View Full Version : Can an outside farm dog come inside?

Nov. 29, 2009, 02:50 PM
Okay, I hope this is farm-related enough...I actually asked it on a general pets forum already and got nothing but flames for having an outside dog (which doesn't even make sense as you will see) and a few "well, I don't know but I don't see why not..." responses, neither of which are particularly helpful.

Anyway, we had a sort-of stray blue heeler come over awhile back. She actually belonged to our neighbors who have about 12 dogs, and she was getting beaten up all the time. After one particularly bad dogfight she came and started hiding under a trailer. We watched her for 3 days and talked to the neighbors and realized she had not had anything to eat, so since we liked her we decided to start feeding her, knowing that she would probably become our dog if we did so. We have the neighbors' blessing in this.

Anyway, she's about 8 years old and while she had been allowed inside sometimes she had been primarily an outside dog. She does pretty good inside but she has had a few "accidents"--always peeing. She won't tell us she needs to go out, which is okay as my other 2 dogs never do either. I let them all outside pretty frequently on days when they're not outside all day anyway, and my other 2 do fine, never an accident in the house.

Well the reason I'm posting this is that this weekend is kind of the last straw. She's been living with us for about 2 months now and she's had probably 5 accidents (not including the ones this weekend). This weekend though the weather is bad plus I'm sick with the flu so I have just been letting the dogs out, not doing anything outside. Last night she peed on her dog bed and this morning she hopped up onto my bed and started peeing on it, even though she had been outside doing morning chores with me not an hour beforehand.

I can't leave my boys outside unattended for very long as they will wander too far for my comfort, and if I put her outside for longer by herself she will just sit outside and bark at the door. Even if I wait until she's quiet for awhile I don't think she leaves it as she's always literally leaning against it when I open it. She is one of those dogs who never leaves the property (except if we go on a walk or trail ride or whatever, then she follows us).

I usually catch her in the act and treat her like a puppy--I tell her "no" and take her outside and wait for her to go, then praise her, which is how I housetrained my other 2 heelers and they had it down within a week or so. She just doesn't seem to be getting the message. My SO and I are beginning to wonder if perhaps she's just too used to being an outside farm dog and should keep that lifestyle, but she seems very happy to come inside. Has anyone else had an older outside dog come inside? Any tips for the transition, or specific tips for our situation would be greatly appreciated.

Nov. 29, 2009, 03:04 PM
How about putting a dog flap in the door so that she can go in and out as she pleases? Do you have a mud/boot room? I think if I was trying to integrate an outside dog to living inside I would do it primarily with limited access to inside - sort of a half way house type of affair. Once the dog is familiar with taking itself outside to do the toilet and then coming into your boot/mud room to sleep, she should become accustomed to refrain from relieving herself indoors. Then when she is clean in her room 100% of the time, you can allow her more and more access indoors but still leave her dog flap available to her so she can go out whenever she needs to.

Best of luck. :)

Nov. 29, 2009, 03:09 PM
Dogs will urinate on furniture and beds when they are stressed out.

The dog also may have a urinary tract infection.

Older females can have incontinence, and the solution to that is Proin.

Outside dogs can come right inside and they usually are the ones who do not want to urinate in the house. So I suggest taking the dog to the vet to find out what is wrong. Sometimes it is just stress and nerves and they get over it and settle in.

Good of yoou to take the dog in, now just figure out why you are having this problem. Perhaps some tranquilizers till the dog calms down and settles in?

Nov. 29, 2009, 03:15 PM
CloudyandCallie does have a point there. My dogs are all outside dogs (and they are bitches too) and my experience is that outside dogs, particularly bitches, are far less likely to mark their territory than dogs, so you may want to have her checked out to make sure nothing is wrong.

Has she been spayed? Spayed bitches have a higher incidence-rate of being incontinent than unspayed females whereby they don't know that they need to go, until they do, hence they have accidents.

Hampton Bay
Nov. 29, 2009, 03:18 PM
I have not had to potty train an older dog, but I have done my share of puppies. Generally with the puppies, they need to be taught to let you know they need to go out. We have had a lot of success with bells on the doorknob. You hang some big bells from the door, and you ring them .EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. you let them out the door. Encourage the dog to ring the bells with her nose. Then every time she rings them, you let her out. Even if she doesn't have to go potty, you let her out. She will learn that ringing the bells means that she can go outside.

I also agree with the idea to keep her confined a bit, especially if you cannot supervise her. A large bathroom is good because it's easy to clean up a tile or vinyl floor. Mud rooms are good too. You can also buy a large dog crate and put a comfy bed and some toys in it. Dogs will find ways to get in trouble if given too much space in the house when they are first getting used to being inside.

