You rush home after work to get your puppy outside to go to the bathroom, but instead, find a home interior that’s been decorated with poop and urine.
The rescue dog that you’ve just adopted has a hard time understanding when and where she should potty because she was never trained properly in the first place.
Potty training a dog can be a frustrating experience, but cleaning up after an untrained dog in your home is worse. Many dog owners aren’t sure where to begin and end up making mistakes that can delay the training process or result in serious behavioral issues in their dog.
Regardless of his age, training your dog to eliminate outside can be trying, but it’s far from impossible. Here are some steps to help you potty train your dog, as well as some actions to avoid.
Teaching your dog to eliminate outdoors is a critical component of dog ownership. Your pup needs to understand what you are asking him to do, and as such, you need to be a clear communicator and teacher. You will need to teach to your dog’s personality and strengths, or else risk serious damage to your dog’s psyche and to the relationship you both have with each other.
Understand that you are working against a dog’s naturally inherent instincts. In the wilderness, dogs and their ancestors go to the bathroom wherever they please. Therefore, it’s up to you to clearly specify to your dog where and when he can eliminate.
Depending on your dog’s age, this training process can take anywhere from a few weeks to six months or so. Be prepared for an occasional accident or two even after your dog has been trained, and understand that sometimes accidents happen!
Aside from keeping your home sanitary and clean and instilling a sense of respect in your dog for your position as leader, potty training your pup will help him avoid an all too common fate for dogs whose owners gave up on potty training them: being surrendered to a shelter.
Potty training can be accomplished successfully, but you need to make sure that you are consistent and clear in what you are asking of your canine.
Here are some essential elements and items that you will need to get started with potty training your dog:
Once you have these items, what’s next? Review your schedule and begin to find consistent time periods to encourage your dog to potty outside. Ideally, right after the dog eats in the morning and the late afternoon and evening would be best. Your dog and his body will quickly associate going outside after dinner is done.
Another key to getting your pup on board with potty training is to choose a command, a particular word or phrase that he will learn to associate with going to the bathroom outside. Consider a phrase such as “Let’s go,” “Good potty,” or “Do your duty.” Once your dog associates this command with your request, he will understand that he is to go potty outdoors.
My dog used to have a doggie door but now doesn't due to cyotes but she now goes inside and I have tried everything I can and I'm at my the point of pulling out my hair
Please help me thanks
Hello Serena, It sounds like Jazzie might be struggling with not alerting you when she needs to go to the bathroom if she used to do fine when she could let herself outside. If that's the case, then you will need to start taking her outside sooner than you typically do so that you do not risk her having accidents in the house when her bladder gets too full. Try to take her outside to go potty one hour sooner than you usually do. Ultimately she needs to learn how to ask to go outside also. I would recommend teaching her how to ring a bell when she needs to go out. To do this, hang a bell by the door that you usually take her outside through. Hang it low enough for it to be at the height of her nose. Every time that you take her outside have her ring the bell on your way out to teach her to associate it with going potty. When she is outside, after having rang the bell on your way out, then tell her "Go Potty" and let her sniff around to find a spot to go in. When she goes, praise her and offer her three treats, one at a time. The treats are to motivate her to ring the bell and eliminate outside rather than inside because she will only get treats while she is outside. It's sort of like she is trading her pee for treats. To teach her how to ring a bell check out these two Wag articles: https://wagwalking.com/training/with-a-bell https://wagwalking.com/training/got-potty-with-a-bell Once you have taught her how to ring the bell when you tell her to ring it or point to it, then simply have her ring it on your way outside every time that you take her out, to teach her to associate it with going outside. Another option would be to train her to use the litter box. If you are gone for a very long time during the day then she probably cannot hold her bladder. If that is the case then no matter what type of training you do, she will always fail because it will be physically impossible for her to succeed. The more accidents that she is forced to have inside, the less potty trained she will become. It's sort of like someone who always fails no matter how hard they try because they cannot control a situation. Eventually that person will give up trying to succeed altogether. To train her how to use a litter box, check out these Wag articles and pick a method to train her: https://wagwalking.com/training/use-a-litter-box https://wagwalking.com/training/use-a-litter-box-1 https://wagwalking.com/training/poop-in-a-litter-box Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We adopted Arlo from a rescue who had seized him from a puppymill. He doesn't seem to understand that potty time is meant for outside. We take him on at least 2 30 minute walks a day (if not longer) and he does not pee or poop while on these walks. We take him outside every 1-2 hours to try and go potty but he comes right back in and will pee or poop outside. He is in a crate when we are not home and has never had an accident in his crate but he has only peed outside for me once and we've had him a little over a month/month and a half. Help please!
