Breaking Down The Potty Training Process

I have a very quick video that I think you’ll find helpful if you’re trying to potty train a puppy right now, and some fun news.

First the fun news.

This last Monday, my videographer showed up to help me film the whole process of training my new Golden Retriever, Ginger. (and he’s VERY good)

This is both wonderful and bad at the same time.

Wonderful that we get to catch the footage, but BAD, because I’ve really been holding off on Ginger’s training, because I want to catch a lot of her bad mistakes on camera so YOU get to watch her breakthroughs.

So I’m excited to start curbing some of Ginger’s puppy behaviors.

If you didn’t know, dog training isn’t the only type of animal training I do, I also train birds with my brother, and that’s where I met our wonderful videographer, who will be the magic behind some of the dog training video trainings that we start releasing in the months ahead.  It’s always been an area that was tough for me to bring you AMAZING training video, and with Ginger, and my videographer, I think those challenges are in the past.

Not that it has a THING to do with dogs, but if you’d like to see the QUALITY of video our editor can produce, check out this trailer to one of our Bird Training products.

But those updates aside, that’s not the reason I wanted to write to you today.

Instead I wanted to share a little homemade video of what the beginning stages of Potty Training Ginger look like.

But before you watch the video I want you to pay attention to a few things.

First, please understand that I am using a ‘capturing’ method of training in this clip.  I am waiting for Ginger to go potty on her own decision, and I am then praising her for doing so, followed by a treat.

Secondly, you see me pause in a few different places.  I stop on the deck for a few seconds, then I stop at the edge of my deck, and then I stop at the edge of my grass.

The reason I am stopping at these different distances, is that I am testing Ginger.

In the beginning of this potty training process, I actually had to walk onto the grass to provoke Ginger to go potty.  So this video, where I actually stop at the edge of the grass is progress.  The next goal is to stand on the deck while she goes potty, and eventually stand at the doorway, then to teach her to actually ask permission to go outside by ringing a bell.

Obviously I’m not there yet, but I thought it would be helpful for you to see just how much I breakdown the process of training.

Plus I just wanted to show you some footage of my little baby 😉

Usually the reason dog owners fail to get results with their dogs is because they ask too much of their dog at one time.

So if you’re struggling with a behavior issue with your dog, think about how you could break it down into more manageable steps.

And of course if you would like to learn the ENTIRE potty training process, I would highly encourage you to listen to an interview I did with a wonderful trainer, Amanda Brothers on Advanced potty training strategies.

I learned what I know from her, and she was kind enough to let me record an entire hour audio session with her that breaks down everything you need to know to quickly potty train dogs.



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  1. Pat says:

    In my involvment with potty training, just as the dog is peeing or pooping I instantly use the command of pee or poop during behavior and say Yes or Good being the reward for the job done.( only during perfoemance) Everytime the dog peforms these two behaviors I repeat pee or poop and praise with Yes or Good. It has always worked. than as they learn I could say the command and the dogs would all go do the job as tokd just like teaching other commands as sit, down and come.


    Pam Kutscher Reply:

    Yes, I also use a command “go potty” to signal my dogs to do their business. I have one dog that often gets lost in exploring new scents and forgets what he is out there to do–if I’m in a hurry this helps to get him refocused. He knows he gets a treat after he “goes”. If he just poops and comes back for his treat I still give him one and then send him back out to “go pee”–then he gets another treat when he finishes.


  2. Sylvia Kinne says:

    We are in our late 60’s and we lost our Yorkie “Best Girl” Molly Bee last April. We really missed her companionship so we thought we would have another dog at some point. Our children got together and gave us a Yorkie puppy in June – a little boy this time – Baxter Bear. Baxter was “trained” by the breeder (as were the parents of Baxter)to use a receptical in the home filled with wood pellets. We have provided the same set-up and he uses it faithfully for poop. He isn’t so successful w/ peeing but we are trying! He is 7 months old today and weighs 3.4 lbs. Because we live in the northeast and have harsh winters, we thought the wood pellet idea was a good one – we remember how Molly hated having to stand in the cold and have her feet ice cold in the snow while going potty outdoors. Are we doing Baxter a disservice by keeping the wood pellet plan in place??


    Minette Reply:

    Read this article it will explain more and may help


  3. Pat Otieno says:

    So please tell me how to go about this when all these actions keep happening at the wrong place eg walking in a shopping complex and the dog goes potty right there.

    Also, advise on what to do with guard dogs which are locked in kennels all day and only released at night to guard homes, etc. How does one manage to have a special area of the kennel where they are allowed to use?




