Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Tips and Tricks of Potty Training... a Dog

Knock on wood, fingers crossed, our little Milt is officially potty trained!  There has been a little accident here and there but no major incidents, so this statement is indeed well founded.  Hence, Jeff and I have crafted a comprehensive list to illuminate what worked in our training and could hopefully help you too.  Believe me, I know how stressful potty training can be, and if I had known all of these down and dirty tricks from the start, both us and Milt would have been a lot better off!  So, read on and be enlightened...

1.  Consistency.  For puppies, take them out every hour on the hour unless they are sleeping.  At this stage, their bladders are still so small that they really cannot hold it for too long.  A good way to judge this is to take the number of months old they are and add one, so if your pup is three months old, he can hold it for four hours.  It is extremely important to especially take your dog out after eating, waking, and romping.  Get him or her out there immediately unless you want an accident to ensue.

To fulfill the hour on the hour, you might want a chirping bird clock like ours.  This is just a suggestion.

2.  Vigilance.  When your dog needs to go, he or she will let you know, so you constantly need to be on the lookout.  He or she obviously cannot communicate in word form, but will start sniffing the ground, walking in circles, or pawing.  Do not naively ignore these signs or think your dog can wait a few more minutes.  The pup will just pop a squat and go while you stand there with mouth gaping.  So, during these crucial few weeks, always be watching.

We tried the Bell Method (ring the bell when you need to go), but Milton missed the grand purpose of the bell, so we confiscated it.  View the below.

3. Catch in the Act. Remember your dog cannot recall that he just went to the bathroom in the house.  Their memory span is just not that developed.  For the best results, you need to catch him or her in the act of actually doing it. As soon as you see the beginnings of a squat, rush over, say a good, stern "No," pick that dog up, and haul him or her outside. After the repetition of constantly do this, it will sink in that Mommy and Daddy really are not too happy when I pottie inside.

4. No scold. Whatever you do, if it is after the fact do not scold your pup. A dog cannot remember what just happened. He or she will not realize that the mess is theirs. Yelling, screaming, or rubbing the dog's nose in the pile will not be helpful in your training process. It will stress both you and the dog out even more.

5.  Clean.  If your pup does so happen to go in the house (which he or she will!) make certain to thoroughly cleanse it after the incident.  Either pick up or blot the area and then spray with a doggie cleaner and rinse.  If you are not meticulous in your cleaning, your pup will come to associate that location with the bathroom, so it will be hard to break the dirty cycle.

Our cleaner of choice that is almost empty.

6.  Praise.  Lots and lots of praise should be used when your doggie potties outside.  Act like he or she just won an Academy Award or the lottery.  No excitement can be spared no matter how silly, stupid, or goofy you look.  I like to get down on level with Milton, really look him in the eye, and clap my hands while praising him in a baby voice which sadly is becoming analagous with my actual voice.

7.  Command words.  Your dog needs to know exactly what you want him to do.  Whenever we take Milton outside, we say, "Milton go potty."  This reminds Milton what his grand purpose outside is.  Once he gets potty out of the way, he can sniff around and explore, but until then business needs to get done.  Command words, like "release" are helpful when you are in a rush, it is cold/hot outside, etc.

8.  Dedicated spot.  Try to pick one potty spot and go to it every time.  Your dog will begin to associate this spot with his bathroom break instead of a playground. 

Milt prefers the tall grasses for privacy's sake.

9.  Puppy pads.  We find these to be extremely useful to lay down when we are going to be away for more than a few hours.  Dogs distinctly know that these absorbent pads are meant for them to release on.  It is easy cleanup when you get home, and your puppy will not feel guilty about having used them.  Some people suggest laying them down closer and closer to the door to encourage your dog to eventually go outside.

Available at your local grocery store, Wal-Mart, etc.

10.  Faith.  Most importantly, keep the faith.  It might seem like the day will never come when your dog will finally be 100% potty trained.  I know I felt that way.  It eventually happens though, and Milton is proof.  Now, whenever he needs to go he either barks at us or climbs to the top of the stairs and waits.  Your dog will eventually signal you too.  Just hold on, take a deep breath, and keep on pushing the potty.

Milton waiting patiently to go outside.

Sweet boy


  1. I totally agree with what you said about command words... Dan and I probably sound stupid when we are saying "Go potty" or "Go poop", but we can get Remington to pee and poop on command that's for sure! ;)

  2. Your blog proven all the information shared here is useful and true. I will follow the tips here and I'm sure I can train my dog properly. I'm so excited to teach him different tricks and also to play with my dog. After I watched the video here, I show it to my family and they entertained for the test you have given to your dog. Thank you for sharing this blog with us.

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  3. What a cute dog. I have faced the same problem. But now it is ok.