I’m Not the Puppy Potty Whisperer I Thought I Was
Puppy potting training
What does it take to be successful at house training a puppy?
A watchful eye?
Understanding the signals your puppy gives when it needs to “go”?
Taking your puppy out after each meal?
Going outside as soon as your pup wakes up?
How about after your puppy has finished playing?
Or knowing your puppy’s potty schedule?
What happens when you do all the above and your puppy still pees in the house?
I used to think I was the “Queen of Puppy Potty Training” – the “Puppy Potty Whisperer” if you will. That was until my puppy Edna came along.
When it came to house training my dogs I’ve always had great success, but I may have jinxed myself thinking “I could potty train a dog in under a week!”
Yes, I know, each and every dog is different, and they all have their very own personalities, but saying Edna challenged me with house training her is an understatement!
Edna, my pug puppy, came home with us at the beginning of March, why do I mention the month she came home? Because even though I live in Canada, and there still a very realistic chance of cold, snowy weather, I figured we were at the end of the season so house training my puppy would be easier as the weather improved. How wrong I was!
When I look back at house training my other dogs what I believe made it easier was they were what I like to call “summer” pups. Meaning, they came home with me in the warmer weather and the majority of my puppy’s days were spent outdoors – less chance of accidents inside the house. Of course I understand that just being outdoors with my puppy is not necessarily going to make for successful house training.
When inside, I watch Edna for indications that she has to relieve herself, such as circling, sniffing, or running into a private corner. When I see this, I immediately take her outside to the same spot each time, encouraging her with the words “go pee, go poo” , then praising her when she has done so.
Now I don’t know if this contributed to the delay in Edna’s house training, but Edna used potty pads before I brought her home. I understand a litter of young pups, in the cold winter weather are not going to be taken outside to pee! But could it be because my puppy learned at an early age that peeing on potty pads was appropriate, this is why I am having mishaps in the house?
Potty pads were something I have never used, and to be honest, I thought the use of them would only encourage my dogs to potty inside the house – the exact opposite to what I was teaching them not to do. Of course I understand there is a need for potty pads in some instances, perhaps you’re away from home for an extended period of time, senior dogs that can’t hold it, a dog that is unwell, or when weather is too extreme to go outside.
I admit to buying my first ever package of potty pads when Edna came home. The weather at the time was still terribly cold, snowy and icy, so given the choice of a puppy peeing on my carpet or on a potty pad – well there really wasn’t much to decide.
Things went well at first, Edna knew what the potty pads were for and would go on them to do her business, but I still continued to take her outside. The pads, in my opinion, were there as a backup if I missed my puppy’s cues.
This is where they say the “wheels came off the bus”
Edna began eliminating off of the pads. It was not like she missed them by an inch or two, no, in fact, she would walk to the exact opposite end of the room and pee, or poo! Needles to say I was frustrated and couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong, what was I missing? It’s easy to loose tract of time and an hour can go by in the blink of an eye, so I set an alarm to go off every 50 minutes, reminding me to take Edna outside – still she had accidents.
I purchased a set of potty bells and placed them on my backdoor. Each time I took Edna outside I would say the words “outside” and “go pee” and have Edna tap the bells with her nose- still no luck. She rang the bells alright, but it turned into a game.
Back to the puppy potty drawing board
There were times I was CERTAIN my puppy HAD to pee, so I took her outside, on her leash, to “her spot” and patiently waited, waited with no results. Outside Edna is extremely busy, she is much more interested in sniffing around, picking up leaves, and playing than she is going pee. Not wanting to make a game of going back and forth from inside to outside, if Edna didn’t pee or poop when we went out on leash, back inside we would go, but guess what? Yup, she had to pee after all – but on my carpet!
I discussed with my vet and the instructor at Edna’s puppy class the challenges I’d been facing house training Edna, looking to them for any suggestions or tips. Both were unanimous that the first step was to remove the puppy potty pads from my house all together, because just as I thought, the pads were just reaffirming that it was ok for Edna to pee or poo inside the house. I was told to continue doing everything I was already doing – taking Edna outside on a regular basis – after each meal, as soon as she wakes, and after playtime – “some puppies take longer to house train than others” *sigh*.
Edna is 5 1/2 months old now -already- I can’t believe it! The summer-like weather has finally arrived and we are spending the majority of our time outside. Edna went two weeks without a potty accident inside the house and then the potty free streak was broken 🙁 I guess 2 weeks accident free should be a victory of sorts, it’s better than 2 hours without an accident, so technically we are moving in the right direction 😉
I continue to watch over Edna like a hawk when inside the house. When I take her outside specifically to go potty she wears her leash and I take her to the same spot in my garden each time so she understands she is outside to potty, not play.
As I read over what I have written about the challenges I’ve faced with house training Edna, I have come to realize that not only am I not the puppy potty whisperer I thought I was, but I’ve come to realize it’s not my puppy that needs house training, it me! I’m the one that has to be trained to understand and be aware of my puppy’s signals; the sniffing, the circling, yes, even that panicky look in her eyes, and of course, knowing when my puppy’s potty schedule is.
Have you ever had challenges house training a puppy?
What tips do you have for successfully house training a puppy?