Potty training (or house training) is one of the primary concerns of new puppy parents when they first bring home their puppy. It’s a crucial step in ensuring a harmonious and clean living environment for both the pet and the owner. However, many well-intentioned dog owners often make common mistakes that hinder the potty training progress and may even lead to frustration on both ends. To help you know what to do and what you shouldn’t do, we’ve listed the most common mistakes people make when potty-training their dog. So, here’s what you should know and avoid these mistakes for a successful potty training journey.
Mistake 1: Not having a potty schedule
One of the primary mistakes people make is not having a schedule before they start potty training their puppy. This can lead to confusion and inconsistency in the training process. To avoid this, puppy parents should establish a clear schedule for feeding and potty breaks. Try not to deviate too much from the schedule during the potty training phase. Puppies generally need to eliminate shortly after eating, playing, or waking up. Sticking to a potty routine will help the puppy learn when and where to go when they need to relieve themselves.
Mistake 2: Not recognising puppy’s potty cues
It only takes a second for a puppy to ‘potty’ at a location that they shouldn’t! So, leaving a puppy unsupervised, and failing to recognise potty signals can lead to accidents. Supervise your pup and pay attention to potty cues like sniffing the grounds, circling, or whining. Puppies may not yet have the bladder control to hold it in for extended periods. Puppy parents need to be attentive and responsive to their puppy's behaviour. Supervision is essential to catch potential accidents early and guide the puppy to the designated potty area. When you notice these signs, immediately guide the puppy to the designated potty spot. On occasions when you do need to focus your attention elsewhere for a little while, putting your puppy in a playpen can be extremely useful to prevent potty accidents around the house. Once your dog gets into the habit of urinating and defecating at a specific location, it’s harder to train him out of doing it. So, don’t get him started. Put him in a playpen when you need to take your eyes off him. Line the bottom with some Honeycare Thicker Absorbent Dog Pee Pads and you can focus without any floor-anxiety!
Mistake 3: Punishing potty accidents
Accidents are bound to happen during potty training, but punishing the puppy for these mishaps is counterproductive. Scolding or yelling can create fear and anxiety around potty training and may lead to the puppy hiding when they need to eliminate. Instead of punishing, focus on positive reinforcement by praising and rewarding the puppy when they successfully go in the right place. Always reward good behaviour and remain consistent with commands.
Mistake 4: Inconsistent potty training
Consistency is key when it comes to potty training. Switching between indoor potty pads and outdoor potty breaks can confuse the puppy about where it's acceptable to eliminate. Choose a method that suits your lifestyle and stick to it. Gradually transition from one method to another, for example from indoor to outdoor if that's your goal. Consistent commands and cues also help the puppy understand your expectations. Consider using the NaturVet Potty Here Potty Training Aid Spray for Dogs in the early days of potty training. The unique attractant scent will encourage dogs to urinate wherever the product is sprayed.
Mistake 5: Using the wrong potty cleaning products
Using the wrong cleaning products can leave lingering scents that encourage the puppy to eliminate in the same spot again. Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners, as they mimic the smell of urine. Instead, opt for enzymatic cleaners like this Simple Solution Hard Floor Stain & Odor Remover For Dogs designed to break down the odour-causing molecules on hard surfaces. To remove stains and odour from rugs and upholstery, use the Kin+Kind Pee+Stain+Odor Destroyer (Floral) Fabric & Carpet Spray.
Mistake 6: Rushing the training process
Potty training takes time and patience. Rushing the process and expecting quick results can set the puppy up for failure. Keep in mind that your dog’s mind isn’t as advanced as yours, and he may need time to learn and understand what you want him to do. And, know that each puppy is unique and will learn at his own pace. It's important to remain patient and consistent throughout the training journey, celebrating small victories along the way.
Mistake 7: Not adjusting for age and breed
Different breeds and ages of puppies have varying levels of bladder control. Young puppies and smaller breeds have smaller bladders and may need more frequent potty breaks. You can estimate your pup’s hold time by converting his age in months into hours he can hold his pee. So, a 3-month old puppy can only hold it for three hours maximum! As the puppy grows, he will be able to hold his pee for much longer, up to six hours. Understanding your puppy's needs based on its age and breed will help you set realistic expectations and prevent accidents.
Mistake 8: Slacking off when your pup seems to be potty trained
So you’ve had a good week with no potty accidents and the tendency is to assume you don’t need to supervise your pup any longer. That’s a big mistake! The truth is, it takes several months, not just weeks, for your dog to truly “get it” when it comes to house training. Just having an off day can mean your dog can relapse and have a potty accident. Keep diligently to the training until your dog hasn’t had an accident in several months. For most, it will take between four to six months for a puppy to be fully reliable.
Potty training a puppy requires dedication and consistency. Avoiding the common mistakes highlighted here can lead to a smoother training experience. Be patient with your furry kid. You can create a strong foundation for a well-behaved and happy adult dog.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.