Problems Housebreaking a Dog

We adopted our dog Scruffy (hes a Bichon Shih Tzu) about 6 months ago from another family. He was in rough shape when we got him; lots of mats in his hair, didn't know how to play, and didn't want to be inside at all, and when he was inside he used it as a bathroom. Well now all he does is play, we have him shaved, and loves being inside with us, but still uses the bathroom inside. We have really been trying hard to find solutions but every time he gets better, he seems to fall off the wagon so to speak.


For example, he had stopped using the bathroom inside at night, so we allowed him more freedom inside the house, but a couple days later he started using the carpet as a bathroom, so we had to restrict him again. I have been reading online quite a bit but it almost seems like he's a special case because of the amount of time it takes him to go, if we let him outside, he takes at least 15-30 mins before he will actually do anything, so it is hard to reward him for going outside. If we leave him alone for 10 minutes inside, he will go to the bathroom inside the house. I just have run out of ideas! If you could give me some advice, I would greatly appreciate it!

Drew from Edmonton, AB


Problems Housebreaking a Dog

Hi Drew -
Sorry you're having such difficulty. Would need a bit more info to more accurately assess where he is in his situation.


1. How old is he?

2. Sounds like he was an 'outdoor' dog before you got him. If that's the case, and since he's older than pups who usually get trained, then it is necessary for you to go back to absolute square one in training. I suspect if he was an outdoor dog, he was never house trained, and you're just trying to 'brush up' his manners.

Bichons are notoriously hard to house train, so if he got the 'not-so-great' part of the Bichon in his mixed heritage, you're going to put in a lot of work to get him to be a properly trained house dog. It's not hard to do, it just takes time, patience, clear communication getting inside the dog's thinking.

When we get in an older Bichon Rescue pup or adult dog who is not house trained, we go into "No Freedom" mode. First we allow the dog ZERO freedom in the house. We put a 'bellyband' on the males so that if they should get a couple drops of urine out before being noticed, it doesn't get into the carpet, furniture, etc. (Prevention is #1 important. Clean ip with white vinegar is #2 importance)


I really prefer the 'tether' method of house training because you can catch them getting ready (or actually doing) to go pee or poo in the house. (Hook the leash on the dog and attach the leash to your belt/around waist or loop. This leaves your hands free to work, but dog is always close by to watch. Leave enough leash to allow dog to move about, but not so much it trips you up.)

When the dog begins to sniff like it's going to mark or needs to poop, say something like 'OOOPS!' or 'OUT" ... and immediately take them outside to an area in your yard that you want them to use. After they go pee/poo, praise them with both your voice and a tasty treat (keep in your pocket for quick availability).

You mention it takes the dog a long time to do his business, you can shorten up that time AND give yourself a healthy gift by taking the dog on regular, twice daily brisk walks. This helps the muscles to move the food and fluid through the system, gets the dog's metabolism - and yours, working as it should. I can't emphasize enough the quality of life that can be added to a pet's life and ours, by regular, brisk exercise.

We've had Bichon Rescue foster dogs who were surrendered with awful stories about their poor manners and unwillingness to learn. Exercise daily changed the dogs overnight! (08/03/2007)

By Joyous_one

Problems Housebreaking a Dog

I can only suggest patience, love, and kindness. Your new pet is learning something new, just like we did when we were potty trained. I have 2 maltese and a poodle housebroken. We trained our oldest maltese to ring a sleigh bell we had attached to the front door knob, my poodle took a little longer. I was like you, wondering if it would ever happen, but our patience paid off. Now she will sometimes drive me crazy crying to go outside. Showing her praise with a special treat and one on one play was what helped her. Just hope you find what works best for your new love. (08/05/2007)

By mawmaw1

Problems Housebreaking a Dog

Dog door, I've said this before on this site. I believe in dog doors. The only thing is, you need a fenced in yard. It won't take long for the dog to learn and they kind of feel a sense of freedom. They can go and come as they please. Only took a couple of days to get them all using the door.

My older dogs didn't like it at first, the younger ones loved it. Now it's just "Ho Hum" for them. (My 5 year old cat "JUST" learned how to go out the door 2 months ago so, I've taken him in for rabies shots and flea and tick protection on him also.)

I have 4 dogs and a cat, all indoors. They have different times to potty and a dog door is a Godsend. Of course, my cat does have a litter box. All my kids are vaccinated and have the proper flea and tick prevention. I highly recommend a dog door. (08/07/2007)

By maggie3956


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