Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Male Labrador Retriever urinates in my house - part II

This is part two of a two part e-mail from Lyn in Australia who has a problem with her 12 week old Labrador Retriever urinating in her home.

Part one of this e-mail can be read here: Male Labrador Retriever urinates in my house - part I

All About Labradors Blog Answer:

The information given here is to help you learn more about your Labrador Retriever and not to replace your veterinarian's advice. Read full Disclaimer

Hello Lyn, Thanks for being patient and for the great photo of Tyson! He just so cute.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you this Lyn but the first thing you have to remember is that Tyson is just a baby and will have his accidents.

What I believe may be happening here is that Mr Tyson may be confused. Its harder to train an indoor/outdoor pup because of the change in environment. What I mean by this is when Tyson is outside, he can do anything he wants, eliminate anywhere he wants, but not so when indoors. This is making it harder for him to distinguish from inside to outside, and he is not learning where to eliminate.

First off Tyson needs to have one spot to eliminate himself. If you consistently take Tyson to the same location, he will associate this as the place to go. If he constantly eliminates in that spot in the garden then make sure this is the spot he continues to go (even though I'm sure you'll want to change this location, otherwise you won't have a garden in that spot for long). Once the association is formed, he will be more likely to seek out the same area, whenever the need to eliminate arises.

What I didn't ask, and I'm not sure of from your e-mails is if you have him on a leash when you take him out or you just let him out into the yard to eliminate.

He must be on a short leash when he is taken out to keep him close. Believe me, he will become bored quite quickly with a small area to explore and will start sniffing around the ground (elimination behavior). If he takes a little longer, as one of my Labradors did, you can try walking him in a short tight circle.

You can also praise Tyson when you notice signs that elimination is coming, such as sniffing and/or circling. It doesn't have to be crazy, bang on the drums praise, just a soft "good boy" or "good Tyson" will be sufficient.

Make sure you pickup and discard of any stool immediately.

What happens when you take Tyson out and he doesn't eliminate himself ? Take him back inside, wait about 15 -20 minutes and take him right back out to his area. Make sure you keep constant watch of him when inside if he didn't relieve himself, for signs of elimination behaviors.

I do recommend the use of a crate. A crate provides a safe haven for your puppy allowing him to relax. It will help him rest, slowing down the body, reducing the need for water and relieving himself. It is also an effective housebreaking tool, because dogs have a natural reluctance to soil where they sleep.

If you do use they crate for Tyson, make sure it will be the correct size for him as an adult. Try to purchase a cage with a dividing panel so it will be the appropriate size for him now. You only want to have enough room for Tyson to stand up, stretch and turn. To much room, and Tyson could learn to sleep in half of the crate and relieve himself in the other half, which will just defeat the whole purpose of the crate.

Is there a possibility that someone can come to your house during your working hours to take Tyson out? Maybe you or your partner can come home some time during the day to take him out. This way you can do away with leaving him outside all day.

You can take him out first thing in the morning, then after he eats, and maybe just before the last person leaves for work. Then depending on how long your gone, maybe someone can come over (approximately every four hours) to take him out to relieve himself.
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You also didn't tell me if there are any accidents at night. I assuming Tyson doesn't have accidents at night or you would have said something. Which means he has learn pretty good control already.

Here's a PDF book on crate training that can be of great help to you: Crate Training Your Dog

For toys to put in the crate, I love and recommend the Kong toys. They provide plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Just make sure you get the appropriate size for your Labrador and discard when any pieces start to fall off.

As far as Tyson biting and destroying things goes, you must understand he is going through a critical period right now. Labrador Retrievers between the age of 12 -16 weeks go through a phase called Seniority Classification Period. It is during this period that Tyson will be to challenge you to see who the pack leader is going to be. He will bite you in play and as a challenge to your authority. What is important here is that you establish yourself as the pack leader or the Alpha.

Here's an article that can help you out : Establishing Yourself as Pack Leader

Games such a tug of war, wrestling and any form of rough housing with Tyson should be discouraged. Such play is aggressive inducing. What you may see as having fun with your Labrador Retriever with these games, may be perceived by Tyson as a situation to dominate.

Also during this period, no biting or mouthing should be allowed. For more information on this, there is an article on the All About Labradors blog entitled Labrador Retriever – Training your puppy to stop biting and nipping , that will be helpful to you.
Remember, take Tyson out to the same location to relieve himself. Closely watch him when inside for signs of the elimination behavior. Never scold him for accidents. If you observe him eliminating in the house, provide a distraction (such as a clap of you hands together) and interrupt the behavior. Pick him up and bring him outside to his spot and offer praise.

If you don't want to go the crate way, which I really do recommend you try, let me know as I do have another idea that may work even though I have never tried it.

Let me know if you don't understand anything here Lyn or if you have questions on anything else. Please keep me informed with how his training is coming.

Take care of yourself and Tyson,


Reader's E-mail - Lyn's Response:

Hi Fay

Thank you so much for all that information and advice. I might be biased but yes he is cute.

He seems to have designated a spot in the garden where he relieves himself during the day and heads for that same spot at night just before bedtime. Last night he went straight to the back door and hit it so he could be let out, which I praised because it is the first time he has done that without giving any signs that he was ready to relieve himself. You asked about nighttimes, he does have the occasional accident which is again near the back door, so I know he is at least getting the idea that outside is the place to go.

Last time I wrote to you I think I mentioned that he was weeing as soon as he came inside, he hasn't done that this week.

As far as his dominance of the household goes, he was trying to dominate us, for example going in and out of doors, but he now waits for us to go out first or in first and then he follows, also when he is outside and demanding to come inside by hitting the door, I have been making him wait by letting him see me doing something first such as loading the washing machine or putting the jug on and making a coffee before letting him in. Also when we got home from work we used to open the gates and go inside through the back door, this week we have been leaving the cars in the driveway and going in through the front doors, getting changed and then going outside and playing with him. I don't know if this is the right thing to do, but it is making him wait for what he wants instead of jumping everytime he wants something.

He has been going to Puppy Kindy for the last 4 weeks and has learnt all the basic commands including stay which we reinforce every chance we get. He is very attentive and responsive with me especially.

I will read all the information you have given me and will keep in touch and let you know how he is going, thank you again Fay your advice is greatly appreciated.


All About Labradors Blog Answer:

Hi Lyn,

Your welcome, but don't thank me yet, wait until we get Tyson's problem solved. There is no problem being biased as I am with my two Lab girls!

That's great that he is found a spot to go (like I said before, it might not be a garden for to much longer). The hitting of the back door is also an excellent sign. I have actually known of Lab owners who had attached a bell to the door and have gotten their Labrador Retrievers to ring the bell when they had to go out.

Sounds as though he is starting to realize his proper area to relieve himself.

Good job with the door work, as you are always first to do things, not him. You establish the Alpha position.

Yes you are doing the right thing by going in through the front doors and not letting him control the playing and what he wants. Keep it up!

Have you owned a dog before? The reason I asked is because you have a good knowledge of what to do in regards to training.

The puppy classes are excellent for him. He will learn obedience and the much important socialization.

Read over the info I sent and keep me informed of how everything is going.

Will talk to you soon,


To see photos of Tyson and his new housemate Bindi, click: Tyson and Bindi 01/15/08 (Updated)

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