We have an upstairs & downstairs and Dear Dog (9 months) has a doggy door off the kitchen, which he uses 90% of the time. Except when he's upstairs. Overnight. He seems to find it much easier to just poo and pee wherever he sees fit!
What is more annoying is that he recently went to a dog sitter for 2 weeks when we were on holiday, and only had 2 accidents during that time, and they don't have a doggy door! He slept in their bed upstairs and held it in til morning!
Getting slightly annoyed now when I get up in the morning and here we go again. Where am I going wrong?! He knows I am cross with him, and he knows where he should be going! When he does the right thing he gets lots of praise and a biscuit etc.
First, what are you using to clean up the messes he makes upstairs? It needs to be proper biological cleaner such as Simple Solution (most pet shops sell it) and you need to remove as much waste matter as you possibly can, then thoroughly douse the area with the cleaning liquid, leave and blot off the excess.
Second, have you ever shown him the route to his dog-door from upstairs? It sounds daft I know, but somehow he has fundmentally not learned where he needs to go when he's upstairs - it's actually quite a common problem, especially in breeds that have to be carried up and downstairs when they are young and being toilet trained. They need to actually do the route from upstairs to the garden and be consistently rewarded for going in the right place, to make the right connections.
Does the dog sitter have other dogs? If so he could well have followed their lead on toileting at night, hence the difference in his behaviour.
I'd give the upstairs a thorough clean, then go back to basics on upstairs toilet training, consistently taking him out at regular intervals - leading, not carrying him - so that he can make the necessary connections.
The other thing is that all he knows is that you are cross - not what you're cross with him for. He won't associate your anger with the mess he left earlier on, all he will be thinking is that you are often cross with him when you're upstairs together and that could be producing anxiety that's making the toileting problem worse.
Thanks so much for these tips. It's literally just the 3am poo/wee and I think he does know the route as he does it in the daytime but maybe when it is dark he loses his direction though I've tried leaving lights on etc!
Thanks for the tips on cleaning products, had no idea about that.
I think we'll do some practicing of route plans from upstairs in the daytime and see how we go
Does he actually use that route to toilet in the daytime or just to go outside. Dogs can be surprisingly rigid in what they thinks happens where and when and he's still very young to have generalised the route to equal going outside to toilet at night.
If you haven't been using bio cleaner that will be a huge part of the battle, as he will be able to smell where he's been before, even if you can't and even if you've used antibacterial cleaner or even bleach. The biocide breaks down all the biological matter so there's nothing left to smell. If you can't get hold of any Simple Solution or similar pet bio cleaner quick enough, you can use a strong solution of biological washing liquid as a stop-gap.
It may also be that the sitter let him on her bed which became his bed and dogs are, generally, reluctant to soil their beds. Have you tried restricting his access overnight (crate, small space)? It may be that he has too much space and can establish a sleeping area and a toilet area.
I suggest that as you know when he is doing it, you set an alarm for 15 mins or so before and get up to take him out in the night before he messes. This way he will understand that he must get up and go out at night as well. If you want him to be clean all night you can start setting the alarm back I half hour intervals and in a week or two he should be trained to wait until the morning.
During the day he is in the kitchen (2 rooms) with doggy door leading to outside, more of a yard really. He has a good walk in the morning before we leave for work, no accidents all day. We are then home at 3pm and he's free to roam the whole house though is mostly downstairs as we are downstairs.
I am now thinking maybe he doesn't actually ever go from upstairs to outside to pee - now that I think about it.
I'll pick up the cleaner today, and try being upstairs when we get home but doing lots of practise runs. And you are right, the dog sitter had other dogs!