General Question

GloPro's avatar

If you catch your puppy in the act of peeing in the house, is it OK to scold them?

Asked by GloPro (8394points) June 4th, 2014 from iPhone

Oda knows where to go outside. The moment we go to his spot he pees, every time, without fail. I know he can hold his bladder for around 8 hours, as he does so in his crate. Sometimes he’ll pee inside maybe 20 minutes after we come back in from him peeing outside. He walks and pees.

I would never hit him or rub his nose in anything, but is it OK when I catch him in the actual act of peeing to grab his collar, scold him, and take him out? I don’t want to shame him, but he doesn’t seem to be connecting that he shouldn’t pee indoors. He has peeing outside down pat.

Side notes: he’s crate trained, he always pees outside, he won’t use pee pads. I’m not really finding old pee stains I didn’t catch him doing.

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32 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Sending this on to @syz.

josie's avatar

Dogs recognize two “tones” of voice. Approving, disapproving. They respond to both. The problem with using disapproving voice is you have to do it right when they do the bad behaviour. Otherwise, they have no association to let them know why you are using it. Then they simply get confused, and less responsive to any of the tones of voice.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Is this a puppy or an adult dog?

If Oda is a puppy and you catch him peeing inside, a firm loud “ah!” or “no!” followed by picking him up and taking him outside, where he is praised as soon as he does his business out there, should do the trick. Trainers emphasize the praise. If he’s peeing inside, he’s not housetrained – simple as that. So, go back to giving him lots of love and pets and happy noises every single time he pees outside, even if he didn’t just go in the house. He’ll eventually realize that he gets praise outside, but a firm “no!” inside.

Like @josie said, you can’t “punish” after the fact. If you don’t see him do it and you just find the wet spot later, you just have to clean it up and forget about it. In order for training to work, you have to act as soon as he’s doing the bad thing.

GloPro's avatar

He’s 15 weeks old. It’s getting harder to pick him up… He already weighs 40 pounds and is putting on 5 pounds a week.

I wouldn’t punish him for old stains. I am trying to be patient with him, but I haven’t been doing any negative reinforcement when I catch him in the act of peeing. I thought positive reinforcement would suffice, and it has in so far as his always peeing outside.

Just in the past two days I have started saying “No!” and going to grab his collar. He runs away and then I end up chasing him around the house until I can grab him and get him outside, where he pees and we party. It would be funny if it weren’t so frustrating. Normally he is eager to go out when I ask, but once I say “No!” And go for him he runs. I’m not sure what to do…

Seek's avatar

I would do the “no” without the physical correction.

It’s a little hard to get the hang of, but a firm “No” immediately followed with a cheerful “C’mon, Outside!” and a sprint to the back door is what I did with Russell. He was a little rough to housebreak, thanks to his first owners believing that dogs should be beaten into submission, but it eventually took.

The “no” is pretty much to shock him into stopping, and the cheerful “outside!” should happen while he still has peeing on the brain.

Chasing him around to carry him outside is a diversion that is taking away the opportunity to correct the behaviour. By the time you catch him he’s forgotten what he was in trouble for.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@GloPro Negative reinforcement is important. If you sit there and watch him pee on your carpet without reacting, he thinks, “Oh, she’s okay with this. This is okay.” How is he supposed to know it’s not okay unless you tell him?

5 lbs a week? What breed is this massive dog? I’ve got a border collie mix that weighs the same and is fully grown, so I see that picking Oda up is a no-go. Sounds like a perfect time for obedience training. If you teach him how to sit, stay, etc., then you can say, “No! Stay!” and avoid the chasing, which is probably counter-productive to housetraining him. You could also try what @Seek suggested, though I think my dog would just look at me and continue peeing if I didn’t go snatch her up. Luckily Daisy was housetrained around 6 months, when she was still well under 20 lbs.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Be very careful. Scolding your dog in the act (regardless of age) can result in them worrying about going to the toilet when you’re around regardless of whether they are in an appropriate toileting spot or not. This often results in them only going when you can’t see and that can be worse. I worked with one dog who used to hide their business behind the sofa!!

Regardless of how successful you have been so far with his toilet training he is still a puppy and so you should still expect the odd accident. Ignore the bad behaviour and really praise the good.

syz's avatar

If you can catch him in the act, you can use a sharp, startling exclamation to interrupt the action and then quickly hustle him outside (startle, don’t scare) – and be sure to praise effusively if he then finishes outside.