Hello Sarah, To teach Arlo to pee and poop outside, spend as many entire days as possible outside with Arlo when the weather is nice. Feed him his meals outside that day, give him plenty of water, play with him, and if it's hot outside make sure that he has shade. Allow him to wander several feet away from you if he acts like he needs to go potty, so that he can eliminate without you right beside him. When he goes at some point during the day then calmly praise him and toss him several treats, large enough for him to find on the ground. Do this every time that he pees or poops outside. If you do not have a fenced in yard then purchase a thirty, forty, or fifty foot leash and attach that to him either on a harness, if he will try to run, or on a collar that he cannot slip out of, if he is calm. The idea is to spend very long periods of time outside, so that he will have to eventually go. It might need to be more than eight hours in a row in order to be successful at first, so set the entire day aside for this and bring things with you outside to do, and perhaps bring chew toys outside for him. Also, whenever you take him outside at other times, use a spray designed to encourage elimination. Spray the spray on the area that you will be taking him to to pee, and allow him to sniff that area that you sprayed when he arrives. Such a spray can often be found in the house breaking or puppy section of most major pet stores. It is usually called "Hurry Spray", "Training Spray", or something similar. You can also try taking him outside on a long leash, since the problem could be a fear of peeing in front of you. If he will pee on the long leash, then when he does so toss large treats over to him as a reward. Overtime, as he is rewarded for eliminating outside and becomes more comfortable, you can gradually decrease the amount of space between you and him when you take him outside to go. When you have him inside, since he will hold it in the crate, do not give him freedom in your home unless he has peed during the past hour. When he begins to pee outside, then you can increase that amount of time by thirty minute increments, as long as he is not having accidents in your home, and when you get to three hours is also alerting you when he needs to go potty. Eventually it might be beneficial to teach him to ring a bell when he needs to go outside, but that will probably need to come after he is comfortable eliminating outside first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We adopted Maggie 12/30/17. She asks out and is used to walking on a leash to go potty. I'm an amputee, so we just fenced in our yard last week. She refuses to go potty in the yard. I've even had the neighbor's dogs come pee in the yard while she was out there & she peed once. She refuses to poop. No matter how bad she has to poop, she refuses to poop in the yard. I've never experienced this with any dog. I even scooped her poop from a walk and put it on the yard for her to smell. No luck. HELP!
