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  • Ken Lebowitz

Potty Training Is So Frustrating!


Congrats! You've brought a new puppy home or perhaps a dog from a rescue or shelter that may have always been an outside dog. Getting a dog house broken can be quite the task if you don't know what you're doing. But you're in luck! I'm going to share with you the steps that I take in order to accomplish the endeavor. These steps can seem very repetitive and feel like some work but I assure you that if you do everything in order and not skip a step. You'll be successful and on to better things like starting obedience training.


Before you get started with implementing the steps for successful potty training. You're going to need to make sure you have the right equipment for the job. You're going to need; a crate (size appropriate), flat collar/harness and leash (4ft or 6 ft), cleaning product for accidents (enzyme destroyer), a designated potty area in your yard, and some high value rewards. This list of items will help with the process. Now I'd like to discuss some of this equipment before I start to talk about the steps in which to potty train your puppy or dog.


  • Crate: You want to get a crate that is size appropriate for your puppy or dog. If it is a puppy then I would get a crate that comes with a divider that allows you do give your pup more space as they grow. This way you do not have to buy multiple crates as your puppy grows. So you'll only need to but the size crate it needs as a full grown adult and the divider can allow the puppy to have just enough room as it grows to prevent possible accidents. Meaning your puppy can stand up with the crate clearing the top of their head. It's okay if their ears stick out a little but if it can clear the ears that would be better. The puppy also has enough room to turn around in the crate without scraping the sides of the crate. Lastly, enough room to just sleep so that they cannot go to the bathroom in one corner and sleep in the other. When you give them the amount of room I just described then it will encourage them to hold their waste until you can take them outside. Another thing to consider is making sure you take the time to properly acclimate your puppy or dog to going into a crate. You never want to use a crate as punishment so the dog needs to have a positive association between them and the crate. You're going to need the crate in case the dog didn't completely relieve itself of urine or excrement. Having said that. It's important that you take some food and put it in the crate before the dog goes into the crate so it gets a reward as soon as it goes in and giving them a reward before you close the door and during the time that you have them in the crate. So the food becomes a constant reminder that the crate is a positive and safe place to go when asked. You should never use the crate as a form of punishment.


  • Cleaning Product: If your dog does have an accident specifically cleaning up urine. You're going to want to use a product that specifically states it has enzyme killing properties in it. Even though most floor surfaces are solid they still have pores in the material. These pours will trap enzymes from the waste even though you cleaned the area thoroughly. Your dog will be able to smell these enzymes and it will remind them that they had gone to the bathroom in the area before and it will encourage them to do it again. So if you use a good cleaning product and maybe even a black light you can ensure that the area has been effectively cleaned and will not slow down the training process.


  • High Value Rewards: You're going to want to have something that more delicious than just their everyday food that you feed them at meal times. This can be anything that is safe to give them such as cubed cheese, cut up hot dogs, freeze dried training treats, etc... You want them to be rewarded with something that they don't always get in order to really reinforce when they do use the bathroom outside.


Now that I've covered down on explaining about some of the equipment you will need in detail. I will also cover why you need the other things as I explain the steps of how I potty train my puppy or dog. There are not a lot of steps involved to this process however, you must be consistent and not give up. You're going to have minor setbacks along the way but just keep your cool. Look at it as it's just business not personal. The dog only knows what it knows and you must teach them the correct way. I do not subscribe to verbally scolding or yelling at the dog if I catch it having an accident in the house. I simply try to make a sound and gesture that deters them from continuing to try and then I put a leash on them and get them straight outside. If the puppy or dog was out of the crate loose in the house and although you were supervising them. They managed to still have an accident in the house and you happen to find it at a later time. At that point it is what it is. Just calmly put a leash on your dog and take it outside.


There is an old wives tale that gets passed on from owner to owner time and time again and it's the absolute worst information out there. That is, when you discover the dog had an accident that you should drag it over to the mess and rub it's nose in it. First of all that's not even sanitary for you or the dog and secondly it doesn't teach your dog anything at all other than. It is now being punished for whatever current behavior it was in when you drug it over to the mess. So if the dog was calmly laying on the floor taking a nap and you did that. It has now learned that you are made at it for sleeping and doing the right thing. The dog has no idea that you are upset with the fact that it made a mess in the house. Let me let you in on a little secret. Dogs very much live life in the present tense. You cannot properly correct a dog for doing something wrong unless it is happening as you see it.


So now the moment you've all been waiting for! The steps in which I use to potty train a puppy or dog.


  1. Take your dog out on a leash with either a collar or harness. This is important because you do not want your dog having to much freedom of movement that will distract them from going relieving themselves.

  2. Pick a designated area in your yard where you will take them EVERY time you want them to relieve themselves. This ties back to what I was saying about when enzymes get trapped in the pours of your floors surface. Taking them to the same area every time encourages them to go to the bathroom when and where they are supposed to because they smell the enzymes.

  3. Once you've taken your dog to the designated area prompt them to relieve themselves by saying whatever words you feel comfortable with using in public. I for example say "Go Potty." Give them about 10 -15 minutes to try and go. They should only be able to go as far as the leash will allow them. It is important that you try and stay stationary. People have a tendency to want to move around with their dog and before you know it you're out of the designated area and your dog has to much freedom of movement. Which will most likely get them distracted by smelling around instead of performing the task you gave them. Which is to "Go Potty!"

  4. Anytime your dog does urinate or defecate verbally praise them as they are going. Once they have finished begin to celebrate they're good job by feeding them a high value reward and by petting and praising them. Then you can take them inside and allow them to have access to your home wherever you deem is appropriate and just keep an eye on how much water they are drinking.

  5. If the allotted time has expired and your dog has relieved itself by only one of two ways or not at all. Then bring them inside and put them into their crate. Remember to reinforce the crate as being a good place by treating when they go in. You will give them about 20 minutes to rest in their crate. This will help them realize that they did not finish relieving themselves. Then put them back on a leash and take them back to the designated area to finish completely relieving themselves. If they are finishing verbally reward them while they are doing it and then once they are done go ahead and give them a high value reward, pet, and praise them. Then at this point you can take them back inside the house and allow them to have access to wherever you allow them to be in the house.


One other thing to consider if you plan to crate your puppy or dog while you have to leave the house for errands or work. Is that puppies are usually okay to hold their waste for approximately one hour for every month they are old. So if your puppy is 3 months old then theoretically they could hold it for 3 hours maximum. That being said, its just a rule of thumb and not set in stone. So it's always better to cut the trip short and get back before the maximum amount of time has expired.


Well there you have it folks this is the way I potty train dogs and have great success with it. I hope this helps you become successful with potty training your dog and allows you to have less stress in your life getting your new family member trained and accustomed to life with in their new home!


Potty Training Heart of Dixie Dog Training LLC




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