  4. kat rose says:

    I have a black tri Aussie “Rascal” I got him at 8 weeks old. He rings the bell to go out which took less than one week to do. Yes, I may be bragging but any pup can do it. I always rang the bell before opening the door and on the 4th day started placing his paw on the bell and would say “ring the bell”.On the 6th day I told him “ring the bell” he looked at me,then at the door,then at the bell and then repeat and then he hit that bell with attitude. I was so excited I just about cried. I have learned SO MUCH from your hands off training and blogs. People ask me my secrets I do share your info. but I tell them “think like a dog”,”teach your dog english”, “never treat without a trick” and be consistant”.


  5. shirley schoverea says:

    I also have 7 month female yorkie. She also get distracted by a leaf, and does not complete finish and finishes indoors. How old will she have to get over this problem?


    Minette Reply:

    You need to require more from her!

    At 7 months she may get distracted but she should be capable of being potty trained!!


  6. Tina says:

    Thanks for the article! I’ve heard of using a bell, however, how does that work when you are somewhere other than home (with a bell on each door) and you’re in a business, nursing home, someone elses home, etc. with no bells on the door? We are hoping our standard poodle will be a therapy dog so I’m trying to anticipate the different situations we could be in when she might have to do her duty. Thanks!


    Minette Reply:

    When you stay over at someone else’s house or in a motel, you bring your bell.

    When you take her out in a business or public you make sure she doesn’t need to potty while she is there and take breaks every couple of hours.


  7. JO says:

    I have a sweet 5 month old Westie girl named Jesse. She is now able to hold her pee and poo all night in her crate, and usually all day in her crate while I’m working (good girl). She goes right away outside when let out (good girl again). An issue we are having is peeing inside, on the floor, sometimes within minutes of each occurance. She is not ill, so not sure why she does this, or what my reponse should be. We have put down a pee pad in the room she is confined to, and she uses it sometimes, maybe the pad is confusing her further. I don’t want to keep her confined to her crate any more hours than necessary.


    Minette Reply:

    Is she spayed?


    jo Reply:

    She is not spayed yet. My vet likes to wait until 6 months. She feels for a small dog it is safer, and also helps to preserve her feminine characteristics.


    Minette Reply:

    My guess is she is marking.

    Females can and do mark just like males do when they are in tact and this causes them to urinate in several places one right after another.

    I use to have a female that would even lift her leg.

    I would try spaying her. I like spaying and neutering young because it can keep so many bad behaviors from forming.

    Unless you have a working dog that is constantly working and a true athlete dog that works all day (police dog, herding dog etc) I don’t see the need to keep from spaying/neutering them.

    Spaying before their first heat will also decrease their chance for mammary (breast cancer) by more than half… which is a big deal!!

  8. Christine says:

    My 6 month old puggle can go a full week with no accidents and then for no reason he will pee on the floor. I say no reason because I will take him out make sure he goes, walk around a little bit before bringing him in and then 15 minutes after bringing him in he will pee. When I am home I take him out constantly, every hour. He can’t seem to get passed a week. What am I doing wrong?


    Minette Reply:

    He has too much freedom if he is having the privilege of being loose in the house and still having accidents.

    At six months or about that age, especially with smaller breed dogs I consider marking especially if they are not neutered.

    If they are small amounts in different places especially if they are on horizontal planes it is marking. Even if its small amounts on vertical planes it may be marking.

    Keep him with you and don’t allow him to wander the house without you!!


    Christine Reply:

    Thank you for replying! He is only allowed in the kitchen and he was neutered at 5 months because he had cherry eye and his vet only wanted to put him under once. Could this still be marking?


    Minette Reply:

    It certainly can be especially if it is small amounts.

    It is difficult to diagnose problems via the internet because I can’t see exactly what is going wrong, so I have to guess to the best of my ability.

    Either he had NEVER learned what you want, or something has changed… like he is marking his space because he is getting to be more sexually mature (even if he is neutered) he still has hormones.

    If you are going outside with him you can notice if he is getting distracted by other things when he is in the middle of peeing which will cause him to come back in and feel like he needs to finish.

    If he pees a lot on walks in many different places this tells me he is marking.

    Watch his behaviors and do your best to be with him all of the time.

    Either way you have to break these behaviors or they will become habit and those are much harder to break!!

  9. Pasqualina says:

    Hi Chad,
    I followed your potting training instructions, and trying to be present for as many potty times as possible when training Layla from 8 weeks of age.
    I took a leaf out of your book, and set my clock for every, two, three, four, five hours (as she progressed and could hold on longer] at night to take her out to potty and praise her heaps. She is now five months old, but I remember the first night she slept through, without the need to go out (note WInter time in Australia. It was bliss! Following your instructions, with patience, praise and treats, Layla was potty trained by 11 weeks.

    Thank you.
    I’m loving your training.


