How to Rehab Regressed Potty Training in Your Dog
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how to potty train a puppy or retrain an adult dog that has developed potty training issues.
1. RULE OUT A MEDICAL ISSUE. The first, and most important step is to take a urine and fecal sample to your vet, and possibly get a blood panel test. Be sure kidney and liver functions are normal, and that your dog doesn’t have a parasite or urinary tract infection. Parasites and UTI’s are super common in puppies and rescue dogs, even if they have been “dewormed.”
2.The nose KNOWS where the potty was…. And that’s the spot they will use again. A professional, enzymatic-type cleaner is necessary for accidents (even on hard surfaces). My favorite carpet tool is The Spot Bot. However, you may need a pro to come and deep clean your carpets. You can find old potty spots (that you might not even know about) using a black light (available on amazon.com).
2. Get your dog or puppy on a schedule: Puppies need to potty after waking up, after eating, and after playing. Potty training is all about anticipating when mistakes will happen and preventing them. Set up a feeding routine (don’t give free access to food all the time) and establish a ‘quiet time’ where your puppy will have an opportunity to rest (whether they want to or not!) so you know when they have to go. Take them out immediately after their rest period, and after vigorous play. You can set your timer on your smartphone to remind you of your puppy’s schedule. Puppies can hold their bladder for about 2 to three hours at 8 weeks old during the day, and double that at night. Your 8-week-old puppy needs to be let out at least once in the night, and several times throughout the day. You can adjust the schedule according to the puppy’s age by adding one hour per 2 weeks of age after 8 weeks. For planning purposes, most adult dogs cannot hold their bladder beyond 8 hours.
3. Supervise all activities. Never let your puppy out of your direct line of sight while out of their crate and indoors. Puppies show signs of needing to go out by sniffing and circling. It will often appear as if they’re looking for something. In addition to being super useful in potty training, supervision prevents chewing, and other bad behaviors from developing in our puppies and adult dogs. Crate train, crate train, crate train! Teach your dog to kennel train, comfortably. It keeps them out of trouble, and lets you focus on other tasks when an eagle-eye on the dog isn’t possible.
4. Potty Rehab: Take your puppy or dog out on a leash for each potty break. Don’t let your dog wander to find the perfect potty spot. Take them to where you want them to go, and then stand there, leash in hand, like your feet are stuck in cement. Tell your puppy to, “Go potty,” and wait. After your puppy does their business, praise them, and give them a treat or play with them. Take them for a short walk. Do some kind of fun puppy activity. Potty, Praise, Play is the rule of thumb. This way, the puppy learns that the faster they go potty, the quicker they can start a fun activity. This is a super technique for traveling with a dog.
5. If your puppy has an accident, find a large newspaper, magazine, or heavy towel. Roll it up tightly to form a baton. Hold it high above your head. Then swing down on top of your head with just enough force to remind yourself that you should have followed steps one through four!
If you have a work schedule that makes it difficult to follow a routine, Dog Dynamix offers a unique version of Doggy Daycare that incorporations dog obedience training, as well as keeps them on track to solve potty training problems.