Puppy Poop Schedule
June 20, 2016 9:56 AM   Subscribe

How often does your dog need to go outside (pee or poop) and how do you know when it's time?

We've had Poncho since he was 7 weeks old - first as a foster through the local SPCA and then adopted him. He is now about 13 months old and still not reliable in housetraining. He is my first dog so I don't have much to go on in terms of past dog experience. We did a short course of puppy training last summer and then a private consultation with a trainer at our house in January who said he was on the right track and gave us some tips for walking, treat training/clicker training, etc.

He's about 12 lbs and a mutt (DNA test shows half miniature poodle, quarter Pomeranian, quarter American Staffordshire terrier - no I do not know how that arrangement occurred). He is very active. He used pee pads in a penned area for the first two months before he cleared quarantine but since then has only been taken outside to relieve himself. He was crate trained for a couple months but then we got lazy so now he's in his penned area (maybe 4'x4') when we're out of the house and sleep in bed with us.

He gets taken out first thing in the morning and then about every 3 hours until 8 pm and then after that he's asleep in bed for the night. So he can definitely hold it. He poops about 4 times a day during those times outside; sometime it's just a quick trip out the yard on leash, sometimes it's a walk around the block or longer, sometimes he comes with when we're in our fenced backyard. He pees nearly every time he goes outside. On days when we're out of the house all day for work (3 times a week), a dog walker comes and takes him out with a pack for a couple hours.

However, there are still occasional accidents (both pee and poop). It's not just one place in the house, either. He's definitely improved over the last few months but I have no confidence in leaving him unattended and am basically always on alert at home when he's out of his pen and I'm tired of always following his every moment. I'd love to have him at least signal to me that he needs to go but to date, that doesn't seem to be happening.

I installed a little dog bell at the front door and trained him to ring it whenever we go out. If I stand at the front door with leash in hand, he'll approach and ring the bell and then he gets the leash and we go out but he does not ring the bell on his own and it's been there about 2 months.

So often should he need to go out and how do I make him let me know? I feel like maybe I'm preemptively taking him out too soon so he doesn't get to the point of feeling the urge but then alternatively if I wait too long, he has an accident. Help me help him be successful!
posted by otherwordlyglow to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What ever times you pick stick to them. Do not keep changing them up. I had one dog that has to go out every 2 hours on the hour or he'll leave little messages around the house for a year he can now hold on for 6 hours reliably.

The 2 main things I've found that work is routine, routine, routine. Do not allow some peeing in the house on pads, get rid of them they confuse things. Take the dog out every 2 hours when they pee or poop praise to the as if they just peed gold. Praise, is the second thing praise praise, praise the second they pee or poop, while they're peeing & pooping & when they're done, treats are also good or at least have a fun play with your dog for a few minutes after he's peed to say hey good things happen when you pee outside.

Advanced tip don't take your dog in the second they've peed or they'll hold off peeing when you go outside to get more sniffing time. So a few minutes more to sniff around at least before taking it inside.

Make any changes to your routines slowly. Once they're pretty firm on the 2 hour thing slowly increase it, don't suddenly jump to 4 hours for example & expect to be accident free.

Also I have learned that a heck of a lot of the time accidents happen because people are not seeing or understanding their dogs signals that they want to go out. Some dogs are super subtle & try the sit quietly by the door where no one can see me & hope they psychically figure out what I want method of indicating they want to go out. My dog used to go and sit on the steps halfway to the back room about 15 feet from the door, that was his signal, took me ages to work out why he'd sit there. It was because he could see me & the door at the same time.

The bell thing is a great idea to help overcome this but not all dogs get the idea quickly it sounds like he's sort of good the idea so keep it up it should eventually click.

Other options if your yard is securely fenced have you thought of a doggy door?

The main thing with pee training is all dogs are individuals so you may have to try a few methods until you find one that clicks with your particular dog, patience, routine & gradual change is the key what ever way you decide to go, oh and a pocket full of treats at all times.
posted by wwax at 10:40 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, while it's less likely since it's both #1 and #2, dogs can get various infections that affect their ability to hold it, so it's worth taking Poncho to the vet to get checked out.

(I give this advice despite your shocking failure to include a link to a picture of said Poncho. The dog tax must be paid!)
posted by praemunire at 10:56 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Sorry - forgot the rules! Poncho in a moment of repose. (And he's been to the vet in the last month).
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:08 AM on June 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

Oh my goodness, he is adorable!

So, my dog is old (11yo) but we had some housetraining issues when I first brought him home. He doesn't ask to be taken out, or have a good "tell" for when he needs to go out. So it's on me to be super consistent with his schedule, set him up to succeed, and give him good "clues" for what to expect.

For us, this means getting up at the same time every day (5am), even on weekends/days off, and taking regular breaks throughout the day, including right before bed. He pees every time he goes outside and poops every time he's outside for 30+ minutes.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:13 AM on June 20, 2016

My dogs routinely can wait 10 hours without using the bathroom, as they are often in while I'm at work. I don't know what the upper limit is, but I can't imagine it's much longer than that.
posted by eas98 at 11:25 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

My adult dog (half bichon, half poodle) holds it as long as 12 hours at night, but she has never been dependable about "telling" me she needs to go out. The thing that works best is to have regular times of day that she goes out. She usually pees about 4 x day and poops twice. Sometimes, she will make a pass by the door and if I notice, I will take that as her signal. But if I'm in another part of the house or concentrating on something, I may miss her signal and she will NOT hold it. If I don't take her out then, she will poop or pee in the bathroom floor (I guess it's good that she chooses the bathroom?). The bottom line is that all dogs are different (just like with kids and potty training) and it doesn't mean that you are doing it wrong.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2016

Until a dog is housebroken, the best way to train it is being 24/7 tied to the dog. within sight all the time, on a leash if necessary, and the FIRST indication that the pup has to pee or poop (sniffing, circling, etc), outside the pup goes, to the same spot, until business is taken care of (followed by lots of praise!). A crate at night if necessary (or during the day if you're not home). Using this system my now 7 year old Husky has had ONE accident in those 7 years, and that was my own fault. Also a bell on the door handle, they learn quick to ring it to go out...
posted by HuronBob at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2016

Rule of thumb is generally a dog can wait 1 hour for every month of age. Our Boston Terrier doesn't bark (unless we ask or she is startled), so we trained her to ring a bell we draped over the door knob where she goes out.
posted by terrapin at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2016

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