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I need help with two things, but first, how the training has gone so far:

I brought Paxton home at 9 weeks - that was early January. If I wasn't able to be aware of what he was up to while inside (mostly, while I was away), he stayed in the crate. Anytime letting him out of the crate, I immediately led him to the door and outside, where he would promptly pee. Good.

I took him out often enough that mishaps in the house weren't really all that common (though they certainly happened), AND he would pee first thing when he went outside. Good! A habit forming.

If I caught him IN THE ACT of peeing inside, I would loudly say NO (a word he knows), pick him up, and set him outside. If I just found a puddle, I just cleaned it up without drawing any attention to it (fortunately there's not much carpet in the house).

Things have progressed far, the way they should. But I have two issues:

(1) - When he needs to pee, he'll go to the door (GOOD!), and he'll verbalize (GOOD!) --- but his verbalizing is just the slightest little 2-second whimper. Often I'm close enough to the door that I hear him (my desk is nearby). But if there's music in the house, I don't hear him. If I'm in a different room, I don't hear him. And if I don't hear him, a puddle eventually happens. How can I get him to make a more noticeable request when he needs to go out??

(2) - Although he mostly remembers that this shouldn't happen in the house, and he does his whimper at the door routine, a couple of times a week he's just going on as usual and all the sudden, no trip to the door, no whimper, and all the sudden he just decides to pee right wherever he is. The frequency of this happening doesn't seem to be on the decline at all. What to do?

He's now over 5 months old. Peeing at night is not an issue, he's good at holding it until I let him out in the morning. I'm home most of the day, and I rarely make him go in his crate anymore.

Thanks for advice!!

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Have you considered potty bells? I trained my dog to ring bells on the door to be let out. It's usually way more obvious than standing by the door or whimpering. It's possible he tried to tell you a few minutes before and you didn't notice so he figured he would have to hold it and couldn't.

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We started with bells for Livi -- got them in the Christmas clearance section at Hobby Lobby. I showed her how to ring them (held them up so she sniffed them and made them ring, gave her a treat -- until she was doing it on purpose for a treat). Then I hung them on a command hook near the back door and every time I let her out to go potty, I'd ring them myself. After a while I got lazy and stopped. Then a few weeks later I heard the bells and there she was, standing next to the door and looking at me. She doesn't use them often (usually we're in and out often enough that she doesn't need to), but she knows how when she needs to. I've also seen people use those little service bells you see on shop counters.

 

On (2), it may just be a maturity thing. My kids each went through a phase where they knew to go potty on the toilet... unless they were playing and forgot to monitor their need to go. Then suddenly they just couldn't hold it, and it was too late to do anything about it. Until we got past that stage, I tried to keep an eye on how much they were drinking and made sure they were going potty preemptively. Livi seemed to go through something similar, where she'd just suddenly have to go. I made sure she went out frequently and when I stayed on top of that it alleviated accidents. Now at 10 months I don't really worry about it at all -- the kids are in and out the back door often enough that she can go when she wants, and if not she'll ring the bell.

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Just a thought, but be careful of telling him NO when you catch him peeing. You may accidentally give him the idea that he's not supposed to pee in front of you, which is not the same as not peeing in the house. So he may still be a little unclear on the whole thing. ;)

I have no idea how to teach a dog to vocalize about peeing, so I'd say just be super diligent about letting him out often enough and let maturity take its course. And restrict areas of the house out of your sight until he's older. Best of luck!

~ Gloria

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I might try the bell. On the other hand, Paxton loves his squeaky toys, I think he might just have fun ringing the bell all day long, lol. But it might be worth a try.

The important thing with bells is to make it clear the only way the bells work is when the dog has to potty. If you let him out and the he rings them soon after you know he just went ignore him completely. Don't say anything, don't do anything and they usually realize bells are boring to ring for fun because nothing happens. However at first every ring means the door opens and dog goes potty, if they try to play instead go get them and bring them inside.

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Just a thought, but be careful of telling him NO when you catch him peeing. You may accidentally give him the idea that he's not supposed to pee in front of you, which is not the same as not peeing in the house. So he may still be a little unclear on the whole thing. ;)

 

I would think I've avoided that by giving him enthusiastic "good boy"'s every time he pees outside.

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The important thing with bells is to make it clear the only way the bells work is when the dog has to potty. If you let him out and the he rings them soon after you know he just went ignore him completely. Don't say anything, don't do anything and they usually realize bells are boring to ring for fun because nothing happens. However at first every ring means the door opens and dog goes potty, if they try to play instead go get them and bring them inside.

