Holly's Toilet Training Problem


Honored Member
Holly’s toilet training problem:

She is nearly 6 months old and is still not properly toilet trained (it is extremely frustrating because she is a smart dog). I know all dogs are different but Paris was very quick to toilet train and it was winter (I think it helped that she was bred in a home and we left her with her mother for an extra week before getting her)

I think part of the problem is that she was is the petshop for a month and the petshop owner has since admitted that the Holly’s litter did not come from the best environment. So when we got her home we started straight away with the toilet training (taken outside every hour and given a treat for doing her business) and the back door was left open most of the time (on nice days) so she could take herself out or follow our other dog if she wanted to.

When we got her she started sleeping in a large crate (the one that our two cavaliers slept in, but Paris doesn’t now because she needs to be able to get outside at night due to the diuretics). That was for about two weeks and she would purposely go in there during the day if she could to go toilet (in front of it if the door was shut) she never complained about being in the crate (possibly a hint to how she was kept by her breeder) she was let out of the crate at 6am to go to the toilet and she usually did a poo and a pee (last toileting was at about 11pm, she stays dry over night) and then put back in until 7am, during that hour she always did a pee or poop, so we changed to a smaller crate (a cat carry cage) after looking it up on the net. And we decreased the amount of space she was allowed in so she could no longer go into the room that her big crate was in (where she always liked to toilet).

Still didn’t work, she still went to the toilet in there or on the carpet and would purposely go in there to go to the toilet. She had this small crate for about three weeks with no improvement, we always treated her if she went toilet outside and she was taken out every 1-1 ½ hours. She did not seem to mind sitting in her own mess (I know most dogs never toilet where they sleep and Paris is a very clean dog).

So the dog trainer at her obedience class said put her back in the big crate but also feed her in there at meal times (she still has three meals per day). So we got the big crate out and put it in a different room to the one that it was in originally and started feeding her in it as well as putting her in it at night and when we go out (the trainer also suggested telling her off if we catch her toileting inside because she should be old enough and it should have been long enough for her to have figured out that it is only good to go outside and ignored if she goes inside, but we didn’t want to yell at her, we decided to keep being patient). And sometimes if we took her outside and stayed out there for ½ an hour waiting she would run inside and toilet.

So we’re still in the big crate now and she has figured out how to use the cat door (we didn’t initially teach her this because we didn’t want her to run inside when she was taken out in the rain). She is usually clean and dry over night if she gets let out by 7:30am, BUT she still purposely goes in there during the day or on the carpet to pee/poo and when she gets put in the crate for 10 minutes at tea time (she has to be shut in because our other dog eats very slowly and has meds in her food) she nearly always pees or poos in there once she has finished eating!

I don’t know how to stop her going to the toilet inside, she does know how to go outside and she does go outside more then she used to but she still has about 4-5 accidents inside on a bad day and 1-2 accidents inside on a good day. She knows how to go outside, she sometimes takes herself outside to toilet through the cat door on her own so she is not afraid to be outside or anything like that (in fact today after breakfast (she hadn’t toileted in the crate) she took herself out to do a poo, I watched her through the glass door and when she was done I opened the door and gave her a treat).

I actually did try yelling at her a couple of times when I caught her toileting inside, she just looked up at me and laughed like “why are you yelling? I know you’re not serious” and continued doing her pee/poo. Another odd thing she does is that she will not toilet on walks or when we are off the property. So the positive reinforcement doesn’t seem to be working and telling her off obviously wont either.

So...that was a long story.

Can anyone offer any advice? Or do we just continue to be patient and hope that she eventually does figure it out?


Honored Member
What about putting the large crate outside? Will she choose to use the crate as her toilet then? If so you could let her get used to it outside then close the door and so she goes in front of it... or dismantle it so there is less and less crate for her to focus on - taking the floor out would be good so she gets used to an outdoors surface.

Maybe try to not use a crate indoors at all for now or put it right away during the day time until she loses the association?

If you have a cue for her to poop you might be able to use that to explain to her that it's okay off the property. Has she been off leash off your property? At first Gus didn't know he was allowed to poop while he was leashed and outside of the garden.

Pups have a whole way of thinking all of their own - Gus insisted on pooping in front of the window, we finally worked out that the breeder paper trained him in a conservatory. He was more focussed on the light level than the paper.


Honored Member
She hasn't been off leash off our property (I'm not sure if she would come when called with too many distractions, although she is pretty good at recall at home and in her obedience class, she seems to do everything better during her class, perhaps she knows she needs to concentrate then).
She does go to the toilet outside so its not a surface thing, she doesn't have a problem with going on the grass and she knows she will get a treat (when she pees outside she glares at me to make sure I'm getting the treat ready and then runs over to me as soon as she is done) and she knows how to go outside on her own (and she sometimes does) but she still sometimes decides to toilet inside and when she does it is usually near the crate or in it and she toilets in the crate after being fed in there (instead of holding on for 10 minutes even if she went to the toilet before she was put in the crate for dinner).
We tried to give her a cue but she doesn't seem to have made the association.


