Teaching a dog the appropriate place to do his or her
business is a skill that will pay off for the rest of your life together.
Here are a few rules to live by and your dog or pup will be potty trained in no
Manage the environment.
Your dog needs to be
crated or attached to you with a leash to prevent accidents. If you allow
your new puppy to have free run of your whole home, it is too easy for you to
look away for one second and miss an accident. Get it out of your mind
that your dog knows he or she did a bad thing because you see a guilty look.
Your dog is simply responding to your tense body language. You have the
rest of your dog’s life to give all the freedom in the world. Prevent
accidents now by keeping your dog in the crate or leashed to you when you are
not engaging in play or training, you will be thankful for years to come.
This may mean that your dog is in the crate for two hour intervals and only
comes out for training, socialization, walks, meals and play. That is ok,
you are preventing accidents and teaching your dog to settle down in your busy
home. Once you have a week with no accidents at all, you can slowly
increase freedom in the home. Just make sure your dog’s bladder is empty when
you do so and keep your dog in your sight the entire time. Too much, too
soon can cause accidents.
Assign a spot and take your dog there on a consistent
If the dog is new in your home or a puppy, that needs to be
every hour or two (even in the middle of the night). You need to
physically walk with your dog to the potty pad, spot in your back yard or
designated potty spot on leash walks. It needs to be the same exact spot
every single time. If your dog potties there once, it does not mean you
have potty training success. It is important to continue to walk with your
dog to make sure business happens and to praise and treat for successful
urination and defecation in the appropriate place. If your dog does not
potty within 10 minutes, go back inside and crate or leash your dog to
you. When business does not occur outside, it is very easy for an accident
to happen. If you do not go with your dog, you have no idea if he or she
did their business. Make sure to praise and treat on the pad or spot
outside. Do not wait until your dog comes in the house or is in another room.
If your dog has lived in your home and had accidents for
an extended amount of time, your job is more difficult.
In your dog’s
mind, your home is an absolutely fine place to do his or her business. Many dogs
learn where they are supposed to go pretty quickly (pad, favorite tree, bush,
etc.) but do need more help understanding that the rug or corner are not
acceptable places to go. It is just as critical that you clean, confine
and generously reward for action on the potty spot. If you have done any
scolding for inside accidents, you may find your dog is timid to do his or her
business while you are there. I find that sitting, kneeling or pretending
to look away can take the pressure off enough to make your dog more comfortable
to do his or her business. I have met a few dogs who refuse for a day or more to
do their business in front of their guardian because of previous scolding.
Be patient, wait near the spot and limit indoor freedom. Once you FINALLY have
action, reward it generously. Stand with your dog for 10-15 minutes and
crate or confine, try the next hour. Repeat, repeat, repeat and do not get
frustrated, it can hinder the potty process.
Make sure you clean hard surfaces thoroughly with an enzyme
cleaner designed specifically for pet odors in
every space your dog has
had an accident. Do not use ammonia, it actually attracts peeing.
Dogs have a phenomenal sense of smell so
scrub, shine and scrub
again to make sure there are no traces of urination or defecation
smell. All rugs should be steamed cleaned, it is the only way to
completely remove all scent. If you catch your dog in the act, a simple
‘ack’ might stop it and then take your dog to the potty spot, reward. If it
happens when you are not there, simply clean it up. Scolding a dog after the
fact does not prevent the accidents but will damage your relationship and can
cause your dog to find spots away from you to do his or her business. Again, the
rule is to limit freedom temporarily to assure your dog knows your living
room is not a urinal. You backslide in your training every single time your dog
has an accident. If the above seems daunting, think of all the frustration, time
and cleaning bills you will save if you stick to a plan.