• Kathleen Kiefer, CPDT-KA

Potty Training A.S.A.P.

Let’s talk today about common pitfalls in potty training. The most common problem I see is that the dog does not understand that eliminating outside is desired behavior. One of my preferred solutions is the assure that the dog is reinforced for eliminating A.S.A.P. or As Soon As Potty. Fixing the timing issue often helps the dog’s association with the desired behavior. I’m not talking about when the dog comes back up the steps into the house. I’m talking food in mouth maximum of 3 seconds after the last urine drips reach the closest blade of grass. How long will it take? It depends. That’s a notoriously vague answer in animal training. If I tell you that 300 perfectly timed “Good Puppy” & Treat in mouth that comes perfectly timed after a full (or nearly) bladder or bowel is emptied, within a degree of reasonable doubt your puppy will be potty trained. Timing matters.


Common Problems: 1) Dog goes out to get cookie when dog comes in. Dog perceives coming in door with the cookie, not with eliminating outside.

2) The hover squat without elimination. Hey ma! I squatted! Look, I squatted! For this reason I look for the entire bladder to be emptied.

3) Management. This is the biggest dog trainer’s secret. If you’re not actively watching your puppy, put them in an exercise pen, crate them or teach them to understand being tethered in the home. 6 feet of bad decisions is still more desirable if pseudo-supervised. Let your puppy have a drag line until you trust them in your house. It’s easier to see them sneaking away.

4) Potty pads. Yes, your teacup Yorkie can be fully potty trained. But, potty pads require a full commitment to potty training plan twice. They easily become an option for little dogs, and if that’s fine with you, then it’s your dog. With my puppies, either with litters I raise or puppies that have to be unattended during a 5+ hour work shift I give them the option of a litter box with a preferred elimination surface (alfalfa pellets/synthetic turf) or a living space in an ex-pen. Giving them only two options in a small space can help a young dog learn to stay ‘clean’ by giving them structure.

5) Over estimating how long your puppy can hold his bladder or bowel. How many times a day do you pee? That’s rhetorical. A growing puppy needs water and food and exercise to grow. All of those things will move a dog’s bowel. 6) Not enough time or movement allowed to produce a bowel movement. If dog trainer’s know anything it’s about dog shi*. Sometimes after a period of inactivity we take a dog out and don’t allow them enough physical movement to stimulate the movement of the bowel. I will often use the “Boring Potty Walk” method (essentially pacing for 20 feet or so for dozens of times until a BM is produced). Water intake is necessary for bowel movement.

7) Puppy associates you, pee and the puppy in the same picture as bad, so the puppy tries to get far away to potty in the house. Because young dogs live in the moment they don’t have the ability to associate that the act of pooping is what caused you to cause a fuss. Now the dog avoids being seen making a poo, which will make it harder to reward if you can’t see it happen. Depending on where you get your puppy, or dog and what their experiences are they might have already become used to being dirty or messy. Some dogs are raised or kept in confined conditions where they’re not left with much option but to live in filth. How clean a mother dog keeps her whelping area with her puppies also has an influence. For difficult cases I recommend keeping a timed log book of drinking, eating, activity and elimination logs and keeping a schedule so that the owner can begin to see a pattern over time. If you have any questions, book a consultation now! These issues are easily solved in a telephone or video consultation. Let me know what you think, was this post helpful for you? #dogtrainernanowrimo #pottytraining #puppytraining #puppypoop

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© 2021 Created by Kathleen Kiefer of Louisville, Kentucky USA