Potty Training and House Soiling

We know this may not be your most favorite topic, but since your here, let’s talk about your dog pooping in the house!

dog house trainingHere at Absolute K-9, we find that many owners come to us with great concern over their dog’s house soiling, and the many synonyms house soiling carries! No one wants their dog to “do their business” in their home. Often, persistent house soiling is accompanied by other behavioral problems or is the result of some underlying behavioral or medical problem.  Besides being a young puppy, there are other reasons for “going” in inappropriate places and at the wrong time:

Our qualified trainers can help you address issues of house soiling and other behavioral problems through our training programs. Please contact us at (​800) 961-6442 or by emailing us to speak with a qualified trainer about  potty training issues.
Below you will find some basic information about potty training a puppy and re-training adult dogs. We will also discuss other cases of potty training, for which professional training may be particularly helpful or necessary.

Potty training a puppy

Potty training a new puppy takes commitment, patience, time and vigilance. It takes some time, from several weeks to even a few months, for a young dog to learn where it is and is not acceptable to “go.” And part of raising a puppy is expecting that once in a while there will be an accident in the house until the dog is fully potty trained. However, following potty training guidelines can help to make this process go smoother and faster.

Routine and consistency is very important when potty training a puppy. Because their bladders are not yet fully developed, puppies cannot “hold” it for more than a few hours. Most puppies will need to go to the bathroom after waking up from a nap, after eating, and after play. When potty training your pup, choose a “bathroom” spot outside that is not too far from the home. Take your puppy out to this spot, on leash, after s/he wakes, eats, and plays. In the beginning, you will want to use a phrase, such as “go potty” as they get familiarized with a bathroom spot. You will later use that word before they “go potty” to remind them of what they should be doing. Always praise your dog with words, affection and/or play after elimination to reinforce and reward the desired behavior. Why it may seem a bit silly on the surface, this is a time when a puppy is most impressionable, and this is the one piece of training nearly every client of Absolute K-9 seems to want!

When inside the home, it is important to supervise your pup to prevent chances of elimination that goes unnoticed. If you do catch your pup in the act, you can make a noise to startle them (careful not to scare them!) and then immediately take him to the bathroom spot, giving praise if he goes in the right spot. Contrary to older beliefs, dogs do not understand what they are being punished for if they are made to rub their noses in it or are scolded after the fact. Dogs live and learn in the moment. If an accident does occur in the house, take the soiled rags out to the bathroom spot, so that your dog has the opportunity to connect that smell with the right place to eliminate.

Training Tip: Cleaning a soiled area in the home is very important because if the smell is left behind, your pup may use this as a cue for soiling the same spot again.
If you find you are having difficulty potty training your new pup (and cleaning it up all the time) contact our trainers and we can work with you to provide additional advice and help solve your puppy’s house soiling problems.

Re-training an Adult Dog
Many dogs that have had previous owners have learned potty training in the past, but these skills may have been diminished in a dog that was in a shelter or other environment where they were not consistently given the opportunity to poop outdoors. In these cases, the dog will need to re-learn these skills. When bringing any new dog into the home, it is a good idea to assume you are starting from the beginning and give your dog the opportunity to learn where it is acceptable and not acceptable to soil in her new environment.
House training for adult dogs is similar to training puppies (described above), as both require patience, consistency, and commitment. You will want to establish a routine of taking the dog out frequently to a desired outdoor bathroom spot. Praise for appropriate elimination, supervision inside the home to prevent an accident, and a thorough clean up of any indoor accidents is important in training an adult dog just as it is with a puppy.

In many cases, an adult dog can learn the rules of elimination with consistency and a little time. However, in some cases, house soiling is attributable to other causes for which evaluation from a qualified trainer may be necessary. Read on to learn about other causes of house soiling.


Dogs of all ages, especially puppies, may lose bladder control when they get excited, aroused or intimidated. Submissive urination is most common when meeting a new person or animal, witnessing an intense interaction between people, when their owner arrives home, during intense play, because of a loud noise, or when they anticipate a punishment or scolding. Shy, timid, or particularly sensitive dogs may be more likely to develop this behavioral problem. In most cases, the dog is not exhibiting this behavior intentionally, it is a natural reaction to the emotion they are experiencing. Help from a qualified dog trainer is often the most effective way to handle cases of submissive urination.


House soiling is sometimes caused by medical conditions, such as a bladder or urinary tract infection or a parasitic infection. Such problems may need to be identified or ruled out during a behavioral evaluation to determine the underlying cause of house soiling. In addition to our professional training staff, we also have a veterinarian and vet technicians on-staff at our facility to help determine if medical issues are a factor.


Sometimes dogs will deposit small amounts of urine or feces to scent mark their territory, which can be one cause of house soiling. Both female and male dogs may scent mark their territory, and often do so when they feel their territory has been invaded or when they wish to establish their territory.


Dogs may soil in the home if they begin to feel anxious after being left alone for too long. This cause of house soiling is often accompanied by other symptoms of separation anxiety, such as destructive behaviors (e.g. chewing, digging) and barking or whining.


Some dogs may lose control of their bladder or bowels when they become intensely frightened by some external stimuli. For example, some common causes of such fear can include loud noises (e.g. from fireworks, emergency vehicles, thunderstorms) or the fear of physical pain or punishment.


In some cases, house soiling can be attributable to a dog’s preference for the type of surface he or she is used to eliminating on. For example, if a dog has gotten used to soiling on an indoor floor, such as tile or carpet, or was never given an opportunity to adapt to eliminating on outdoor surfaces such as lawn, they may soil in the house. This can be difficult to change, but can be solved with the help of a qualified trainer.


If you have consistently followed the basic steps in potty training and your puppy or dog continues to soil in the house, there may be other reasons for this behavior. Often determining the exact cause of persistent house soiling requires an evaluation by qualified canine experts, such as the trainers at Absolute K-9. The following are some other reasons why a dog may continue to soil in the house, despite your best efforts to train them.

Training Tip: If your dog (or cat) prefers eliminating on a lawn or grass, and you either live in an urban environment or this type of surface is difficult to get to, consider picking up grass sod from a local nursery. The sod can be placed into a box on a balcony or patio.

If you would like to learn more about how to solve the problem of house soiling, please contact us to speak with a qualified trainer at Absolute K9. We can help to identify the cause of house soiling and assist you in correcting this undesirable behavior.


“Investing in professional canine training is the single most responsible thing you can do for your dog and your family.” -Mike Stone, Absolute K9

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