Dog Potties in the House: Is My Male Shih Tzu Just Being a S***?

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By Sophia Yin, DVM, MS

Reader Question:

We have two male Shih Tzus. One is 5 years (Kili), the other 4 years (Buddy).  Buddy will pee in the house even if we have just witnessed him peeing outside.  He appears to do it because he’s mad or lazy.  Every carpet in my house has been ruined and some of the antiques, also which he has peed on.  He is very sneaky about doing it within minutes after we’ve left a room.  He has access to the outdoors at all times through a doggy door.  I am at my wits end and ready to send him away.  Do you have any helpful advice/tips?  Thank you for your help.

Debbie Baxter

Roy, UT


While it’s true that some Shih Tzu can be sneaky, dogs rarely have potty accidents out of anger or even spite. The real reason for these irritating accidents is that, like the toddler who knows that doing #1 in the toilet is really good but still needs to wear diapers, the dog doesn’t “get” that pottying should only occur in the preferred potty spots.

Some owners try to convey this message by reprimanding their canine when they catch him in the act. For a handful of dogs this works, but for many dogs it teaches them to avoid pottying in their owner’s sight. In other words, they learn to sneak an indoor potty break behind their owner’s back. Other owners try a broader strategy. If they just see a puddle of piddle, they drag their pooch over to let him know the wet spot is bad. Again, some dogs might learn that urinating in the house is “wrong”. Others learn that accidents of any kind, regardless of which household bowser is to blame, make humans mad. Even worse, many dogs just learn that their owners randomly go wacko.

So, how do you train your dog that the toilet is outside only and that you want the inside to be potty free? You have to go back to the basics. That means taking him out at regular intervals during the day and waiting until he does #1 and #2. Only then can he play and interact with you. Next, when he’s inside, he must have no chance to have an accident. That means he’s attached to you by leash at all times or in a comfy crate.

As with the child who suddenly has to go potty every time he gets into the car, or the adult athlete who regularly needs a bathroom break in the bushes even on short runs, the solution is to break the old habit and form a new one. That means you have to keep up the new plan of pottying in preferred areas fun and pottying in other areas, impossible until you have 30 days straight without an accident. To make the message clearer that the house is a toilet-free zone, you’ll also need to clean the carpets and other accident-prone areas. Use a specialized urine-killing rug cleaner to dissolve the reminders of the past. By putting these strategies together and pushing through with the plan, in about a month, both you and your Buddy will be happier and your antique runs will remain clean.


For more information on potty training read these past blogs too:

A Foolproof Potty-training Plan

What to Do When Your Puppy Potty Training Plan Fails

Yorkie Pup Has a Problem When Left in His Playpen

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15 responses to “Dog Potties in the House: Is My Male Shih Tzu Just Being a S***?

  1. Hey,
    I was wondering about how you might train an older dog you adopt from a shelter not to do their business in the house? The last two older dogs we’ve owned came to us perfectly house trained, (although this was not guaranteed by the shelter) however in looking for a new dog I’ve realized that this will not necessarily be the case for all older dogs we might adopt – we were just very lucky.
    Is it extremely difficult? (That we might decide only to adopt a dog that’s ‘guaranteed’ to already house trained) How is it different to training a puppy?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. I had 2 dachshunds, that kept peeing during the night, so at 5 years they went to a big kennel in my room
      And every night that’s where they went
      (They gave me a hard time 1st week)

      They are now 15 years old and when I go to bed, they are cuddled up in the kennel (their bed) and I no longer have to lock them in

  2. It’s really the same as working with a puppy, except that older dogs can hold it longer. So you don’t need to take them out as frequently! Yay!

  3. I live on the third floor of an apartment building, and I would like to have our two 8 week old puppies learn to do their business on some papers in the bathroom. I’ll give them food and water at specific times, and then depending on which, wait the appropriate amount of time and take them to the spot or pick them up when they’re about to go and put them in the spot.

    They, however, seem to think that they are being punished or simply don’t want to go on the spot I need them to go. They’ll hold it as long as possible (I’ve waited over 2 hours on many occasions)..I don’t want them to think the spot is bad or that they’re being punished, but if I were to allow them to move from the spot they’ll go do their business somewhere else in the house…I praise and reward heavily when they finally do go, but this doesn’t seem to help get the message through… any tips?

  4. You have to reward your dog for going to the bathroom outside and outside only. Leave your dog outside more, or take your dog on more walks so he/she can be multiple times and then when you are at home the bladder is empty.

  5. i have a problem with my 2yr male cocking his leg after he has come in from being outside..if i got him fixed would that stop him from peein in the house

  6. This is really helpful post for a dog lover like me. I learn a lot from this one. I must say, taking good care of our dogs is like having a new member in the family. Your dogs were really cute.

  7. we are moving to a house with carpet upstairs. my 4 year old shitz u sleeps with my duaghter and now that she will be upstairs with carpets – i worry he will pee on carpet at night while we sleep
    how do i prevent this?

  8. My issue, is that I cannot crate my dog or have her attached to me at all times, and she does not go potty when I take her out, even in the morning, outdoors. Most days, yes, she goes out when I walk her, then there are days she refuses because she is too busy trying to find food my nasty neighbors leave on the ground in my *apt* building or staring at squirrels. What occurs? I cannot take her out by the time she decides she cannot hold it any longer and she goes in the house. This is SO frustrating, and I cannot walk her beyond the designated area and have little time for walks, or physical ability to do so bc I am disabled. I watch my nephews during the day who are babies/toddlers to earn some form of income, and I cannot walk her again until they nap, she gets around 3 walks a day when they are here, days they are gone I take her out 4-6 times to attempt to walk her. HELP?? She’s spayed, in perfect health, has all of her shots and monthly preventatives, 1 1/2 years old. I am at my wits end, even if she is in training to be my SD I don’t know if I can handle the behavior any longer and stick it out until she’s fully trained! Tried to get a treadmill cannot afford one nor find a samaritan willing to donate one and deliver it. SMH having a bad week 🙁 HELP??!!

  9. my shih tzu is trained to pee outside but from last 2-3 days he is peeing anywhere while playing inside the house.

    what should i do

  10. I have three shit tuz four-year-old female three-year-old male two year old female they Pee all in the house and poop wherever they want how do I stop them I love my dogs but this is getting irritating please help

  11. I have two poms! One will be outside for hours come in and pee in house! Sometimes he in and poops inside! I have scolded him while doing it inside doesn’t matter

  12. My precious daughter works so hard to give her family everything she can possiably give them. The same holds true for all her animals she has rescued. One of her fur kids is a 12y/o shot Zi. Robbie is taken out to do his business at regular times before school…work… and whenever in between. But it doesn’t seem to matter if he just peed 10 times outside and given a treat for having done so , when he will look them right in the face and pee all over her beautiful hardwood floors or on their bed or in shoes or on clothes. I don’t know how to begin to help her. She is at the end of what she can stand after a long hard day at work to have to clean puddles up all over. Robbie is about to loose his home and I worry that he would not survive this. I can’t take him because my apt bldg alllws no pets for this very reason. Can anyone help us or does anyone know of a proper place to rehome him. It’s a bad… heartbreaking situation.

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