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Inappropriate elimination is probably one of the ‘hardest to live with’ problems pet owners encounter. Having a pet who pees and poops in the house can be incredibly stressful for owners and other pets alike.  

The good news is that there is quite a lot that can be done to address this problem, but anything you try can only happen once you’ve taken your dog to the vet for a thorough check up to rule out any underlying health problems that could be the cause.

Be sure to mention the inappropriate elimination when you take your dog for a check-up so the vet knows what to look for specifically. Once your dog has been given a clean bill of health consider his age and the environment he lives in. 

Here are some possible issues to consider:

  • Is your dog’s bed quite far from the lawn? If your answer is yes, consider moving his bed closer to the door, or consider bringing a grass patch inside for him. If he’s a short legged, small or very young pup, the distance from bed or door to lawn may simply be too great for him to manage successfully, and that’s why he doesn’t make it to the lawn in time.  
  • Do you carry him outside every time you take him to eliminate?  If you do, he may not know how to get to the lawn by himself.  
  • Is it wet outside? He may have short legs and may not like getting his tummy or feet wet on the lawn, and that’s why he prefers inside.  
  • Was he kept in a kennel, on carpet or on lawn where he was bred? If he has a substrate preference for tiles, he may not realise that grass is the place for elimination. 
  • Is he an older dog? If he is, has he been checked for arthritis? Does he have to climb stairs or walk far to get to the lawn?  If he does, he may simply be too sore to manage.  In that case, get him a litter box or a grass box closer to where he sleeps, or strategically placed in the house. 
  • Do you have other dogs? If so, how do they get on? Stress between dogs can cause inappropriate elimination behaviour, so if there is any tension between your dogs, get in touch with a COAPE qualified behaviourist to help you address the tension.  
  • Has anything changed lately? Dogs can also change their toileting habits or start eliminating in inappropriate places if they are experiencing other stressors such as people leaving, moving house, the loss of a companion animal, visitors or the arrival of a baby.
  • Is your Dog Housetrained? If your dog hasn’t been properly housetrained, she may have accidents in places that are not ideal.  If you’re not sure if she’s housetrained, go back to basics and start from the beginning.   

How to Housetrain your dog

  1. Take your dog outside as often as you can. Preferably every hour if she’s an adult dog or every 30 minutes if she’s a puppy or a teenager. 
  2. Take her out after every nap, meal or playtime as well as first thing in the morning and late at night.  
  3. Watch her to see if there is any sniffing, circling around, or generally looking uncomfortable.  As soon as you see her doing any of those actions, immediately take her outside and wait.  
  4. Don’t chat to her, just stand quietly.  
  5. As soon as she eliminates, put a cue to it i.e. say “Go find a spot” then reward and praise her for performing in the right area. 
  6. Use food initially as your dog will get lots of praise in her life and you want to mark the ‘good behaviour’ with a token food treat which will motivate her to continue doing it in that spot in future.

What do I do if I catch my Dog in the Act?

  • Distract her by clapping your hands together gently and saying “ah ah, sweetpea, let’s go outside.” 
  • Then quickly get her outside to the right toileting spot.  
  • Remember to apply the same methods as above.  

How to Clean Up Dog Mess

  • Don’t clean up in front of her.  You don’t want to pay attention to anything inappropriate that your dog has done – rather distract her if she is still busy and clean up the mess when she’s not around. 
  • Don’t use any product that contains ammonia such as Handy Andy, as that tends to smell like urine and dogs go back to the places they can smell they’ve been. 
  • Pet Patrol & Simple Solution have a super and effective range of cleaning products specifically for pet messes.
  • Usually a bit of dishwashing liquid diluted in some warm water or even biological washing powder that is then washed off thoroughly will do the trick.  
  • Avoid spraying any strong-smelling products over ‘mistake’ areas.  

