Potty Training a puppy or dog is teaching them to go pee or poo outside.
In some cases people may train their dog to go on Potty Pads inside the house in a designated area.
Potty Training is not to be confused with marking. Some people will have a dog that was potty trained and now around a year of age starts peeing in the house again. If the peeing occurs on the corner of furniture, walls, on beds, etc. then this is often a dog claiming territory. This is most commonly caused by a dog that would like to be boss and is trying to improve their position within the pack. This most commonly happens with Male dogs but Female dogs can also mark.
This is often a result of people within the home not following Pack Structure Rules and more frequently happens with people who consider themselves to “spoil” their dogs. Giving away freedoms to a low ranking dog such as an Omega can be fine. If you try to give freedoms to a high level Beta or Alpha, they will often begin marking territory in the house. Often times just implementing Pack Structure Rules will make the marking behaviour go away. We will go over other things to help further down.
Methods for Potty Training You May Have Heard
Rub their nose in it and punish the dog
Pros: This was the old school method of potty training a dog and it worked well for many dogs. I have heard lots of people tell me they only had to do this once or twice and the dog never went pee or poop in the house again.
Cons: A lot of dogs will learn that it is merely dangerous to go pee or poop in front of you. They may then try to run off and hide whenever they need to go to the bathroom. This makes training much more difficult to manage and recognize when the dog has to go to the bathroom. You may also smell pee or poo in the house and find yourself going on an unrewarding Easter Egg hunt to find the hidden treasure.
People are largely switching over to other methods such as the following.
Reward the dog for going outside
People will take their dog outside frequently to go to the bathroom and reward the dog with praise, treats or toys right after they go to the bathroom. This method works quite well. The clients that take their dog out every 30 minutes have the best success.
Stomp your feet and clap your hands if you catch them in the act and then take them outside
This is designed to be a minor consequence for going in the house. It is used to startle the dog and hopefully stop them in the act so you can immediately take them outside to finish their business.
If you have a very sensitive dog this sudden loud noise could be too frightening for the dog. You would then need to use less “enthusiasm” in your stomping and clapping for that particular dog.
Even if they stop, many dogs won’t resume going outside when you do take them right after. The point is to stop them and not scare them like a smack on the butt or rubbing their nose in it.
Ring a bell -
Pros: Many dogs catch onto this quickly and once they do they seem to have potty training figured out very close to the same time they learn to ring the bell. It can also help notify the people the dog has to go outside especially if the door they are let out is further away from where the people usually are.
Cons: This can become a demanding behaviour. The dog wants in and out and in and out. They can quickly learn to abuse this system. In some cases once the dog has learned to go outside people can stop using the bell and will often see the dog sitting near the door and take them outside.
The other main con is when training a dog to ring a bell that hangs from a door a dog can learn to paw at a door to go out. Many doors have been completely ruined by a dog pawing at the door. If you take your dog to a friends place they can paw at their door as well which may not make your friend very happy.
They do have bells for dogs like the desk top bells you ring for service. These bells are on the floor and can work much better as it keeps the dog from pawing at the door.
Bark to go outside
Some people say they wished their dog would bark to let them know they need to go outside.
Pros: When a dog does learn to bark to be let outside they usually know for sure to go pee and poo outside. It can also help notify the people the dog has to go outside especially if the door they are let out is further away from where the people usually are.
Cons: This can become a demanding behaviour. The dog wants in and out and in and out. They can quickly learn to abuse this system. It can also teach the dog to bark for a lot of other things. It can just make barking in general much worse. This can be problematic for people in condos or with roommates. There are a few dogs we have worked with where barking needed to be fixed immediately otherwise the dog was going to be evicted from where they lived.
What Are the Best Methods for Potty Training?
Gone Long Periods of Time
If you are gone during the day longer than your puppy can “hold it” there are a few options:
Sleep Through the Night
Some people can’t remember the last time they had a good nights sleep due to potty training and would very much like to get a good nights sleep.
These things can help out a lot:
More Difficult Scenarios
Dogs who aren’t kennel trained
Some people find it cruel to kennel train their dog at all so they don’t. It is good for sure to train your dog to be good without needing a kennel. Dogs that are kennelled for 8 hours or more a day their whole lives don’t live the most exciting lives. We tell people to ask the question “Would you want to live your dog’s life?”
Kennel training can be very helpful for Potty Training and teaching a dog not to destroy things in the house.
If a kennel is not used it can be difficult to keep an eye on the dog. They can easily get into the habit of peeing or pooping elsewhere in the house. We have worked with families where there was a lot of tension between family members because the dog was peeing or pooping in the house. We knew of one lady with three dogs and the husband was so fed up with her not training the dogs that he took two of them and gave them to someone else and didn’t tell her where they went. Other family members were mad at each other because they had to tip toe around the house so they didn’t step in a puddle of pee or poop. Using a kennel doesn’t have to be forever, often just for a few months to get the dog on the right track.
