By Jamie Sharma
The first thing I tell everyone is that every potty accident your dog has inside the house is 100% your fault. Let me explain.
Dogs, from puppies to adults, do not understand where the "doggy bathroom" is. Especially puppies. So scolding your dog is not only the wrong thing to do but a complete waste of time. It forms a fear in your dog to not potty where you can see, yielding "secret" potty spots. It also causes your dog to shut down mentally or cower to the floor when addressed after or during the accident. The best and fastest way to potty train your dog is to use positive reinforcement. Meaning, if the accident is spotted while it is in progress, the best thing to do is to have no reaction and to promptly run the dog outside to finish. If the dog continues outside, throw a party aka celebrate! If the accident is spotted after the fact, do not give any visual, physical or verbal attention of any form while cleaning up the mess. Remember, attention should be used for rewarding never for disciplining.
With that said, how these accidents become your fault, is the lack in correct timing of potty trips or recognizing the warning signs. The most common times a dog will need to potty is after sleeping, eating and a few minutes after playing or becoming physically active. For puppies, all of the above is true including most puppies can control their bladder for about 1 hour for every month of age. The most common warning signs to look for are panting (without physical activity or being over heated), pacing (not able to relax) and unprovoked sniffing.
When it comes to potty training, no matter if it is a puppy or adopted adult dog, the key to success is timing and using a crate. Keeping your dog in the crate for sleeping and during times you are unable to keep watch will help you avoid accidents. When you take your dog out to potty without success, it is best to put your dog back in the crate for about 10-20 minutes then try taking your dog out again. Repeat if necessary. Your dog will earn the freedom to roam around the house by going potty outside. Remember to always celebrate with praise and treats when your dog is successful!
I do not recommend using potty training pads as they can confuse the dog and hinder success with teaching your dog to potty outside. In addition, I recommend using an enzyme base cleaner such as Nature's Miracle as it is both safe for pets and kids and most effective for removing stains and odors.