I have never had a pet door. I have considered putting one in my current house, but we have too many wild and stray things around here. So no input on that idea.

You also might want to take her to a vet for a urine test. If she is peeing too frequently, she may have a bladder infection. If that is the case, no amount of training will fix the issue. My big dog had one this summer after staying alone in the large kitchen while we were out of town. Of course she was still allowed in and out, but just holding it for a while, and probably not drinking as much as a result, caused a bladder infection. When I noticed that she was peeing inside in a manner not consistent with her normal behavior, we took her to the vet. A couple days after starting the antibiotics and she was back to normal.

I really do think that most dogs can be housebroken, regardless of age, as long as they don't have any underlying medical issues. You just have to be consistent and find a way to help them alert you to their needs.

Nov. 29, 2009, 03:22 PM
She has never been house trained, so I would treat her like a puppy and crate train her. Most dogs will not soil their crates, so put her in there for increasing amounts of time to allow her bladder to become accustomed to holding it. When you let her out of the crate put her outside immediately, ignore until she goes - then praise.

If she happens to be one of those rare dogs that will urinate in her crate, then I'm not sure what I'd do.

This is all supposing she does not have a physical problem (bladder infection for instance) in which she cannot control her urination.

Thanks for taking her on, you obviously are good people.

Nov. 29, 2009, 03:23 PM
My last adoptee had been a mostly-outside farm dog her entire life when she ended up with us. She was around 11 when we adopted her. It certainly is possible, but you have to take her right back to basics, just like she was an 8-week old puppy. People have a tendency to believe that an older dog should know how to behave just because they aren't puppies (not directing this towards you, this is a general observation)- much like many people expect a grown horse to know how to lead, etc because they aren't foals. Take her right back to the beginning and I bet she will be fine.

First thing should be a trip to the vet to check for a UTI or the like- peeing on the bed could have been excitement, but peeing on the bed isn't really a normal behavior even for a dog who isn't house trained. Females tend to seek out a surface similar to what they are used to peeing on- so carpet might substitute for grass, etc. Rule out a medical inability to 'hold it' first.

It doesn't sound like she is a good candidate for crate training, so perhaps there is a room you can dedicate to her- the kitchen maybe? - and treat it like crate training. If she isn't right with you- literally attached, with a leash on your belt loop, in some cases- she is in her room. Take her out every few hours like clockwork. Establish a schedule that works for her and she will start to sort out that she doesn't HAVE to pee on the floor right now, because she is going to be able to go outside at X time. Start with a few hours and gradually extend the time frame. You are on the right track with praising her when she goes outside, but just like with a puppy, make sure she gets separate times outside for 'business' and 'pleasure'. At 11 pm, or whenever you are going to bed, she goes out to pee and then goes back in, not goes out to frolic and romp. Sometimes they get too excited about playtime and forget to get down to business, hence the frequent stories you hear of "I took her out, she didn't go, and then she peed on the floor as SOON as we came back in!"
Designate a spot where you want her to go and take her to that spot every. time. you go out- (maybe two spots if your barn is far from the house) take her to it, use a command of your choice ("Get busy" or the more literal "OK, Pee!" are popular in my house). If she goes, great- take her back to the house attached to you, repeat in four hours. If she doesn't go, take her to her 'room' and try again in twenty minutes or half an hour.

Make sure you use an enzymatic cleaner on any oops spots she makes.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but heelers are smart, smart dogs, and older dogs are quite capable of holding it for several hours. She just needs to have things laid out for her clearly so she can understand what you want from her- I bet she catches on super fast and can transition into a less-rigid farm dog life shortly. Do start with that vet trip though. peeing on the bed isn't normal.

Thanks for looking out for her!

Nov. 29, 2009, 03:36 PM
Have your vet look at her and maybe put her on medication for incontinence.
Seems that she has to go very often, or may not even know she is going at times, like during sleep.

Older dogs tend to have that problem.
You can put dog diapers on her while she is in the house and then you may know if she has a problem where she can't hold it.
Diapers are not a long term solution, because dogs scald easily and that is worse than having to clean a few spots.
Could you confine her to one room in the house, until you can decide if you may get her housebroken or not?

Working at out shelter, when someone gives up an older dog, many times they won't say, unless you keep asking, that the dog is incontinent and they can't live with it any more.
For those, we can try to figure solutions, but most people, by the time they decide to give a dog up, they rarely want to keep trying.:no:

Nov. 29, 2009, 04:07 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions. She should be UTI free as we had a vet check that--she had an infection in one of her wounds from the fight that drove her over here and I took her in for a followup exam about a month ago to make sure everything had cleared up (which it did except she'll probably have a nasty scar :(). At the time she had been licking her belly and genitals a lot (which has stopped) plus had already had a few accidents so we talked about it. He ruled out a UTI but we did not discuss incontinence. Having only ever had old and remarkably healthy male dogs I had never dealt with this, but we will look into it, as well as maybe some chemical help for her stress until she gets settled in. Sometimes I think she does pee a little when she's sleeping, and sometimes she definitely does it while she's awake.

