When it comes to a dog’s bladder, there are many potential problems. It is not always an immediate issue of a dog not wanting to go outside – sometimes it is a matter of them not being able to hold it that long or simply not understanding the boundaries between inside and outside.
In reality, the last thing a dog wants to do is go to the bathroom in their home. They are hardwired to go away from their dens, to avoid the impact of disease and parasites that can plague them in the wild. This is one of the primary reasons a dog will hold their urine for so long when you leave the house – they don’t want to make a mess in their home.
The real issue comes in when a) the dog doesn’t understand that the house is their home and is not trained to tell the difference and b) when the dog is not taken outside often enough to relieve itself. So, the first thing we need to do is determine which category your dog falls into and what the quickest and easiest way to solve the problem is.
Consistency and Small Breeds
Assuming a dog has been at least partially housebroken, the first thing you need to ask yourself is whether the dog is being taken outside often enough. This comes up most commonly with small breeds like pinschers, Yorkshire terriers, dachshunds, or pugs – dogs that have small bladders and minimal insulation. When the weather gets cold or wet, owners will often times minimize the amount of time they submit their dogs to the elements. They figure that allowing their dog to make a small mess inside won’t hurt them and it is easy to clean up.
Unfortunately, while a single mess might not seem like a big deal at the time, it can actually cause a number of problems further down the line. To start with, the dog does not want to go to the bathroom inside – especially if it has been trained to go outside. It is their home and they are more comfortable going outside. Imagine how comfortable you would be relieving yourself in the kitchen sink instead of in the bathroom.
Secondly, a dog that is allowed to make a mess inside will never learn that the bathroom is outdoors. Dogs do not have a natural inclination to delineate between indoor and outdoor areas. You need to teach them.
Handling Potty Problems
If your dog makes messes on the floor, the easiest thing to do is to start from scratch. Crate training is a very effective tool because it gives the dog a smaller space to claim as their own, tapping into that instinctual desire to not make a mess where they sleep. If crate training is out of the question, you should confine the dog to a single room and pay close attention to them. Create a routine that allows the dog to go to the bathroom at the same time every day, and when the dog does their business outdoors, make sure to praise them profusely. On the flip side, do not get angry if your dog makes a mess inside.
Attempt to startle them with a sharp noise, such as clapping your hands, and then take them outside immediately so they begin associating outdoors with relieving themselves. Just remember that punishing your dog for making a mess will have no impact. The dog is incapable of understanding why they are being punished before they fully understand that they are not permitted to go to the bathroom indoors.
Additionally, it is a good idea to have your carpets thoroughly cleaned to remove any pet odor that may linger. Conventional cleaners tend to just mask the smell to human noses. Dogs, on the other hand, can still smell their markings and will return there later. If you have more than one dog, they may even attempt to mark over the top of each other, leading to a cycle that can be hard to break.