What to Do When Accidents Happen
Accidents are bound to happen now and then. Maybe your puppy had a little dietary indiscretion. Or, perish the thought, her schedule was neglected, or nobody noticed that she was asking to go out. Whatever the reason, you want to handle the situation properly to reduce the chance that it'll happen again.
Catch'Em in the Act
In order for your dog to learn from his mistake, you absolutely must catch him in the act of making it. He will not understand that you're mad at him for something he did several minutes ago, let alone several hours ago. If you do see him starting to go, interrupt him with a loud “Aacckk!” or give one of your shake bottles a toss. Get him right to his potty area and wait a few minutes for him to finish what he started inside. Praise lavishly when he goes outside. Make sure his next several successes are rewarded.
If you find a puddle or a pile, don't rub his nose in it or scream at him. He'll only get that you don't like finding messes, not that you don't want him to make them. Even though he might look guilty the next time there is a mess, he won't connect the mess with the act.
After-the-fact punishments are never a good idea. They do nothing to solve the problem, but they do create stress and confusion. Some dogs get so worried about messes that they'll start cleaning them up by eating the evidence. This can quickly evolve into a disgusting habit that can be very difficult to break.
Clean up any messes as quickly as possible, before stains and odors have a chance to soak in and become difficult, if not impossible, to remove. You can demonstrate that you're disappointed and repulsed when you find a mess, but you don't want your dog to think that you're his personal cleaning crew, so put him in his crate while you clean up.
Start by picking up any solid waste, and blotting up as much liquid as you can. Follow that with a thorough soaking with an enzymatic cleaner, like Nature's Miracle or Out!, designed specifically for this purpose. You may have to soak and blot several times, especially if you didn't find the spot immediately.
Don't use household ammonia to clean up accidents. Ammonia is a component of urine, and its scent can actually draw a dog back to urinating in the same spot repeatedly. If you don't have enzymatic cleaner, you can liberally apply baking soda to absorb liquid and odor. Vacuum when it's dry, and soak the area with a mixture of white vinegar and club soda. Repeat until the spot is clean, and leave a towel over the spot until it's completely dry.