Honored Member
My mum wanted to train her to paper but I said it was a bad idea because she should not learn to toilet inside at all (and my dad leaves the newspaper on the floor all the time after he's read it so that could have been bad). Maybe that was a mistake and we should have trained her onto paper first. :unsure:


Honored Member
I didn't mean to suggest it was a surface thing. What I was trying to suggest is that you try to make a NEW association (always outside) and then FADE the crate (no floor, no roof, no walls...). It is obvious she strongly associates something about the crate with pooping. If you just try putting the crate outside during the day...

a) she can't make a mistake anymore
b) Once she is always going outside to find the crate you can make the crate less and less significant
c) if give her the crate on grass and she might just begin to make the association that pooping is always on grass/outdoor surface.

... it might only take a few days to break the association.

Gus was happy to poop once he was off leash down by the river but if you are worried about recall you could try to explain it by leashing her in the yard when you know she needs to go.


Honored Member
Staff member
Clearly she has an association with crate=bathroom. So, a few things you can try:

-Abandon it for a while, and very closely observe her and manage her to avoid ANY messes inside for a good couple of weeks, if not longer. Then, bring back the crate, and ONLY allow access for food and bedtime. This isn't exactly how you would crate-train a dog who has never been crate-trained, but restricting her access will actually strengthen the association that the crate is a place for relaxation, NOT relieving herself. In time you should be able to actually use the crate as it should be intended, which is a safe haven for her whenever she needs it. But it will take time.

-Or, you can abandon the crate entirely and watch her like a hawk, managing her REALLY carefully.
Personally, I like crate training the best. Because she already thinks it is a bathroom, you have some work ahead of you. Most likely the reason for this is because she had a crate that was too large to begin with, or it could also be because she could very well have been kept crated with her littermates while still with mum and then of course at the petshop too....and if she was kept in that kind of situation for a long enough time, she could very well think that that surface is for relieving yourself, as RDog suggested.

"My mum wanted to train her to paper but I said it was a bad idea because she should not learn to toilet inside at all (and my dad leaves the newspaper on the floor all the time after he's read it so that could have been bad). Maybe that was a mistake and we should have trained her onto paper first. :unsure:"
I certainly think you are correct in being against paper training. You don't want the dog to think it's okay to relieve herself inside on ANY surface, paper or not.


Honored Member
If we remove the crate then where would she sleep at night that is safe? she doesn't go in bedrooms at all so we wouldn't be able to make sure she is behaving at night and not doing anything she shouldn't. Although she doesn't usually toilet during the night so maybe if we removed the crate during the day but then she would most likely just go in the spot where it used to be (in the lounge).

hmmm....well... I'm actually beginning to think that alot of the accidents are my sisters fault. Most days I give the dogs breakfast and then put Holly in the crate just before I leave at 9am (usually she is still clean or sometimes there is a pee on her blanket or the newspaper in her crate and I clean it up which is probably only once a week). I don't get home till after 5pm. My sister looks after her during the day, I don't know exactly what time she gets up (she says 9:30am). My sister is home all day and my mum usually finishes work at either 1 or 3pm and then comes home.

So today I was sick at home with a cold and my sister was at work (she sometimes works casual shifts) so I got to see what Holly is really like during week days.... she slept all morning from about 9am onwards and only woke up to move around the floor as the sun moved. We did some training and had a play then lunch and then she snoozed on and off till about 3pm, I took her outside regularly during the day, she did not have any accidents at all. She wasn't even very active when she was awake. When I look after her all day in the weekend she is way more active all day and when I'm home in the evening she is active so I think she has adjusted her activity level for when I'm home because I'm the only one who plays and trains her. If she has an accident in the eveing it is usually if I'm shut in a different room or in my bedroom where she can't get to me and that's also when she is the most naughty. (if I'm in the other room she scratchs at the glass door, so my mum lets her in to see me even though I have told her that doing that will make it worse).

So I think my sister is either not watching her closely enough or can't be bothered taking her outside so Holly has decided to go in the crate rather than going outside alone.

I'm going to have to have words with her about it.

Why do humans have to be so hard to train? :confused:


Honored Member
Staff member
Lol, humans do seem to be the most difficult to train. :ROFLMAO: They have an uncanny way of doing exactly the opposite that they need to.

As for where she would stay, the only ideas I have would be a certain bedroom or an area of the house blocked by baby gates. I'm not saying it's ideal by any means, just saying that because of her strong association of the crate being her restroom, you might get the best results by getting rid of it entirely for a little while. It would be a win-lose situation for a little while, until you could resume crate training.


Honored Member
You may be on to something as far as your pup not getting outside quite as often as needed. I thought of one more possibility also. How are you cleaning the crate after she's pottying in it? Are you cleaning it really thoroughly every single time with something like Nature's Miracle or some kind of enzymatic cleaner? If not, her pottty scent is in there and *to her* it may see quite ok for her to continue to potty where she's pottied before.

If you're not cleaning it really thoroughly with Nature's Miracle (or a similar product), you may want to start there - get an enzymatic cleaner and give it a really good cleaning. Just a thought.

And yes - humans seem to be much harder to train than dogs! :confused: