Puppy Potty Training – Facts and Myths

Puppy potty training is the bane of many new dog parents. That is why there are so many tutorials on how to housetrain a dog, with promises of how it can be simple and effortless.

The fact though, is that potty training requires time, patience, and consistency. How simple or difficult it is, will depend on our dog’s temperament and our own temperament.

Some dog breeds such as the Shiba Inu, are naturally clean and are relatively easy to housebreak. My Shiba was housebroken when we first got him at 10 weeks old.

Shiba Sephy does not even like to eliminate in our backyard. Instead, he prefers to wait until we go for a walk. In contrast, my second dog (a Siberian Husky), was more difficult to housetrain because she did not mind frolicking close to her own waste products.

It took a few weeks to housetrain her.

Puppy potty training also depends a lot on us. If we are naturally calm, consistent, and patient, housebreaking will seem easier and require less work.

Whatever the case, always remember that we can successfully housetrain a physically healthy dog, at whatever age (after the weaning off process), no matter the history.

And that is a potty training fact!

1. Set Up a Schedule

Puppy potty training begins, by setting up a schedule. Initially, we want to bring our dog out often, and reduce the chances of her making mistakes inside the house.

I observe my puppy closely, and try to identify patterns in her potty behavior. For example, she usually has to go when she wakes up, and after a bit of vigorous play. Therefore, I took her out after nap-time and after every 10-15 minutes of play. Different dogs may have different patterns depending on size, temperament, routine, and more.

I stop giving her water about 2-3 hours before sleep time, and take her out right before I crate her for the night. If I need to reward her during that time, I only use moist dog treats such as boiled chicken, so that she does not get thirsty from them.

FactDogs learn through a process called conditioning. They repeat behaviors that get them good results and stop behaviors that get them bad results.

The more we reward a puppy for eliminating outside, the more she will repeat that behavior. When my puppy does her business in the backyard, I mark that behavior (Yes!). Once she finishes, I treat her with something special that she only gets for potty success, and give her some good affection. Then, I reward her more with play-time and her favorite activities.

Similarly, the more a puppy practices eliminating inside, on her own, the more she will go in the house. After all, it is convenient and nobody is teaching her that it is inappropriate behavior.

Therefore, we want to not only maximize the number of successes, but also minimize the number of mistakes. In this way, our puppy will learn that doing her business outside is extremely rewarding and fun. On the other hand, when she does it inside, she consistently gets interrupted and taken outside.

MythMy dog cannot be housetrained because she comes from a stubborn breed, she is too stupid, she is too dominant, she doesn’t listen to me, she is too old, etc.

Any physically healthy dog can be housetrained. The key to potty training is patience and consistency. Always be around to supervise our puppy when she is inside. If I do not have the time to supervise, then I crate my puppy or put her in a long-term enclosure with puppy pads.

Myth: Screaming and hitting the dog will show her that I am boss and make her stop pottying inside the house.

Screaming and hitting a dog does not work well, and usually makes things worse. How well do you learn when somebody is screaming at you, or hitting you? It is the same way for a dog, especially a puppy.

The fastest way to housebreak our puppy, is to remain calm, and consistently let her know that going inside is inappropriate (Ack, ack), and going outside is appropriate (Yes).

2. Prevent Potty Mistakes

There are three ways to prevent mistakes inside the house:

a) Be there to supervise.

When our puppy shows signs that she has to go potty, take her outside right away. If I do not catch my puppy in time and she starts to do her business, then I interrupt her with a no-mark (Ack, ack) and take her outside.

MythI can potty train my puppy by rubbing her nose in it after the fact. She always looks sheepish and puts her head down when I shout at her. She knows she has done something wrong.

Dogs will only learn when we catch them in the act.

If we are not around and our dog makes a mistake, then we have missed a learning opportunity. All we can do is clean up the mess and move on. It is true that a dog may look sheepish when we shout at her after the fact. This is because she knows that we are upset, so she uses submissive gestures (e.g. putting her head down) to try and appease us.

The dog does not know what particular event has caused our anger, but just that we are angry. Shouting and rubbing a dog’s nose in her own waste does not teach her anything. All it does is confuse our dog, as well as create stress and fear. This can make things worse by causing submissive urination.

b) Crate train our dog.

Dogs do not generally like to soil where they sleep. Keeping our puppy in a crate can discourage her from pottying because she does not want to soil her sleeping area.

When I got my first dog, I was a bit concerned about crating him. Here is what the Humane Society of the United States and the American Dog Trainer’s Network have to say about crate training

MythA crate will magically keep my dog from pottying for any period of time.

The crate is not some magical cure. A crate discourages a dog from eliminating, but if a dog absolutely has to go, she has to go.

Keeping a puppy for too long in a crate, will force her to potty in the crate, possibly traumatize her, and greatly set back our potty training program.

The maximum crate time is dependent on the age of our puppy.

AgeMaximum time in crate
8–10 weeks30–60 minutes
11–14 weeks1–3 hours
15–16 weeks3–4 hours
17+ weeks4–5 hours

Maximum crate time from ASPCA Weekend Crate Training.

Note – this is just a general guideline for the maximum crate time. I usually take my puppy outside more frequently than that. I take her out as soon as she wakes up, and right after any heavy activity.

At night, I crate my dogs in the bedroom. Keeping our dogs with us in the bedroom will help with the bonding process, and show them that they are part of the pack.

When puppies are really young, they may not be able to hold their bladder throughout the night. It may be necessary to make an extra trip outside at night, or really early in the morning. Once they get a bit older though, this will no longer be necessary.

Some puppies, e.g. pet store puppies, may already be conditioned to eliminate in their crate, because they are kept in there for overly long periods of time. In such cases, a crate will no longer be a deterrent to potty behavior.

c) Put our dog in a long-term enclosure.

If I will be away for a long period of time, I put my puppy in a long-term enclosure. This can be a secure puppy pen, or a secure and safe room (e.g. kitchen).

