Fruit Valley Veterinary Clinic

House training dogs

Establish a routine. Take the dog out frequently. Puppies may need to go out every 2 hours. Walking after regularly scheduled meals is important because a reflex action makes defecation very likely then. Praise the dog every time he eliminates outdoors (treats work). Condition the dog by using a phrase like "Hurry up" or "Go potty" when he eliminates. This will help remind him of what to do.

Confinement is important when you are unable to watch the dog. The confined area should be small enough so that the dog will not feel comfortable eliminating there. Dog crates are ideal for this purpose. When not confined, the "umbilical cord" technique of keeping the dog on a leash while in the house is one effective way of keeping the dog from wandering off and eliminating somewhere in the house.

Dogs are social creatures. Puppies are more likely to eliminate outside if accompanied by a human than if they are left alone. Also, if not supervised, the dog is more likely to get into inappropriate things and walk in fecal contamination.

Inappropriate Elimination

In the majority of cases, urination and defecation by dogs within the home is a normal (for the dog) behavior usually caused by ineffective house-training methods, particularly in young dogs. Another reason for inappropriate elimination is marking, which is particularly pronounced in dominant male dogs, where it takes the form of leg lifting. There are also medical causes of inappropriate elimination particularly in older dogs. Dogs that urinate or defecate only when their owners are away may have separation anxiety.


  1. For inappropriate elimination resulting from inadequate house-training, retraining the dog to a particular location outside the home may be all that is necessary.
  2. For treatment of marking behaviors in adult male dogs, neutering must be considered the treatment of choice when this is an option. For other types of marking behavior, dominance restructuring or antianxiety medication can be helpful.
  3. Treat anxiety-based conditions by attempting to reduce the cause of the anxiety. Medication--for example, buspirone--can be useful.
  4. Medical Conditions should be diagnosed and treated first by your local veterinarian if there is any suspicion of their involvement.

TO PEE OR NOT TO PEE. 1997, Dr. Nicholas Dodman. Tales, Treatments and the Psychology of Dogs.