Dear Julie;

I recently adopted a 7 to 10 year old Chihuahua who was not properly housetrained. He is such a wonderful sweet boy, however we are having a hard time with this. Sometimes he will go to the bathroom just minutes after we bring him in from outside!

Signed, Puddles

Dear; Puddles,

With housebreaking, especially an older dog, you need to be extra vigilant and very patient. There are several reasons why you may experience problems with messing in the house; territorial marking, physical health problems, excited urination, submissive urination and the most common reason, the dog just doesn’t know better.

Here are some steps you can take to housebreak your dog;

  • Take up the puppy pads, as long as he has an option to go inside he will use it.
  • Often elimination schedules are not regular due to irregular feeding times or feeding free choice (food is always available).
  • Feed your dog at set times, morning and evening, leave the food down for 15 minutes, after 15 minutes pick it up and wait until the next meal before offering food again.
  • If he leaves some of his breakfast behind you can add that to his dinner feeding so he doesn’t miss out on the opportunity to have his full daily food intake.
  • Some dogs may not complete their meals for the first few days while they are adjusting to the new routine. If he’s not eating all his food, try exercising him before his meal to increase his appetite.
  • Crate your dog when you are; not home, unable to supervise (not keeping a close eye on him) and at night.
  • When he is free in the home, make sure that you are actively monitoring his activities (don’t let him sneak away). If you see him sniffing in circles, chances are he needs to go, so get him outside right away.
  • Go outside with your dog every time you let him out so you can; monitor his activities, praise him for going to the bathroom and keep track of his elimination schedule as it develops.
  • If he does not go to the bathroom while outside and you know he should have to go; put him back into his crate for 3 to 6 minutes and try again.
  • Repeat this until he goes to the bathroom outside and praise him like it was the most clever thing he has ever done as soon as he goes.
  • Give him some play time outside (or inside if he does not like the weather) as a reward for doing his deed.
  • Take your dog outside regularly; as soon as you let him out of his crate, 5 to 10 minutes after a big drink of water and about every 1 to 2 hours that he is awake and active in the home. Within a week an elimination pattern should form.