Make sure there is nothing dangerous in the enclosure that our puppy can destroy and swallow. Put bedding, a water bowl, some puppy pads, safe chew toys, and safe food toys, in the enclosure. Put the pads in a corner as far away from the bedding as possible.

Instead of puppy pads, we may also use an indoor grass system. However, some dogs may not like standing on or eliminating on the indoor grass surface. Just using regular sod or grass did not work well for me because of drainage issues. The sod gets smelly very quickly because there isn’t anywhere for the pee to go.

When I tried using sod, I had to change it every other day, or my puppy refused to go onto it. This ended up being a lot more work than just using puppy pads.

MythWe cannot train a dog to potty outside as well as on puppy pads. She will get confused and not know what to do.

Yes, it is true that if we can be around most of the time to supervise, it is better not to let a puppy do her business in the house at all.

However, if we will be away for long periods of time, if our dog has separation anxiety issues (which may cause her to need to eliminate when we leave), or if there are other medical issues (surgery) that make frequent trips outside unfeasible, then it is perfectly fine to train a dog to both potty on pads, as well as outside.

Reward a puppy for going on his pads, and reward a puppy a lot more for going outside.

3. Clean Away Mistakes Properly

During the housetraining process, there will be some mistakes. When that happens, I calmly no-mark my puppy (Ack, ack) and take her outside. Once we are outside, I praise and reward her if she continues with her business.

Then, I leave my puppy in our fully enclosed and puppy-safe backyard, come in, and clean up the mess. Cleaning up messes in front of a puppy may sometimes cause her to mimic our behavior, and engage in eating her own poop. In her mind, she is only helping to clean out the den.

Use a cleaner that is made especially for pets. A popular pet odor cleaner is Nature’s Miracle.

Do not use ammonia based cleaners as the ammonia odor, which resembles urine, may attract our dog to urinate in the area.

4. Make Sure the Mistakes Are Potty Mistakes

Not all indoor urination is the result of housetraining mistakes. Other reasons for indoor urination include:

  1. Submissive or excitement urination.
  2. Medical issues, e.g. urinary tract infection.
  3. Marking objects or territory.
  4. Stress or anxiety, which results from being alone or other psychological issues.

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  1. Amanda says

    Hi I just recently got a Siberian husky she is just a little over 3 months old. When I crate her at night or while I get ready for the day she whines the whole time. She also tries to bite her way out of the cage and I just recently notice she will drool prefusly. What can I do to help her stay calm while she is in her crate?

    Thank you for the advise

    • shibashake says

      Has she been to the vet? When I get a new puppy, I always bring her to the vet as soon as possible for a check-up. In this way, I can be sure that she is physically healthy, and I can also get my vet’s advice on vaccinations, etc.

      Where did you get your puppy from? Did she previously have bad experiences in a crate? Does she only do these behaviors when she is alone? Where is her crate at night? During puppyhood, I crate my puppy in the bedroom with me at night. In this way, my puppy can still see me and be with me, and thus feels safe.

      If she only shows these behaviors when she is alone, then it could be separation anxiety.
      ASPCA article on separation anxiety.
      With my puppy, I very slowly get her used to alone time. I start with very very short periods of alone time (e.g. seconds) and slowly build up from there.

      I also slowly crate train my puppy so that she associates her crate area with positive events and safety. However, dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and situation are different. When in doubt, I get help from a good professional trainer.

    • Anonymous says

      I got her from a dog store and I have family that had gotten puppies from there as well. As far as I know she hasn’t had any bad experiences at least with me. She displays the bitting of the kennel and drooling when I am not there. If I’m there she will just whine and paw at the kennel. I keep her kennel in my bedroom right at the end of the bed. I have not brought her to the vet yet but do have an appointment set up. We have been working on create training and I always reward her with a treat or a kong with peanut butter but she is not a huge fan of that.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, some puppies have it rough at the pet store. Also, many pet store puppies come from puppy mills.
      ASPCA article on pet store puppies.

      As for the Kong I try to identify what my puppy enjoys most and I use those for crate conditioning. I like using frozen Kongs because it engages my puppy for a longer period of time, and she is usually happy to settle down for a nap after that. Sometimes, I put some sardines at the bottom of my Kong, then I put puppy wet food in, and freeze the whole thing. My dog loves sardines so it can help to give the Kong that extra umph, if necessary.

      For alone time training and crate training, I make sure to start small and very slowly build up my puppy’s confidence and tolerance. Anxiety attacks and negative experiences will undermine my puppy’s confidence and significantly set back training. Therefore, if I need to leave the house, I get someone trustworthy to keep my puppy company. I try to set my puppy up for success and manage her environment so she is not exposed to situations that she is not ready to handle.

  2. Vanessa says

    I take him out every hour and 30 minutes after meals and don’t give him water before bed time. He still barks all night and pees most of the night even though I take him out at 2:00 am . He’s algo startin to growl when put in his crate. We’re doing better with him teething.

  3. Vanessa says

    Hi, I but a old English bulldog puppy from a pet store. Sadly I didn’t know they came from puppy mills…I was told by a friend that it harder to train them because of their previous living conditions. he was doing good with potty training but lately he’s peeing and pooping in his crate. He doesn’t lets us know…barks after so we can take him out and clean it. I was told that does hate to lay on their waste but he doesn’t seem to care

    • shibashake says

      How long have you had him? For how long was he doing good with potty training and when did that change? So initially he did not go in his crate? Did something unusual happen around the time of the change? What is his daily routine like? Have there been any changes to his routine or your routine?

      In general, dogs do not enjoy laying in their own waste so a *properly sized* crate can be a useful tool for potty training.

      However, if a dog/puppy has been forced to stay in a crate for long periods of time, for example in a pet store cage, he has no choice but to go in there. Ultimately, it becomes normal to pee and poop in his cage. In this case, the crate is not longer a good deterrent for potty mistakes.

