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Hi! So I brought my Standard Poodle, Coco, home with me on June 8, 2020. Man, what a ride and trail of tears it’s been. Speaking of tears, I’m currently drowning in them writing this post. So as I mentioned, I brought Coco home with me about two months ago. I had heard puppies were a lot of work but nothing would prepare me for the blues that wash over me regularly.

I’ve gotten books, read blogs, watched videos, spoken to professionals, and done everything under the sun to prepare for my new fur baby. He’s had medical insurance since before he even came home! Having had a dog when I was in high school that never quite “got it” I.e. potty training, obedience, etc. I was determined to do everything right to ensure Coco and I had the best experience now that I’m a lot older, financially prepared, and willing to take on the commitment. This included potty breaks every 30 minutes for his first month home. I lost about 10 pounds and countless hours of sleep in the process. I’m working from home so I give him potty breaks, plenty of exercise, and quiet for his naps. I make sure he has enough toys so he’s never bored. Okay, so we’re a few days away from his two month mark at home - and his 4 months of age. Rule of thumb is, they can hold it an hour for every month but I’m so paranoid I still take him outside every two hours. In the span of 3 days, he’s had Five accidents. I take him out first time in the morning. Right after breakfast. Every two hours and every time he wakes up from a nap. My brand new carpet is ruined. I just may mop the sheen off my hardwood floors and my home is beginning to smell like a kennel. To make matters worse, I’ve done literally everything by the book to no avail. I no longer have a social life, I’ve passed up on work and personal projects to ensure there’s always someone home - for what? It seems like I’m sacrificing so much and seeing no results. I’m seriously considering rehoming because the moments of joy are so far apart. Is this normal? Am I overreacting?
 

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Oh dear. I'm sorry you're struggling so. :( I can empathize with the puppy blues and can assure you that part gets better.

But the housebreaking situation won't get better until your puppy understands what's expected of him. And right now he clearly doesn't.

The good news? You just need to figure out how to communicate the potty rules to him. Once you do, he'll probably be even more grateful than you! This is likely very stressful for him, too.

Can I ask why you're taking him out so often? Have you kept written track of the times the accidents occur and what preceded them? This will help you build a schedule that better suits his needs.

Then it's outside at those times to potty, huge treat party when he does, and then back inside (or to the yard for a play session or out for a walk or whatever he loves best).

If he doesn't potty (even though you know he probably needs to go, because he just finished eating, sleeping, drinking, playing, racing around, etc.), he's confined for thirty minutes or tethered to you.

Then you try again.

This is the basic way to potty train, but we can offer more specific advice if you give us a detailed breakdown of his current routine.
 

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It’s normal to feel stressed after bringing a puppy home. After all, this is a huge lifestyle change akin to bringing home a new baby. And in a way, a puppy is a baby. One thing that helps many people is to learn the puppy’s schedule. If you could share your typical day with approximate time stamps for activities, that would help us a lot to guide you through things! :) What in particular is frustrating you about Coco? Are you crate training? Do you have the dog tethered to you on a leash at all times, or is he allowed to roam the house? With a male dog, marking is likely—are you using a urine remover to clean off any smell? Remember that dogs have no sense of bladder control until after a certain point, and when they need to go, they do right in the moment.
 

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Between what you’ve learned online and in books, etc. it does sound like you have information and I’m sure you will be offered excellent advice on this forum, especially once you share more specifics.
I want to offer you some realistic encouragement. Some puppies potty train easily and quickly and some do not. It can be extremely discouraging if your puppy does not. Bobby did not. I had read that the average age of puppies being housebroken is actually six months. It’s easy to focus on the ones that get it right away then feel like there is something wrong with your puppy. It is very discouraging. I know. We took Bobby to the vet even because he was peeing so much as a little pup. He was fine.
The one thing we learned very, very quickly is that Bobby felt our emotions and when he felt our stress he peed more. We coined it emotional peeing because it wasn’t excitement and it wasn’t submissive. He also peed a lot when we were out of his site in the early weeks. We never yelled, were always calm but of course, internally we were stressed. And he felt it. We had to train ourselves to be internally calm. Accidents had to be no big deal. Obviously, one needs to train and properly clean the accidents and definitely not give too much freedom, celebrate success and all the other things that go with house training a pup but even if one does that all perfectly, some pups just take longer. I think if that is accepted it becomes easier to be calm about it. Celebrate progress. Bobby spent a lot of time in the kitchen with a gate. His time in the rest of the house was always strictly supervised. There were days I thought he would never be house trained. It took awhile, probably 8 months old for him to be completely trusted in the house when we were home but every week got better and better. He was crated when we were gone. Crate training really helps.
As hard as it is, celebrate big time the successes and be calm, calm, calm when there is an accident. Poodles really are sensitive and will pick up on your frustration even if you don’t outwardly show it, at least that how was was with my poodle. I really can relate. Hang in there. It will get better! I know you will get some good advice and support. This is a great forum.
 

