As a dog owner, you may know that the path to properly potty-training your pup will be littered (and not just figuratively) with obstacles. The woes of potty training are a universal language among pet owners, spoken with sighs and paper towels or poop bags at the ready.
From the first joyous day your new dog comes home to the hundredth time cleaning up an indoor accident, potty training will be an up-and-down journey that’s sure to test your patience. But remember that the problems you’ll encounter during your dog’s potty training are neither unique nor impossible to resolve. Like any good habit, your dog’s instinct to go potty in the right place will require consistency, and you’ll need both patience and understanding to see this through.
For every common setback to potty training, there will always be something you can do to adjust your strategy. Here are PrideBites’ tips for addressing your dog’s potty training troubles:
1) Creating a Consistent Routine
A dog's confusion about how, where, and when to relieve themselves often stems from an inconsistent potty schedule. Without the structure of a routine, your dog won’t understand the proper logic of when to do any of these. That inconsistency in potty breaks can lead to frequent accidents and further setbacks in training, with both pet and owner feeling the brunt of this disorganization.
The solution lies in establishing a daily rhythm or a predictable pattern that the dog can follow. Set specific times for meals, play, and potty breaks. Early morning, after each meal, following play sessions, and before bedtime are good moments to work their potty routine around. Like clockwork, consistency in this schedule will help the dog associate these times with going outside to potty, which will eventually reduce accidents.
2) Understanding Substrate Preference
Canines often show a clear preference for where they wish to do their business. For a puppy, a carpet may feel like the grass beneath their paws, or a tiled floor could seem just as inviting as a sidewalk. These preferences can lead to a pattern of accidents that exasperate even the most patient dog owners.
Redirect this preference through encouragement and positive reinforcement. If a dog has chosen indoors as their spot, use training pads to serve as a stepping stone. You can gradually move these pads closer to the door and eventually outside to help bridge your dog’s understanding of where it's acceptable to relieve themselves.
During this transition, equipment like custom dog leashes and collars will afford you the security and control you need for your dog’s outdoor potty excursions. These ensure your dog won't slip away when learning to go potty in unfamiliar territory.
3) Addressing Indoor Accidents
Accidents within the home are not a sign of defiance, but a hint that the dog is still learning or may need more frequent breaks. Puppies, especially with their developing bladders, need more of your patience as they grow into their routines. If you have an older dog, you should also prepare to face newfound challenges requiring your utmost attention and care.
When indoor accidents occur, it's essential to clean the area thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner that eradicates the odor—not just for the human nose, but for the dog's much more sensitive one. A clean slate like this one deters repeat performances.
If you’ve been having indoor accidents with your dog more often, this is your cue to supervise them more closely and schedule more frequent trips outdoors. Positive reinforcement when the dog successfully goes outside will fortify the correct behavior without instilling fear or anxiety in them.
4) Alleviating a Dog’s Fear and Anxiety
Speaking of fear and anxiety, these can be significant hurdles in potty training as they often cause dogs to regress or avoid going outside altogether. A traumatic experience or an anxiety-inducing lack of familiarity with the outdoors can make a dog reluctant to leave the safety of their home. But this avoidance can lead to more potty accidents inside and result in an enduringly stressful experience for everyone involved.
To resolve this particular concern, you must create a positive association with the action of going outside. You can create games or give traits and praise to make going outdoors for potty breaks more fun for your dog. It would also help for you to maintain a calm and comforting demeanor so that you can properly reassure your dog.
5) Providing Ample Enough Opportunities to Go Potty
Young puppies and older dogs may need more frequent potty breaks than their owners anticipate. Puppies have small bladders and limited control over them, while senior dogs may struggle with incontinence or increased urgency to relieve themselves. If you don’t provide your dog with enough opportunities to go potty, especially in these situations, you risk more messes in the wrong places.
Be considerate of your dog’s physiological needs and schedule frequent breaks, also making sure to stick to them. If you're potty training a puppy, they may need to go outside every hour. Meanwhile, a senior dog will benefit from a consistent schedule that accommodates their changing bodies. In general during potty training, if your dog gets immediate access to an appropriate area after showing signs of needing to relieve themselves, you’ll be able to reinforce good habits and prevent indoor accidents together.
6) Navigating Stubbornness or Slow Learning
Lastly, your dog’s stubborn streak or slow learning curve can extend your potty training timeline. Some breeds are notoriously more independent or take longer to train, and dogs’ individual personalities also play a role. This can test an owner's patience, as it may seem the dog is willfully ignoring training efforts.
All the more you should commit to being both persistent and adaptable. Some dogs may respond better to certain rewards or cues, and finding what motivates them can help with their training. You can also try breaking down the training process into smaller, more effortless steps to help make it easier for you and for your dog.
For the more stubborn cases, professional dog trainers can provide extra guidance and demonstrate the techniques necessary to make progress. Remember to also show a positive attitude throughout the process; your dog will be keenly attuned to your emotions and reactions, and they’ll take more easily to their potty training routine if they trust and respect you.
In the end, have faith that even the trickiest potty training issues may have a remedy, and that the trust and goodwill between you and your dog can build throughout the process. Be extra patient with your dog when they’re learning (or relearning) their potty training habits, and be a beacon of consistency and encouragement to them.