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He's an 8-month old Chihuahua. We got him when he was 3 months old. Let me preface that I live in Japan. I've lived my entire adult life here, and have no experience with this kind of stuff at all in my home country. Not sure if that matters or not, I would guess that dog training is pretty much the same everywhere...

My wife and I work full time, and are generally gone from 8:00am to 7:00pm, weekdays. When we talked about getting a dog, I felt like we wouldn't be home enough to properly take care of him, but I quickly learned that that's just the norm here, especially as the Japanese have a tendency to overwork (I have one friend who doesn't get home until midnight, every single day). Not sure how it is back home in America.

When we got him, we sat down with a dog trainer and got all sorts of helpful advice. We kept him in the cage for the first few months when we weren't home, but have started letting him roam around. Between my wife (who has raised another dog on her own, so she has experience) and the advice we got, he has turned out to be such an amazing and well-behaved dog. He doesn't bite, he doesn't whine, or do anything "bad" really. I love him so much, he has truly become my best friend...

...but...

he pees and poops in random places sometimes! Given the situation that he is home alone for much of the day on weekdays, going inside is inevitable. So we trained him to use pee pads, and he's actually very good about using them. When we come home there will be a couple of pees across the pads and a poopy, but almost every time I come home, there will also be one random pee somewhere. And just recently, he started lifting his leg, so sometimes the random pee is starting to get on the wall or the side of the sofa.

Question 1: Given the situation where we can't watch him all day every day, how can we use our time at home with him to teach him that it's not okay to pee anywhere outside the pee pad? He's so good and he makes it like 80-90% of the time. I feel now in retrospect maybe we let him start roaming free a little too early, since he was doing such a good job. After he's had so much freedom, I don't feel right locking him away in the cage all day. Of course if that's "correct" I will, but I haven't tried that yet.

Question 2: Is there anything I can do to make the place more enjoyable for him while we're gone? For one I think I'm gonna get a light that turns on when the sun goes down, so he doesn't have to spend any time in the dark. Also, I read about 10 different things about dogs and watching TV, and basically got about 10 different answers. Would leaving the TV on be of any worth? I thought taking him around the building in the morning or something might be nice for him, but he's the strangest dog sometimes: he absolutely hates going outside, and hates walking.
 

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Can you gate him in the kitchen? Keep his pee pad, water, his bed and a few toys in there. It will keep him from peeing anywhere he isn't supposed to. I'm not a fan of crating a dog for hours on end if there is an alternative way of keeping the dog contained and away from harm.

Walking him is a must. He needs to meet other people and other dogs. Pepper will run the other way when I go to take him out, so I pick him up and put his harness on, and then he's running out the door. I don't know why he's hesitant, but once he's leashed he can't wait to go out.

Toys - get a Kong and fill it will peanut butter or something equally as yummy. Also hide treats in toys. This will keep him engaged even when you're not there.

TV - I always leave the TV on when I go out. I think the noise keeps him calm and partially blocks any strange outside noises that might scare him.

When I leave the house, I have a routine set and Pepper is at the point where he'll just go lay down and start to nap before I've walked out the door. Dogs thrive on routine.
 

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I always leave the radio on (classical station) for Biscuit. I think she finds it soothing and it blocks out some outside noise, especially if I leave the window open. Uses less electricity than the TV.

I know some people (such as PP) don't like crating, but it works great for a lot of dogs. Biscuit goes right in her crate when she knows I'm getting ready to leave, and goes right to sleep. When we come home, she seems relaxed and happy and has obviously spent her day napping and chewing on her toys. By contrast, if we leave her out, she seems stressed and we can hear her whining and jumping aroung from outside. I think for some dogs, crate=safe cave, whereas being left out in the house means they're responsible for guarding the whole house. My dog doesn't need that responsibility, so we crate her. I do think you should confine your dog, either with a pen or in a crate, until he is reliably housebroken. Otherwise you're just letting him rehearse his lack of housetraining every single day - not productive.

Do you have a dog walker? If that's an option, I highly recommend it. It really helps with housetraining and breaks up the day. We have the dog walker give Biscuit a frozen stuffed Kong after her walk every day. It's her fun afternoon snacktivity.
 
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