      When potty training my dog, supervision is *key*. There is absolutely no free roaming in the house until my puppy is fully potty trained. If I am too busy to supervise or need to be away for even 1 minute, I put my puppy in her crate or puppy enclosure. If the crate is no longer a good deterrent, then I use a puppy enclosure.

      I put the puppy enclosure close to where I am, e.g. in the computer room or close to the kitchen so that I can catch my puppy if she tries to dig or chew on her pads. When she does that, I no-mark, and get her to do something else. I change her pads as soon as she goes on them. There are also alternatives to training pads. I talk more about how I use a puppy enclosure in the article above.

      In terms of taking my puppy out, I observe her carefully and try to identify when she needs to go. For example, my Husky puppy needed to go soon after she wakes up and also after about 10-15 minutes of heavy activity. Therefore, I always take her out as soon as she wakes up and also after 10-15 minutes of play. Each puppy is different, so I observe each puppy and schedule accordingly.

      I also watch for potty signals and take my puppy out as soon as I see them. There is more on this in the article above.

  4. Scott says

    Hi! My partner and I have just adopted a Siberian husky from a kennel to save him being put to sleep. His name is Radley and he is extremely intelligent and eager to please and learn. The only problem I am worried about is that my partner is out 7 hours a day and myself 11 hours. He is 18 weeks old and shows signs that he may already be housetrained but due to being in kennels and separated from his original family we are worried that he may have anxiety and separation issues. Can you advise the best way to ease this and combat it so to reduce as much stress as possible, given that we are out all day.

    The weather is ok and I have a large bricked outhouse and garden he could be left in during the day…or is this a no at a young age?

    Any help appreciated. Like I said, he learns very fast and is so eager to please so with positive reinforcement I don’t think there is a lot he Couldn’t learn.

    Thanks in advance!! X

    • shibashake says

      Four paws up for saving a Husky in dire need!

      Does he show any anxiety or separation issues currently? With my dogs I make sure to exercise them well before I leave. Most of the time, when I leave, I keep them inside the house. This is because the house is more quiet and low stimulus, so they are generally more calm and relaxed inside. In the backyard there are more interesting smells, more noises, etc. In addition, there are some naughty squirrels or cats that sometimes sit up on the fence and tease the dogs. :)

      Also, my Huskies love to dig, and they can do it very well. My younger Husky dug her way into my neighbor’s lawn once when going after an Earth critter. Now I place concrete blocks all along my fence line to prevent digging.

      However, a puppy probably can’t hold it for that long inside, so something will have to be done for potty.

      In terms of separation anxiety, it depends on whether there is anxiety now and how serious the anxiety is. With my puppy I slowly desensitize her to alone time by starting with very short periods and slowly building up from there. The key thing with desensitization is that during the entire process, it is important to keep my dog from having any panic or anxiety attacks. The more positive and calm alone experiences my dog has, the more confidence she builds, and the greater her tolerance will be. Similarly, anxiety attacks will undermine that confidence, significantly set back training, and increase her level of stress. Therefore, it depends a lot on the current level of anxiety and how much the dog can currently tolerate.

      With my Shiba Inu, I also hired a dog walker who took him out on group walks to the park. In this way, he is not alone for very long, and he gets to do a fun but structured activity while I am away. Just be very careful about choosing an experienced walker who knows how to deal with Huskies. Pet sitter or having a neighbor drop by are also possibilities.

      This ASPCA article has more on separation anxiety and how to do desensitization exercises.
      More on my experiences with separation anxiety.

  5. Vincent says


    should i put the crate in the safe room(Kitchen in my case) with pads? and then when i get home i can take him out every time i see he wants to eliminate.


    • shibashake says

      With my puppy I put a bunch of bedding in there for her to sleep on. I did not put her crate in there, coz it does take up a bunch of the space.

      I think it depends on the puppy. Does your puppy like sleeping in his crate? Does his crate help him to relax and be more comfortable?

    • Vincent says

      He loves to sleep in his crate. Right now i have the pad on one side of the kitchen and his food and bed(Crate) in the other side, now that he’s 2 months old and i can take him out.

      Since he’s a medium dog(Blue nose pitbull) i don’t want to train him to go inside the house, but again, i have to work and leave the house usually at 6:00 am and i come back at 3:30 5 days a week. on my days off i spend all day take him into the crate then every 2 hours out to eliminate and he does! but when i’m not home i don’t have more options to leave him loose in the kitchen..

      what should i do? set a smaller place(like a pen) with pads or papers for him to stay while i’m not home? and then when i get home take him out to do the housebreaking training?.


    • shibashake says

      If he is doing well with the crate in the kitchen arrangement, then I would stick with that. It sounds like a good setup to me.

      With my dog, I just make sure that the kitchen or whatever enclosure I use is puppy-proof and safe. When I am home, I take my puppy outside to do his business.

  6. Zoe Saunders says

    I’ve read a lot of your replies to others and it has been very helpful. I have a 13 week old husky that we have managed to train to go out side now & we have only had a few accidents in the hous :-)
    The only concern we have is that his poo is still soft/runny, how long should it take for them to become solid. He full of beans and it doesn’t seem to affect him

    • shibashake says

      Runny poop can sometimes be the result of some kind of food allergy. Both my Huskies have very sensitive tummies, so I try to limit the type of food that I give them. They are both allergic to many types of grains, so I use a grain free, high protein kibble. Eating too much has also resulted in my puppy having soft poop.

      What food is your Husky currently eating? Does he get additional treats or people food?

      More on how I pick food for my dogs.

  7. Josephine says

    Hi I’m on my second husky (i now have two the first one is a lot older we’ve bad him for 3 years)

    The second husky is only a month and two weeks old (I didn’t have my first puppy until he was 3 months old) … it’s December now and really cold is it okay to take her out to pee and poop in this cold weather? I tried and she was just shaking and walking around very little. She would not poop or pee outside only inside. Her dad lives with us and they are getting along a little bit but the dad is too hyper … the mom lives somewhere else.. a little help please?