Hello Anita, A couple of things might be going on. First, many dogs simply like to go for a walk and they realize that if they hold out that they will get to go for a walk instead. Second, there may be something in the yard that she is afraid of. Third, if the yard is a different surface than what she is used to going potty on during walks, then that can make her avoid going there. Fourth, if she will sometimes pee but just refuses to poop there, then movement may be the issue. 1. If she is holding out to go on a walk instead, then I suggest crating her in the house. Take her out after four hours in the crate, tell her to "Go Potty", and encourage her to sniff around. If she goes, then praise her heavily and give her five treats, one at a time. If she doesn't go, which you will be fighting for at least the first two days that you try this, then take her back inside and put her back into the crate. After an hour in the crate, take her back outside again. Keep her moving through the house when you take her so that she does not stop and have an accident on the way. You can put her on a leash for this if you need to. Repeat the crating and trips into the yard every hour until she goes potty outside. When she goes, then give her two hours of freedom, then put her back into the crate until it has been four hours since she last went. At which time you will then take her outside again and repeat the same process as earlier. When she goes potty when you take her, you need to make a really big party out of it and reward her several times. Praise her genuinely, feed her, and pet her if she likes that. The more times that you are able to catch and reward her for going outside, the more motivated she will be to go quickly in the future. When you do take her for a walk, then have the walk be her reward for going potty beforehand in the yard. Potty in yard =walk. Rather than the other way around. You may need to skip a couple of walks until she will start going potty in the yard. 2. If she seems insecure about being in the yard in general, then spend a lot of time out there just hanging out. Give her fun things to do, like hollow chew toys stuffed with treats, non-splintering bones that are vet approved, and toss larger treats around for her to find. Read a book, bundle up, watch a show on your phone, get settled in. She needs to spend enough time out there doing fun or relaxing things for her to get used to the yard. Only after you have dealt with the fear will she be willing to go potty. Going potty puts her in a vulnerable position so she may be holding it for that reason if she seems nervous while out there. When she starts peeing and pooping there, then also reward her with several treats every time. 3. If the yard is a different type of surface than where she normally goes potty during walks, then create an area in your yard, that's not terribly far away, that is made of the same type of material as the walk area. If you do not want her to go potty on that surface long-term, then once she gets used to going potty in that area, you can gradually make that area smaller and smaller until she is simply going in an area that resembles the rest of the yard. For instance, if she will only go on mulch, then create a thin four-by-four area of mulch. Once she is peeing and pooping on the mulch, then remove the mulch gradually overtime until she is left with the dirt or grass underneath. Also, reward her heavily with treats when she starts going in your yard at all! 4. If she mostly just refuses to poop in the yard, then movement combined with smell might be the issue. Your tactics for dealing with smell are great, continue that whenever the smell fades from before. For the movement, try hiring a dog walker to take her on a walk IN YOUR BACKYARD. The goal is to keep her moving back there. Make sure that you communicate to the walker what your goal is, and request that she walks the entire time even though it will be boring. You don't want a person who simply comes, walks a bit, then sits down outside the rest of the time. That won't work for this. As soon as Maggie goes potty, then have the walkers reward her several times with treats and praise. If there is time left in the scheduled walk appointment, then the walker can take her on a short walk in your neighborhood after she goes potty, to reward her for going in your yard. If she does not go, then no walk. She gets put into the crate instead, and you can take her outside for a normal trip into the yard an hour later. If you are able to do the walking yourself, then you can also do this routine with her. The issue could be more than one of these. The most common scenario is holding out to go for a walk combined with one other factor, like needing the movement in order to go. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I picked up my pup two weeks ago. She is pee pad trained and I want to transition her to go outside. I was told not to do so until she had her third shot. I started outside training today and she went pee outside twice. A trainer at petco said to leave the pee pads out for her to use so she does not have an accident if she has to go in between outside breaks. I feel like this will confuse her. She sleeps in a playpen at night and also will probably need them then. She does not stay in a crate. Was never trained to. Please advice weather I need to remove the pads completely or is it ok to do both until she is totally trained to eliminate outdoors
