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Partial rant, partial request for help. I'm feeling frustrated. Our standard puppy is a little over 16 weeks old now, we've had her for 8. Our breeder said she was already used to using a doggy door, but we don't have one, so I assumed potty training would start from scratch.

At 8 weeks, she wasn't too bad - she would never soil her crate, and she seemed to prefer going outside. Once in a while she would go inside, but it seemed just a matter of timing.

While my wife and I are at work, we leave her in an exercise pen with a pee pad. After the first couple of weeks, she stopped even using the pee pad, holding it all day until we get home. That's progress!

The problem is, we still have accidents almost daily, and I can't find any rhyme or reason to them. She pooped several times outside today, and also pooped in the house twice and peed once inside the house. The pee came while I was cleaning the poop, and it was less than an hour since she's been outside. I know she can hold it, but she doesn't. Once in a while she'll start peeing on the carpet just a few feet away from me. She finishes within 5 seconds, so there's almost no way I can interrupt her and move her outside.
By the time I see it, it's all over. I take her outside probably hourly, if not more often than that. If I'm going to be busy for a while, I put her in a crate and take her outside immediately after.

I put bells on the door about a week ago, and jingle them every time I take her outside. I've moved her paw with my hand several times to show her how to ring them herself. She knows what the bells mean - if I jingle them, she and my other dog come to the door. But she doesn't ring them on her own, and I don't know how to get her to make the connection between the bell and going to the bathroom.

Anyway - sorry for the rant. I feel like we should be doing better with this by now. Am I expecting too much? Or am I not doing this right?
 

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Yes, I definitely think you are expecting too much. She needs to be tethered to you while you are home if she's not in the crate until she's much more reliable and a little older. Also, you work unlike some of us who have the entire day with our dogs to help potty train them, so it makes sense that it will take Siouxie more time to get it.

If she has an accident (which she really can't have if she's tethered to you or crated), make a disrupting sound, like "UH UH!" Nothing too loud or scary, just enough to get her attention. And when she goes outside, are you giving her TONS of praise and treats? That really helps :)
 

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Also make sure the carpet is fully cleaned, or else she will always go back to it. I use a mixture of water/vinegar. But ideally, you should get rid of the carpet while she’s in training, or restrict access to rooms with carpet. It’s just making things harder for her and you. As babies, puppies learn to go on soft surfaces and peeing on carpets is natural.

If the peeing in the house appeared suddenly, and there is no reason for it (she hasn’t drank, or eaten, or played in the last hour) and she still has to go and it hasn’t been more than 1 hour since the last time, she might have a UTI. Keep an eye on it and have her checked if this keeps going.

At 4 months, you can expect an untrained dog to have to go about every 2 hours or more (unless they’re drinking/eating, then more frequently). Every hour is a little much. (But she’s in training so you should still take her outside every hour, to make sure she won’t do it in the house when she goes).
 

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I agree with everyone who has made comments here. I would just add... BREATH... she will learn!! I had SO much trouble with Norman where he would do a lot of the things you're experiencing now. He would be outside and the moment he stepped in the door... pee!! I got so upset that I started using male wraps on him ALL the time when I was not able to watch him.

You're puppy WILL learn, its all a matter of WHEN not if. Norman was fully trained with NO messes in the house when he was finally 6 months old (he is now about to be 8 months old)... All dogs are different.... just take it day by day.

My tricks for Norman:
1. HEAVY praise/excitement/clapping/jumping when he peed/pooped outside, especially if he did it after I said "Go Potty" (some people use treats or clickers)
2. Took him out every 30 minutes and slowly increase time throughout the week
3. Took his water bowl away 2-3 hours before bed. (helped at night time)
4. When Norman had an accident I would not yell, I RAN to him, picked him up, took him outside immediately and once he got to the grass I said "Go potty"

What I learned from LOTS of videos on this, it seems that some puppies have a hard time distinguishing home vs outside. Dogs do everything they can to not soil they beds/cages. But once they get into a HUGE house, they may not realize its ALL their home.
Eventually your pup will learn that the whole house is her home that she does not want to soil.

I was so frustrated with Norman and trying to potty train him. I did the bells (did not work for us). I did the treats, clicker, interrupting him etc. I found that just sticking to a tight schedule, my happy voice/dance, and playing with toy after a good potty break outside was what encouraged him.... But one day is just clicked for him!!! We had a few accidents but only a few times a week! It will one day click for your girl, be patient and consistent!! Also, be positive with her, yelling at them does not help. Positive reinforcement is key!! :)

Whatever your dogs favorite thing is (ball, treat, blanket, pillow, sock) USE IT to train! She only gets it as a reward for pottying outside!! Norman responded to my voice and/or a ball as a reward.

