Common Housetraining Problems

He Forgets to Go

One common problem is that your puppy will forget to relieve himself when he is outdoors, but will remember as soon as he is back in the house.

Leashing your puppy during potty breaks will enable you to keep your puppy moving and sniffing within the appropriate area, and thus speed the process of elimination. If you sense your puppy is about to become distracted from his duty of looking for a potty spot, use a light, quick jerk on the leash as you slowly move about the area yourself.

If you don't get results within five minutes, take puppy back inside and put him in his crate for another 10 minutes or so. Eventually he'll have to go, and then you can reward him for going outside in the designated spot.

He Takes Forever to Go

Only give your puppy a few minutes to potty. If you give him 20 minutes, he is likely to demand 30 the next time. After a couple minutes, put him back in his crate long enough to make him thankful for the next potty opportunity you give him.

As stated earlier, have your puppy earn playtime by pottying first and playing afterward. Potty breaks will be much less time-consuming if your puppy learns to associate the initial act of walking outdoors with the act of going potty, not playing.

Cutting Back on Taking Your Puppy Out

Many owners make the mistake of continually taking a puppy out before he really needs to go. Although they do so hoping he won't soil the house, they are actually preventing him from developing the capacity to hold it.

Since housetraining is a matter of teaching the puppy to control his bladder and bowels until he has access to the outdoors, taking the puppy out too frequently slows the housetraining process. When you think he doesn't need to go out but he does, try umbilical cording or crating him for a half-hour before taking a walk.


Plan on a year or more to complete the housetraining process. Although your puppy may be flawless for days, weeks, or months, under certain conditions any puppy can backslide. Seemingly benign events such as these can cause housetraining regression:

  • Changes in diet can affect bowel and bladder control.

  • Weather changes (too hot, cold, or wet, or noisy thunderstorms) can make outings unproductive potty times.

  • New environments (vacation homes, new house, or friend's house) may be treated as an extension of his potty area rather than his living quarters.

  • Some medications (like allergy medications) and certain conditions (like hormone changes associated with estrus) can cause more frequent elimination.

Submissive Urination

If your puppy wets when he greets people or is disciplined, he isn't having a housetraining problem. Uncontrollable and unconscious leaking of urine is common in puppies and certain breeds. If your pup has been given a clean bill of health by a veterinarian so that you know his problem isn't health-related, work on the problem by:

  • Never yelling, striking, or showing anger toward him

  • Making your entrances and greetings devoid of emotion

  • Avoiding eye contact, talking, and touching during emotional states

  • Withholding water if you're going out for a short period of time. Offer water every time you take him out to relieve himself.

Papertraining can work for some dogs and some people, and might be a consideration for you. To work, though, it must be done properly and used consistently.

Since living with this behavior can be exasperating, consider diapering your dog for the first 30 days so you don't have to continually clean up. To diaper your dog, simply pin a bandanna or towel around his privates and teach him not to remove it. Acclimate your puppy to wearing the diaper by umbilical cording him to you with the leash and distracting him if he even sniffs at the diaper by tugging on the leash.

When he is totally uninterested in the diaper — usually after less than a week of umbilical cording — let him walk around the house unleashed as usual, without concern about dribbling.

Avoid vigorous petting, impassioned tones of voice, and strong eye contact. Only interact with a superficial, brief pat, calm word, or fleeting glimpse when his bladder is empty. When he consistently responds without tinkling, test his control after he's had water. Gradually try a warmer approach, but be ready to turn off the affection and issue a command if it pleases the pee out of him.

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