  8. Kenny Dang says

    I have a 4 months old huksy puppy and I dont know how to potty train him. I mean i would do everything in the “book” like when they pee or poop outside i show him love but alot of the time he just goes in the house. Even after 20 mins of going outside he would pee or poop. EVEN IF HE ALREADY WENT OUTSIDE! I really try my best to not get mad and hit him (sad to say) but i do hit him when time gets hard. please help me.

    • shibashake says

      When potty training my Husky, supervision is the most important thing. I try to not only maximize successful outings, so that I can keep reinforcing good behavior, but also to minimize mistakes in the house. If I cannot supervise for even 1 minute, I put my puppy in a safe puppy enclosure with puppy pads. In this way, my puppy either goes outside or on pads. I do not let my puppy freely roam the house until after she is fully potty trained.

      I also want to reinforce the potty outside behavior *very very strongly*, especially in the beginning. Therefore, when my puppy goes outside, I make sure to reward her EXTREMELY well, not just with affection, but also with her favorite food that she only gets on potty success, with her favorite games, and more.

      I make sure *not* to hit my puppy for potty mistakes. Hitting her will only make her more nervous and fearful, and may cause things to get worse because of submissive urination.

      I talk more about how I potty trained my Husky puppy in the article above.

      More on how I trained my Husky puppy.

      Supervision, consistency, patience, and repetition are the key ingredients for successfully potty training my Husky puppy.

  9. Storm says

    I have a 9 week old Australian Shepherd at the moment. She is very very smart and has already learned commands such as sit, lay down, and turn around. We’ve had issues potty training her though. She only sniffs and whines when she needs to poop but when she has to pee its a whole different ball game. Willow (my puppy) will be playing or laying by me and will look as though she is walking to go get some food or water or even a toy and just stop and pee. No whine, no sniffing, NOTHING. I don’t know what to do about it. It has proven to be very difficult to potty train her in my house. I haven’t had issues at anyone else’s house. Maybe I’m more cautious but she pees throughout the house without a thought. I don’t no what to do about it. Sometimes she doesn’t even really stop and just pees. I’m trying my best but this is my first puppy and I am only a college student.
    Willow has even peed in her crate sometimes but I think that is my fault considering I didn’t cut her water source off soon enough.
    What should I do though?

    • shibashake says

      Does your puppy ever pee when she is lying down? Has she been to the vet for a check-up? Does her pee look clear?

      The thing that was most important with potty training my Husky puppy (Lara) was very very close supervision. Sometimes, she doesn’t have very strong signals, but whenever she moves around, I am following her. Usually she walks to the corner before peeing, so as soon as I see her walking towards a corner, I take her out. I am following her and close by, so I can do it quickly before she starts. Also, as soon as I see her start to squat, I take her out.

      No free roaming for Lara without me shadowing her, until after she is fully potty trained. :D After that, I can ease back a bit, but still supervise to make sure she interacts properly with my other dogs, and that she is safe.

      I also try to predict when she needs to go. I do that by setting up a very fixed schedule and observing her closely. For example, I noticed that Lara often needs to go very soon after playing/activity. Therefore, I take her out after 15 minutes of play whether she shows any signs or not. She also usually needs to go soon after she wakes up from her scheduled naps.

      When I cannot supervise very closely, I put Lara in an enclosure with puppy pads. Crates can work with some dogs, but if a puppy is already used to going in her crate because of past experience (e.g. some pet store puppies), then using a crate is no longer a deterrent.

      I talk more about what I do in the article above. When in doubt, I get help from a good professional trainer.

  10. shanu says

    I had a shiba Inu and am now thinking to get an Alaskan Klee Kai, I noticed you have a shiba and a husky, are huskies easy to potty train like shibas? On a separate note is your husky okay with being left alone for hours. My shiba was fine alone 8 hours while I worked and wondering if that is the same as huskies?

    • shibashake says

      I didn’t really have to potty train my Shiba. He only made 1 mistake in the house on his first day, and after that he always let us know when he needed to go out. However, my Huskies needed proper potty training. It took a couple of weeks of close supervision.

      My Huskies are *a lot* more affectionate than my Shiba and like people attention. They are also a lot more energetic, and need more exercise. They also like being outside a lot more than my Shiba and they like digging. Husky Lara dug under the fence once and ended up in my neighbor’s yard. After that, we put concrete blocks all along our fence line to prevent digging.

      At most, I am away for about 4 hours, and that doesn’t happen very often.

      However, my Husky breeder tells me that the Klee Kai has a different temperament compared to a Sibe, and that is what I have read as well.

      More on Shiba vs. Siberian Husky.

  11. kirsten says

    I have a 14 week old puppy (husky) he is in full puppy mood..i have two other dogs that I successfully crate trained.. This pup how ever goes out side then even more as soon as I get in hse..

  12. Aisha says

    Hi there. I have a 5 month old shiba inu. He’s done well with the crate training so I’ve given him more freedom. Occasionally he will have an accident. Tonight he drank some water and fell asleep. I take him out an hour after eating or drinking. I woke him up to take him outside and he watched me grabbed the leash and peed at the back door. I don’t know why he did that when he knew I was taking him out. The other thing is he never lets me know he has to go out. I just have him on a schedule. Does your shiba let you know he needs to go outside?

    • shibashake says

      Does your shiba let you know he needs to go outside?

      Yeah, Sephy is good about that. He prefers to go outside, especially during walks.

      In terms of potty training, a puppy does not have as good bladder control as an adult dog, so sometimes he may just go if he can’t hold it in any longer. During potty training, I usually have a drag lead on my puppy (only under supervision and only with a regular collar, *not* a training collar). In this way, when my puppy needs to go, we go right away. I make sure to reward my puppy extremely well with his favorite games, food, and more when he goes outside.

      When I cannot supervise, even for just 1 minute, I put my puppy in a safe enclosure with puppy pads.

      I talk more about potty training my puppy in the article above.

