adult toilet training

Wags and Purrs fact sheet on adult toilet training and scent marking

adult toilet training


When a dog urine marks something they deposit a tiny amount of urine on an object. It will usually be on a vertical surface.  If they are toileting in your house they will empty their bladder so there will be a large amount of urine.

This fact sheet discusses how you can address urine marking issues and toilet training. The notes in the fact sheet can be applied to puppies and adult dogs.


  • Dogs are territorial animals: Dogs like to stake out a claim to a particular space, area or object. Urine marking is a normal behaviour in dogs but it’s normally done outside when they go for a walk and not inside a home. The reason why dogs do this is because urine marking is a form of communication between dogs. Urine consists of metabolic waste products and pheromonal chemical signals. The pheromones carries information about the gender, age, reproductive status, identity and health of the dog. When dogs scent mark on walks this is what their urine is telling other dogs. When dogs urinate over another dogs urine spot they are laying claim to that spot and leaving information to other dogs about them. Dogs will urine mark regardless of whether they are neutered/ spade or not.
  • Dog Breeds: Smaller dogs breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese poodles, Chihuahuas and Pomeranians are known to struggle with house training. These dogs were bred for their juvenile characteristics which makes them struggle with house training.
  • Stress and over stimulation: Urine marking in the home can be stress related. A number of things can cause your dog to have anxiety including the presence of new objects in the home, furniture or luggage in a dog’s environment, the departure of a resident from a dog’s home, a new person moving into the home and conflict between a dog and people or other animals in the home. Dogs can also urine mark when they are over excited/ stimulated.
  • Unfamiliar smells of dogs or other people in home. If you go for a walk and accidentally walk in urine or pooh on the walk and then come home and walk this in the house your dog can smell this and will urine mark over it. If you go to a house where there are other dogs and they sit on you your dog may also then urine mark your clothes or belongings when you come home as they smell of other dogs. Dogs will also urine mark when people come in a home that have an unfamiliar smell to them. They may mark where the person has walked or sat or even on their belongings sometimes.
  • Diet: Dry make your dog thirsty. Of course the more your dog’s drink water the more they will want to pee. You can give your dog’s wet and dry food if you want to or when you cannot watch the dogs inside leave them ice cubes in a water bowl instead of water. The dogs can still quench their first when they are in the house but won’t gulp down water making them want to pee. Of course your dogs should always have fresh water available when they are outside.
  • Dogs living outdoors: Dogs that live outside often end up not being house trained when they are inside a house. Outside your dogs have learnt they can wee wherever and whenever they want. When they come inside they think the same applies in the house.


These notes apply to puppies and adult dogs.

  • Keep an eye on your dog when they are indoors. When you are house training any dog you need to keep them under constant supervision when they are indoors. For the first two weeks of house training put your dog on a leash and keep them by your side. You can also play with them, give them a chew toy or just cuddle them but make sure their leashes are on. This will allow you to keep an eye on the dogs. Look out for signs that they want to urinate such as sniffing the ground intently or circling. When they do this say “Ah Ah “loudly or “No” and take them outside to urinate/ mark. If they urinate outside praise them and give them a treat. Until your dogs are 100% house trained you need to supervise them. As your dog’s start to understand the rules you can give them more free access to rooms by tying them to a chair in the room or letting them walk around a room but with their leads still attached. Eventually you will be able to let them come you.
  • Put your dog in a crate or a confined space in home when you cannot watch them. If you cannot keep a constant watch over your dog when they are in the house put them in a crate, play pen or a room that is tiled. Put their beds, water and food in the crate/ room/ play pen. The area must be an area where they have not urinated before. Dogs generally don’t like to urinate in their sleeping areas. If you decide to use a crate your dogs would need to be crate trained. See the video link below this report about crate training. Crates can be bought at a pet shop or on line. You can probably get pet pens on line as well or from hardware shops. Leave chews for your dog to chew on when you leave them in the crate/ confined area so they have something to do. Do not leave your dog in a crate for long periods.

