Dogs may soil in inappropriate locations because of inadequate or insufficient training, as a marking behavior, or as a result of fear or anxiety. However, pain, sensory decline, cerebrocortical disease including cognitive dysfunction, or any medical condition that leads to increased volume, more frequent elimination, pain on elimination, or lack of control, must first be excluded as potential causes or contributing factors.
A detailed behavioral history is necessary to determine whether the dog has ever been housetrained. If not, a housetraining regimen should be reviewed in which the focus is solely on reinforcement of elimination in desirable locations rather than punishment of elimination in inappropriate locations. This requires the owner to accompany the dog to its elimination area (eg, outdoors), reinforce elimination, supervise the dog indoors to prevent or interrupt any attempts at elimination (perhaps with the aid of a leash to ensure continuous supervision), and return the dog to its elimination site at appropriate intervals or if there are signs that the dog is ready to eliminate (eg, sniffing, heading to the door, sneaking away). When the owner is not able to supervise, a combination of scheduling (ensuring that the dog eliminates before departure and having someone return to take the dog to its elimination area before it must eliminate) and confinement training/prevention are required.
Dogs can either be confined away from areas where they might eliminate or kept in an area where they will not eliminate, such as a pen, room, or crate, where the dog eats, plays, or sleeps. Alternatively, the dog can be provided with an indoor elimination area (eg, paper, indoor puppy potty) within its confinement area where it can relieve itself when the owner is gone. Puppies obtained from pet stores or any location where they have been extensively caged may be more difficult to housetrain, because they have never had to inhibit elimination and may have learned to play with or eat feces.
Research Cited – Merck Vet Manual