  13. Jeniffer says

    I just got a toy poodle a week ago and she is not 9 weeks old. The first few days she was doing her business anywhere because she was not toilet trained. As she sleeps in my room on a couch she can not get off at night to do her business anywhere she wants, she whines to wake me up and I take her to pee on the pee pad. It was doing great until two days ago. She began doing her business on both the pee pad and the floor and then returning to the pee pad and sleeping on her own mess. Last night she pee’d in her own bed! I don’t know what I’m doing wrong here.

    • shibashake says

      Did anything unusual happen two days ago? Are there any other changes in behavior? Is she pee-ing more often? Does her pee look clear and normal? Has she been to the vet for a check-up? When she peed on her own bed, was she standing up or lying down?

      What is her potty routine like when things were going well? In particular, what happens when she makes a mistake and what happens when she goes on the pad? What is her daily routine like?

  14. Chris says

    I am getting extremely frustrated. I have a 16 week old shepard mix. I got her when she was 11 weeks old. Here is the problem….Since we’ve gotten her, she has a “designated spot” in the yard that we have her peeing and pooping in. She has been doing it consistently until this week. This week, she refuses to go pee or poop there and will fight to leave that area. It seems like she is afraid. She pulls on the leash, and jumps around to leave. This is something new and I can’t quite figure out what has changed for her. I don’t want to keep forcing her but this is the spot for her to go so that she doesn’t just go anywhere in the yard where people sit. She’s been doing it there since 11 weeks old now all of a sudden…….she won’t go. Any suggestions as to why and maybe how I can fix it?

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I have noticed that they don’t particularly like being around their own poop. I think it is a smell thing.

      For example, there was one time that I was experimenting with using sod for potty, after Shania’s surgery. She would go on it the first couple of times, but after that she really did not want to use it anymore. When I tried to get her on it, she got really stressed. After I aired the sod out for a few days (took it outside and no potty on it for a few days), then she was ok with it again for a short while. I think if the area smells too much like her own pee or poop, then she really doesn’t want to go near it.

      The same thing with potty pads.

      They don’t seem to have an aversion to poop from other dogs, cats, or other animals, just their own stuff.

      This article from the ASPCA on designated spot training does not deal with this specific issue, but it does have some good information on how to reward and maintain the behavior.

  15. Leah says

    Hi! I recently got a new husky puppy and he’s 9 weeks. I did my research and it seems like crate training works really well. Last night was the first time I put my husky in his crate and he absolutely hated it. He cried and howled for a very long time. I have the crate in my room next to my bed and I tried to calm him down, but the howling and crying didn’t stop. I took him out and let him sleep with me. I know it’s bad to do that because they think if they cry they can come out. But my family was asleep and I had school the next morning so I couldn’t just let him keep crying. Can I train my puppy without the crate? I do take him outside in the middle of the night and he has been going outside. Oh and he eats a lot! Like every second of the day. Is this normal?

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your Husky puppy!

      Can I train my puppy without the crate?

      I find the crate or enclosure to be useful for my puppy during the potty training period because it allows me to prevent potty mistakes in the house, when I am unable to closely supervise my puppy. It also helps me to keep my puppy safe and out of trouble, e.g. chewing on wires, jumping off couches, etc.

      However, each dog and each situation is different, so it depends. Dog behavior is very context dependent, so I modify things as appropriate to suit my dog and my own situation. How is potty training going?

      Here is an account of the first 10 days with my Husky puppy Lara. It is a very good reminder for me, on how very important constant supervision is for a young puppy.

      With crate training, I always start small and slowly build up my puppy’s tolerance for her crate. In this way, she becomes more confident and learns to associate her crate with positive events. More on how I crate train my puppy.

      I also slept with my puppy the first few nights, until she was more comfortable with her crate. However, the problem with this was that my puppy did make several mistakes in the bedroom during the night. I fell asleep and was not there to properly supervise her. Next time around, I may try tethering my puppy to me (in a safe way) so that if she moves away, I will wake up and can take her out.

      Oh and he eats a lot!

      Haha, yeah my Husky puppy loved to eat as well. In fact, she is older now but she still loves to eat. :D I try not to overfeed her though, because when I feed her too much, she may get an upset tummy. I tweak things as I go along.

      Has your puppy been to the vet for a check-up? I usually take a new puppy to my vet for a general examination, just to make sure everything is ok, and to set up a vaccination schedule if necessary.

  16. Mary S says

    I have a now 15 week old female french bulldog. She came home at 9 weeks. I’ve been doing my best to watch her ‘like a hawk’, have been keeping her on a schedule, and praise/give treats when she goes outside! She continues to have random accidents in the house and does not tell me (at least in a way that I have picked up on) that she has to go, which makes me feel frustrated and disappointed. I feel like I’m doing things right, but maybe she just isn’t getting it yet? She does well in her crate at night and when I’m at work. I have been taking her out every 30-45 minutes when I’m home and would like to start extending the time between trips, but I just feel like I can’t trust her. She is so tiny she slips away and 2 seconds later there is a puddle on the floor!!
    I have been continuing with the schedule, praise, and have now started doing special treats that she will only get when she goes outside. Is there ANYTHING else I can do differently? Trying to stay positive!!

    • shibashake says

      For my puppy, the key was full time supervision. If I need to be away or cannot supervise for even one second, I put her in her enclosure so that there is no slipping away. Any time she is roaming about, I am right there to supervise.

      Some people tether the puppy on their belt to stop puppy from going off on her own. I have not tried that though, as the enclosure method has worked well for me.

      More on the first 10 days with puppy Lara. In the beginning, we had lots of mistakes, but things improved a lot after I started doing full-time supervision (i.e. no free roaming without my full attention).

