My Pet World: When dogs relieve themselves inside after going outside

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Published in Cannabis Daily

Dear Cathy,

During the day, our one-year-old Pomeranian is restricted to the entire main floor (using baby gates). She has access to the backyard through a pet door. Whether we are home or not, she goes outside as needed. When she travels with us in our RV, she can be left alone in the air-conditioned vehicle for several hours with no barking and no accidents. At night, she sleeps upstairs in her crate.

The problem is if she has free run of the house or is moments away from getting into her crate for the night, she will urinate or defecate, even though we let her out beforehand. Other than continuing to use the baby gates and crating her at night, do you have any ideas on how to deal with this?

— Jeanne, Tucson, Arizona

Dear Jeanne,

If your dog doesn’t always use the pet door, then she is not fully house-trained yet. A dog should be able to go four or five months without having an accident before being considered fully house-trained. She’s young, so she may need more training.


Begin by taking her outside to relieve herself after every nap, meal, and playtime session. When she starts to relieve herself, say "go potty" to coincide with the desired behavior. Use a marker/reward word, like "Bingo" or a clicker to mark the behavior followed by a food reward.

Wait for her to poop and follow the same routine each time so she associates the command with both peeing and pooping. If there are lots of distractions outside or she spends a lot of time sniffing around, put her on a leash to move things along.

Before bedtime, take her out again and follow the same "go potty" routine until she poops. You need to wait her out the first few times to ensure she doesn’t relieve herself in the house. If you can’t, take her outside again right before you anticipate her having the pre-bedtime accident, and say “go potty.” Again, walking her on a leash in the backyard may make this simpler for you.

During this training, clean the areas where she has had accidents with an enzymatic cleaner (available at pet stores) to break down the vomit, urine, or feces and remove the odor. This will reduce her chances of having an accident in the spot again.


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