How To Handle Your Dog Messing In The House: Our TOP Tips

How to handle your dog messing in the house is a question we get asked rather often. Especially since inappropriate elimination is probably considered one of the ‘hardest to live with‘ problems pet owners encounter.  

The good news is there is quite a lot that can be done to address this problem. HOWEVER 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 YOUR DOG 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 YOUR DOG KEPT IN A KENNEL/ON A CARPET/ON A 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 YOUR DOG 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 THE MESS:

  • How to handle your dog messing in the house? 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. Especially 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.

Hopefully this article has helped shine some light on how to handle your dog messing in the house; as well as provide a solution, two or three.

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