  17. Lindsey says


    My question is regarding house-training. My boyfriend and I recently adopted a about 13mo old golden retriever from a local humane society two weeks ago this Sunday (April 13th, 2014). We have another Shepard mix, male who is 1.5years old. He is well house-trained, also a rescue dog and they get along well except a bit of jealously issues… but they are manageable.
    The new pup, Tucker is very sweet, well-tempered, working on his manners/basic commands… but the MAJOR obstacle is house training. He does not seem to have any accidents (the first day he had several accidents indoors since though he has had maybe 3…) while we are home. He seems to have difficulty when we leave. We are very regimented with our daily routine; wake up around 5:30 let him out to pee, feed him once he done his business, we play outdoors for 20-25min before we leave in the morning around 8a.m. I have been coming home almost daily at noon to let him out/play a bit and then head back to work until about 4p.m. when we come home we play outside either go for long walk in woods, play ball, etc… for about an hour eat at 5:30p.m. and play again before bedtime.
    He has been messing in the house whether it be pee, poop or both nearly everyday since we got him…. I’m becoming so discouraged. We trained crate training and he was so anxious in there that he bent the metal bars and pooped/peed. Then we tried putting him in an empty spare room with his bed, crate, toys, and little water with a metal extra tall gate blocking the door… you don’t even want to know what happened to the gate =( So now we let him roam the house with as many doors closed as possible and all potentially dangerous items away but he is pooping and peeing; and it needs to STOP. I have been using Nature’s Miracle brand to clean the areas throughly (most often happening on carpet), bringing him outside or out of sight when I clean the areas, I do not reprimand him when there is a mess, and glorify him we he does his business outside. But I am at a loss as to what to do. These actions cannot continue and I do not want my emotions/frustrations to start being reflected on him.
    Any suggestions/advice/resources you have would be GREATLY appreciated. =)))

  18. says

    Hello there. I recently got a new siberian husky puppy. He is 2months old and a male one. Every morning, he eats his dog food but during lunch time, he doesn’t eat. Then he eats again at night. Is this normal? What should I do? Also, when I first got him home, he urinated around the house. The first night was ok. He didn’t cried a lot. Actually he cried but when I got him out of his crate, he bark and urinated. I think that is his way of saying, “hey, i’m gonna pee!”. I’m also having a hard time training him since he is moody. Sometimes he is so energetic that when his enery was drained already, he sleeps alot then when he wakes up, he becomes playful again. He also likes to go around the corners of our house. When I gave him tasty biscuits (dog food treats), he goes to the corner to eat it. What might be the reason? Please help me as I am a first time owner. By the way, I’m from the Philippines. Can you also give me tips on caring a husky in tropical areas. Hope to hear from you. Thank you in advance!

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your new puppy!

      1. When I get a new dog, I take him to the vet as soon as possible for a general exam. With puppies, I also set up a vaccination schedule. In this way, I can be sure that my puppy is healthy.

      2. I usually feed my puppy smaller meals but more frequently throughout the day. Once they are adult, I only feed them twice a day. Here is more on how I pick my dog’s food.

      3. I break treats up into very small pieces, so that my puppy can finish it in a single chomp. In this way, my puppy doesn’t get distracted with eating and I can motivate him more effectively. More on how I trained my Husky puppy.

      4. When a dog has something valuable to chew on, he may take it to a safe place to eat. In this way, he can enjoy it in peace and he can be sure that nobody is going to take it from him. When I give my dogs a high priority chew, I make sure to separate them. They usually like eating their chews in the crate. More on how I prevent food guarding with my dog.

      5. More on how I keep my dog cool during the summer. I am not sure if this will be enough for a tropical climate, but perhaps it is a start. :D

  19. says

    Maximus the 8mth old Labradoodle has recently come to live with us. He is completely untrained. My partner and I are both patient and both willing to take the time to train him to go potty outside. As per your advice we take him out after meals and after playing, he just explores and then within 10 minutes of coming back in side he has an accident. To date we have only been able to catch him in the act twice and both times we interrupted, took him outside but he refused to continue.
    Do you have any suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      For potty training my pups, I think that supervision is the most important thing. During the training period, I watch my puppy like a hawk so that I can always take her out as soon as I notice any potty signals. I err on the side of safety, so I take her out even if I slightly suspect that she needs to go. If I need to be away for even just one minute, I put my puppy in her safe enclosure, with puppy pads.
      Here is the first 10 days with my puppy Lara. At first, there were a bunch of mistakes, but after I increased supervision, things went a lot more smoothly.

      My Husky puppy usually needs to go potty when she wakes up and also after very rigorous play. I set up a fixed schedule and always take her out during those times, in addition to all the other times I notice her showing any potty signals. It may be different for different puppies though, so I observe my puppy closely and see when her favorite potty times are.

      It is important to not only maximize successes outside, but also to minimize mistakes inside – which is why the supervision is key. I also try and make things relaxed and positive, so if she doesn’t want/need to go, then it is no big deal.

      The other important part to potty training, I think, is to very strongly reinforce successes. I take my puppy out when she needs to go, so that as soon as she is done, I can mark the behavior, and reward her *very very very* well. I give her special treats that she only gets after potty, I play her favorite games with her, and I make it into a really big deal.

  20. charity says

    Hay there..I have read most of all your advice on the potty training for dogs.I have recently took in a two mnth. Old yorkie poo.her name is Dolce`.though she is a total sweetheart,and very good company she keeps me on my feet alot.when I first brought her home she was just being trained by previous owners to potty outside ,and so she would go to the door.Dolce,now feels that she can potty anywhere inside the house.I let her out to play throughout everyday and I even take her out on a leash to potty if iam busy and have short time to keep an eye on her.(another opinion please?)I give her a bath lastnight..left her collar off .this morning I went to put it on cos she wanted out to potty
    Meanwhile during me putting her leash on she peed on my pillow she was setting on..then about an hr. Later she peed again when I went to put her leash on..while we were just getting rdy to go out to potty..this made me frustrated.I lightly spanked her and went to get stuff ta clean the mess only to come back not even two minutes later to witness her doing number two ina different place..
    Neither accidents hapend in front of door…any advice? Please help..

