"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Peeing in the house

– Posted in: Columns

I have a 5 1/2 year old male Bichon Frise that about two years ago started peeing in the house. I had him thoroughly checked for various things at the vet and all possible things were ruled out. My feeling is it is his way of showing he is unhappy when we leave. He is now peeing in other places. If he is caught in the act he is sprayed with a water bottle and given a time out in his crate.

He is treated like royalty-sleeps on the bed etc. just so you don’t think he is neglected, actually just the opposite!


Hi Julie,

I’m not getting why you think he’s “acting out” because “he is unhappy when we leave” as you’re indicating it happens when you’re home as well. I’m wondering if this isn’t more connected to his being treated like royalty rather then a family dog.

I think a lot of dogs see their humans at best as college roommates rather then leadership figures. This often devolves into behaviour issues and always makes them harder to resolve. Your dog might be just wondering why you’re not saving yourself a walk to the bathroom too. It’s hard to say, so it’s worth hiring a balanced trainer to come in and have a look at your particular scenario.

I know there are dog trainers that think a “time-out” in a crate is more humane then actually saying, “No!” in a manner meaningful to the dog. I’m not one of them. In nature a “time-out” is something a mother dog, wolf, ape, gazelle etc. might do to her young if she wants something to eat them. It just isn’t used as an “educational” tool. I’m not saying that time alone is not something that a dog might perceive as discipline but it’s an unnecessary workaround and makes it harder for a dog to connect the dots. In the animal kingdom if discipline is required, it happens on the spot in a clear and fair manner.

Contrary to the more politically correct, but I think sadly misguided dog trainers, discipline and abuse is not the same thing. Just because they can’t see the dog when it feels bad doesn’t mean that’s more humane then addressing the behaviour in an immediate manner.

Besides, crates aren’t for punishment they’re for rest, sanctuary and moments of the day when diligent supervision is required but isn’t practically possible.

The water bottle is another piece of new-wave bizarreness. It’s another illogical connection using weak science to define what a humane “correction” is. Some dog trainers think that making a dog feel bad about something by spraying water at it is more humane then a well timed fair correction.

The truth is that both are useless if the dog isn’t making the right connection. Some dogs might just think that water bottles are horrible. One might say that’s better then the dog thinking their human is horrible but I don’t agree that is even possible in a normal human/dog relationship. We’re all wired well enough to cope with fair discipline provided by the teachers in our lives and the overall time a dog spends with its human companion is by far counterbalanced with love which keeps the discipline component in context.

Send me an email requesting a free house training program to help get your dog back on track but I still think hiring a balanced trainer is a better first step.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade
*protected email*

14 Comments… add one
karen April 24, 2015, 11:47 pm

I am so absolutely fed up with my 2 10 yr old Bichons. They used to be housebroken and now they literally cannot be trusted at all inside house. They will pee or poop anywhere, especially on rugs. They will go in the crate also. I will NEVER get another bichon…I don’t want to resort to potty pads but I cannot have them ruin my house any more. They are fine health wise. I just can’t take it anymore.

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade April 25, 2015, 3:07 pm

Hi Karen,

I understand your frustration. No need to ever get another Bichon but this isn’t a reason as the problem you are having isn’t a known breed trait.

When you say “used to be housebroken”, how long ago was that? The two main reasons that a dog (rarely two at the same time) loses it house training when it has been good all its life is either health related or anxiety triggered (changes in routine, household structure – or possibly health). Another reason is dementia but they don’t seem old enough for that.

How sure are you that they are healthy? Did your vet do a complete blood panel?

Have they ever had episodes like this in the past that they recovered from?

If you’re sure that this isn’t anxiety or a health issue this inexpensive downloadable ebook about housetraining will help you dot your i’s and cross your t’s. (I wrote it)

Betty cole July 16, 2016, 6:18 pm

Also a bichon issue: got a 3 year old as a therapy dog for our son. She’s great at that, but never tells us when she needs to pee. Just does it! Usually in the dining room. Will also poop in the middle of the night if not crated.

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade July 17, 2016, 10:45 am

Hi Betty,

I’ll send you “John Wade’s Housetraining Cheat Sheet” by email. Review it, if you’re doing everything on it already there’s an outside chance there’s a physical problem or an anxiety issue triggering the act. My ebook goes into much greater detail and might help as well – http://store.askthedogguy.com/how-to-housetrain-a-puppy-in-5-days-or-less-by-john-wade/


Tali December 13, 2016, 11:03 pm

I have a dog I have been trying to housebreak for a year with no success. I have crated, taken her out every hour, taken her out for last walk at midnight, restricted feeding times, and still she will go in her crate at night and during the day. I tried diapers thinking it may help her learn control, but she still went. I have corrected her with the no bad dog, in a stern voice, no improvement. She has taken to pooping and peeing now when I am not looking. She just doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. And she eats it. I would like to know if you have any tips with a dog like this, because I don’t want to make her an outdoors dog, but with two toddlers and a baby on the way, I can’t clean the crate and bathe the dog five times a day. Thank you in advance

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade January 3, 2017, 5:14 pm

It’s possible you don’t have a dog with a house soiling problem. House soiling can be a symptom of anxiety (or poor health). If not, I would recommend reading my house training booklet.


sue miller December 18, 2016, 7:01 am

Please send Housetraining cheat sheet. i, too, have a 4 year old Bichon rescue who is basically house trained but will randomly pee in house, especially when it rains or in days after. Is the training the same as for a puppy?

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade December 19, 2016, 3:29 pm

Hi Sue,

I’ve sent the housetraining cheat sheet as well as a new progress chart tracker that I recently made up.


Max leuenberger January 3, 2017, 11:41 pm

We’re at the end of our rope with our 6 year old bichon. She’s started to pee on rugs in the house. Vet has done a full battery of tests and found nothing wrong. We give a stern correction when we catch her in the act but she’s very sneaky. Help!

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade January 4, 2017, 11:28 am

Hi Max,

If she hasn’t a history of this and by nature she’s not a nervous natured dog I still wouldn’t write off that there’s something potentially going on physically regardless of the tests. What was she tested for? Urinary tract and related infections? Blood work, ear problems, tooth problem, X-rays, eyesight issues, blood panel? Otherwise has something occurred recently in her or your household that has upset the equilibrium? Either way this sort of soiling is a message. I call it p-mail.

If it’s not due to a physical or routine upset then some information is missing. If it were a straight housetraining problem I’d suggest start by having her drag her leash around and supervise her like a 2 year old for the next 6 months. When you might be distracted by something enough that leash or not you can’t interrupt her sneaking away, use her crate like a playpen. Put her in it but – near you – not isolated. Download my house training cheat sheet and follow those instructions as well.


Alec January 21, 2017, 6:12 pm

Love to get your cheat sheet also. My bischon is 8 and having this pee problem.thanks

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade January 27, 2017, 5:40 pm



Eud February 25, 2017, 10:17 am

Would also love the cheat sheet. My dog has been doing the same thing the past month.

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade February 25, 2017, 8:32 pm

Just emailed it to you.


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