Rubbing a Dog’s Nose in Pee Does Not Work

Instead of cruelly rubbing your puppy’s nose in urine to house-train him, consider these alternative methods.

Avoid indoor accidents by being aware of your puppy’s water-drinking habits. By: philhearing
Avoid indoor accidents by being aware of your puppy’s water-drinking habits. By: philhearing

The thought of someone rubbing a dog’s nose in pee makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I can’t understand why someone would actually think this is an acceptable way to house-train a puppy.

It is definitely not acceptable, and the experts agree with me on this.

According to the American Humane Association, you should “never rub a dog’s nose in urine or feces, or punish a dog for an ‘accident.’ This will teach your dog to fear you, and he may hide when he has to ‘go.’”

“It’s way too late” when there is already pee on the floor,” agrees professional dog trainer Lisa Patrona, Dip. CBST, CPDT-KA, ACDBC. It “really constitutes abuse, since there is no way for your dog to understand why you’re acting the way you are toward him, much less what on Earth you’re so upset about.”

Now let’s take a look at some house-training methods that do work.

Tips on House-Training a Puppy

First, realize that house-training takes patience and consistency. Rewarding proper behavior will work much better than punishing a puppy for having an accident.

Some people don’t realize that the length of time that it takes to house-train strictly depends upon the dedication of you and your family. Canines can’t house-train themselves, so unless you’re steadfast in getting the pup outdoors when he has to pee, there will be accidents.

Listen for the Whine

A puppy’s first cry must be heard and acted on by his human family. The initial whine means that the puppy needs to go outside to pee or poop.

It is essential to his training that you immediately get him outside to do his business. When he urinates or defecates, give tons of praise. He will soon learn that handling his bowels or bladder outdoors is a fantastic thing.

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Don’t Withhold Water From a Thirsty Puppy

A pet’s brand-new family may not realize that a puppy needs to go outside to pee shortly after drinking water. Fluid moves quickly through a young puppy’s system, especially if he runs around your house afterward.

It’s never wise nor is it healthy to withhold water from growing puppy simply to decrease the amount of urine that he produces. Watch for the signs and listen for his yip if you hope to get him housebroken quickly.

Watch this video for more tips on how to house-train a puppy using a crate: 

Clean Up Accidents Quickly and Thoroughly

This is a big one that often goes ignored.

Dogs have a super-keen sense of smell. When they smell urine in a particular place — say, on your carpet — they will immediately go to that spot and cover it up with fresh pee. This can be avoided with a thorough cleaning.

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Urine accidents that happen on hard surfaces, such as ceramic tile, concrete floors or linoleum, are easy to handle: 

  • Absorb the urine with plenty of paper towels.
  • Mix up a bucket of bleach and hot water.
  • Scrub the soiled area with the mixture to eliminate any residual odor the puppy may pick up.

The better you are at cleaning these dirtied areas, the less likely your pooch is to have additional accidents.

Crate-Training Your Dog

One of the best tools that a pet’s family should invest in is an airline crate.

Dogs are generally clean animals and do not like to pee or poop where they sleep. Puppies that have been housebroken by using the crate training method are less likely to have accidents in the house, unless they have underlying health problems.

Consider crate training to keep your home free of the smell of urine.

Roseann Lahey

View posts by Roseann Lahey
Roseann Lahey has been researching and writing about pet care and behaviors for many years.

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  1. Coolaroo
    January 12, 2012

    Great tips for potty training your dog. I hate hearing about how people put their dog’s nose in their pee — as if you would want someone doing that to you. I have found that taking your dog out right after it eats or drinks works pretty well. Dogs are easily trained if you give them a little time.

  2. Guest
    March 26, 2012

    Sounds strange that you would suggest to put the dog in a crate after comparing it to a child. After your child has an accident in his or her pants do you put them in a crate?

  3. Draudi_87
    December 15, 2012

    Number 1: you are absolutely correct about crate training over nose rubbed in pee and poop. How foul!
    Number 2: To the idiot who asked would you put your child in the crate? Listen smart one..dogs are not children. BUT metaphorically their diaper is their crate!

    1. LostGen
      September 18, 2013

      But a diaper doesn’t isolate nor confine the child. Crates are barbaric.

  4. guest
    March 02, 2014

    Sorry I totally disagree about rubbing their nose in their pee. You cannot compare a dog to a child for one area and not another. And different breeds of dogs are smarter than others so different theories will work and some will not. They will eventually get the hint that they don’t want their nose rubbed in the pee and that by going outside they get a party and a treat. Just because you post something on the Internet doesn’t make you an authority on it.

    1. Pets Adviser
      March 02, 2014

      So you don’t think it’s just a little bit cruel to rub a dog’s nose in urine?

    2. Guest
      July 01, 2014

      I agree with this guest. Although I agree with most of the author’s advice on “proper” training as well, rubbing a dogs nose in the urine spot or getting it close while scolding does drive the point home not to pee on the floor. Dogs are NOT children; they are loving animals who one should not abuse, but they are NOT children… they are pack animals. You are the pack alpha; act like it. Teach the dog with punishment and reward fairly and you’ll always have a friend. Many will say this can be cruel…. I disagree… I think letting a dog behave inappropriately is cruel because either the owner will give up on it and send it to a shelter or your alpha dog will not obey in a matter of life and death; such as running toward traffic. (I have personally seen this and it took half a year to retrain the animal) A crate is an interesting concept to me.. I see both sides… I’ve never crate trained and have never needed to… I’ve seen many dogs that love their crates once they’re used to them though. I’ll leave it at that… To sum it up… most dogs are wonderful love machines that would like to please and if you simply scold them that will be enough. Show restraint and don’t beat an animal, but if you feel it’s necessary to rub the dogs nose in it’s pee then it does teach a lesson even in the 21st Century. Just try to be fair about the process and understand when it’s your fault for not watching for the dog at the door or getting home two hours late. That’s my two cents.