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Neither you nor Coco has failed. It takes time to build a team. Frankly, at the two-month mark, I'd have returned my first child if I'd had a sales slip.

Are you using a crate that is small enough that Coco won't relieve himself in it? If so, he can be crated and you can get some rest. Then don't give him the run of your home. Limit him to one area (with a tile floor?).

You mentioned having more than adequate financial resources. Have you tried calling a trainer?
 

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Plenty of good advice here. I would definitely restrict his access to areas that are hard to clean. Buy a tarp if you need to, and fence off a nice area for him to have free time. X pen panels may be used as well. Make things easier on yourself. My puppy took around 6-8 weeks to potty train but he started to really get things around 4 months. When things finally click they make great progress. But it can take a while. I remember feeling like all my time was spent cleaning pee, poo, and vomit. Or getting chewed on! It does get better, but the puppy blues are a serious thing. We've got your back. You will get through it and have a great puppy in the end.
 

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Hi Coconator! You are not alone. Bringing home a new puppy is so challenging. It is a lot of work and there's always behavioral things to work on. The frustration is real and this forum has been a godsend for me during the challenging times. So firstly, so glad you are reaching out.

If you haven't already I would highly recommend reading Dr. Ian Dunbar's "After you get your puppy" He is a huge advocate of crate training and using short term and long term confinement for potty training. In my opinion it is a must have to have a crate and to place that crate in a play-pen. This method has helped me immensely in these first weeks of having my puppy. I also keep Jaanu off the carpet (or anywhere where his mess cannot be easily cleaned) unless I 100 percent know he has just gone to the bathroom. I also recommend training him on pee pads first and then progressing to outside. For the first few days Jaanu was a pee pad guy.

Put some of Coco's urine on the pee-pad so that it has his scent. Have his crate in his playpen and have the pee pad in his play pen. When you let him out of the crate (once he has had at least an hour in there), have him go to the pad. Make sure to say go potty as he is peeing (so he comes to associate the command with the action) and when he is done, say good boy and give him his favorite treat. As you transition to outside pottying praise for pee pad use but only reward outdoor pottying.

Here's what's worked for me so far (and there are accidents here and there of course, important to remember they are still babies). Night-time, have Jaanu in the from 9:30 to about 11 (once he wakes up). I let him out to have a pee (and a poo if needed) on the pee pad. I lure him back to the crate with a treat and he falls asleep. We wake up at 2:30 to do the same thing and at 5:00 to do the same thing. Let him out at 8 ish (when he wakes up) let him outside, have him go potty and give him is favorite treat and praise. Play time outside and inside (since I know his bowels and bladder are empty). Crate time for an hour, take him out and let him do his business, play time outside, play-pen time for an hour (or if you think he might get the urge to go in the play-pen, put a pee pad down, put a bit of his urine on it so it has the scent). Then crate or take him outside to go. And so on. Pretty much I let him out after he wakes up from sleep and after I let him out of the crate or if we have been playing for a while (about an hour).

Also definitely use a scent removing urine cleaner anywhere he has gone potty, otherwise he will have the urge to mark again or at the very least he will think that it's an ok place to go potty.

Disclaimer myself and the other person in the household taking care of Jaanu are at home all of the time (remote work) because of the pandemic and that has definitely been a help as well. But the rules of long and short term confinement seem even more crucial and more helpful when you have to leave your puppy alone for long periods of time. Do not give your dog the run of the whole house. Only let him out of the play pen or the crate if you can supervise him at all times, otherwise the little guy is bound to get into trouble which is no fun for anyone. As Dr. Dunbar says, some level of confinement is needed now so that a dog can have freedom once it is older.
 

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I also have a crate with a divider so I can make sure he only has enough room in there to sleep (and not to potty) in there and adjust as he grows. Rule of thumb is that they should be able to spin around and lay down but not much else.
 

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Another thing, I have heard that soft surfaces stimulate their urge to pee, so definitely keep carpet to a minimum.
When we were crate training Bobby he needed the tray in the kennel to be totally bare as he peed on the blanket/towel we had in there originally. Once we took the blanket out he never peed in his kennel again. And yes, definitely keep the space just small enough to turn around.
 

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Another thing, I have heard that soft surfaces stimulate their urge to pee, so definitely keep carpet to a minimum.
Yes! We've actually still not put our carpets back down, and Peggy's 14 months old! Lol. Just can't be bothered.

