How to stop a puppy peeing indoors?
March 14, 2015 5:16 AM   Subscribe

We've had our eight-week-old Labrador for a few days and he's developed a bad habit: he won't pee while we're outside in the garden (sometimes for over an hour) but the moment he comes in he goes to one part of the kitchen and pees there. How can we make him realise that he's got it the wrong way around?

It isn't that he never pees outside, he does occasionally. But he seems to be holding it when he's in the garden, and waiting until he's inside to pee. We're not having the same problem with defecation, and he doesn't pee in his crate.

Here's what we're doing:
* Watching for any signs he wants to pee, but they are not usually forthcoming. No whimpers, he just walks over to the spot and squats.
* Saying 'No!' loudly as soon as he starts and carrying him outside, where he's encouraged to carry on. He just looks confused.
* When he does pee outside, praising him effusively and giving a treat.
* Cleaning the floor where he pees and using a spray that's supposed to eliminate the ammonia smell.

What he's doing:
* Not giving us signs he needs to pee.
* Showing reluctance to go outside.

Other information that may be useful:
* Reputable breeder, pups raised indoors on sawdust in a whelping box.
* The vet has given him a clean bill of health. He's been wormed and had his first inoculations yesterday.
* In all other ways a lovely, friendly, happy, playful pup.
* Pee-spot is quite close to his food and water bowls.

We've done all the reading and googling but nothing seems to address this specific problem.
posted by Hogshead to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
You could try denying access to the kitchen, to break the habit.
posted by metasarah at 5:48 AM on March 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Echoing metasarah, when I was a kid my family had a puppy that loooved to poo on our deck. Eventually she would only poo there, which wasn't ideal. We denied access to the deck for a day or two. Worked like a charm.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 5:51 AM on March 14, 2015

Keep him in his crate.
posted by deadweightloss at 6:44 AM on March 14, 2015

What about putting a pee pad down where he's been going and then taking it out to the spot where you want him to go after he uses it?
posted by brujita at 7:09 AM on March 14, 2015

Definitely restrict access to the kitchen if possible.

Are you being super-proactive about taking him outside? When I got a puppy, all the advice said to take him outside after eating, after playing, after waking up from a nap. And otherwise take him out every hour or so. It's a LOT of taking him outside, and it got old pretty fast, but it's the best way to train. Once you have him going outside, you can go longer between pee breaks. Anyway, I did this and it worked really well.

The other thing you can do is tether him to you with a leash or rope so that you can keep a close eye on him and scoop him up the second he squats.

Try not to say "NO!" when he pees in the kitchen - he's too young to understand why you're saying "no" and might start to think you don't want him to pee in front of you at all. Just pick him up and bring him outside.

Anyway, it's only been three days and he's just a tiny little baby, so I'm sure you'll be able to get this sorted.
posted by lunasol at 7:23 AM on March 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Rather than blocking off the area, can you just leave him on a short leash when he comes back in? Then when you see him starting to try to head that way with peeing on his little brain, you about-face and go back outside.

Similarly, I'd shorten those outside trips. If he pees, great. If he doesn't, don't wait around for it. If you catch him starting to pee indoors, scoop him up and take him out to finish.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:35 AM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

He smells pee right there and so he hears the message "It's OK to pee here because someone has peed here before". Possibly another dog or a cat peed there before. Or he is smelling his very first mistake.

I would spray that whole area with vinegar.

Personally, I have a baby gate on my kitchen. And we like that set-up.
posted by cda at 8:58 AM on March 14, 2015

Welcome to the world of puppies. I dealt with potty training problems (pee only, thank heaven) doing everything I could read about for FIVE months. My dog's strongest personality trait is stubbornness, even 7 years on.

Make sure you take him out on a schedule - like every 30 minutes, always after playing, always after eating etc.

When you're outside use the same word or phrase like "go potty" or whatever until he goes then praise the hell out of him with that word. Like throw a party. Lots of sing songy voices, petting, good boy, etc.

And just keep doing what you're doing. Scooping him up mid-pee and taking him outside. He'll get it. Eventually. And ignore the people who tell you, "my puppy was potty trained in a week!" Those people also get the cheapest plane tickets, the parking spots up front, and win the lottery repeatedly.
posted by cecic at 9:06 AM on March 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Our rescue dog was pee-shy when we got her. The single most valuable thing we did was to find her favorite dog treats.

Get several small bags of different types and textures - sweeter, more savory, chewier, crunchier. Cycle through them each time the pup successfully goes outside. It should be obvious when you've found the right treat, and then only give him that treat outside when he goes.

Simply put, particularly good treats can work wonders for training.
posted by eschatfische at 10:03 AM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Eight weeks is to young for the pup to communicate that to you. You have to teach him how to do that, and you start by taking him out every 30 minutes to pee... It is a pain the ass to do this but with a lab it should only take a couple of weeks.

My cairn took forever to train, partly because I used the puppy pads and he got confused when I changed the potty spot. I had to move those pads across the kitchen to the dog door and then out into the yard. I would not recommend puppy pads unless you want indoor peeing for an extended period of time.

Enjoy your pup... labs are great dogs.
posted by cairnoflore at 10:25 AM on March 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Keep him outside until he pees. Seriously, take him for a 10 mile hike around the neighbourhood if you have to, then when he does pee outside praise him like he pees gold and lots of high value treats. It's easier to train a dog to an action than to train them to stop doing an action, especially at the puppy stage.

Make sure you are really watching the dog, if you are waiting for a huge obvious signal that he wants to go out you may actually be missing the signs, my dog used to let me know he wants to go out by looking at me, sitting & looking at me. He has improved over the years and now sits next to me as opposed to behind me across the room. In fact a lot of pee training is actually the dog training the owner to understand it's signals. If the door you use to go out is not in plain sight you may want to look into hanging some bells from the door knob or something for the dog to hit.

Eight weeks is young for him to get this off perfectly and to understand he has to signal to you, a trip outside every half hour or so is the way to go, then slowly spread them further apart as he gets older. Anything that you think might be a signal of any sort, take him outside, eventually he will click, oh if I do x I can get my human to take me outside to pee, outside peeing gets me lots of treats and praise so I want to do that.
posted by wwax at 10:58 AM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

An 8-week old puppy is a tiny baby! He's just barely old enough to be taken from his mother! Would you expect a tiny human baby to tell you when he needed to pee?

Please do some research on house-training a very young puppy (talk to the breeder?) and change your mental attitude about it. You didn't adopt a fully grown house-trained dog - you adopted a wee baby who probably will pee in the house until he's old enough to understand and remember what you want from him.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:35 PM on March 15, 2015

(PS - don't take an 8 week puppy for a 10 mile hike.)
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:36 PM on March 15, 2015

Yeah, holy hell DO NOT take a 2-month-old puppy, especially a lab* puppy, for a 10-mile hike. Honestly, for a lab that young, 10 minutes is pushing it.

*labs are at a higher risk for hip dysplasia, and many vets believe that overwalking puppies can further elevate that risk.
posted by lunasol at 1:05 PM on March 15, 2015

Response by poster: We're not over-walking the dog. We're not actually walking the dog at all yet, because the dog hasn't had its full course of inoculations yet. We've done the reading. We've talked to the breeder and the vet. We grew up with Labs. We are not new to Labradors. What we are new to is a puppy who, sitting on the doormat inside an open door with the garden beyond, being beckoned outside with his favourite treat, will choose to pee on the doormat, repeatedly.
posted by Hogshead at 6:00 PM on March 16, 2015

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