Hello Madelene, I would suggest removing the Pee Pads. I see a lot of dog training clients with adult small dogs who were started on Pee Pads because of the convenience and when the Pee Pads were removed, they continue to use the bathroom inside because Pee Pads resemble rugs, carpeting, and clothing. Going straight to outdoor only Potty Training is best. If you need a way for her to use the bathroom inside because of long hours away from home, then get a litter box, place it into an Exercise Pen and put her in there at night and when you are gone during the day. When you are at home, attach herself to you with a six or eight-foot leash so that she cannot sneak off to have an accident, and take her outside to go potty every hour. As she improves at letting you know when she needs to go outside and is no longer having accidents, then you can gradually increase the amount of time between potty breaks. Litter Boxes tend to cause less confusion with Potty Training because your house is not full of litter, so they make a better temporary toilet for those who do not intend to use Pee Pads long term. Here is an article on how to litter box train. Use the Exercise Pen method from that article if you end up litter box training and quickly move away from giving her treats for using the litter box. You want to reserve the treats for peeing outside as much as possible. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy The quickest way to Potty Train her though is to take up the Pee Pads, crate train her, and then use the crate on a strict schedule to prevent accidents while she is still learning to only go potty outside. Ultimately you want to get away from her peeing anywhere inside in order for her to truly become Potty Trained. Ideally, you would crate train her and place her into a crate for no longer than four hours during the day while you are gone. When you are at home, take her outside every hour to speed up the process. Dogs have a natural instinct to not pee in a confined space where they eat or sleep. An appropriately sized crate will utilize that instinct, and frequent trips outside will speed up the learning process, especially if you tell her to "Go Potty" when you take her and then give her a couple of small treats when she goes. Check out the article that I have linked below for how to crate train her, reward her when she goes potty, and how often to take her out. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you are at home all day, then you can utilize the "Tethering" method from the article above and crate Peyton less often. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Completely house trained dog has regressed to not wanting to go to the bathroom before bed. We have tried putting him outside for 1/2 hour before bed (secretly watching him) but he just stands at the door, we have stayed outside for an hour walking him to his potty spot without success. However, he will get us up between 1am and 3 am every night to go out. This all stated when we got our puppy and had to take him out in the night for training, he is now 11 month and is completely trained and sleeps through the night. Any help you can offer on how to retrain/reset his behavior would be appreciated. Thank you, Michelle Wall
Hello Michelle, I suggest temporarily going outside with him whenever he needs to go potty during the day and evening, telling him "Go Potty" and when he goes, give him three treats that you bring with you, one at a time (keep the treats close to the door so that you remember). When he will consistently go potty whenever you tell him to "Go Potty" to get his treats, then start sending him from closer and closer to the door, watching him, then rewarding him when he goes potty and returns to you. Rewarding him for going potty and teaching him what the Go Potty command means will help motivate him to go potty whenever you take him - even when he doesn't have to go that badly, like right before bed. If he is going potty well right before bed and still tries to wake you up before it has been 9 hours since he last peed, I suggest crating him at night for a while. If he can't hold his bladder for at least 8 hours at night, go see your vet. Having him go potty before bed using the Go Potty command and treats plus crating him so that he doesn't wake you up out of habit should hopefully get him back into his old routine again. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Buddy was a rescue dog and was trained to use the bathroom out door. My work schedule has recently changed from 8AM to 5 PM, that means he does not go to the bathroom until I get home. I am currently trying to train him to use a potty pad out in my balcony where I leave him when I go to work. The trouble that I am having is he won't use the pad, he has been holding it in until I take him to his usual spot in front of my apartment. I feel that this new transition will help him have more freedom when it comes to potty breaks. Dog walkers are too expensive and I don't feel comfortable giving strangers access to my home. Any help that you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Hello Tien, Try switching to a litter box without a lid on it. A litter box will resemble the gravel outdoors more closely. Also purchase a spray designed to encourage elimination and spray that on the litter. You can purchase such a spray at most large pet stores or online. It is usually called "Training Spray", "Hurry Spray", or something similar. Work on training him when you are at home by taking him over to the area on a leash when his bladder his full and telling him to "Go Potty". Let him sniff where you sprayed the spray, and if he goes, praise him and give him a treat. Do this as often as you can when you are at home. The praise and treats will help him to learn to go there, and telling him "Go Potty" will eventually help him to associate that command with going, so that he will go faster in the future. When you take him outside to go potty also tell him "Go Potty" when he starts to go. You can also try purchasing the spray designed to encourage elimination and spray that on the pee pad before switching to a litter box to see if that helps. Because pee pads resemble rugs, carpeting, and mats Buddy probably associates the Pee Pads with items that he should not eliminate on, and it is confusing for him though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We adopted Ace from a lady that couldn't keep him anymore. We got him in May, and we are his third set of owners. He came to us already potty trained, and despite all the changes in his life, he was a champ at never going to the bathroom inside. Until July. Since July, he's peed four times in the house.