Soft things triggered Peggy's only puppy pee accidents—including peeing down multiple vents because of the curtains hanging over them. Awful!!! But....an easy fix once we had that "aha" moment.

That's where keeping written notes can really pay off. When you're deep in it, patterns aren't always apparent. But when you can step back and read: "Peed on towel. Peed on vent. Peed on another vent. Peed on wool mattress topper..." you can say, "Okay, what do these things have in common?" And suddenly it clicks! We tied up all the curtains, took away the doggy beds, and made sure her crate was only big enough for her to sleep, drink, and comfortably turn around in. Easy.

Same for the timing of accidents. We quickly realized that puppy Peggy needed two morning toilet breaks, fairly close together. But if we'd not kept track, we'd have been pulling out our hair, trying to figure out why she wasn't getting it, when in fact it was us not understanding her needs.
 

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I’m sorry you’re struggling so much. As others have said, it will get better. One day, you’ll realize your dog understands what is expected of him and that day you’ll be so happy !

Carpets, towels, blankets, clothing and soft items are definitely a no-no. Dogs learn to relieve themselves on soft material when they are tiny babies and it remains the material of choice for many, many dogs. My dogs are adults and I can’t have carpet. I’ve tried many times and it always ends up the same way. Fence off the carpet area.

As for accidents, it would be easier to help you if you could describe exactly in what circumstances they happen. But just remember one thing : it’s never the dog’s fault.

Hang in there, it will get better. So much better ! :)
 

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I feel your pain. My current puppy Galen has been incredibly difficult. He had accident after accident inside. He was so fast. We wouldn't even see him set up; the wet spots would just appear. Tethering didn't help; he was perfectly happy to pee at my feet. He would pee or poop inside 10 minutes after he had peed or pooped outside. He was so far from housebroken at 5 1/2 months that I was really wondering when he'd finally get a clue. At 6 1/2 months he's finally at the point where I can leave him unsupervised for very short periods, like when I'm scooping the cat box.

Some of the things that seem to have helped:
  • I clean the heck out of any area he has soaked. Spot cleaning with an enzymatic cleaner is helpful, but I don't think it gets the area truly clean. I follow up with my Bissel rug shampooer.
  • I try to confine him to the room I'm in or else a crate. He's less likely to mess if he knows he's going to be in close quarters with the mess afterwards.
  • I started rewarding him with a treat every time he peed or pooped outside. The little stinker started gaming me for more treats by squeezing out as many piles and puddles as he could manage.
  • When he was 4 1/2 months, and I had been rewarding him for several weeks, I caught him peeing on the couch. I was so frustrated by this point that I snapped, "no!" He stopped, startled. This could have been a disaster; I might have taught him to hide his peeing. However, since I had already rewarded him many times for peeing outside, he instead looked thoughtful. I didn't make a big deal afterwards, but he clearly realized he had misunderstood the rules.
  • Simple maturity. He is now practicing lifting his leg like a big dog. With the urge to mark comes a drive to conserve marking fluid for important statements.
 

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Puppy Blues r real!!! Teddy is 6 months today and he celebrated by pooping in the house! WHAAAAAT?! He peed in the house yesterday!! Here he hadnt had an accident in months! Getting to know him..which takes time I know his cues and he gave me none. Just went on my floors!! Nothing about puppies r easy. I can say cause I’m not to far ahead of u is that it will get better. 5 months I feel like there was some reward but then some new challenges. It’s a big responsibility and u r doing it alone..right?! Keep at it! If I’ve made it u can totally make it! For me I think keeping a schedule helped me with taking him out and getting use to it. I say this and HE POOPED IN MY HOUSE TODAY!!
 

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Puppy Blues r real!!! Teddy is 6 months today and he celebrated by pooping in the house! WHAAAAAT?! He peed in the house yesterday!! Here he hadnt had an accident in months! Getting to know him..which takes time I know his cues and he gave me none. Just went on my floors!! Nothing about puppies r easy. I can say cause I’m not to far ahead of u is that it will get better. 5 months I feel like there was some reward but then some new challenges. It’s a big responsibility and u r doing it alone..right?! Keep at it! If I’ve made it u can totally make it! For me I think keeping a schedule helped me with taking him out and getting use to it. I say this and HE POOPED IN MY HOUSE TODAY!!
We had a little bit of regression at that age too. Once the urge to mark set it Misha seemed uncertain about whether marking in the house was okay. But it only happened a couple times.
 