The training tips are good, too. I don't think she's a good candidate for crate training because she gets really upset when she is confined. She is kind of a stressed out dog, which I can't blame her for when you look at how often she was attacked at her old home, the poor girl. I also can't really give her her own room--I live in an effiency-type apartment attached to the barn, so the only room we can separate is the bathroom and that's also the only spot we have for cat food and boxes. The nice thing about that is that she really is always within my sight. I like the suggestion of a vocal command to get her to go, because I do think part of the problem is that she doesn't always go when I let them out because she's used to always having the option, if that makes sense. I think we'll get working on that one.

The nice thing is our floor is all painted concrete and the dog beds are easily washable so the only thing that was difficult to clean was the incident on my bed. That's something at least. :)

Ben and Me
Nov. 29, 2009, 04:19 PM
Did the vet do a urine test to rule out a UTI? If not, you may want to drop off a fresh urine sample for them to test. Soiling her bed is not normal, and if she hadn't done that at the time of the first vet appointment, the vet may have not thought her other symptoms pointed to UTI. Since she was just in for a physical exam, the vet may let you drop off a sample without having to bring her in -- call the clinic and ask.

If the urine sample is negative for a UTI, you may want to start her on Proin as others have suggested. It is pretty cheap--a 1-2 month supply was around $25 where I used to work.

Nov. 29, 2009, 05:19 PM
She may have "pelvic bladder" (I have a dog that does), but usually they only pee in their sleep, not when awake, at least not in my experience.

Here is some information on the internet:


Nov. 29, 2009, 07:42 PM
Just to clarify . . . Do you think that she is urinating in her bed while she is asleep or awake?
I had a dog who, as she aged (older than 8), began urinating while she was asleep. Incontinence meds helped with that. If she is urinating while asleep, I would definitely check on that.
If she seems to be urinating a lot, then I would check on getting a urinalysis at your vet's office. That way, if she has a bladder infection, you can treat that.
Otherwise, I would say that she probably can learn housetraining, but it might take longer since she hasn't been taught yet, and she is an older dog. I think it just depends on what you are willing to put into it. I do think that you are doing the right thing by telling her "no," and taking her outside. I would definitely go outside with her when you let her out of the house to go to the bathroom and then back in. If she is food motivated, I would use treats. In the house, I would crate her or tether her to hopefully prevent her from having accidents in the first place. I think that your job is much easier than people who re-train puppy mill dogs who urinate in their crates. Since she's been outside and not confined, I would be surprised if that were a problem (unless it is incontinence-related). Eventually, when she gets more reliable, I would teach her to use the bell or try a dog door. However, I think that you need to really control her in the house first.

Nov. 29, 2009, 07:59 PM
Dogs will urinate on furniture and beds when they are stressed out.

The dog also may have a urinary tract infection.

Older females can have incontinence, and the solution to that is Proin.

Outside dogs can come right inside and they usually are the ones who do not want to urinate in the house. So I suggest taking the dog to the vet to find out what is wrong. Sometimes it is just stress and nerves and they get over it and settle in.

Good of yoou to take the dog in, now just figure out why you are having this problem. Perhaps some tranquilizers till the dog calms down and settles in?

This. Esp. the Proin. It can make an amazing difference and completely cured my 12 old female Setter. It's been over 2 years since she had any accidents at all and she is on half a regular dose.

Also it might be cushings related. At her age either is pretty likely. The good news is both are inexpensive to treat - as is a UTI.

Good luck to all of you!


Dec. 1, 2009, 07:50 AM
We have an older heeler that was a strictly outside dog because she was so difficult to house train. She has slowly over the years migrated back into an inside dog because of, among other issues, the cold was getting hard on her. She now does have incontinence, so she has to be locked in an uncarpeted room at night. She'll get up and leave a spot...not her fault. But, she has ALWAYS gone to the bathroom in the house when not supervised, so we have to be very careful about letting her out alot. We have an older female that no incontinence issues and my lab/heeler cross is well house-trained. This particular dog has always been stubborn about everything, and house-training is just something we could never figure out with her.

So, you may never fix this. You either have to put up with it and monitor her careful when indoors like we do, or keep her an outside dog.

Dec. 1, 2009, 11:03 AM
My Springer Spaniel is almost 12, and she started to have accidents in the house. I had a doggie door put in, and that solved it. She comes and goes as she pleases.