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Potty Training

Potty Training

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The goal and idea here is to make the whole house, in the dog’s mind, his/her space that he/she would not want to pee or poop in. Dogs do not pee or poop where they eat/sleep/live; they have clean instincts. 


Dogs that are not potty trained fall into three categories.

  1. They don’t understand

  2. They don’t agree

  3. It’s complicated


If a dog doesn't understand: We must teach, in order to teach we must have the language and management. 

If they don’t agree: We must enforce boundaries and consequences while showing them how to live in our homes.


It’s complicated: There are always reasons we don’t think of: Medical, trauma, or another outside factor. These use a different set of rules and tools and are case by case.

Until they understand and agree we will set them up for success by using:


  1. Confinement vs supervision

  • Confinement: Means in the largest space they will not poop/pee/destroy.

    • Ex. Crate, Pen, Room, etc.

    • If they do not like their confinement area we must condition it to be a pleasant space. See space training.

  • Supervision: Means actively monitoring their behavior

    • Ex. Leash attached to you, or watching them play and move around, etc.


  1. Reinforcer vs Consequence

    • Reinforcer: Make going potty outside rewarding (treats, petting, play, freedom, etc.)

    • Consequence: Disrupt and redirect peeing and pooping inside then placing the pup outside so that they can finish and be reinforced. 


  1. Increase Chances of Success

    • Create a schedule to increase chances of correct reinforcement; by knowing his/her schedule and predicting when he/she is likely to go, you are setting up for success.

    • Set the stage for signaling by watching to see what they do when they have to go so you can read your dog.

    • Make going outside memorable! If going outside leads to fun/treats/freedom the likelihood of your pup wanting to go outside will increase.

    • If you can’t keep an eye out, keep them contained for brief periods of time (A puppy can hold it on average as many hours as they are months old)

    • Turning Points

      • Keep an eye out for when he/she starts going to the door or signaling you to go to the bathroom! This is KEY, reinforce with whatever your pup finds most valuable.

      • Once he/she is consistent then you can start leaving your pup unattended for a moderate/brief period in a larger space and 

        • If there is another accident, decrease freedom until back on track!

        • Keep potty training as close to the same schedule as possible, when you go outside always say the same thing “Outside” or whatever you choose, once outside say “go potty” etc. and reinforce right after pup fully relieves him/herself.

      • Signs your dog has to go: pacing, whining, circling, sniffing purposefully, or leaving the room.

      • You can train signals such as barking, whining, scratching at the door or a bell or dogs may naturally offer these signals; not all dogs will.

      • The key is to learn your dog's body language and signals and respond quickly. The next step often is  your dog “asking” to go out once he/she catches on with consistency.

Potty Training for Adult Dogs

1. Establish a strict routine

  • Consistent feeding schedule (15min then pick up food)

2. Use a leash and bring to same spot (10-15min)

  • If your pup does not go once out but him/her in a crate/pen/room they will not pee/poop/destroy for 10min then try again. 

  • Do not allow dog unsupervised and free roaming if they have not gone.

  • Make going outside very positive with rewards your dog​ values whether that be a high value treat/play/praise/freedom etc. Make going to the bathroom outside stand out. 

  • Disrupt from going inside and immediately bring outside if you see them circling or squatting in the house. Disrupt, don't scare or you can get dogs that will find hiding places to go inside.

  • Some senior dogs, dogs with medical issues such as rashes, uti's, etc. or dogs that live in difficult environments such as the city or small dogs with predators outdoors may benefit from an indoor potty area (turf or potty pads).

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