This is a question I have asked myself many times. A quick look into my Facebook groups reveals that it is also the top question asked by greyhound owners. So, do not worry. You are not alone!
Toilet training is an important issue. Of course, you want do the best for your dog and have a happy, healthy greyhound with a regular routine. Plus, you don’t want to have to worry about potentially expensive damage to carpets and furniture.
In this post I’ll explain why your dog might be having accidents in the house and I’ll give you a step by step toilet-training guide. In addition, I’ll give you some top tips, explain how to identify marking behaviour and how to clean up afterwards. Lastly, I’ll give you a FREE schedule which will help you to monitor your dog’s toileting behaviour and help you to plan a routine that works for you and your dog.
Consider Your Dog’s Past
Having a new dog is a bit like having a new baby. You must keep your eye on it all the time! Not only that you have to drop whatever it is you’re doing to attend to its basic needs. It’s normal to feel a bit frazzled in the first few weeks. If your dog is a new addition to the house and is having toileting accidents the first thing you might want to consider is your dog’s history.
If your dog is a hunting dog, such as a galgo, he will have come from a setting completely different to the the comforts of your home. He may have been chained up 24 hours a day outside or in a shelter. He may have been unable to move around and would have had to urinate in the spot where he was chained. Dogs like our galgo, Noodle, will have never experienced the inside of a house before – it will be a completely alien world to them. It will take a lot of patience and adjustment before they are fully house-trained.
If your greyhound is an ex-racer then it is likely that he lived in a kennel which had an indoor and outdoor part. He will have used the outdoor part for his toileting needs and maybe therefore, more used to going to the toilet outside.
Reasons for Peeing in the House
There are various reasons why your dog might be going to the toilet inside of your house. These might be:
- Change. Any changes in the household (such as a new baby) or routine could affect your dog’s schedule
- Separation anxiety. If your dog is urinating whilst you are out or at work, or even whilst you are sleeping in another room it could be that he is suffering for separation anxiety. Make an appointment with a vet or behaviourist who will work with you to help reduce his anxiety.
- Stress. If your dog is soiling constantly in the house it could be a sign that he is stressed. An indicator of this is if they pee in their own bed or on the sofa – dogs tend to want to keep their own living and sleeping areas very clean. This could be a sign then that they are incredibly stressed.
- Excitement. If your dog tends to wee after you arrive home or during a particularly boisterous game, it’s likely due to excitement. In that case, when you get home try to ignore your dog – do not make a fuss of him, speak to him or pay any attention. Take him straight outside as soon as you can.
- Marking. This is when your dog is intentionally leaving his scent behind – he is making the house his own. He will tend to urinate usually against an upright object like a wall or a chair. This tends to happen in new environments. See my paragraph below on how to deal with marking.
- Health reasons. If your dog has been toilet trained and suddenly begins to have accidents in the house it may be that he has a UTI or diabetes or some medical reason why it has started. A visit to the vets to rule out any condition would be advised.
- Age. Some dogs will become incontinent with age and lose bladder control. They may need to be taken outside much more frequently.
How To Toilet Train a New Dog (or re-train your current dog)
On the first night and for the first few weeks:
- Take your dog out every 30 mins to 1 hour on a lead.
- Always take him out to a specific area. Let him learn to use a portion of your property (do not just expect him to do it on walks). Define a small specific area he can use.
- Stay with him. You need to be there to see the good behaviour.
- Use a lead – your dog needs to know that he´s not outside just to play. Stay in the area until he has done his business.
- Say a word or two of what you want him to do. Have a word for the action, for example, ‘toilet’ or ‘pee pee’ so he begins to associate the word with the action. Plus, he will know what he is being rewarded for.
- Give him lots of praise and attention when he pees. Have a high value treat ready and reward him. You must deliver the treat immediately.
- Take your dog out 15 mins after every meal and 10 mins after playtime or a long nap.
- Take him out first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
- Gradually increase the length of time between taking him out to every two hours.
- Follow your dog around for the first few weeks.
Tips and Reminders
- At night, walk your dog before bedtime. Remove his water about 2 hours before so that he won’t feel the need to urinate during the night.
- Give your dog a firm ‘no’ when he urinates inside. But do not tell your dog off or punish him in any way. This will only result in an anxious dog who will do it when you’re not looking.
- Reward your dog generously when you catch him doing the right things. And do it straightaway. I have heard that you have only 1.5 seconds to reward him or your dog will not know why.
- Learn the cues your dog is giving. Does he whine a little? Or walk near the back door? Does he look restless? Is he mooching and sniffing around the house? Has he just woken up from a nap? If so, you should take him straight outside.