At first we thought maybe we just weren't taking him out enough because he was having to hold it for 10 hours overnight. (Though he didn't have any issues holding it that long the first two months we owned him.) So I'm not sure what changed with his ability to hold himself, but anyways, we started being more consistent with pottying him more frequently.
Today, however, he had another accident. But it had only been 7 hours since the last time we took him out. My husband took him out at 7 am, and he peed twice in two different places. Then he had an accident in the house. Then we took him out after his accident and he peed another two times in two locations. So five times total within the past 7 hours!
I'm not sure if that's still just too long for him to wait or if he's now just used to going in a certain spot in the house (3 of the 4 times has been in the same location despite bleaching the area. That location is just outside our bathroom so maybe he sees us use the restroom inside and thinks it's okay?) Another possibility is that he is just drinking too much water. He's a 17 pound dog and I gave him 2 cups of water last night, but only 12 hours later, his bowl was completely empty! Maybe I should just take his bowl away at night so he doesn't drink so much? (He does have a water bottle that he could use if he was super thirsty, it's just not his preference.) What do you suggest?
Hello Stacy, I would suggest a trip to your vet to get him checked out for a urinary tract infection, diabetes, or any other possible causes of urinary incontinence or frequent urination. A UTI would cause him to pee often and have accidents and diabetes could make him drink more. If a UTI is confirmed it will need to be treated first and he will need to be taken outside as often as you can and given a lot of water until he gets better. Once he is better, then you will need to tackle any bad habits he learned from the accidents. You can use the same training to address the issue if he does not have a UTI also. To start, clean up accident areas with a cleaner that contains enzymes. It should say on the bottle if it does. Many pet specific sprays have it but not all, so check. Only enzymes remove the smell enough for a dog not to be able to smell it still because the enzymes actually breakdown the urine and poop at a molecular level and dog's noses are very sensitive. Avoid Ammonia because it encourages peeing due to the smell. You also might need to remove that rug for a bit until you break his habit of going there. Next, whenever he is home, keep him attached to one of you on a six to eight foot leash so that he cannot sneak off to pee. Teach him to ring a bell when he needs to go potty so that he will alert you better when he needs to go out and you will not miss his cues. When you take him outside tell him to "Go Potty" and when he does give him four small treats, one treat at a time. Whenever he cannot be attached to you during the training weeks place him into a crate or Exercise Pen, preferably crate. Give him a favorite chewtoy or Kong toy stuffed with food to keep him occupied and happy while he is in there. Do all of this until he is consistently alerting you when he needs to go out. When that happens, gradually give him more and more freedom over one to two months. If he has an accident go back a step and be more strict again for at least two to three more weeks. To teach him how to ring a bell follow one of the methods from the article that I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I put a wooden panel to block my basement, so Lucky won't go bathroom in there. It works alnost all the time, but he sometimes gets diarrea or has not pooped the whole day, so sometimes he has accidents in front of our eyes, which is fine since we sometimes rush a little and don't let him poop.
I don't want to keep the panel there all the time, as sometimes the moment we open it, he rushes downstairs and bathrooms right away, since he views the basement as the bathroom. I already cleaned up the basement as best as I can.
We trained Sweet Pea to bathroom on a potty pad, but the pee goes through the pad, so is there a way to contain ALL of the waste? And how do I get Lucky to not bathroom in the basement without having to block out the basement door?
