I Use to Teach Dogs to Pee and Poop in the Bathtub
Way before the sparkly new fandangled indoor doggy “cat boxes” we use to have to teach our Service Dogs to urinate and defecate in the bathtub.
I know you are curious as to WHY anyone would do such a thing?
Well, it was because we would send these working dogs out on cruise ships with their disabled owners.
Cruise ships don’t have an “outdoor doggy” area or grass so working dogs are kind of left out in the cold when it comes to cruise ship fun time, and no one wants a “mistake” while they are out on a cruise; so we use to have to teach these dogs to go in the shower/tub.
This made for easy clean-up for their owners and gave the dog a spot that was socially acceptable; although I bet most people don’t even think about Service or Guide Dog potty habits while they are off with their owners! Now people can use indoor potty facilities…for more on that click here.
We would cut a bit of fake grass, take it outside for a few weeks and have them potty on it, bring it indoors and then cut it down and put it in the bathtub or shower area.
Then the dog was NOT allowed outside for a few days and was only taken to the new indoor spot to poop and pee.
This was not easy work!
Dogs that are taught to go potty outdoors much prefer it to going potty indoors, however like I discussed previously, that isn’t much of an option on a cruise ship.
After reading that we will now have some people mentally deciding that it would be nicer to leave the dog at home. But that is because they have never worked closely with working dogs. Working dogs live to be with their owners and would die without them; so leaving them home isn’t a great option. Not to mention the fact that the person actually NEEDS the help and assistance of their dog to be more independent!
So we (as trainers) would go through the painstaking ritual of taking the dog to the “shower” every few hours for potty breaks. It would have been much simpler to just let the dog outside sometimes, rather than getting up at 2 or 3 in the morning and fumbling to the bathroom with the dog!
Because potty training is HARD work!
If I can teach an adult dog, who’s habit and foundation is going outside, to jump into a confined, usually detested space to urinate and defecate, you can teach your puppy or adult dog to go outside (if that is what you desire)!
Sometimes what seems like the most simple task is actually the hardest.
I recognize that adult dogs or dogs that have been imprinted to have accidents in the house are conditioned to fail. For more on conditioning (habits) read this article. But I also know that it can be changed if you are willing to do the work involved!
These Service Dogs had also been conditioned to go outside. Was it difficult? YES!!! Yes, yes!!
I think sometimes the problem is that we give up on training or work that is difficult. It is easier to let the dog poop in the house, than it is to get up with them at 1 a.m. or it is easier to let them sleep on the bed (because that is what we want) than to have them sleep in a crate. Crate training is not always a bad thing, for more on that click here.
But you have to decide: which do you want? Sometimes we don’t get to have both! So only you, as an owner can decide which is more important to you. The key is that then you don’t get to complain unless you train!
Personally, I would rather have a dog in a crate overnight than a dog that has an accident almost every night. I don’t want to condition this kind of negative behavior, because after a while, it will be much harder to fix.
You can compromise and have your dog snuggle with you on the bed for an hour or two as you watch TV prior to falling asleep but put him in the crate if he hasn’t earned the privilege of being out loose in the house.
As your dog or puppy is successful, he gets use to holding his bladder etc. and not having accidents in the house or at night; so after a few months you may be able to try leaving him out again. If he does have another accident you will have to regress and go back to crate training or keeping your dog on a leash or tether if it is during the day.
YES IT IS!!
Is it going to be fast?
NO! IT IS NOT!
But some of the best things in life take a lot of work and determination and I think potty training is one of them!
If your dog is having accidents at night:
- Try feeding him earlier in the day so that he doesn’t have a full tummy to defecate at night.
- Take the water up if he has problems urinating at night. If he doesn’t have a full bladder he is less likely to need to pee.
- Exercise your dog before you go to bed!
- Exercise makes the bowels do their job and can get your puppy or dog to poop and pee before it is bed time.
- It will also make your dog or puppy so tired that he will be more likely to sleep during the night.
During the Day
- If you can’t keep an eye on your dog, use a crate!
- Using a crate is easier than cleaning up a mess and it is better not to condition bad behavior.
- If you can, just keep an eye on your dog.
- Shut him in the computer room with you or in your office.
- Give him a job (down stay) or something to play with or chew on and you will be conditioning good behavior!
- Train him; just spend two 10 minute sessions working on his obedience each day and I guarantee you will see a difference.
- Exercise is just as important during the day as it is at night for conditioning good behavior and ensuring a tired dog.
Don’t Give Up!!
If you give up, so will your dog and you will both fail!
And, many people give up and these dogs end up in shelters or passed from person to person until they are finally euthanized because the behavior has lasted so long.
Do everything that you can to ensure good behavior and after a short time your dog will be conditioned to good behavior, ringing a bell, and not having accidents in the house!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.