2018-11-09 / Pets

Oops! He did it again

By Phyllis Beasley, CPDT-KA Owner/Lead Trainer, Praise Dog! Training LLC


If you don’t catch your puppy peeing inside, you cannot scold him. He won’t understand why you are upset. If you don’t catch your puppy peeing inside, you cannot scold him. He won’t understand why you are upset. Housetraining issues are annoying and frustrating, but fixable. The key to success, as with all training, is consistency and clarity. Housetraining for puppies and adult dogs follows the same procedures, but it may take longer to housetrain puppies because of shorter attention span and, like young children, they are less able to control their urge.

Here are tips to help your housetraining go smoothly. My first and biggest tip for training puppies is that you must watch your puppy constantly. Would you let a one-year-old baby walk around the house unsupervised without a diaper? If you can’t keep your eyes on your puppy, then he should be in a crate just big enough for him to stand up and turn around in. Later, when he is housetrained, he can graduate to a larger crate. If you haven’t crate trained your puppy, you can use baby gates to restrict his access to other parts of the house to make it easier to keep your eyes on him. Remember, a puppy can comfortably stay in his crate during the day for one hour per month of life, plus one. This means that if your puppy is 12 weeks old, he should not stay in the crate during the day for more than four hours. Another option to keep him in your view is to tether him to you while you work around the house.


Teach your dog to ring a bell to go outside. This is Love Jenkins’s rescue dog Alice. Teach your dog to ring a bell to go outside. This is Love Jenkins’s rescue dog Alice. When you are housetraining, take your puppy or dog outside every hour, after he wakes up from a nap, after a vigorous play session, and 15 to 20 minutes after he eats. For housetraining purposes, as well as other reasons, I do not recommend free feeding your puppy. Free feeding means that you leave the food down for your pet to nibble on constantly during the day. Trainers have a saying: “What goes in on a schedule, comes out on a schedule.”


Marti Hartley takes her rescue dog Paddy outside on a leash so Paddy won’t get distracted. Marti Hartley takes her rescue dog Paddy outside on a leash so Paddy won’t get distracted. Consult with your vet regarding a feeding schedule if needed.

What I recommend for my housetraining clients, and what I did myself when I was housetraining my German Shepherd dog, is to keep a written log of when he goes to the bathroom. This helps you understand how frequently he needs to potty and to predict when you might need to take him out.

Here are more important tips: when you take your puppy out, take him outside on a leash to the place you want him to go and stand there. If he is allowed to wander, he will get distracted and forget he needs to pee. He will remember he needs to when he gets back inside. Say his potty cue (“do your business,” “go potty”). Give him only five minutes to do his business. If it is time for him to go and he doesn’t, crate him or watch him carefully. In about 15 minutes, take him out again. Repeat this until he successfully pees or poops outside. When he does his business outside, give him a treat and lots of praise. Giving him a treat makes a strong impression on him. He will remember that he got rewarded after he pottied. If your puppy is young, give him time to pee again. Young puppies will often pee twice.


If you want your puppy to go outside, don’t use pee pads. If you want your puppy to go outside, don’t use pee pads. One of the complaints I hear from clients is that their puppy or dog doesn’t let them know they need to go outside. Often they are letting their owners know, but the puppies’ signals are so subtle they are easily missed. To help your puppy communicate his need to go outside, teach him to ring a bell to go out. Hang a ribbon or string with bells attached from the handle of the door where he should go out. Each time you take him out, touch his paw to the bell. He will quickly learn that he gets to go outside when the bell rings. You can make your own door bells, or you can buy one from a local pet store. Another tip: if your puppy starts ringing the bell constantly to go outside without having to go to the bathroom, keep taking him out on lead and give him only enough time to go to the bathroom.


Jan Perry has taught her Sheltie Tootsie to ring a beautiful homemade bell to go outside. Jan Perry has taught her Sheltie Tootsie to ring a beautiful homemade bell to go outside. If you want your puppy to learn to go outside, do not use pee pads. This is very confusing to the puppy. Pads encourage a puppy to go inside the house. You are giving him mixed messages. If you want him to learn to go outside, teach him that is the only place he should go.

If your puppy has an accident inside and you can’t catch him doing it, you cannot punish the puppy. He will have no idea what you are punishing him for. If you catch him in the act, clap your hands to interrupt him and say “no,” then immediately take him outside on lead and give him your cue. Clean up any accidents with an enzymatic urine cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle™ or Simple Solutions™. These products are the only ones that will break down the bacteria so that your dog will be less likely to go in that spot again.

If your dog or puppy has nearly been housetrained, then begins to have frequent accidents in the house, have him examined by your vet for a possible health issue, such as a urinary tract infection.

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