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How To Break Bad Habits When Housetraining Your Puppy

Housetraining a puppy can often prove frustrating for many dog owners, as it requires a lot of time and persistence on your part. Especially when there are bad habits to break, as in the case of this 9 month old pug.


How To Break Bad Habits When Housetraining Your Puppy

By Daniel Stevens

Dear Daniel,

We have two dogs in our home; a 4 year old Shitzapoo and a 9 month old pug. Ollie, the Shitzapoo is my little gentleman. Hoffa, the pug, as his name implies, is a little gangster.

We are having a terrible time with Hoffa going to the bathroom in the house. He usually uses two places: a corner of the hall where he defecates, and on my side of the bed where he urinates. He is crated at night so we don’t have a problem at night.

After letting the boys outside to do their business and then letting them back in the house, we will find a “surprise” from Hoffa in the corner of the hall. We keep the bedroom door closed so he cannot get to the bed, but if we forget to make sure it is closed, I will usually find a wet spot on the bed.

If we catch Hoffa in the act, we speak sternly to him, tell him no, and put him outside. We have tried sitting outside and when he does his business we tell him what a good boy he is and reward him with a small treat.

We live in a house that at one time was a rental house with other pets, and we thought there might have been certain smells in the carpet. We have tried all of the “odor removers” and have even gone so far as to pull up the carpet and put down hardwood floors to try to remove any lingering smells. But this morning he again defecated in the hall.

We adore our boys and they are a very important part of our family. What can we do to break this habit? Ollie never uses the bathroom in the house. We know Hoffa is still a puppy and learning so we want to make sure we train him correctly.

pug puppy

Please help.
Am I a tough pug to housetrain?
Kristen Connolly

Secrets To Dog Training Reply:

Hi Kristen,

Thanks for your email. Housebreaking can be quite a frustrating issue, but fortunately, there are a number of things I can recommend that should help in your situation.

Dogs are creatures of habit who thrive on routine, and if they need to relieve themselves, they will return to spots they have used in the past. They will either recognize these spots because they have formed a habit of going there, or because they have recognized an old smell.

Please ensure that you are using the odor neutralizer every time Hoffa has an accident. Also make sure that you are NOT using a cleaner that contains any ammonia or chlorine, as the smell of these cleaners can often be mistaken for urine.

For the next few days, I recommend that you feed your pug on the 2 regular accident spots (after they have been cleaned using the odor neutralizer of course). Dogs will usually avoid eliminating in places that they are fed, so hopefully in feeding him there, you will be able to convince him that they are not appropriate bathroom spots.

I recommend that you use Hoffa’s crate to remind him where he should be relieving himself. Put him in his crate for a few hours a day, then take him outside to eliminate in a designated spot (separate from where Ollie relieves himself), and make a really big fuss of him when he uses his spot. The crate is very effective for teaching the housetraining rules, because dogs will not usually relieve themselves where they sleep. It is important that his crate is not too big, but you mentioned that he is usually reliable when in it, so it sounds as though it’s a good size.

If Hoffa does have an accident inside, only reprimand him if you have caught him in the act. Do something to startle him into stopping, such as shaking a can of pebbles, then quickly whisk him outside so that you can praise him for going in the correct place. If you have not caught him, any reprimand will be a waste of time, as he will assume that you are scolding him for his current behavior, and wont relate it to his ‘accident’. Soak up the accident spots with paper towels, and take the towels and any stools to his outdoor spot to help encourage him to go there instead.

Keep using praise to reinforce his good behavior when he DOES go in the correct spot. Some dogs will take longer than others to learn, and your praise will go a long way in teaching him what you want him to do.

Another possibility is that perhaps Hoffa is marking his territory. Having him neutered, if he is not already, will make a big difference in this situation. You will also have to try catching him in the act so you can issue a firm reprimand so that he knows that marking his territory is not appropriate.

I hope this helps Kristen. Good luck, and please let me know how you progress.

Kind regards,

Daniel Stevens and the Secrets To Dog Training Team

P.S. If you’re really serious about obedience training your dog then go to the Dog Obedience Training page right away! You’ll discover all of my most explosive dog training secrets, strategies and tips that took me over 14 years to test, fine-tune and perfect.

Subscriber’s Reply:

Dear Daniel,

I am amazed!!! I have used your suggestion of feeding in the hallway and lo and behold, no more little surprises for us. I did not think it was a good idea to feed Hoffa on the bed where he usually decides to mark his territory, but what I have done is to set a couple of pieces of kibble on the spot he usually marks, and this had deterred all “bedwetting”. Thank you so much for your help. We have enjoyed reading your book and teaching our boys in a fun and productive manner. We still have a long way to go with Hoffa as he is only 9 months old, but we are having a great time as a family learning along the way. Thanks again for all of your help.


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