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Annie was probably considered a difficult to potty train dog. She wasnt reliable until 6 months or so- and regularly excitement peed upon greeting new people and dogs until after that - maybe 8 mo or more? I didnt fuss it- I have the opinion that potty training is easier in older dogs, as their bladder is more developed, and obviously, based on the excitement peeing, Annie's bladder wasnt developed. So I did my best, didnt expect any better, and didnt get upset at myself or her if there was a stray puddle. Besides- in comparison to Trixie, my moms dog, she was a prodigy. Trixie took until over a year to be reasonably reliable, and, at 5 has now finally gone 6 mo without an accident for the first time.

Basically- hang in there, it gets better. Use this time to focus on socialization and good new experiences, and dont sweat the potty training too much.
 

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The first thing that jumps out at me, is that you need to adjust your cleaning routine. If you can smell it, Coco can definitely smell it. His nose is telling him that your carpet is a potty.
I don't have carpet anywhere except in one bedroom, and the dogs are not allowed there. But when I did have carpet, to clean we did: soak area in enzyme cleaner, leave for 15-30 min. Then use our the carpet cleaner with hot water (we had the Bissell green machine). Then another spritz of enzyme cleaner and leave to dry.
In your case I would be getting the whole thing steam cleaned, as well as make sure an enzyme cleaner is used during or after.
Once it's clean, block off access to that carpeted area 100% unless you are walking him through it on leash.
If you don't have an area with easy to clean flooring (tile or vinyl), you might want to think about getting a section of vinyl roll flooring and putting a pen on it to contain him. Make sure your flooring section is bigger than the pen.
This online course is really good to help plan puppy schedules and potty training. Although it's best followed immediately when bringing a pup home, it will still apply for you:

To give you more tips and ideas, it would be helpful to know in which situations he is or isn't successful. Is he crate trained? Does he ever go in his crate? Does he pee outside when you take him out or wait til you get back inside? When he does pee inside, does he run off to do so, or is it related to excitement/submission? Have you tried having him on leash beside you in the house and does he still pee then?
Did the breeder do any initial potty training, or what kind of surfaces was he used to using at the breeder?
I am strongly against using pee pads in the house at all, but if he used them with the breeder it might help to put a pee pad outside where you want him to go. And leave it soiled (just urine of course) so that the smell encourages him to go in the same spot.
I've never made a big production for going potty outside, but it's very important to consider the actions that surround it: puppy should be on leash when you take him out, with minimal interaction, just calmly walk to the potty area. You don't want him to get distracted by playing, sniffing, etc. After a maximum of 5 minutes (I only wait 2 or 3), then potty break is finished. If he has peed, we get to go for a walk or an off-leash play session (something that the pup enjoys). If he has not gone, then we calmly, minimal interaction again, go back inside and pup goes in his crate or pen. Or attached by leash to my waist if that is appropriate, as long as he is at a stage where he will not have an accident in that situation.
Finally, make sure you have looked into possible medical reasons. A UTI is unlikely for a boy pup but still totally possible. Other possibilities are kidney issues, diabetes mellitus, or psychogenic.
 

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For cleaning messes on hard surfaces so that it eliminates the smell and your dog doesn’t think it’s his potty area, mix 50% vinegar and 50% water. Wipe off pee, spray and wipe dry.

Lots of people use bleach because it has a strong smell, but it’s useless because it disinfects but doesn’t remove the odor.
 

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I cannot offer advice on training a poodle since I don't not have one yet and from what I can tell my experience with my toy chi is much different than that of a poodle, but I just popped on in to give a few words of encouragement. Raising a puppy is hard and it is both my favorite and least favorite part of having a dog. It's my favorite because the pup is just so cuddly and cute! There's unlimited playtime and there's just no time like puppy time. But its my least favorite due to what you're going through now and I'm 100% sure this is a problem you'll have with any baby animal (or baby lol). It'll be worth it though.

Soon this will all be in the past and you'll eventually have a bond with this dog like no other :) he or she will be that loyal companion you've always wanted in a dog. You’ll return to your social life soon enough and maybe you'll have to create room for the dog in it too, if you're willing.
 

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My Raven took what I thought was a long time for spoo puppy to train. Many folks were saying their puppy was just months old when they got it, but Raven was 11mo old when she had her last indoor accident. I was faithful about crate training so thankfully we had very little damage in the house but I am telling you I had the crying jags and “what on earth have I done to my life thoughts” quite often that first year!! My mother had raised several breeds including Bouviers (a willful breed) kept telling me she was going to be wonderful dog. Around a year I started seeing it and now at almost 7 I couldnt ask for a better house pet. Please like others have said, take the long view and ”this too shall pass”. I heartily support crating and teathering whenever not actively engaged with the puppy.
Teri
 
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