Solving Potty Training Problems
If I go through my correspondence with our new puppy families potty training problems are one of the most frequent issues that arise in messages and emails. So figured I will give you a few tips on how to housebreak your pup and a few problem resolutions on how to solve the most common issues with potty training. Keep in mind that when our little samurais leave the kennel to go to their forever homes they are started on the kennel potty routine and are 80% trained. However, I have a bit of a cheating strategy as I utilize the use of the doggy doors at the kennel from 4 weeks of age. Hence pups are free to leave the living/sleeping quadrants to go outside and run to do their potty business. If you don't participate to install a doggy door in your house or don't have the capability of installing one (apartment living for example) you will have to start almost from scratch. However, because puppies are already trained to keep their “place” clean (no one likes to sleep in their own poo and pee) and have a strong natural instict of denning with proper strategies, routine and consistency it should take you a few weeks to get to the core of potty training. By the way if you have an older dog (a rescue for example), know that these same tips will apply to your older dog, too! I’ll let you on a secret, with a good plan and consistency potty training doesn't have to be as difficult as it might seem. In fact, most pups can be fully potty trained and adjusted to their new home and routines in just a few weeks.
Here are a few common ways that puppy potty training goes wrong, and how to get things back on track:
MEDICAL ISSUE THAT'S INFLUENCING YOUR PUPPY'S BEHAVIOR.
Medical reasons for potty training problems are too often overlooked.
If your pup is only having pee accidents, is peeing with extreme frequency, and/or you see a drastic change in your dog's bathroom habits, your first visit should be to your veterinarian for a consultation to check for any underlying medical issues one of the most common ones is urinary tract infection. Due to the stress of relocation puppy’s immune system can be compromised making him/her more susceptible to yeast infections. Another reason can be a change in food leading to a disbalance of gut microflora and as result “an allergic” reaction in terms of urinary yeast infection (read up on my blog about dog allergies)
YOU NEED TO ADJUST YOUR CONFINEMENT STRATEGY.
Ok confinement aka crating topic is just as hot as politics. But in my opinion and experience confining your puppy is a necessary component of successful potty training (read up for more details on this topic in my crate training post). If your pup is having accidents in their confinement area (such as a crate or a playpen) it's too large. You can make that confinement area a safe and positive place by:
👉Never using it for punishment
👉Feeding your dog's meals in there and hiding special treats in the area
👉Not leaving him/her in there for excessive periods. (General rule of thumb is age in months + 1 hour)
During the potty training process, in times you can't actively supervise your puppy and his/her bludder is not empty your puppy must be confined! This is critical. This is the only way to teach them how to hold their bladder.
YOU'RE MISSING ACCIDENTS.
This is the MAIN reason both confinement and active supervision are so important to the young puppy potty training process.
Every time you miss an accident, you've just extended the length of time it's going to take to potty train your dog.
And the reason as to why is that in order for your young pup to fluently learn any behaviour (in this case, eliminating outside) they must have a clear understanding of what you want and what you don't. If your puppy has an accident and doesn't get any feedback, they're never going to understand what's expected of them.
YOUR DOG ISN'T MAKING THE CONNECTION.
This part has to do with how you use puppy-human feedback to succeed in the puppy potty training process.
If your dog has an accident in front of you, immediately interrupt with an "ah-ah!" “no-no” or whatever verbal cue you would use (it always must be the same phrase/word) and get him/her outside as quickly as possible. ‼️Do not yell at your puppy, rub his nose in the accident, or punish him/her‼️. You are simply interrupting and getting him/her outside, then praising heavily if he/she finishes outside.
If your puppy had an accident and you miss it, simply clean it up, as there's no learning that will happen at this point. Puppies have a very short memory (trust me not always🥴) that's why repetition is the key. Your puppy simply won't make the needed connection as for you being unhappy cleaning the puddle and him/her doing something the puddle 5 minutes ago.
Go with your puppy outside every time during this process. Remember key element is repetition, consistency and routine! You need to praise and reward heavily. It does not have to be food reward every time, a positive feeling like extra attention works wonderfully as well. Show your puppy that you are happy for him/her pottying outdoors but do keep in mind that you do need to keep a close eye on your puppy to timely praise him/her for such wonderful work he/she has done! As well you need to know whether or not your dog puppy had emptied his/her bladder and of course, don't forget about number twos before you go back inside the house.
YOU NEED TO TEACH YOUR PUPPY A WAY TO ALERT YOU THAT HE/SHE NEEDS TO GO.
If your puppy understands that they need to potty outside but is having accidents near the door, it's likely they just haven't learned a clear way to signal to you that they need to go.
In this case, it's helpful to add in a bell or other audible alert that your pup can use to let you know he/she needs to go.
This is all! Not rocket science right? So before you pick up your bundle of joy make a schedule for yourself and your family on when and who will be taking the pup outside. Keep in mind their bladders are about plum in size and cannot hold it longer than 2 hours to start with. And as for number twos the golden rule is - whatever comes in something needs to come out. So make sure to take your pup out 10-15 minutes after each meal.