are only behaviorally-conditioned robots.