In the meantime, you should be having absolutely ridiculous happiness parties every time he pees outside – he may have the concept, but you need to cement his desire to do it outside, and outside only.

As a baby, he may not be completely emptying his bladder, especially if you’re asking him to hold it 8 hours at a time. Take him out as soon as he comes out of the crate, and then again in 15 minutes – this will help while he’s learning to coordinate nerve receptors and muscle control. And be consistent with your praise; the work you put in now will affect the both of you for his entire life.

gailcalled's avatar

I have been present when my neighbors have rushed their 8-week old, 8 lb. Norwich terrier outside, 10 minutes after a meal. We averted our eyes to afford him a little privacy (but did peek).

The last time I was there, the little guy pooped three times in a period of five minutes. We cheered, brought in the brass band, waved balloons, set off fireworks and appointed him king of the universe. He looked very pleased with himself.

I will have to ask about peeing. I know that there were a few accidents.

GloPro's avatar

Pooping isn’t an issue. I’ve learned his pattern is 3 times, every time. We wait and cheer after the 3rd like he just became president of the potty party.
@livelaughlove21 He’s a greater swiss mountain dog. Easily 140 fully grown. It’s hard to remember when the body is so big that the brain is so small.

GloPro's avatar

@syz @Leanne1986 I value your advice very much. It’s tough doing no negative reinforcement. I’ve heard Swissies are longer to train.

longgone's avatar

I know this is frustrating, but please try to relax. This is a baby we are talking about. At fifteen weeks, the chance of cemented house training is one in a million. In our current puppy classes, most of the six-months-olds are still having trouble occasionally.

If he is already running away from you, I would stop the “charging” at once. Take him out before he needs to go. If you do catch him in the act, just lift him up. You won’t need to carry him outside, just pick him up for two seconds and then do what @Seek said. If that really is impossible, consider leashing him when he’s running around in the house. That way, you can pick up the leash and be sure he will follow.

Try not to scare him, ever, please. Don’t risk ruining your relationship.

Sidenote: Scolding and physical corrections are not called “negative reinforcement”. These things would be called “positive punishment”. The positive/ negative simply refers to whether something is added or taken away. Negative reinforcement would be taking away something and thus reinforcing a behaviour. For example, the apalling things hunters do to teach their dogs to retrieve: Claws yanked unless the dog keeps the prey in his mouth.

GloPro's avatar

Ah. I’ll take and try any advice I get!

kritiper's avatar

You betcha! Scold them soundly while rubbing their little noses in it before tossing them outdoors!

kritiper's avatar

How old is this dog?? If old you may want to simply put a diaper on him.

Seek's avatar


@GloPro says: ”He’s 15 weeks old.

kritiper's avatar

Do the nose rub thing then. Works every time!

longgone's avatar

^ No, it does not.

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kritiper's avatar

^ It has worked every time for me.

GloPro's avatar

I don’t like that method. No nose in the pee. We raised my two family dogs that way, hitting them with rolled up newspapers and such. Come to think of it, I was also hit with rolled up newspapers.

syz's avatar

Dogs live in the moment (that’s why if you leave for 5 minutes or for 5 hours, they act the same way when you come home). If you don’t catch them in the act, rubbing their noses in pee tells them nothing – they are not able to cognitively make the leap from a puddle of urine to a separate, earlier action. Grabbing an animal to shove them in pee, or smacking them, can create an animal that’s head-shy, an animal that’s fearful, or an animal that doesn’t trust you because it considers your behavior unpredictable and incomprehensible.

Interrupting an inappropriate behavior is something that a dog can understand – “Every time I do X, my human makes an unpleasant, shrill noise. I don’t like that noise, maybe I shouldn’t do X” (if you’ll forgive the anthropomorphizing).

Being praised for good behavior (peeing outside) is something that a dog can understand, enjoys, and wants to do over and over again. They like it so much, you can use it to train for incredibly complex behaviors (drug sniffing dogs, for example, don’t have some innate love for the smell of drugs. They have pleasant associations with a reward system – whether a clicker of a phrase like “Yes!” – and when during training, they seek out that positive influence).

