How do you train a dog to fully empty their bladder on command?
February 23, 2017 2:59 PM   Subscribe

How do you train a dog to fully empty their bladder on command?

My male dog is house trained, but he never quickly empties his bladder near the house. Instead, he must be walked about 6 blocks, marking his territory by peeing a tiny bit on every tree, fire hydrant, and fence post. I don't mind walking him, per se, but when I am in a hurry or it is cold or rainy it would be convenient if he could do his business promptly and easily.

Is there any way to train him to actually pee near the house, and to fully empty his bladder when he does it? I am having moderate success rewarding with treats when he pees on trees in our yard, but he is not really emptying his bladder--just marking. And now I think that he might be "faking" it sometimes by lifting his leg in the yard to get a treat, but not actually peeing at all. Any tips would be most appreciated.
posted by mortaddams to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Also, we did buy the "Top Paw Pee Post," which has pheromones, but he has never peed on it a single time. I am not sure why he has no interest in it.
posted by mortaddams at 3:07 PM on February 23, 2017

Well, maybe he just doesn't need to pee? When dogs need to pee they pee properly, so if he's not peeing in the house when he isn't let outside, chances are he just doesn't need to go. All other pee-related activity is just marking.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:16 PM on February 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

A grown male dog needs to mark. It's much more important than emptying his bladder.
On the other hand, he can probably deal with a shorter walk on off days.
I take my dog for two long walks a day, but sometimes I can't make it both times, and he gets a really short run around the block in the morning and then the usual long walk at night. Those days he isn't happy, but he also isn't traumatized.
We live half time at a farm (where he can go in and out at all times) and half time in an apartment in a city, and when we are at the farm he is less active than in the city. I think the reason is that there are fewer dogs he needs to mark against at the farm.
posted by mumimor at 3:33 PM on February 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't think you can reliably train a dog to do that, though I suspect many people have tried, and some dogs may pick it up.

Have you ever had an actual problem here? My dog acts very similar. If it is very cold or raining, he turns his 20+ marking pee stops over several blocks into ~2 stops over one block, peeing more each time. Yours may do the same if you give him a chance.

If I'm in a hurry and running late, and I didn't leave enough time to properly walk my dog, I consider that MY problem, not my dog's.

He's not in charge of when I do what, and a good thing too: he has VERY poor time budgeting skills ;)
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:35 PM on February 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

A dog doesn't understand "fully empty bladder" so no, not in the sense that the dogs understands what you want it to do.

However, if you have a secluded back yard, I can tell you One Weird Trick that'll blow your dog's mind and likely get him pretty empty. And you, as well.

On a similar note, though, two out of three of my dogs have what seems like an automatic response to certain kinds of smells - tire rubber, treated railroad ties (creosote?), and tomato plants in particular - where they just have to pee on it, and try to cover it so it's a pretty extensive pee. One of the dogs goes glassy-eyed and will do a handstand on her front paws to better cover it. (See suggestion one: human urine is also a pretty strong trigger.)

And as a third option, a number of people I know who dogwalk exclusively have a sort of agreement with the dog that certain times of day are for peemail and certain times (before bed, as an example) are "get the job done" trips, and they just go to a specific spot and refuse to walk anywhere else. They may have to stand there for a while, but the dog usually gets bored enough to go again and it starts to become habit. They do seem to understand when they're not going for a walk, just for a potty.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:36 PM on February 23, 2017 [18 favorites]

I wish I could tell you the trick to this. My great dane was spayed too early and struggles with incontinence. We'll take her out/walk a couple blocks to go potty and then twenty minutes later she pees her bed when she falls asleep. In our case estrogen pills have helped the most. Very eagerly watching this thread.
posted by Marinara at 4:16 PM on February 23, 2017

Dogs don't understand the concept of peeing completely. You're not going to be able to train them to do something that fundamentally makes no sense to them that you can't train in stages.

