Mike's Q&A

An interactive question and answer forum with expert dog trainer Michael Wombacher for all of your most pressing dog behavior and dog training-related questions.

Rescue dog won't potty outside

Question: I have an older dog(6 yrs) from rescue organization is not house broken. Go for walks and then upon return to the house, she goes to a corner and does her business. She has it reversed!

Answer: There are a couple of things you can do here. First, rather than taking a long walk with your dog hoping that something will happen, take her outside near your place and an area you’d like to have her use as a restroom. If within five or so minutes nothing happens, take her back inside and crate her or confine her in some other appropriate way. Then, 20 or so minutes later, try it again. If still nothing happens, repeat. At some point the dog will have to go. After all, “when you gotta go you gotta go.” When the dog does go, make a big deal and then go for your walk. The reasoning is this: many dogs learn that the moment they go potty on their walks the owners head them straight back to the house. The message – pottying ends your walk. The work around? Hold it as long as possible and then relieve yourself back at the ranch.

There are a couple of tricks to help speed this up. Five or ten minutes before the walk overload your dog with food and liquids. You can generally get them to fill up on water by adding something tasty like milk or bullion to it. They’ll lap it up enthusiastically and usually to the bursting point which will make them likely to be less fussy outside. Do the same with food if needed. Just add something good and let the dog have at it.

Additionally, if for whatever reason your dog does not go outside you absolutely cannot let him go inside. That’s a recipe for disaster. No matter how you apply the above concepts into the actuality of your life and schedule, if your dog hasn’t gone outside you just cannot give him any freedom inside. Crate him, tether him to you, throw him out in the back yard – whatever! Just don’t let him go in the house.

And lastly, if your dog is hitting the same place again and again in the house try feeding him there. Dogs don’t like to poop or pee where they eat. Of course that doesn’t mean they would go elsewhere but it’s a good way to teach them that that place is off limits.

Good luck! J