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My Pet World: When dogs won’t go outside to pee, don’t settle for them going in the house

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

Two weeks ago, I adopted a very sweet rescue Bassett Hound mix. She was dumped after being a breeding dog. She is about five to seven years old. She is terrified of everything, including the outdoors. She is 40 pounds and won't go outside voluntarily, so I have to carry her. The problem is I am 65, and my back has been in pain from doing it for over a week now.

So, I have placed plastic over my carpeted bedroom and put washable and disposable pee pads on top of the plastic. I have decided not to force her to go outside anymore since it makes her trust me less. Although she did her business a few times when I took her out, she just stood there most of the time. She's not aggressive, likes being petted, and wants to be by me. So that is good. I read on Best Friend’s animal rescue website that this is typical behavior for these dogs. So, I hope to find a trainer who knows about these dogs and can help me housebreak her and make her less afraid of the outdoors. Do you know of anyone?

— Susan, Buffalo, Wyoming

Dear Susan,

From what I know of Best Friends, I would be surprised to see them offer breed-specific advice. They have always treated every animal as an individual, not lumping specific behaviors with a specific breed. So, I know they would agree that what is happening to this dog has nothing to do with her breed and everything to do with her being a breeding dog. Let’s look at her life experiences up until this point.

As a breeding dog, she likely lived in an outdoor kennel and could not access a yard when she needed to relieve herself. So, she learned to relieve herself where she lived – in a kennel, which may be why she is more comfortable peeing under your roof than under the open sky.

She may fear her new freedom of movement since she likely lived in the kennel full-time. This can make her fearful or anxious about going outside. She also was probably never taken for a walk on a leash so only knows how to freeze when you put one on her. As a breeding dog, she likely had limited contact with people as well.

Regardless of the reason, you don't have to settle for her peeing inside your house. Dogs can learn at any age. So, finding a trainer is a great idea. I don't know individual trainers in your area, but you can go online to the Association for Professional Dog Trainers ( website and click on "locate a trainer." From there, you enter your ZIP code to find one of their 4,300 certified trainers in their database.

Always interview trainers to make sure that you and your dog are comfortable with them, they are certified, they use only positive reinforcement, they can explain their training methods, and they can provide references from other people they have helped. A trainer will outline a plan, likely beginning with her learning to walk on a leash then moving on to house training.

Most of all, give her more time to adjust. If you are consistent and compassionate with her training, I am confident she will learn to walk outside and relieve herself.

Dear Cathy,

Feral cats are a problem. Feral cats kill wild birds at an alarming rate. As dogs are not allowed to roam free, neither should cats.


— Pat, Tucson, Arizona

Dear Pat,

Things aren't that simple. The problem is people abandon cats at an alarming rate, far exceeding dog abandonment. Rounding up community cats also means only one thing: killing them, which is not something anyone working at an animal shelter wants to ever do.

Unfortunately, this is a man-made problem that could end if people simply stopped abandoning their cats. Until they do, it would be great if people would see these cats for the victims they are and work together to get all the community cats in their respective neighborhoods fixed and fed.

Trap-neuter-return (TNR) not only stops the mating behaviors which are the cause of most human complaints, but it also halts all future births. Cats can then live out the remainder of their lives (which is often half the lifespan or less of an inside cat), while natural attrition takes care of the rest.

While cats (and dogs) can kill birds, they are less likely to do so if they are kept fed.




(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)

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