Puppy Potty Training – Facts and Myths

Puppy potty training is the bane of most new dog owners. That is why there are so many tutorials on how to house train 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 house-break. My Shiba was potty trained when we first got him, at 10 weeks old.

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

It took a few weeks to potty train her.

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

Whatever the case, always remember that we can successfully potty train a physically healthy dog, at whatever age, no matter the history.

And that is a dog potty training fact!

Puppy Potty Training 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.

When my Siberian Husky puppy was 8 weeks old, I took her out about once every hour (if she was awake), and after every 10-15 minutes of play.

I stop giving puppy 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 pottying outside, the more she will potty outside. When my puppy does her business in the backyard, I mark that behavior (Yes!). Once puppy finishes, I treat her and give her some good affection. Afterward, I reward her with play-time or a brief walk.

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

What we want to do is not only maximize the number of successes, but also minimize the number of mistakes.


MythMy dog cannot be house trained 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 house trained. The key to potty training is patience and consistency. Always be around to supervise our puppy when she is inside. If we do not have the time to supervise, then crate her, 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 potty train our puppy, is to remain calm, and consistently let her know that going inside is inappropriate (Ack, ack), and going outside is appropriate (Yes).

Puppy Potty Training 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 we do not catch it on time and she starts to do her business, then 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 important to prevent mistakes by always supervising puppy, and using a crate or long-term enclosure when we are not around, or too busy to supervise.

Note that a dog may look sheepish when we shout at her after the fact. This is because she knows that we are upset. Therefore, she is using 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, and cause her to get stressed and fearful. This can actually make things worse by causing her to do submissive urination.


b) Crate train our dog.

Dogs do not generally like to soil where they sleep. Keeping our puppy in a crate will 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 pottying, 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.



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

If we will be away for a long period of time, put 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 can also consider using an indoor grass system. However, some dogs may not like standing on or going on the indoor grass surface. Just using regular sod or grass does not work well 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 potty 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 go potty 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 go potty on pads, as well as go potty outside.

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

Puppy Potty Training 3

Clean Away Mistakes Properly

During the potty training process, there will be some mistakes. When that happens, calmly no-mark our puppy (Ack, ack), and take her outside.

Once we are outside, praise and reward puppy if she continues with her business.

Then leave puppy in the 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.

Puppy Potty Training 4

Make Sure the Mistakes Are Potty Mistakes

Not all indoor urination is the result of potty training 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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Comments

  1. 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.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

  2. 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.
      http://www.alaskankleekaiscam.com/alaskan-klee-kai-information/before-you-buy-an-akk/

      More on Shiba vs. Siberian Husky.

  3. 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..

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/teaching-your-dog-eliminate-specific-place

  7. 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.

  8. 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).

  9. Lindsey says

    Hello,

    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. =)))

  10. 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

  11. says

    Hi
    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?
    Thanks
    Camilla

    • 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Aly says

    Hi,
    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.

  14. 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.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/how-to-stop-dog-eating-poop

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Amber says

    Hello!
    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.
    Thanks,
    Amber

    • 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?

  20. 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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