- Find the trigger. In the introduction I listed some of the reasons your dog may urinate at home. Look for the triggers – is he excited? Have you just arrived home? Has there been a recent change at home?
- Have patience. I can take time for your dog to adjust to you, to his new environment and to his new routine.
- Don’t tell your dog off or punish him. He will become too anxious to go in front of you. If he begins to pee in the house, then lead him outside by the collar. and then reward if he continues outside. You will need to teach him what the desired behaviour is.
- Give your dog a fixed place to go. It could be a patch of plastic grass, some newspaper squares, an absorbent mat or specialist pads.
- If your dog keeps returning to the same place inside to do his business then try placing his food bowls on or near the area. Dogs generally prefer to keep their own living and eating areas clean.
- Try using a belly band at night or when visiting someone else’s home. His is a band which you can wrap around your dog’s tummy and acts like a diaper, catching and absorbing any urine. It should not be worn at home for long periods of time. Some users have recommended these Amazon belly bands. If you want to save money, don’t get the absorbent pads each time – you can use a supermarkets own brand washable/ high absorbency incontinence pads.
Is my dog marking or urinating?
As mentioned in the introduction, marking is when your dog is intentionally leaving his scent around to claim the house, the room as his own. He is marking it as his territory.
How can you tell if your dog is marking and not just peeing? Generally, dogs who are marking will tend to pee in smaller amounts and usually do so against upright objects such as a table leg or door post.
Look out for cues, such as your dog walking around sniffing the furniture. If you catch your dog marking, say ‘no’ firmly or make a distracting sound and lead him outside to his toileting area.
You may ask ‘Why is my dog marking?’ especially if he has lived in your house for a while. It is suggested in the excellent book, “Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies” by Lee Livingood, that dogs may be inclined to mark when there is a stranger or new dog in the house. Additionally, a dog may mark when he sees or hears a strange dog in the yard or outside. The author’s advice is to manage your home environment so that your dog isn’t able to hear or see other dogs.
If you are bringing a new dog home for the first time you can try this suggestion. Rub a tea towel all over your dog before he is allowed into the house. Then use the tea towel to rub all over the house, particularly on chair legs, tables, doorposts. Some have claimed great success with this method.
Keep a Schedule
Remember consistency is key. A regular schedule of feeding and toileting will result in an accident free home and a happy doggy. One way to ensure this consistency is by keeping a schedule of when your dog is urinating.
- Observe when he wees/ poos in the house in the house.
- Note down the time
- Note down where he is toileting i.e. is he going in the same place each time?
- Make a note of when he plays, eats, drink and sleeps and how long after each of these he has to wee/ poo
- See if there is a pattern to his toileting. For example, does it happen at about the same times each day or after a certain event?
- Can you figure out the reason for his accidents?
- Fill in the journal for at least 7 days.
- Once you have an idea of his schedule you can plan a little better around him or change his mealtimes to work in line with your schedule.
- Stick to a routine. Remember, if you dog eats at same time every day, he will probably want to go at the same time every day
In order to help you monitor your dog’s toileting schedule I have produced one which you can download FREE at the end of this article.
Cleaning Up Tips
I want to give you some final advice about cleaning up after an untrained dog.
- Clean up properly inside the house otherwise the smell will remain, and your dog is more likely to pee again in the same place.
- When you allocate an area of the garden or yard to your dog, keep his area clean. Pick up immediately any faeces and dispose of them correctly.
On plastic grass or hard surfaces:
- Mop up any excess urine.
- Add washing up liquid to water in a spray bottle.
- Spray the area thoroughly and rinse.
Inside the house
- Repeat the steps above and use an enzyme based cleaner to neutralize the odours.
- Do not use bleach to clean up – it could react with the ammonia in your dog’s urine and produce dangerous gases.
- Some dog owners swear by good old baking soda, vinegar and water to clean up. Soak up as much as possible with paper towels and sprinkle baking soda on and around the spot. Then spray washing up liquid mixed with white vinegar onto the baking soda. It should fizz up nicely. Then scrub the area and then dry.
- To protect furniture, place a mattress protector over the bed / sofa and a washable blanket on top
Remember, consistency is key. Stick to your routine of regularly taking your dog outside to his spot. If your dog does not have an accident inside for three months you are home and dry!
Finally, don’t despair. I know exactly how it feels when one day your dog does everything right and then the next day it’s back to the drawing board. Try to stay positive. You will stop your dog from peeing in the house!
Use the schedule I have prepared for you. Print it off and put it somewhere handy.
Monitor your dog’s routine and make a note of the times he goes. Really get to know his schedule.
That way you’ll be able to catch him before he needs to go and take appropriate action. Give it a try. Download the free schedule now and let me know how you get on.
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