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Chihuahua has been peeing even more

I have a Chihuahua who pees a lot, and lately she has been peeing even more. Pinch will do it in front of us, but mostly she does it just when she is alone. Is there a way to stop her from wetting the carpet? We take her out about six or seven times a day more than we used to.

Uh oh, it sounds like you and Pinch are in a pinch! You need to get her wetting under control, and besides reading up on the subject of potty training, you need to supervise and restrain your dog in between trips outside. Carry her, keep her on a leash with you wherever you go or crate her when you can't supervise. Keep her confined to tiled floor areas behind baby gates when you want to allow her more freedom indoors. Also, read my other answer this month regarding urinary tract infections, and get her to the vet to make sure she is healthy. Get involved in a training program.

I've listed this before, but here are my "Puppy Potty Training 101" basic guidelines; I hope they will help!

1. Rule out health problems with your veterinarian. Puppy cystitis is a common cause of inappropriate wetting, especially in female puppies prior to their first heat cycle. Discuss neutering with your veterinarian if a male dog older than 6 months of age is "marking" (lifting leg to urinate on objects) inside the house.

2. Schedule food intake to specific meal times as recommended by your veterinarian. Remove food after 20 minutes. Feed the same food every day, and make any changes gradually. No scraps, treats, people food or dog "junk food"; do any supplementation, if necessary, at meal times only.

3. Provide free access to water at all times except when in crate and at meal times (remove for half an hour). Remove water approximately two hours before bedtime.

4. Take the dog out at scheduled times only. Do not use "signals"—use a leash (or crate) to restrain the dog and try to make it wait until the next scheduled outing. Signals teach owners to obey their dogs! Signals also are "hit-or-miss" and create stress for the dog that is home alone with no one to take it out when it asks. Schedules reduce stress because they create predictability. When a dog signals off-schedule, and the need is obvious, put the dog on a leash, remove him from the door and make him wait a moment. Suddenly ask if he'd like to go out, as if you've just had an inspired whim. This will keep you the leader rather than the follower in your relationship with your pet. Otherwise, you will end up being the pet and full-time doorman to your dog!

5. Take the dog out on-leash to the designated toilet area. Allow three to five minutes. Do not say anything! If the dog fails to eliminate, do not allow free activity in the house; limit the dog by tethering (or if you must, crating) it for ten to fifteen minutes. Then try again outside, for three to five minutes, in the same area of your yard. If the dog does begin to eliminate, attach a phrase to the behavior by saying (only once!) "go pee pee!" or something similar. If the dog only hears this command during the act of urinating (and another command for defecating) for at least 30 days, the dog will become conditioned to eliminate in response to the phrase. But too much poorly timed repetition dilutes the impact and meaning of the phrase; instead it will mean "sniff the grass and ignore me!" It helps to place some of your dog's stool in the designated toilet area so the scent of past performance may inspire an encore!

6. Don't Punish!!! This only will make your dog more unwilling to eliminate when you are near (including outdoors!). Dogs do not understand "right" from "wrong." They learn not to eliminate in inhabited areas by being kept very clean by their dam and breeder until they are old enough to begin moving away from their eliminations. They naturally will migrate away from their sleeping areas to relieve themselves in remote areas. Spare bedrooms, basements, uninhabited living rooms all qualify as "remote" areas to a puppy or improperly house trained dog. Punishment simply may compel a dog to become more private about "business." It also on occasion causes more deliberate "direct hits," when dogs figure out that owners punish in response to elimination. Some dogs, when left home alone, begin to leave loud and clear statements in surprising locations, such as on pillows, in shoes and even on kitchen tables! These are not acts of spite, but dropped gauntlets (sort of!). Dogs learn that absent owners return to punish; dogs conclude it is their act bringing the owner home. These same dogs are reluctant to eliminate in front of frustrated owners outside; they know what elimination causes—punishment!

7. Remove the dog before cleaning up messes (because another potential cause-and-effect conclusion may be drawn by your dog!). Still take the dog that has had an accident out at the scheduled time, but don't expect it to go, since it recently did.

8. Don't reward outside eliminations with treats or excessive praise; it may feel compelled to thrill you inside as well!

9. Confine the dog in a crate when you are not home, are unable to supervise and at night. Try moving the crate (or invest in a second one) into your bedroom at night to give your dog more company. Neither "solitary" nor "confinement" are concepts natural to canines.

10. Allow inside freedom immediately following successful "business" trips; after about 20 minutes begin to supervise or limit a young puppy's activities. Bring the empty dog into each room of the house to introduce it as an inhabited territory, not a toilet area! If your dog enjoys walks or freedom in your fenced yard, use these as positive reinforcers for outside elimination behavior. If these fun things begin only after elimination occurs in the allotted time and location, your dog will have more incentive to hurry up and get down to business!

11. Do not trust a dog's housetraining out of its crate or when no one is home until at least six accident-free weeks have passed. If backsliding occurs, resume a strict program for at least four weeks before beginning to leave the dog unattended.

12. Enroll in an obedience training program to help direct your dog's energy into positive-attention-earning outlets. This will help to reduce any deliberate, negative-attention-seeking aspects of elimination behavior problems.

13. Try to be patient! The three most important concepts are schedule, supervision and success.

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