Hello Kien, Does Sweet Pea use the bathroom in the basement on Pee Pads? If Sweet Pea uses the bathroom down there still, so the basement continues to smell like a bathroom to Lucky, then you cannot reasonably expect Lucky not to use the bathroom down there unless you are right beside him to interrupt him every single time (By clapping and saying "Ah-Ah" and then taking him outside immediately). The smell communicates to him that that area is a toilet and watching Sweet Pea use the bathroom there further shows him that it really IS a toilet, so when he gets in trouble for peeing there he is completely confused. The area needs to be blocked off unless Sweet Pea is no longer going potty down there, the area is cleaned all over THOROUGHLY with a cleaner that contains enzymes (only enzymes will break down the pee and poop enough at the small level it needs to make the smell completely go away for Lucky's sensitive nose), then you would need to regularly spend time down there with him with him clipped to yourself on a leash and show him that he is not supposed to use the bathroom down there by interrupting him anytime he begins to act like he needs to go potty. For Sweet Peas pee pads, put a plastic storage bin lid or something similar that is waterproof, underneath the pee pads. Use something that can be hosed off or cleaned with an cleaner that contains enzymes when needed. The plastic should keep the mess from soaking into the floor. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We brought Maggie home on New Year's Eve - she was only 7 weeks old, and came right from the nest to us. Because she was so little, and we live in Wisconsin where it is so cold, she could not handle the outdoors long enough to do her bathroom thing, so we started by pad training her right away, which she did pretty well at right from the beginning. Then, at about 3 months, she started to get worse at it - peeing right next to the pad, on our rugs, and even on her own bed a few times, while we were right there. We had some relationship stress in the home, and thought she may be reacting to that; my husband and both lost our tempers at least a couple of times and yelled out of frustration, though we know we shouldn't have. We thought when the weather got better and we could start taking her outside, she would do better, but she is not. We'll take her out and she'll sniff for 30 minutes and do nothing, then come in and pee on the floor next to the pad. One day, she ran right on to the couch and peed there - very deliberately. This morning, right after she woke up, I took her to the door to go out and was about to put her leash on her and she just squatted and peed on the rug. I clapped my hands and said, "No, Maggie, we go potty outside," and she ran over to her bed. I said, "Maggie, let's go outside. Maggie, come," and she peed on her own bed - again, very deliberately. She sleeps with us and can hold it all night long - for as long as 10 hours. She does have a "tucked up vulva," but this is almost always a lot of pee - not a dribble. She has never been left alone, never crated, has always slept with us, gets tons of play and attention - what can we do to get her back on track?
Hello Mary, 1. Suggest crate training her. 2. Get rid of the pee pads completely. 3.Take up any area rugs right now. 4. Clean up any accidents with a spray that contains enzymes to remove the pee smell better - remaining smell encourages accidents. 5. Remove her dog bed for now and instead use something non-absorbent in the crate while potty training, like www.primopads.com Check out the "Crate Training" method from the article linked below. The key is for her to only be free when he bladder is completely empty, which helps her go potty outside and stops accidents - which needs to happen to break the bad habit of peeing inside. Since she is older she can go potty every 2-3 hours, instead of 1. If she doesn't go potty when you take her, put her back in the crate and take her again in 45min-1hour. After she goes potty, give her 2 hours of freedom out of the crate before butting her back in the crate until the next potty trip. If she has accidents during that time decrease the amount of freedom. When you are not home she should be able to hold it for 4-5 hours maximum. When home take her out more often to help her learn and avoid potential accidents though. Many pee pad trained dogs confuse other fabric with pee pads, such as rugs. Since she is doing this I suggest simply getting rid of pee pads and strictly taking her outside to retrain her. This is also why you want to remove rugs and soft bedding dor a while - you want to break the habit of peeing on fabric completely right now while you reward her for going potty outside and avoid accidents by using the crate. When she ran away after the scolding her for peeing, when she peed a second time on the bed that time was probably submissive peeing from getting in trouble, which is made worse by acting angry because the dog is doing it out of fear or anxiety. With submissive peeing the key is to remain calm and boring. Some puppies do it and others do not. Most grow out of it if you prevent it from happening regularly. The initial peeing accident - the one she was scolded for at first, was probably related to pee pad-fabric confusion. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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