Always have access outside
These dogs often do great with access outside and never have accidents in the house. The only downside is if they ever need to go somewhere else that they don’t have access to outside. These dogs may have never learned to “hold it” so they may choose to go pee or poo in the house as soon as the urge hits them.
Doing a bit of kennel training or restricting access outside while you watch them can help build their tolerance to “hold it”.
Dogs not suited to the cold
Small dogs often are most subject to this problem if they don’t have much for a winter coat and don’t spend much time outside anyhow. Bigger dogs with short hair can also be a problem.
Solution: If we were to deal with an issue like this we would probably build a small green house type building that can be warmed by the sun. You could have a small heater in there that you can turn on when the dog is sent in there. The dog can then go to the bathroom outside in that warmed environment.
There is also an option to get a custom jacket with pouches where you can added “heated hand packs” which are for your gloves but could be used to heat the dog.
A covered area can work well for dogs that do not like the rain.
Puppy mill dogs
This is the worst case scenario and the hardest to train. If a dog has been subjected to peeing and pooping in their own den area for months or years they will often have no issues peeing and pooping in the house right where they are when they have to go. Be prepared for a lot of work!
Take the dog out very frequently (every 10 minutes even) and reward lots any time they go outside. Say “go pee” or “go poop” whenever they are going outside to help put it on command.
If you have the option to sleep outside with your dog that would be best. Then they get into the habit of going outside easier. Teach them to ring a bell or bark to be let outside. Use a tasty treat to reward them for whenever they go to the bathroom outside.
Spoiled high ranking dogs marking territory
This is different from potty training. However the dog is still peeing and sometimes pooping in the house. We deal with this type of scenario a few times a year.
It is most commonly a small male dog under 10 pounds. In many cases a person gets a small dog to have as a companion lap dog. Choosing a high level Beta or Alpha for this role often causes a lot of problems. If a person wants a dog for this role they are much better off getting an Omega.
In these cases almost all Pack Structure Rules are not followed. The dog has free reign of the house. They start thinking it is their job to be boss and will often begin marking territory in the house. This may be peeing on the side of furniture or walls.
Solutions: The easiest fix is to put a diaper on the dog and that at least stops the dog from causing any more messes. Some dogs don’t like the feel of peeing in the diaper so as a result they stop marking. Wearing the diaper long enough (Core Rule: Training Phase vs Management Phase) and the dog doesn’t need the diaper anymore and is now good.
The way we deal with this is through implementing all Pack Structure Rules. We exercise the dog and anytime they are in the house and going to be unsupervised we will tie them to their tie-
This can be a tough case to solve as these dogs are often very demanding and throw temper tantrums if they do not get their way. The person may experience an Extinction Burst.
If you are in this position, you may share a lot in common with clients we have had in the past in the same situation. They typically don’t like the idea of having the dog follow through on rules, they prefer the ideology of spoiling. They are also not a fan of the idea of kenneling or tying the dog up.
This is a case where training the person is more of an issue than training the dog. If you are in this situation you should ask yourself these questions:
If you are not then you may consider using the diaper method. It is also important to know that this type of dog will need a lot of rules and structure. Dogs like having a confident and capable leader, it reduces their stress. They are canines and we are primates, they have different natural rules than us. Since we are primates we often think the canine rules will show that we don’t love them. However in the canine world when the rules are followed they understand you are the leader and you will keep them safe. It reduces their stress and increases their happiness.
Once the dog is doing well the person must keep following the Pack Structure Rules otherwise the dog can think the person no longer wants to be boss and they take over again and begin marking territory.
This just boils down to being the wrong match between human and dog. From our experience the success of this type of case is low due to the outside limits human and dog exhibit. The human is at the outside limit of wanting to spoil and not following rules. The dog is at the outside limit of wanting to be boss and not respect the rules. If either one could move closer to the center then there would be harmony. You can pretty well bet the dog isn’t going to come to the center. That leaves the human with coming to the center. That is a long way for the human to move so it is tough and not always desired.
The most often time we hear about this scenario is from a person phoning on behalf of their friend or family member. They want to help them out and even pay for training. If the person with the problem isn’t seeking the help themselves they almost never come for training.
This is a tough case to solve and as of yet we have not figured out a way that works for this scenario. We find that people are much harder to train than dogs are.
Best advice we can give you if you have to stay at a place that has this issue:
We worked with one client where her son went off to University and came home on the weekends. The dog would come greet him excitedly and then run to his room and pee on his bed. The mom asked what she should do. We said her son should go pee on the dog’s bed. Then we said we were kidding.
They all got a good laugh out of it and her son said he was sure thinking about it.
Maybe it works, we have never tested it. If anyone does, let us know how that goes :)