Puppy potty training problems are one of the biggest complaints we get from new puppy owners. And if you have an older dog, know that these same tips will apply for your dog, too!
The good news is, with a good plan and the support of a professional, potty training doesn't have to be as difficult as it might seem. In fact, most pups can be fully potty trained in just a few weeks.
Here are a few common ways that puppy potty training goes wrong, and how to get things back on track:
There's something medical that's influencing your dog's behavior.
Medical reasons for potty training problems are too often overlooked.
If your pup is only having pee accidents, is peeing with extreme frequency, and/or you see a drastic change in your dog's bathroom habits, your first visit should be to your veterinarian to check for any underlying medical issues.
You need to adjust your confinement strategy.
Confining your dog is a necessary component to successful potty training. If your pup is having accidents in their confinement area (such as a crate or a playpen) it's too large.
You can make that confinement area a safe and positive place by:
- Never using it for punishment
- Feeding your dog's meals in there and hiding special treats in the area
- Not leaving him/her in there for excessive periods. (General rule of thumb is age in months + 1 hour)
During the potty training process, in times you can't actively supervise your dog and they are not "empty," your dog must be confined! This is critical.
You're missing accidents.
This is the reason both confinement and active supervision are so important to the puppy potty training process.
Every time you miss an accident, you've just extended the length of time it's going to take to potty train your dog.
In order for your dog to fluently learn any behavior (in this case, eliminating outside) they must have a clear understanding of what you want and what you don't.
If your dog has an accident and doesn't get any feedback, they're never going to understand what's expected of them.
Your dog isn't making the connection.
So how can you use feedback to complete your puppy potty training process?
If your dog has an accident in front of you, immediately interrupt with an "ah-ah!" and get him outside as quickly as possible. Do not yell at your dog, rub his nose in the accident, or punish him. You are simply interrupting and getting him outside, then praising heavily if he finishes outside.
If your dog has an accident and you miss it, simply clean it up, as there's no learning that will happen at this point.
Go with your dog outside every time during this process. You need to praise and reward heavily for pottying outdoors, and you need to know whether or not your dog is "empty"!
You need to teach your dog a way to alert you that he needs to go.
If your dog understands that they need to potty outside but is having accidents near the door, it's likely they just haven't learned a clear way to signal to you that they need to go.
In this case, it's helpful to add in a bell or other audible alert that your pup can use to let you know she's got to go. A professional can help you effectively teach a bell alert.
If you have a dog that absolutely won't potty outside, no matter what you try, check out this blog for some additional help.