    • shibashake says

      Puppies still have developing bodies, and often cannot hold their pee for long. This is probably even more true for small dogs.

      As soon as I notice my puppy needing to go, I rush her out right away. Since I am always there to supervise, I also leave a drag lead on, so I can get her out right away. I only use a drag lead under close supervision and only with a harness or properly fitted flat collar that is safe for a puppy (no aversive collars).

      If I missed my puppy’s cues and she has already started to go, I still take her out right away so that she can continue outside and I can reward her really well for doing the right thing. This helps to reinforce the behavior. Then I leave her outside and come back in to clean up the earlier mistake.

      Also, puppies may go for other reasons including stress and to show submission (submissive urination). For these reasons, I make sure to keep potty training positive, and I do not use any physical punishment. Physical issues such as urinary tract infection can also cause a dog to lose bladder control.

    • liz says

      I have a baby so watching my new husky puppy to potty train her is not always possible any suggestions.

  21. Aly says

    I feel like I am epic failing at potty training
    Out new pup is 8 wks old ( jack russell x sheltie). I am very patient and determined but am starting to feel frustrated with toilet training. In addition to the puppy I have a 2 and 3 yo who keep me busy.
    When I take our puppy to the designated toilet spot he NEVER ONCE has gone. Intake him out frequently to avoid accidents inside. I watch him closely and give him the ” toilet time” command. I have now resorted to a puppy pad and added bits of his own urine to it but no success. He runs away or goes somewhere else, although I’m home most days I do work part time And we keep him in the laundry. I gab newspaper down but he goes everywhere. Please help, I’m at my wits end….

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my Husky puppy didn’t like going on her pad either if there is old urine. She will only go on clean pads.

      As for potty training, the most important thing for my pups was supervision. I only allow my puppy to roam when I am right there to supervise. If I cannot supervise for even one minute, I put her in her enclosure or crate. I put her enclosure in a people area of the house, so that she won’t get lonely or afraid. In this way, I can also keep an eye on her and make sure she goes on her pad. I use a pad holder so that the papers don’t slip on tile and it is comfortable for her to go on it.

      I make sure to reward my puppy extremely well when she goes outside with her favorite game, special treats, and more. Supervision is important so that I can maximize successes and keep reinforcing the potty outside behavior. If I miss my puppy’s cues and she starts to go inside, I make sure I am there to interrupt and take her outside. If she continues going outside, then I can reward the behavior and reinforce it.

      My puppy usually liked to go when she woke up and also after short play sessions, so I take her out then. At other times I observe her closely so that I can identify her favorite potty periods and also her potty signals. I talk more about what I do in the article above.

      How long have you had your puppy? It took about a couple of weeks to mostly potty train my Husky puppy, and then after that there were still some occasional mistakes. I continued with supervision until we were mistake free for several weeks. I figured it was better to be certain.

  22. Danny says

    Hi my name is Dannie, my husband and I got a 4 week old Siberian husky from la, we have almoste mastered peeing on the pad. (She walks up to it, sniffs it and squats, and she 7 out of 10 times pees next to the pad while smelling it lol) she gets the idea but can’t quite do it right, I still give her credit for trying. Also is her pee supposed to smell like iron or blood? It doesn’t have a color and its normal in fluidity, but it smells so aweful that when she’s done and I pick her up to congradulate her it smells so potent. Also another question is when she poops she eats it. I don’t know why or if that’s normal. Once she finishes she turns around… and it’s gone. She isn’t old enough to get her shots yet so I’m too afraid to take her outside for any potty training outside because of parvo and other risks.

    • shibashake says

      4 weeks is really young for a puppy to be separated from her mother and siblings. If possible, it is usually best to wait until at least 8 weeks.

      Has the puppy been to the vet? What food is she currently eating? I take a new puppy to the vet as early as possible just for a check-up and to make sure that everything is ok. Based on what I have read, the metallic smell could be because of infection (e.g. urinary tract infection), could be from the anal gland, dietary, or something else. Best to consult with a vet.

      As for poop eating, there are many reasons why a dog may show this behavior. Some dogs do it to clean up the den, it could be related to diet, etc. I train my dogs as early as possible not to do it, so that it does not become a habit.

  23. Sue Campbell says

    I have one dog thst is house trsined and just got a 7 month old puppy that needs house training. She refuses to potty outside. She waits till I bring her back in the house. Need help please.

    • shibashake says

      With potty training my puppies, two things were really important – supervision and observation.

      I need to observe my puppy closely, so that I can anticipate when she needs to go. In this way, I can take her out when she *needs* to go. With Lara, she usually needs to go when she wakes up from her nap and also after a short amount of rigorous play. I also set up a fixed routine her, so that her potty routine is also more regular.

      In addition to observation, supervision is also very important. I supervise Lara closely so that I can take her out as soon as I see her showing any of her potty signals (e.g. going to corners, circling). In this way, I can minimize mistakes and maximize successes. The more successes we have, the more I get to reward her well for going outside, and the more I reinforce that behavior. Similarly, the more unsupervised mistakes she makes inside, the more she learns that it is ok to go inside.

      I talk more about what I do in the article above.

  24. jeffrey says

    Hello, I have a question that I’ll try not to repeat for you :) I just got a 13 week Siberian husky. I’m doing every thing that I have read on potty training, my issue is her pooping! I feed her in the morning and evening, I take her out right after she eats and still every 30 min after (better more often then less to help train) BUT the problem is, she never goes right after eating. She could eat her food and then poop 4-6 hours later, no routine with her on the poop issue! I can take her out for 15-20 min waiting for her to go to the bathroom and the minute I get inside, then she will poop. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. PLEASE HELP

    • shibashake says

      With my Husky puppy, I fed her frozen Kongs to calm her down before nap time. After working on her Kong she usually falls off to sleep. I take her out when she wakes up. She usually has to pee then. For poop, I found that doing some activity helps. After she pees, I play with her a bunch as a reward, and she will usually poop after a bit.