adult toilet training - crate

  • Take dogs out every 30 minutes/ 1 hour when they are inside. Dogs normally want to pee after eating, playing, sleeping or drinking. If you are your dog in a crate or confined area you will need to take them outside to pee every half an hour to an hour. Eventually they should be able to last for two hours or longer without needing to urinate. When you take them outside and they urinate or pooh outside give them lots of praise and treats. When dogs realise they are going to get yummy treats when they urinate outside they should learn quite quickly to go outside when they want to wee. Do make sure your dog wees when you put them out otherwise they may come back inside the house and wee inside.
  • Try and ensure that your dogs don’t have an opportunity to urinate inside. Ideally you need to try and ensure your dog’s don’t make a mistake and urinate inside. If they do then it just means that more mistakes may follow. Of course it’s hard for mistakes not to happen try your best to make sure your dog is in the right place at the right time when they need to go the bathroom. Being able to predict when your dogs want to use the toilet and taking them outside in time is the real secret to successful house training.
  • Doggy nappies: You can purchase dog nappies which you can put on them when they are in the home and you are unable to watch them. These can be used if you cannot confine them to a crate or separate room. Dogs are not particularly fond of nappies and sometimes wearing them is enough to make them not want to mark or urinate in the home. My friend used them on her dog and they worked but every dog is different.


Besides house training Tyson from scratch here are some other things you can try.

  • Take dog to the vet: It’s always to take your dogs to the vet if they have behaviour issues to rule out any medical reasons for the behaviour. There are some medical issues such as Urinary incontinence (more evident in older dogs) and Urinary tract infections that can cause your dog to urinate or urine mark more often than usual.
  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly: It’s very important that you clean the areas where your dog messes thoroughly using a cleaner that does not contain ammonia. Ammonia is a constituent of urine. If you don’t clean thoroughly your dog will continue to mess in those areas. Clean the area with warm soapy water or preferably a weak solution of a biological detergent. You can then apply an odourless spray on disinfectant solution to the area. Avoid using bleach or strongly scented disinfectants. To clean carpets you can put detergent on the carpet then a plastic sheet over the area weighed down with books/ bricks to allow the cleaning agent to reach down to the underfelt of the carpet. Sprinkle the spot with baking soda when dry and then vacuum when dry. After this you can spray the area with surgical spirits or white vinegar just to get rid of the smell.
  • Keep objects likely to cause marking out of reach. Items such as clothing, blankets, curtains etc should be kept out of reach of your dog when he or she is in the house.
  • Make areas that your dog marks unpleasant. If there are specific things your dog urinates on such as your curtains, couches, personal clothing , chairs, heater etc try and makes these things unpleasant for your dog to mark on. You can do this by using double sided sticky tape, vinyl carpet runner turned upside down to expose the knobbly surface, citronella oil or other types of humane harmless booby traps. You can put plastic sheets over the items when your dog is around or clap your hands when you see him about to mark an area. Keep in mind however, that your dog may simply select another spot to urine mark. Another thing you can do is pop a balloon when you see your dog marking an area this is a form of punishment but it’s not causing him any harm. Ideally if you hide where he cannot see you and pop the balloon that would be good so he does not identify you with punishment. Once you do this a few times he will learn that marking in the house is something unpleasant.

Provide dog with a suitable target for marking. You can put a fire hydrant, tree trunk or any other vertical object in your garden and rub some urine on it and then when your dog looks like he wants to mark in your home take him outside and show him the object and when he marks it treat him. You can buy a target called a Simple Solution Pee Post on some online pet shops. See image below excuse the blurry quality.  

adult toilet training - pee post

  • Stress related urine marking: If your dog is urine marking because of stress you need to try and identify the cause of the stress. If a new person has moved into the home or you have done renovations to your home this can cause dogs stress and make them mark. You can put dogs on medications to help relieve stress but you would need to speak to your vet about this. If you think your dog is marking things in your home because he is anxious or over excited you can buy calming collars from a vet shop to put on him. This helps to calm dogs down. It contains artificial hormones that the mother dog gives out through her milk to puppies.
  • Establish your leadership: Sometimes dogs mark as a way of showing dominance. Ask your dog to sit before getting food, getting a toy or putting on his leash. Teach him some basic commands such as sit, down, stay and watch me. This can teach him that you are the one in control.


Don’t punish your dog after the fact. Punishment administered even a few minutes after your dog have messed in the house is ineffective because your dogs won’t understand why they are being punished.


Below please find some interesting videos to watch on urine marking, house training and crate training.


Source: Wags and Purrs


Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.