 

Good point, thanks much.

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Building on what Cass and Gloria have said . . .

 

I might try the bell. On the other hand, Paxton loves his squeaky toys, I think he might just have fun ringing the bell all day long, lol.

 

Whether you use the bell or the dog learns his own way of communicating his needs, you'll probably go through a period when he's asking to go out just for the fun of going outside. I'm going through that with my almost 5 month old puppy right now.

 

At first you want to make sure the puppy totally understands that this behavior and that he really doesn't have to go, so let him out when he asks. Go out with him and if he isn't going, then bring him right back in so that asking to go out doesn't get rewarded with some fun play time. (Outdoor play time happens at your discretion, without the dog asking to go out, which should be reserved for potty time.)

 

First, he needs to learn that ringing the bell, scratching at the door, whining, whatever his cue is will work to get him out the door. If you don't follow through too early in the training, then he'll figure it doesn't work and stop doing it. Yes, it's a PITA to have to take him out each time he asks, but you've got to proof the behavior. In this case, you're the one who's being trained.

 

When you're sure he's really got it and you're also entirely sure he doesn't really need a potty break, then it's time to start teaching him discretion and to only ask to go out when he needs to eliminate. Err on the side of caution at first. If he's just peed and pooped then comes in and asks to go out again, he probably doesn't really need to go. But sometimes in the early days he'll have done one but not both so he really will need to go out again. That's why it's important for you to go out with him. And for some odd reason, sometimes he'll just not have completely voided and does still have to go. But that will happen less and less as he gets older.

 

Re: Saying "NO" when you catch him in the act:


I would think I've avoided that by giving him enthusiastic "good boy"'s every time he pees outside.

 

Not necessarily. Dogs don't always generalize well. So what you could end up doing is teaching him it's great to go outside, but still inadvertently teaching him that if the urge to go comes suddenly that he doesn't want to do it in view of you and he'll go off to find a hidden spot.

 

Dogs often learn contradictory behaviors more facilely then they'll generalize the way we expect them to. So just don't expect it and you should be good. ;)

 

Better to just quietly scoop him up and take him right out the door and praise mightily if he finishes what he started inside. If he doesn't, take him out soon afterwards again. He'll probably not have fully eliminated when you caught him in the act and will need to go out sooner than he would have otherwise.

 

It'll all fall into place pretty quickly. These dogs catch on fast. The hardest part in my experience is teaching them to ask to go out only when they have to potty and not just for the heck of it. :P

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I wrote the following in my initial post:
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(2) .... a couple of times a week he's just going on as usual and all the sudden, no trip to the door, no whimper, and all the sudden he just decides to pee right wherever he is. The frequency of this happening doesn't seem to be on the decline at all. What to do?
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It just happened again, so I'll describe it exactly: Paxton was lying on the sofa, fully awake, interacting with me when I interacted with him. Then all of the sudden, without even getting up on his feet, he pees right there on the sofa, and THEN stands up and jumps down from the sofa. This doesn't seem right.

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Then take him and a urine sample to the vet and make sure there's nothing amiss. ;)

 

What you describe does sound like the kind of things that happen to very young puppies who haven't really developed full bladder control yet, but you wouldn't expect that in a pup as old as he is.

 

It may be that he's a late bloomer when it comes to bladder control, but it's possible he has a bladder infection or something else that could be causing it. IMO best to know which it is.

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Yup, I'd also get him to the vet, just to make sure. If he's not urinating from excitability, and it doesn't sound like he is, I'd want verify or rule out the chance of some medical issue like a bladder infection. I ran into that for the first time in 30 years of dog ownership just this winter! Suddenly my perfectly healthy 6 year old girl began wetting where she napped or even just relaxed. Sure enough, she had a UTI and a course of meds soon put her to rights. :) Keep us posted!

~ Gloria

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5 mos is still pretty young--I've heard many people say that a youngster who is reliably house trained before a year had an owner who is always there to make sure they get outside just when they need to....our puppies have always been pretty good early leading us to think they were trained but none was truly rock solid until they were older (Like about a year old)--we thought they were trained because they mostly were and we were mostly pretty good about getting them out, but a couple accidents a week were pretty normal and slowed as they got older. Peeing on the couch is a little odd, so it might be well worth checking for a UTI.

 

We also generally regretted having puppies out of eyesight for more than a nano-second--it's a pain to watch them or have them contained and so we were often willing to pay the price

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