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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all. I just joined these forums because I could use some advice from more experienced dog owners. I've been around and owned dogs all my life. I have just never been the one there to train them when they are a puppy. Me and my fiancé bought a purebred male Australian Shepherd from an AKC breeder and he is amazing. Named him Comet. Very cute and playful, I can see he has good watchdog instincts and he is smart as a whip. He was able to do paw and sit by 9-10 weeks. He is around 14-15 weeks now and he has been great except for one thing.

He has it in his head to potty in the back guest bedroom. Someone who stayed here for some time had a dog that slept in there with her and the dog was female and not fixed and I know she had gone in there a few times. The carpets have since been steam cleaned but perhaps he can still pick up her scent? My other theory is it's because of our senior cat, Clyde. Comet is crazy about Clyde and always wants to follow him, play and know what he's up to. That is until Clyde bops him. I monitored it close for first few weeks and now its clear the cat punches at him half out of play half out of irritation, not using his claws so much anymore thankfully. Anyways, that room is where the cat box is and he often goes within a couple feet of it.

For the last several weeks it was bad. I would have him outside for an hour or more but at times I would be working in my shop. After so much time I would assume he went outside and would take him back in. And sure enough, he would instantly run back to that room and go. I then realized I need to take him out every hour or two but especially after eating, drinking or waking up. I carry treats with me as to reward him when he goes outside. Finally now weeks later I have got him to the point where he understands going potty outside is good. However, he still always believes its just fine to go in the back room. I don't like to keep the door closed because for whatever reason that is where the air intake is for the central air. I am hoping someone can advise me on how to best proceed or just any advice at all is much appreciated. Sorry for being so verbose, wanted to kind of introduce myself and the pup being my first post. Thanks.
 

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With potty training, it's very common for dogs and puppies alike to learn "this specific indoor space is not for pottying" rather than "all indoor spaces are not for pottying", and will think it's okay to potty in areas they don't frequently spend time in, like guest rooms, basements, hotel rooms, your MiL's living room, etc. It's why people often advise to give even adult dogs a potty training refresher with lots of trips outside and rewards for going in appropriate places after a move. I suspect your pup just doesn't see your guest room as part of the 'no-potty zone' and the smell of other animal waste from the litterbox doesn't help.

The quick and easy fix would be getting a baby gate so you can leave the door open but the pup can't go in. They sell ones with pet doors for smaller pets so that your cat could walk in and out but your dog couldn't fit through (or won't be able to as an adult). This will prevent the behavior, and give your pup time to learn that all indoor spaces are off-limits, and also mean that your dog never has a chance to learn that cat poop is delicious and your cat can feel secure that they can always use the litterbox in peace (a curious puppy bothering the cat while it's trying to eliminate is a good way to get a stressed cat going outside the box).

The other option would be to spend time in that room with the pup, and be really on top of potty training. Outside every 15-30 minutes, lots of praise for outdoor pottying, etc. so that your boy learns that the room has the same rules as the rest of the house. Remember to always use a specific pet mess cleaner with enzymes for any accidents, as these are the best way to break down those smells to the point where even a dog's nose can't smell them anymore. You can't do much about the litterbox smell, but eliminating any lingering dog urine odor is an improvement.

It's also worth knowing that puppies are VERY distracted by the outdoors, and sometimes totally forget to potty if they're out wandering and doing things in a wide area like a yard/garden. Sometimes you have to hook up that leash and take them to a boring spot and wait until they realize they have to go, and then it's extra rewarding when you throw them a potty party and let them off-leash to run around free again. Definitely keep up with rewarding immediately every time he potties outside so you really cement the idea that peeing outdoors is way better than peeing indoors, and give it time! Puppies don't have full physical and mental control of their facilities until about six months (some sooner, some later), meaning that like toddlers they often don't know they have to go until they have to go Right Now, and have really limited ability to hold it, so sometimes it helps to understand that, no matter how good your puppy is doing with potty training, they still are babies and have a lot of learning, growing, and developing to do before everything falls into place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you very much for the thoughful response. Very helpful information. My biggest worry and main reason for posting is that I am worried he will have it stuck in his head forever to go inside or he will just always be problematic when it comes to potty habits but you explaining that he is still basically a toddler and as long as I keep taking steps to improve the situation and stay on top of it, there is a good chance things will work out. Thanks!
 

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You'll get there! I totally understand the feeling of 'will things always be like this' - getting a puppy is a huge change to a household, especially when it's your first, and there's always more challenges than we think there will be. But so long as you're consistent and clear about the rules, your pup will learn to make good choices as they become more mature and physically capable of controlling their impulses and bodily functions.
 
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