Other Useful Housetraining Tips

If your dog has an established history of eliminating in the house, limit access to the house by closing doors and keep her with you always. Only once she’s learnt where to go to the toilet can she have free access again. Remember to praise her every time she eliminates in the right place.

Successful housetraining takes time, so hang in there.  Dogs don’t just know where to go. Like any other skill it needs to be learnt over time, which will happen if you are consistent and you give your dog loads of feedback about what you want her to do rather than focusing on mistakes she may have made.
 

Karin Pienaar
Animal behaviour guru, Karin Pienaar, has been working in the field of animal behaviour and behaviour therapy in South Africa since 1997. She completed her Diploma in Animal Behaviour in the UK, through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology (COAPE) and is a qualified Practitioner member of the COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists & Trainers (CAPBT) in the UK and South Africa.
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1 comments
Rona Swart
Rona Swart
Sunday 06th May 2018

Middag Karin.
Wat moet ek doen oor een van my honde wat baie blaf? Hy is 7 jaar oud. Dit is Pughondjie. Soms blaf hy as hy ander mense of honde sien, maar soms sommer net. Ek werk nagdiens en slaap in die dag. Dan blaf hy my wakker. Ek gaan baie keer uit met hulle as ek af is. Hulle het speelgoed. Ek kan nie veel treats vir hulle gee nie want hulle eet Hill's se Z/D dieet, en daarmee mag hulle niks anders eet nie. So, wat moet ek doen as hy blaf?
Ek sal dit baie waardeer as jy my biki raad kan gee.
Baie dankie.
Rona Swart.

Karin
Karin
Wednesday 09th May 2018

Hallo Rona. So snaaks as wat dit klink is daar regtig honde wat nie altyd weet hoe om te hou blaf nie. Die eerste stap wat ek vir jou sal aanbeveel is om bietjie tyd met hom te spandeer wanneer jy weer af is om hom te leer om op te hou blaf - hier is vir jou n inligtingstukkie oor hoe om dit te doen: https://www.epetstore.co.za/how-to-stop-your-dog-barking. Wat jy ook sal moet doen is om hom bietjie meer blootstelling aan die wereld buite die eiendom te gee sodat hy kan sien wat gaan daar aan Hallo Rona. So snaaks as wat dit klink is daar regtig honde wat nie altyd weet hoe om te hou blaf nie. Die eerste stap wat ek vir jou sal aanbeveel is om bietjie tyd met hom te spandeer wanneer jy weer af is om hom te leer om op te hou blaf - hier is vir jou n inligtingstukkie oor hoe om dit te doen: https://www.epetstore.co.za/how-to-stop-your-dog-barking. Lees die volgende Comment vir meer.

Karin
Karin
Wednesday 09th May 2018

Wat jy ook sal moet doen is om hom bietjie meer blootstelling aan die wereld buite die eiendom te gee sodat hy kan sien wat gaan daar aan en dat alles reg is en hy hoef nie oor elke geluid te blaf nie. Laastens kan jy hom of in die huis hou wanneer jy slaap sodat hy ook rustig is, en hom dan uitlaat wanneer jy wakker is sodat jy met hom kan werk om hom minder te laat blaf, of jy kan gedurende jou slaaptyd sy oggend maaltyd vir hom in die tuin rond strooi sodat hy dit kan soek. Lees die volgende Comment vir die res.

Karin
Karin
Wednesday 09th May 2018

n Paar lekker kou speelgoed soos n Kong wat met n paste van sy daaglikse kos gemaak is sal goed werk, want dan kry hy nie extra kos nie, maar sy kos word gebruik om hom besig te hou. Anders kyk ook na van die speelgoed wat hy kan verteer soos hooves ens - alles wat hy kan kou en veilig insluk. As jy nie seker is nie gesels gerus met jou veearts want hulle sal kan help. Dit behoort die verveeldheid blaffery te stop, en as dit nie werk nie stuur asb vir my n epos en ek sal met graagte verder help!

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