  5. Kyle Paul
    June 09, 2014

    simply not doing this, i am not given any advice for that!

  6. honeyhawk830
    March 01, 2016

    It’s so funny…I’ve heard people say they swear by rubbing their nose in it, but every single trainer/behaviorist/vet says it doesn’t work, and that it’s “cruel” or “inhumane”, etc. Then why do so many people claim it works? Very confusing. I have a 15 week old puppy and I’m at my wits end with her peeing in my house. Unless I take this dog out every half hour, it’s inevitable that she’ll have an accident at some point during the day. And while we’re told not to leave a dog in a crate all day, at the same time we’re told crate training is a good way to potty train a dog. Well, if that’s the case, my puppy would need to be in her crate all day—which, again, we’re told not to do. All of this advice is so confusing. She sometimes “whines” now when she has to go, like the article described, so at least I know we’re making some progress. But sometimes we’ll be outside, she’ll pee, then a few minutes later, she pees again in the kitchen! It baffles me. I guess like children, all dogs are individuals, and what works with one dog may not work with another. I have 2 kids and before I had kids, I believed it’s all in “how you raise them”. I found out that there’s a lot more “nature” than “nurture” involved in raising children then I ever thought. Raised in the same home, and they’re so different. Amazing. And so I guess the same can be said for dogs. It may be mainly how you raise them, but I definitely believe there’s a “nature” component involved, too. My dog is a mixed breed, so figuring out what drives her nature is difficult. I just did a DNA test, though, so I’m waiting for those results. I’m hoping finding out what breeds she is will give me some insight into what I’m dealing with in terms of her temperament. But back to rubbing their nose in it…I’d imagine the people who caution against this are the same people who are very against spanking children, too. And, again, from personal experience, I can tell you that spanking works with some kids, and not with others. I really think it’s a nature vs. nurture issue.

    1. Melissa Smith
      March 01, 2016

      Hi honeyhawk! From what I understand, trainers advise not to rub noses in pee because unless it is literally in the moment, the dog won’t understand why she’s getting her nose rubbed in pee. I understand your frustration very well! A couple of things that I might try if I were you:

      Making sure there is enough water for her, but not too much. That’s a great question for your vet!
      Seeing if the urination is triggered by something — like does the furnace kick on and it scares her? That kind of thing.
      And of course, checking with the vet to make sure there is nothing medical happening, like a bladder infection.

      Good luck, I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!

  7. OldBut YoungMoney
    January 28, 2017

    I hit my dog and made him smell his own feces. He stopped pooping in the house after 3 weeks and he even tells me when he has to take a dumb by going to the door and barking; it’s great. That was 3 years ago and he still does it (let me know). Also, now that he knows. I haven’t had to put his nose in his own poop since then. Maybe once or twice since then but the days of hitting and making him smell things died the first year of his life really.

  8. Daniel Preciado Carpio
    November 30, 2017

    terrible beginning of the article. If I am looking for adivce on this subject the last thing I need is someone scoling me for rubbing my pet’s nose on his urine. I’ve done it sometimes and it does work. Not as much as balancing food/water he has along the day. Teaching him a word to relate his evacuations is imperative

    1. Melissa Smith
      December 01, 2017

      I absolutely agree that training a command for elimination is a fantastic method – but I don’t agree with the rubbing nose in urine part, simply because dogs won’t understand why it’s bad and what they did wrong, especially if it’s not caught right in the act – and if caught in the act my action is to scoop up the pup and zip outside with them.

  9. steve slater
    February 14, 2018

    BLEACH? BLEACH to scrub the area & get rid of the smell? Ridiculous. Bleach reacts with the urine & makes the smell more attractive to your dog & is likely to make the dog pee in the same spot again.
    I can’t believe there’s people suggesting that you limit/control the dogs water intake? It’s a legal requiremenrt that dogs have constant access to water.

    1. Melissa Smith
      February 16, 2018

      Hi Steve – I’m unaware of said legal requirement that dogs are always given access to water. When I had my Shepherd, she had a condition called mega-esophagus, in which the esophagus did not function properly. She was on a liquid diet and I had to hand feed her at an angle to ensure gravity pulled her meal to her stomach, rather than her lungs. Had I left her access to water, she would have contracted aspiration pneumonia and died. Some dogs do require monitored food and water access.

  10. NoRightToNotBeOffended
    June 29, 2018

    After 3 months of trying the “Experts” way, I went old school. 2 times and never happened again. Experts my @$$.

  11. Lauren 2
    July 20, 2018

    The whole thing about not remembering 5 minutes later is bullshit. My adult dog will do something he’s not supposed to do (not pee in the house because he knows better), but take something off the couch, etc. and when I get home he immediately goes off to his bed, lays down, and looks at me, instead of trying to greet me because he STILL KNOWS he did something bad…. so. And my puppy learned the same way, tried to “hide” it a few times but since you’re supposed to watch your puppy like a hawk when they’re puppies there was no hiding it. Three times I stuck his nose in his pee, popped him on the butt, took him out. Boom, house trained AND a loving, happy dog that knows that pottying in the house is bad. I feel like these people saying this are the same people who are ruining children, by NO discipline. And, with all the comments about “I wouldn’t do it to my child” IT IS A DOG, not a human. It’s an ANIMAL first. Rubbing his nose in it is NOT abuse, just like smacking your kids is NOT abuse. Get it together.


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