      Also with pooping, my puppy has much clearer signals. In usual times, my puppy likes to be close by me. However, when she needs to poop, she will pace, go to the corner, and circle. As soon as I see her go to corners, I take her out right away. At worst, as soon as I see her start to get into squatting position, I rush her out.

      It is probably a bit different for each puppy, so I observe my puppy closely and try to look for patterns and consistent signals.

  25. doug says

    I have a weird question.my new 14 week lab puppy can hold his pee for several hours in his crate..But seems to pee server times and hour outside the crate…I don’t understand. He went pee his crate..But why doesn’t he hold it so we can take him out at certain times of the day…instead he is constantly walking up to the door looking like he wants to go out..then we let him out and he just digs in the grass and doesn’t go to the bathroom. He has to pee one out of every three times of going to the door. How do I know when he has to go to the bathroom our just wants to go cause problems in the backyard. And how do I get him to pee less often outside his crate?

    • shibashake says

      In the beginning, my puppy does that too. A puppy does not know that it is not ok to go in the house, so he will go whenever he needs to. Also, puppies still have developing bodies, so they generally cannot hold too much liquid and will have to go *much more* often than an adult dog.

      However, dogs in general, do not like soiling their sleeping area, which is why they usually prefer not to go in their crates. This is also why crates can be a useful potty training tool. Nevertheless, crates are not some miracle cure. If we keep a puppy in his crate for too long, he may be forced to go in there, which will be very stressful for the puppy and will also set back our potty training efforts.

      As for potty training, I set up a fixed schedule for my puppy so that his potty schedule will also be more regular. I usually take my puppy out when he wakes up and also after a short session of rigorous play. I observe him carefully, so that I take note of his potty signals, and can take him out whenever I see them. In this way, I can reward him *very well* for going outside and reinforce the behavior.

      With potty training, supervision is key so that I can not only maximize successes with my puppy (and reinforce the behavior), but also minimize mistakes (and prevent it from becoming a habit).

      I talk more about what I do in the article above.

  26. Chad says

    Hello! We just got our puppy. He is 10 weeks old. Australian cattle dog and lab mix (adorable). It’s been too cold and snowy to take him outside so we are potty training him with puppy pads. He is getting better with using them, but there are still plenty of accidents. When he has to pee, it happens so fast that we barely have time to react. Do you have any tips on improving this process? Also, any info on how to help with his constant biting and nibbling on everything? Particularly my fingers.

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your new puppy!

      In terms of potty training, having a very fixed schedule helped with my puppy Lara. I also observed her very closely to try and anticipate her “potty time”. For example, she usually wants to go when she wakes up, and very shortly during/after some high energy activity.

      In the beginning, I took Lara out a lot – more than I needed to. It is no fun cleaning up messes, and for me, it is a lot easier to err on the side of safety. :D

      During the early puppy training period, I also put a drag-lead on my puppy. I only do this when I am around to fully supervise and only with a properly fitted flat collar (*not* an aversive collar). If I miss Lara’s potty signals and she starts to go, I quickly give a no-mark and use the lead to interrupt her and take her outside.

      Some people may further tether the puppy to themselves, so that they are always close-by and can react quickly.

      For puppy biting, this is what I do.
      More on how I manage puppy biting.
      I also do bite inhibition training with all of my dogs.

  27. Amber says

    I just adopted an 8 month old Pomeranian. She was in a foster program that kept her in a barn so she is not potty trained. We are crate/potty training her and it bringing to get very frustrating. We will take her on long walks for 20+ minutes and we will get back inside and pee. She also doesn’t mind laying in her own pee and poop in the crate…
    I just don’t know what else to do.

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, supervision was probably the most important thing during potty training. I want to try and maximize successes so that I can keep reinforcing the “potty outside” behavior, and minimize mistakes so that she does not get used to doing it inside.

      To do this, I supervise my dog very very closely during the potty training period. As soon as I see her showing signs that she might have to go, I take her outside immediately. I take her to her favorite potty spot and give her the “Go Potty” command. If she goes, I make sure to reward her *extremely well* for it with her favorite game, affection, special food, and more. In the beginning, I make they potty outside behavior very very rewarding.

      If I cannot supervise for even 1 minute, I put my puppy in her enclosure with puppy pads. In this way, she either goes on her puppy pads, or I am there to supervise and take her outside. Some people also use crates, but that will *not* work for dogs who are already accustomed to going in their crates/sleeping area because of past experience.

      I also set up a very fixed schedule for my puppy so that her potty schedule also becomes more predictable. I talk more about what I do in the article above.

    • Amy says

      I would love to hear an update and if you got through this issue. We have a 10 week old puppy who seems fine pooping and lying in it. Everything everyone told us about crate training is not working or not true for us. Even if I take her out once an hour she will still come back and poop in the crate. Will this ever end?

  28. Katie says

    I recently got a new puppy. She is 4 months old and I am trying hard to crate/housetrain her. However, the last few times when I go to put her leash on to go outside to potty, she will squat and begin in the house. Also, she is not a fan of her crate until she dozes off. I know with my work schedule she will spend a lot time in there. There have been times I’m trying to get things done and can’t watch her closely, so I put her in there. I don’t want her to view it as punishment. Any advice you have would be appreciated, especially with the going when I put her leash on.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Katie,
      Congratulations on your new puppy.

      In terms of the crate, here is how I crate train my dog.

      As for potty training, I usually leave a very light leash on my puppy when I am around to supervise (drag lead). I only do this with a properly fitted flat collar (*not* an aversive collar) and only when I am around to supervise. In this way, I can very quickly pick up the lead and prevent her from squatting.

      Setting up a fixed routine is also very helpful, as it makes my puppy’s potty routine more regular as well. In addition, I observe her carefully to see when are the times she is most likely to go, e.g. after rigorous play, when she wakes up, etc. Then I work that into the routine.

      Big hugs to your puppy!

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