Again, breath and relax as much as you can. It can be very frustrating for us because we do literally everything in our power to potty train them. Some dogs are just too happy and excited to realize "I need to ask my mom/dad to let me outside!!" and its too late. They are so focused on playing or adventuring that going outside to potty is the last thing on their mind!!

Good luck Eric!! :)
 

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I think 5 months to be physiologically capable to be thought of as housebroken is a little too optimist for many puppies. I think 6 months is more realistic. That said many puppies will understand the concept much sooner even though they won't be able to resist the pressure of full bladders or bowels.


I hate to say this but I think you should look on this as a start from scratch situation is you have daily fails. Your pup doesn't even really understand the concept if she routinely is willing to eliminate in the house. Use your crate or tether her to you if she is not in the crate. Never allow any unsupervised time where she gets to sneak a quick potty. I also would roll up rugs/carpets. Get a black light to look for dried urine and clean it thoroughly. Vinegar (an acid) in water will be a good cleaner for urine (a base). They will neutralize.


I am sure you love your pup and I am sure she is smart, but you should be treating her as a blank slate on which you as her "parent" have to teach her everything, and I mean everything. So far this lesson has been your fail, so hit reset and start again. It will be okay if you start over now. Don't ever permit any more mistakes. She does have some unlearning to do. I don't intend to be mean, but this is really, really, really important.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks a lot for the replies and encouragement, everyone, I really appreciate the support!

Considering your suggestions, I can see already that I've been doing a few things wrong:
- I have been giving verbal praise, but not treats. And I have a fairly calm and dry personality, so what seems like excited praise to me might sound like the evening news to the dog. I'm going to amp it up and include treats whenever she goes outside.
- I have been giving her too much freedom and will start tethering her to me when she's not in her crate.

As for cleanup, when she goes on the carpet, I use a Bissell Little Green with a pet formula in it to clean the carpet spot, and then spray it with Nature's Miracle. If she goes on tile, I wipe it up with paper towels and spray the area with a bleach solution. Fortunately, most accidents recently have been on the tile, much easier to clean up. Maybe she's sensing that the carpet is off-limits?

I'll start again as if from scratch and see how she does. I do love the little girl, even when she makes messes. We're starting a puppy class on Saturday at our local AKC obedience club, so I'm sure I'll get some good advice there as well.
 

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I am glad you aren't offended by my "correction" for your work on this project. Our dogs all potty on command for me, not much so for BF. When he gives the order he is saying "do one" whereas I am saying ":happy: DO ONE!!!!!:cheers2:" Then again I don't mind sounding silly to my neighbors.


I hope you have a great learning, team building class.
 
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My pup was a completely blank slate when I got him at 10 weeks, and it took him seven or eight weeks before we were having consistent accident free days. And then it was really good until he got past 6 months and now he's obsessed with marking and we've had some regression. I think he's now hoarding his pee because he wants to deposit it somewhere outside of the yard...

I don't know if you have been using a command, but I think it helps. I just use "go potty." Praise and treats are good. My pup hates going out when it's raining, and I think it kind of helped because I would not let him in until he peed, which did create more of an association for him.
 

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I would pick up Ian Dunbar's "Before And After Getting Your Puppy" or find the relevant bits online and start from scratch. Your puppy will probably learn very quickly at this age, but it sounds like she just doesn't really understand the rules yet and needs a return to basics.

Is there any way to have someone let her out midday? I think the puppy pads can be especially confusing, as their little puppy brains tend to think "soft = toilet." This is something we're currently struggling with!

Peggy (a 21-week spoo) is mostly housebroken....as long as we don't leave anything soft on the floor. We never used pads, but I suspect the breeder did.
 

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I would pick up Ian Dunbar's "Before And After Getting Your Puppy" or find the relevant bits online and start from scratch. Your puppy will probably learn very quickly at this age, but it sounds like she just doesn't really understand the rules yet and needs a return to basics.

Is there any way to have someone let her out midday? I think the puppy pads can be especially confusing, as their little puppy brains tend to think "soft = toilet." This is something we're currently struggling with!

Peggy (a 21-week spoo) is mostly housebroken....as long as we don't leave anything soft on the floor. We never used pads, but I suspect the breeder did.
Thank you, I think I have read that while waiting for her to arrive, but I will go through it again.

We might be able to get someone to take her out during the day. I usually work from home 1 or 2 days per week, so we're only talking about 3-4 days where that would be needed. But she has actually been doing quite well in her pen. Most days she holds it until I get home to let her out, and when she can't she goes on the pad. But certainly that could be creating confusion, so eliminating the pad seems like something to prioritize.
 

