By Sophia Yin, DVM, MS
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.
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: