Callie's Question Corner

Potty Training

There are lots of "systems" for housebreaking a dog or puppy. Crating can help. But so can teaching them to ASK to go out!

Our backyard is very big, which is good, and fenced well. Should I get a doggy door so the pup can go outside at night by himself?
No -- I don't see that as necessary. If you crate train this pup -- he should sleep in the crate. He'll learn to "hold it" all night. While he's a puppy, YOU should be letting him out during the night. First off -- you will want to know when he's going and IF he's actually doing anything. You don't want him just wandering around outside at night and chasing every butterfly (not ever really). If you get a small puppy, you're gonna have to get up with him just like a human gets up with a tiny baby. But resist the temptation to let him just mess during the night and "I'll clean it up in the morning". If you do that, it takes him a LOT longer to get the idea that you DON'T mess in the house! This is why I told you to put that little 'bell' on his collar.
Should I potty train my dog to go on newspaper outside? If he makes a mess, should I clean it up and take it to a spot outside so when I take him outside he knows what he's supposed to be doing and what that spot is for?
Paper training can work well, but the lingering problem is that a paper trained dog will ALWAYS look for a newspaper sized something to have an accident on! The theory of paper training is to take the puppy to the paper to poop, and move it gradually to the door and then OUTSIDE of the door and then to the grass beyond. That's a LOT of separate signals -- I think it's simpler and easier to start from DAY ONE to say NO potty in the house! Take him out every hour or so. Watch him -- if he looks like he's starting to "sniff around" for someplace to go or starts to "circle" -- Pick him up and rush outside. As he gets bigger and learns to "come" to his name call him to follow you and get him outside THAT way. But be vigilant and try all the time to get it through to him that you do this OUTSIDE ON THE GRASS -- ***not*** inside! Always go through the SAME door. (You want him to associate going to the door with wanting to go out!). A friend of mine had a really clever idea. They had a spring behind the door (so when the door banged open it didn't mark the wall -- it hit the spring with this little rubber end on it instead). They taught Pepe when he had to go "out" to paw that little spring. It made a "sproinnnnngggggggg" noise you could hear all over the house!!! Hence when anyone heard the sproiiiiinnnnnngggg -- they KNEW Pepe had to go out! (no barking, see???) In fact, one time when I was there, I was babysitting and heard sproinnnggggg sproingggggggggg -- and Jeff said -- WOW, you better hurry -- two times means he CAN'T WAIT!!! (*laughing* I can remember this so vividly!). Or you can get a little bell and hang it on a string near the door -- every time you go OUT the door jingle the bell so he KNOWS this means let's go out! Or if you have the bell on his collar -- you can just listen for that jingle coming from his journey to the kitchen! (or wherever your back door is).

In the very beginning your mission Miss Sarah is to:

a) take him out REGULARLY. In fact, the day you get home with him that is the FIRST place you'll "go".

b) WATCH him!!! after the first day or two (especially after you MISS the signals a couple of times!) you'll see suddenly he'll stop playing and begin to "sniff" and then BOOM!!! He's piddling or pooping!!


The principle is easy -- when he goes INside, you say (try to use the same words as much as you can -- he's learning commands here) NO poochie!! Go Potty OUTside! -- then pick him up (do NOT handle his mess in front of him, I'll explain later) and go quickly outside and put him down **on grass** and say "Potty HERE!" Now patiently wait -- hopefully he hasn't "finished" and will continue to do SOMETHING outside. When he does "GOOD boooyy!!!" PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE!!!

On the happy occasions when he DOES go outside (this will be inadvertent at first -- up til now all he cared was that he didn't have to sleep in it or walk on it while he ate!) praise him! Especially make a big big deal out of it when he goes when you take him out specifically for that purpose!!! And ESPECIALLY when he begins to get the drift that he needs to go toward the DOOR and sniff!

Now .. it's not going to be TOOO long and suddenly he's gonna get the idea "WHOAAAA ... gee whiz! Every time I gotta "go" .. somebody whisks me to that other place!!! Must be that's a good thing!"


Now, when he has an "accident" -- be CONSISTENT. That's the true trick to ANY training. If it's wrong TODAY it's gotta be WRONG TOMORROW!!!

When he does one in front of you: NO!!! (best growly voice) NO!!! Dirty dog! (Then leash him or pick him up and take him outside.) You're allowed to fuss at him a bit here -- "NO NO, only DIRTY dogs go inside!" Then as you walk outside -- put him WHERE YOU WANT HIM TO GO and tell him (no nonsense but not a growl) POTTY HERE! (or "go" or whatever word you want to use).

When you "FIND" an accident and he's NOWHERE around! Use this opportunity! Go find him -- don't say anything but in a no-nonsense attitude leash him and lead him (or if you can just tell him to come WITH you, but this AIN"T play time!!!) back to the "scene of the crime". Repeat the above speech (No NO -- DIRTY dog!!!). Actually this time you can play up the DIRTY DOG thing. Use your face and voice -- let him know you are TOTALLY disgusted!!! UGH NO NO!!!.

Then RIGHT NOW -- take him outside IMMEDIATELY (who cares if he's gotta go or not -- you're on a mission to prove a point!). Potty OUTSIDE! Then just stand there -- and WAIT (your body language can validly be a bit ticked off here -- you're outside with him because he did a BAD thing!!!).

On the way out do the "bell-thing" that I've described here. On the way in, it won't hurt to tell him "you TELL Mom when you gotta go" and POINT to the bell (don't ring -- just SHOW him where it is!!! LEST he forget!!!).


Now this is gonna sound strange, Sarah -- but trust me it's true! I don't know WHAT genius figured this out, but by cracky -- it DOES work!

DO NOT NOT NOT let him watch you touch his "accidents". There is some weird kind of "pride" here and nobody really understands it -- but never let a dog WATCH you clean up after them.

Cleaner -- CAREFUL HERE!

You'll want to get a deodorizer from the pet store. This is another "dog mental weirdo thing". They are totally drawn to "ammonia" of any kind! Most commercial cleaners have ammonia IN them. If you clean up after puppy with something that smells to HIM like another dog's potty place -- to HIM that's YOU INVITING him to go there AGAIN!!!!!

So, get something from the pet shop like Odo-Ban (there's a bunch of them -- ask the shop owner). Most of these are actually enzymes that not only do NOT attract the dog, they eat up the residue and make it totally go away. BESIDES they leave a better smell!

You also have to be careful and not use something with bleach (clorox) in it or it will take the color out of the rug!!! You have to be careful on painted surfaces too -- the wrong cleaner will lift paint!!! \\\One of my favorites -- old fashioned murphy's oil soap -- mix it up like the label says, except just enough of it to fit in a spray bottle!


Now -- you can't forever be taking him out every other moment! So, eventually the idea is for HIM to tell YOU when he's gotta go out!!! Remember, they're like little kids. They'll get to playing and FORGET they gotta go! It will hit them suddenly, so don't expect this quickly!!! Before he can tell YOU, you have to learn to "listen" to him!! Mostly you'll listen with your EYES. When he stops playing and turns around to "sniff" -- or if he looks like he's going back to a place he's done it before ... or PARTICULARLY if he "disappears" for a moment when he was busy "just a minute ago" -- GET ON IT!!! The urge will strike him suddenly and the first thing he'll learn is NOT to do it in FRONT OF YOU!!!! So "away" is his first instinct! Go get him and direct him to the door!

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