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Canine Behavior/Rescued dog won't potty outside and scared of the outside


This is my first rescued dog, Houston. He is a beagle, vet states on or around one yr old. I do not have any history of his life prior to bringing him home, but he will not go potty outside. At first he was afraid of the leash, but we slowly got him to walk on the leash. We've been taking him out approx every hour to walk the yard and he sniffs, but is too distracted by all the noises around him to go potty. I have a five year old golden (Freestyle) who walks with us and I praise her every time she goes potty hoping the beagle Houston will follow suit but nothing. Three times now,  right after we walk back into the house Houston will pee on the floor. We stay outside for 10-30 mins depending on the time of day/night. I reprimand him by saying no and putting outside again but then he just stands and shakes.

I keep both dogs in the basement because of Houston's accidents. I feel bad for Freestyle because she has always had the house to roam or choice of beds to sleep in.  

Could you please advice on how to help Houston use the great outdoor potty and not be so afraid. He won't come to us, we have to chase him down to take outside. I've been working on getting him to come to me by sitting on the floor and praising him and or a treat when he does come to me within arm leghth.  Now if we're sitting he's very loveable. Coming right up to you to give kisses or get a belly rub, but when I say outside, lets go potty, he's off and running.

Thank you for your time in this ... I'm sure Houston and I will come to terms. Just curious if there is something I need to do to help him adjust.

Don't reprimand him!!!!  Chances are that his previous owner did that, so he's afraid to pee in front of humans!  That may be why, once he's off the lead, he pees in the house.  Try using this strategy - it has worked well for our students over the years:


1.   Keep your eye on the dog. Any time the pup is out of his crate, you need to be watching, and not from a distance!  Use a waist leash or tether the dog to your belt.  If Spot looks like he’s looking for a “spot”, say “Outside?” and gently, but quickly, take him out to the “approved area”.  Learn your dog’s signals – does he sniff?  Does he circle?  Some pups are subtle and don’t ask in obvious ways – act preemptively and take him out.  Use the same words all the time for the same functions.  They can learn to do pee or poop on command!  Your neighbors will be jealous in January when you aren’t standing outside for a half hour waiting for your pup to poop!

2.   No scolding for accidents - ever.  Mistakes are nothing more than lack of human supervision. (See rule #1 )  If you scold, an unintended consequence might be that your puppy learns that it’s dangerous to pee in front of the human.  That’s how dogs learn to “hide” their “accidents.”
Accidents are the human’s fault for not watching the dog!

3.   Crate the puppy, or tether the pup to your waist, when you can’t watch directly.  Most dogs are reluctant to soil the “den”.  Be sure that the crate is only large enough for puppy to stand, turn, and lie down.  Any bigger and he can “get away” from the mess, so he might soil one end and sleep in the other.  Buy a small crate, or partition off a larger one.  Make the crate a happy place to be!  Use treats to get him to go in willingly.  How to crate train your puppy: or  

4.   Reward for quick results outdoors.  Have a few treats in your pockets all the time.  Tell puppy “hurry up” or “go pee”.  When puppy piddles in the right spot, wait till he’s done (or he might think he’s being rewarded for shutting off the stream), then quickly say, “Good pee” and offer a treat. If he doesn’t go, crate him and try again every fifteen minutes until he does.  Reward!!! Soon, you will have your pup pee’ing when you cue him to “Go pee”.

5.   Important: Don’t just put the pup outside to do his business, he won’t be learning anything! Stay with him.  Reward him for a good performance and teach those cues!  
Once he gets it, start rewarding every other time, or every third time.  Start using praise intermittently, instead of food for every single performance.

6.   Don’t clean accidents in front of Fido – Dogs are interested in what you are interested in – don’t accidentally train your dog to be interested in poop!  He may start snacking…

7.   Use an enzymatic cleaner to remove all trace of odor from indoor accidents (Trail, Petastic, Simple Solution, or Nature’s Miracle).  Dogs return to the aroma – you need to get rid of it.

8.   Times to take Fido out:  Very soon after he wakes, eats, drinks, or plays.

9.    How long can he really hold it? One hour longer than his age (in months) if he is awake.  Small breeds have small bladders and may need more frequent trips outside.  Pups that can sometimes hold it all night may still have to go if they awaken, and may not be able to hold it for the same length of time during the day.  If he does go out in the middle of the night, put him quietly back in his crate when you come in, with no treat, no fuss, and no play!  He will learn that nighttime is sleep time, even if there’s a brief potty break.  If you are a 9-5’er, consider hiring a dog walker until puppy is house trained.

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Anne Springer, B.S., Dip., CAPCT


I am happy to answer questions about: dog behavior and training, therapy dogs, training disabled dogs, training recently rescued dogs, and managing off leash play groups.


Professionally involved in teaching private and group lessons, and doing behavior consultations. American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, Therapy Dogs, Inc. Tester/Observer. Special interest in pet/elder issues, and in therapy dogs.

Truly Dog Friendly Association of Pet Dog Trainers International Positive Dog Training Association Therapy Dogs, Inc.

Gloucester Times Cape Ann Beacon Ipswich Chronicle Beverly Citizen Salem News

Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, Cum Laude. Diploma in Dog Obedience Instruction, Graduate of NY School of Dog Grooming, Certified Advanced Pet Care Technician - American Boarding Kennels Assn., Certified Pet First Aid & CPR, American Red Cross

Awards and Honors
2002 Caregiver Award from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, for Pawsitive Connections Program (pet/elder issues)

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