Lyn Never is right, you just want to make sure the dog knows some walks are sniff walks and some are business. You might want to train a special command for both so the dog knows he can't just stand and sniff for minutes if you tell him "going potty" or something. Even so, my dog sometimes will take a hundred years to go potty, usually when I need him to go as quickly as possible. I sympathize, but it's life with doges.
posted by winna at 4:24 PM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am going to be referring to peemail on a regular basis from now on.

With our dog, I say the word toilet in an insanely cheerful voice and then put him on his lead and take him into the back garden, occasionally repeating the word and then praising him when he goes. He's now pretty good at going quickly and fully. It's the routine repetition of both phrase and ritual that seems to work.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 4:48 PM on February 23, 2017 [7 favorites]

Ours will go on the "go potty" command because we use positive reinforcement. We taught them by saying "go potty" whenever they actually peed, and then telling them they were THE BEST when they finished. If your dog is very food motivated, a single treat in your pocket when praising may help.

Queue and positive feedback. Repeat ad nauseum.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:05 PM on February 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

My dog has learned this more or less. She's female but marks as much or more than any male dog I've ever seen, every.step.of.every.walk if you let her. (Very dominant dog.)
But last thing at night, she goes into the yard for a pee, on command. Like the others here, she learned quicky that the final trip of the day is not a walk. She ambles and sniffs for a bit in the yard, looking for the right spot, then pees and runs back inside. At this point I can stand in the doorway and let her go out there to pee and come right back again. My command is "Go final pee!" in an excited voice, and then I praise her when she does it and give a small treat when she runs back in. She gradually just got the hang of what I wanted the way dogs will, but there is no way I could have gotten her to empty her bladder on command on a walk.
posted by flourpot at 5:05 PM on February 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

I praised my dog when he went pee. Like a lunatic I squealed and cheered "Good dog, go pee!". He learned what "go pee" meant. It was very helpful -when we were going somewhere in the car we'd go outside and he run to the car. I'd call him over to the grass and tell him to go. He'd be so excited he'd run to the car after a quick little squirt but i'd call him back and tell him to go in a disappointed voice. He's come back and go. If he was super excited I might have to call him back more than once.
I'd train him with a command of your choice. Then when he does it where you want him to give him a treat.
It was really a helpful command to have.
posted by beccaj at 5:05 PM on February 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

For anyone who lives in a bigger city or needs to walk their dog where other people can overhear, I recommend using "hurry up" as your pee command. Far less embarrassing for the human, dog doesn't know the difference.
posted by Mchelly at 4:32 AM on February 24, 2017 [6 favorites]

My male dog (and males (usually) are quite different from female dogs regarding peeing/marking (IME)) has learned that certain walks are for markings, and others are just for bathroom breaks. I made this easy for him by having the bathroom breaks be the same route; I walk to the light pole in front of our house, I walk to the fire hydrant, I walk up the corner along our hedge, and then I turn around.

Once I've turned around, he realizes that we're going to slowly walk along the hedge, then up the driveway. He might have done a quick mark before this point, but once I turn around he'll do one pee, and it will be giant. If I know he really should pee, instead of me being cautious, I'll linger a bit longer at the end of the hedge while prompting him, "go pee." I also always verbally praise his full pee's and give him a good petting once he's done. I don't praise him while he's marking. I used cut up hot dogs to reward for the first few months he was new to us.

Occaisionally I don't have the 3-5 minutes for the quick bathroom breaks, in which case I quick walk him to the end of the hedge that I might linger at during his normal routine and prompt with "go pee." He's pretty good about getting that done, and again not just marking.

However if I always just ran to the pee spot and prompted I think he'd start delaying or try just marking because he'd want more sniffing. With a combination of at least two walks with plenty of marking per day (one walk is usually subbed with a 1-2 hr run), and the 3-5 minute leisurely pee breaks he's willing to be accepting of the times where I need to be gone, but need him empty first.
posted by nobeagle at 7:38 AM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

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