How to Potty Train Stubborn Puppy

Sep 19, 2022

I get this question all the time. How do I train my puppy to use the bathroom outside? There are hundreds of articles online if not thousands on how to appropriately do this. The question I usually get is how do I train my stubborn puppy to do it? Here are a couple of things that you should try to break your puppy off its fictitious stubborn streak.
(dogs aren’t stubborn, they just don’t understand what we are asking them to do)

Stop taking them out so often. I know that's counterintuitive to what many dog training articles and websites might tell you to do. They say to take your puppy out every 20 to 30 minutes and give them the opportunity to go to the bathroom. Well in this case it might be too frequent. Your dog just hasn't had enough time to build up the need to go to the bathroom. Every time you take your dog out for 20 to 30 minutes they get to play and enjoy and do whatever they want and when you go back into the house suddenly they have to go to the bathroom.

Don’t take it wrong, puppies go to the bathroom often, but if they're being stubborn you have to be slightly more stubborn. Really cracking down on the structure and consistency of your potty training schedule and they will adapt quickly. This does not mean taking them out every eight and a half hours. This means taking them out every 45 to 60 minutes. Just give them slightly more time to build up the need to go. This is all also contingent on the age of the puppy.

Go to the bathroom or you get nothing else. This is a consistency problem. I see this all too often when we take the puppy out just to play or exercise or go for a walk but there is no structure in the potty training. Sure you have a timer set for every 45 minutes to go off and take the puppy out but you should really be taking them out to go to the bathroom first. If they go to the bathroom, now you can do the other things you want to do. If they don't go, you don't continue your day.

Bring them to the location that you want them to get used to going in, and wait a few minutes. If they go to the bathroom, they get rewarded with praise or treats, and then you can play or take them for a walk. If they don't go to the bathroom, put them back in a safe location where you can control their access. This might be a crate or a playpen. The more you can control this and reward them for going when necessary the faster they will pick up on the routine.

Stop using pee wee pads. I see this so often and it drives me nuts. If you don't want your dog to go to the bathroom in the house, stop letting them go to the bathroom in the house. Now if you want your dog to go to the bathroom in the house, by all means, use pee wee pads. But if you are trying to get your dog to go out to the bathroom and they keep going to the bathroom in the house, why would they need to adapt to this new routine? It'd be as simple as trying to go on a diet but you keep having donuts in the living room. You are going to go and eat those donuts because it's an old habit that dies hard. I'm clearly speaking of personal experience.

Even if you use pee wee pads and suddenly stop, your dog might find a similar texture that they're going to go to the bathroom on (like a carpet or rug). This can be insanely frustrating not only for your dog who doesn't understand why you keep getting upset but for you for having to keep cleaning it up even though you're trying to do what's right. Simply get rid of the pee pee pads as soon as possible or, over the course of a couple of days, move the pee wee pads closer and closer to the door until it is eventually outside. Both are wonderful ways of teaching your dog how to get off of pee wee pads.

Most of the time our dog is not stubborn, they're just not understanding our expectations and routines. This could be due to a lack of consistency among yourself or the members of your family who are caring for the dog. Take the time to sit down and write out a very clear routine and stick to it. Consistency is the only thing that all dog trainers can agree on, so clearly it must be important.
Good luck, stay training and I'll see you in the next article.
-Michael J. Accetta



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