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Challenges with Potty Training

Hi Tina! My 6 year old Chihuahua was trained to use a pet pad for his bathroom needs. He has lived with my mom for the last 6 years and it was no problem that he used a pad because we had hardwood floors. He is now coming to live with me and my entire house is carpeted. Thus I want to train him to go outside but I have no idea where to start. From research I have tried a few things that are just not working. We have tried keeping him in his cage and taking him outside to use the bathroom twice a day. Although we would stay outside with him for 10- 15 minutes, he would never “go.” Once inside, however, he has snuck off when no one is looking and peed in a corner or on a rug. I also tried keeping a pet pad outside since he was familiar with that and waiting with him outside until he “went.” Still no results. Rather, he refuses to use the restroom outside and continues to pee outside. There is also a problem of him using the restroom while in his cage, so I am not even sure if crate training will work for him since he has no problem using the restroom where he sleeps and/or lays down throughout the day. I am at my end as far as training him on my own goes. Is it too late for him to learn to use the bathroom outside? My roommate is beginning to be upset about all of the urine in the carpet so I really want to figure out a solution ASAP!

Another side to the issue is that he was never neutered and I plan to do that in the next few weeks so there is also the problem of “marking” throughout the house and outside. Will having him neutered possibly help with this situation?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice!


When an older dog is having house training challenges, I look at the situation the same as if it were a young puppy.  I am glad that you are crating the dog.  I believe in crating/kenneling a dog for his entire lifetime, as well as, it is the best way to teach a dog holding power and from what you stated above, Here are some guidelines to start the process:

  • Get rid of the pee pads right away!
  • Make sure his crate is no bigger than the dog – nose to rear.  Also, I would take out any bedding, if the dog is eliminating on it currently.  No food or water in the crate!  The dog will only get any begging back when he is holding it in the crate.
  • Supervision is key, therefore, the dog should be supervised at all times.  I would keep the dog on a leash in the house, when outside of the crate, for appropriate supervision. If you cannot supervise, then the dog should be crated.
  • When outside of the crate, on the leash, the dog should be taken out to eliminate appropriately.  Puppies should be taken out every half hour, while older dogs should be allowed to eliminate every few hours, when outside of the crate.
  • I would also regulate water and food.  Be sure to not free feed – ever!  Adult dogs should be feed two times a day.  When working on house training challenges,
  • I would keep the water up on the counter and regulate when you dog consumes water.  The dog should be offered water throughout the day, when you are home, but also get the dog out about 10 minutes after they consume.
  • Take treats with you so you can reward when the dog eliminates outside.
  • I would take the dog out on a leash so you can monitor what the dogs does eliminate and if he does not eliminate appropriately within 10 minutes time, take him back in the house and put him back in the crate.  Wait 15 – 30 minutes and then take the dog out and try again.  Repeat as necessary, until the does eliminates.
  • After the dog eliminates, then the dog can have freedom, on the leash, supervised.  The dog will be on the leash and not given freedom of the house until which time the house training challenges are resolved.
  • Freedom of the house is a “privilege” which must be earned.

I can go into more detail, if you wish to contact me at MerryMac Dog Training & Nutrition Center – 770 579-3865.

Tina McCain, Master Dog Trainer/Behaviorist

MerryMac Dog Training & Nutrition Center

Phone (770) 579-3865


Tue, September 3 2013 » Advice, Ask the Expert

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Molly Molly

I am a three year old German Shepherd from South Georgia.  I don’t really have a favorite toy because my favorite things are sleeping and getting petted on the head. Although if I do get up some energy I will admit that I love getting into the trash to look for napkins.

My brother Teddy is lots of fun to play with, plus he usually takes the blame for my chewing.  I really like him for that!  I love to bark a lot; sometimes my humans do not appreciate that so much.  I am SUPER special because I am a white German Shepherd and that is not so common I hear.

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