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It’s also helpful to put the burden of blame on yourself. It’s not the puppy’s fault that you haven’t figured out or accommodated her elimination needs, or confined her until she earns the run of the house and carpets. Praise parties with treats after successes outside and it will seem like a minute. Buck took less time becoming reliably housebroken than any of the Terriers, I had before him. Good luck!
 

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It’s also helpful to put the burden of blame on yourself. It’s not the puppy’s fault that you haven’t figured out or accommodated her elimination needs, or confined her until she earns the run of the house and carpets. Praise parties with treats after successes outside and it will seem like a minute. Buck took less time becoming reliably housebroken than any of the Terriers, I had before him. Good luck!
That's one of the most important takeaways from Dunbar's teachings on this subject: It's not "their" accident. It's ours!
 

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I would pick up Ian Dunbar's "Before And After Getting Your Puppy" or find the relevant bits online and start from scratch. Your puppy will probably learn very quickly at this age, but it sounds like she just doesn't really understand the rules yet and needs a return to basics.

Is there any way to have someone let her out midday? I think the puppy pads can be especially confusing, as their little puppy brains tend to think "soft = toilet." This is something we're currently struggling with!

Peggy (a 21-week spoo) is mostly housebroken....as long as we don't leave anything soft on the floor. We never used pads, but I suspect the breeder did.
Thank you, I think I have read that while waiting for her to arrive, but I will go through it again.

We might be able to get someone to take her out during the day. I usually work from home 1 or 2 days per week, so we're only talking about 3-4 days where that would be needed. But she has actually been doing quite well in her pen. Most days she holds it until I get home to let her out, and when she can't she goes on the pad. But certainly that could be creating confusion, so eliminating the pad seems like something to prioritize.
I've also found keeping a schedule useful, and not just in my head. My husband printed out a little chart for us to each fill in when Peggy goes out for a toilet break, gets a meal or treats, etc. It took me just a few days using this tracking method to see that Peggy's "accidents" at 9 weeks were because she needed a second potty break in the mornings. Seemed so obvious on paper, but I'm not sure how long it would have taken me to connect those dots otherwise.

Accidents can also happen after a lengthy chew session when puppies tend to drink a TON of water. Or if they confuse potty breaks with playtime.

I've known so many dog owners who say, "My puppy has an accident AS SOON AS WE COME INSIDE!!" Even my senior dog started having episodes like that when her cognitive function declined. She'd go outside, sniff around and get her bowels churning, and then come inside and oops!

Dunbar touches on this, and explains why positive reinforcement for eliminating outside is a lifelong effort. We got sloppy and made the mistake of giving our senior treats when she'd come inside, so she thought she was being rewarded for the act of returning to us, not eliminating outdoors. And eventually she forgot about the eliminating part altogether, because she was hurrying back for a snack.
 

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As for cleanup, when she goes on the carpet, I use a Bissell Little Green with a pet formula in it to clean the carpet spot, and then spray it with Nature's Miracle. If she goes on tile, I wipe it up with paper towels and spray the area with a bleach solution. Fortunately, most accidents recently have been on the tile, much easier to clean up. Maybe she's sensing that the carpet is off-limits?

I'll start again as if from scratch and see how she does. I do love the little girl, even when she makes messes. We're starting a puppy class on Saturday at our local AKC obedience club, so I'm sure I'll get some good advice there as well.
You need to use a very high pitched voice, even if you sound like an idiot. And be excited as if you just won the lottery ! I personnally don’t like giving treats, too much hassle and it makes them go again, so counter-productive. Your voice alone will work if you use the right tone.

Never use bleach to clean a dog’s mess. Ammonia smells like urine, so you’re just encouraging her to pee again in the spot you cleaned.
 

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Never use bleach to clean a dog’s mess. Ammonia smells like urine, so you’re just encouraging her to pee again in the spot you cleaned.
OK, I had to google this. I'm with you now on not using bleach to clean urine, but the reason is that urine contains a small percentage of ammonia, and when mixed with bleach can produce toxic gas. Probably not enough to hurt anyone, but no point in taking chances.
 

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I taught mine super fast to be housebroken. I used tethering 24/7. So, not only during the day, but even when he was sleeping by my bed at night, I had his leash tied to my wrist. If he got up to move around at night if it had been more than an hour, I hopped up and took him out to pee or whatever.

I lost some sleep,(I was retired so free to do so) but he just quickly got out of the habit of doing anything inside. Of course if you are working and having to leave your pup this can't work as well.
 

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OK, I had to google this. I'm with you now on not using bleach to clean urine, but the reason is that urine contains a small percentage of ammonia, and when mixed with bleach can produce toxic gas. Probably not enough to hurt anyone, but no point in taking chances.
Even worse, this info wasn’t around many years ago... :)
 
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