Having a dog that tries his best to please you, and who tries his best to figure out what it is that you want from him, is a wonderful lifetime relationship. Having a dog that is wary of you because you are unpredictable (to him) is much less satisfying for both of you.

livelaughlove21's avatar

All hitting a dog or rubbing their nose in their waste does is tell them that you’re mean. Hitting them, even with a rolled up newspaper, teaches them to fear you. If they fear you, they won’t listen to you. You want your dog to trust you and allow you to guide them – they WANT to please you, but making them fear you won’t help.

GloPro's avatar

I will admit that I hit my rottie once. I intentionally scared the shit out of her. She ran into the road. I hit her and yelled fiercely right in traffic. I didn’t know what else to do. She never ran in the road again.

Once she got out of the car at a gas station and ran under the nozzle. She was tall enough that it slipped from the tank and soaked her in gasoline. That was awful. She was okay in the end, but she never ever got out of the car at a gas station ever again.

livelaughlove21's avatar

We used to hit Daisy, too. Swats on the butt mostly, and never for peeing on the carpet. Then we found out she has severe hip dyspepsia and we never hit her again. She was 8 months old when she was diagnosed, so a lot of her training was completed after that and she did perfectly fine. I will never hit a dog again. If you can train them without hitting them, and you can, then hitting them is completely unnecessary.

Hitting a dog for doing something bad that it’s never done before is abuse. I’ve done it before, but I know now that it is abuse. It’s a dog – it doesn’t know what it’s doing is bad. It doesn’t know it’s putting itself in danger. You hit the dog and it never does that thing again, so hitting is a good training technique? No, it doesn’t work that way. A dog knows when it’s in trouble without you hitting it.

The thing about many pet owners is they hit their dog for something that was their own fault. I didn’t put my dog on a leash and it did this bad thing – hit the dog. I didn’t take the dog out when it whined at the door and it peed in the house – hit the dog. I left my dog unoccupied in an empty house all day and it destroyed the living room – hit the dog. I didn’t train my dog and now it bites – hit the dog. It’s completely illogical, but completely human nature. It’s always someone else’s fault, never our own.

Hitting dogs for training purposes is especially stupid when you hit them for being aggressive. You snapped at me so I’m going to hit you. It’s the same flawed logic of biting a baby when it bites you. You don’t teach a child or a dog something by doing that thing you’re trying to teach them not to do.

Like I said, I’ve hit a dog before. I’m not saying anyone that does is a horrible person. But it’s important to know that it’s not the right way to treat an animal and correct your behavior and theirs through the correct training methods. If you’re unwilling to do that, you don’t deserve to have an animal.

GloPro's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I completely agree. I just admitted I hit my rottie as an example. I didn’t know what else to do and was young with my first dog. I felt like a total asshole for days. She never got hit again. Actually, once, at a party. By some random guy. I slapped him across the face just like he did my dog. I shouldn’t have done that, either, but my response was <Boom> “Hurts, huh? It hurts her, too. Don’t ever touch my dog again.” The whole room was like <google eyes>.

I’m a good 15 years older and wiser now. Training with clickers, treats, love and patience is definitely harder. I feel it is going to be worth every bit of extra effort and irritation.

longgone's avatar

@livelaughlove21 That was a wonderful answer!

@kritiper Just because something works does not mean it’s a good idea. If your boss smacked you for Fluthering at work, you would probably stop that behaviour. When he’s around. You would also begin to either hate or fear him, depending on your personality and, probably, how hard he smacks.

Puppies have no concept of “outside” versus “inside”. How should they? It’s our job to teach them. I consider hitting any animal unfair at best, abuse at worst. But then, I want to do everything I can to not have my dog fear me.

@GloPro So worth it!

kritiper's avatar

Ah, well… There’s no pee problem at THIS house!

OpryLeigh's avatar

From time to time I still hear the old “bite your dog on the ear and he will never show aggressive tendencies towards you again” bollocks. Luckily I’ve never had a dog that I considered aggressive for whatever reason but I’m pretty sure getting closer to those teeth is dumbarse foolery!!!!

longgone's avatar

^ Ungh, the ear thing. Right up there with alpha rolls and staring at an aggressive dog to “let him know who’s boss”. Bites waiting to happen :/

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