  10. Margo says:

    I have an 3/4 Pom 1/4 terrier but he is impossible to train. If I go out with him and stay awhile he will do nothing but when I am barley inside he does his pee.I always scold him and say bad dog and if I walk him and he does poo or pee I always give a treat. Please tell me what am I doing wrong? I even put him in his crate but nothing helps. I am getting quite nerved as my partner is always angry with me and he does not like dogs. Could that be the problem?
    Please advice me what to do


    Minette Reply:

    He is getting mixed signals, so all you are teaching him is to sneak away to go potty.

    People scold their dogs when they go potty inside, but what the dog learns is that going potty “in front of you” is bad… not the act of going INSIDE the house.

    Instead you can distract him by saying “AHHH” if you CATCH HIM IN THE ACT… but if you just find it you are too late.

    Instead, teach him to go potty in front of you.

    You don’t have to use treats as sometimes they distract the dog, instead just praise quietly and teach him that going potty in front of you is okay.

    Now keep an eye on him when he is inside and don’t let him sneak away.

    If he is out of your presence and you can’t see him, chances are he is getting in trouble so keep him with you.

    Use baby gates or a leash or a crate, but don’t let him be alone; then go outside with him when he goes out and wait him out and he will learn.

    You need to be patient and don’t give up, because that is what he is waiting for… dogs are much more patient than we are he is simply waiting for you to let your guard down!!!


  11. Louise says:

    Please please help. I have an 8 week old labradoodle who constantly nips. Even when you go to stroke him he nips to start playing. My 6 year old daughter just backs off as try’s to nip her socks, toes etc and she’s just saying no no no and then doesn’t want to play. Also, I keep putting him out for sees but he hasn’t got the hang of going outside yet. I know he’s young though!

    I’m also crate training him. When he cries is that the sign for me to let him out in the night??
    Please help as its just me and my daughter and I really wanted a lovely experience by having a puppy.

    Thank you


    Minette Reply:

    You need our puppy training package, it will go over all this and more!!!

    There are over 60 videos to watch and will help you to understand him!

    AND, he needs EXERCISE!!! A tired puppy is too tired to bite 😉


  12. dania1 says:

    hello my brother wants to get a husky dog but i prefer the golden retriever can you help me to know wich is the beter one and if you dont mind give me some resons


    Minette Reply:

    I know nothing about you or your family life or what you need in a dog, you should both dog some research on each breed and why you think one would be better over the other then let someone who knows your family help you decide!


  13. Linda says:

    I have multiple dogs and find it very hard to completely train my dogs to go potty outside, these are mostly small breeds. I am constantly watching them and try to correct them when I catch one sniffing a spot. They are contained in the LR and not allowed access to any of the rooms. The problem I am having is also present with any training we do. I have to leave the house with one of the pups to work manners with him/her, I hope one day Chet makes a training video on a household with multiple dogs.. Thank YOU, Linda


    Minette Reply:

    You have to do the training as you stated, separate them so they don’t compete with one another.

    By nature dogs want to compete, who gets the treat first, who gets attention… and it is hard to LEARN when you are in constant competition.

    If you separate them and train then they can learn the meaning of the command and what you desire separately.

    THEN once they have learned it you put them together and kind of go back to square one (cause they are competing now)… you let them know that if they are patient they will be rewarded for good behavior etc and soon they will all be listening.


    Linda Reply:

    Thank you Minette… I am trying separating but when I do the barking inside is endless. They know when I’m outside with one of the pups. I will stay out of their site and or sound. Wish me luck…. Again, thank YOU.


  14. Peggie says:

    I have a 6 month old Mini Aussie Sherperd. I am having sooooo many problems with this young pup. Potty training is one. We have tried the bell method, but she still goes in the house. Nipping at my 6 year old granddaughter. She barks and no amount of scolding helps. She barks continually when we eat. She is to be spayed this month, I am hoping this will help. Also I have her scheduled to start some lessons this month. HELP.


    Minette Reply:

    She needs training and consistency.

    She needs to be on a leash, so she can understand potty training and can’t have accidents AND to keep her from nipping your granddaughter YIKES!!!

    I would suggest our puppy programming it goes over all of this and more!!


  15. Sabrina says:

    I have a 7 month old toy australian shepard. He does a good job pee potting outside. He will sometimes ring the bell. Other times, we just take him out and he will go potty. Pooping is another story. He poops outside in the morning but later he will also go in the house. He does not tell us that he has to go. He normally goes in the same spot while I am looking the other way. How do I get him to tell me that he has to go potty?

    I am sure that I give him too much freedom in the house. We are always with him when he is out in the house. We do crate him at night and he doesn’t have any accidents at all.


    Minette Reply:

    You have to keep an eye on him first and make sure he doesn’t go to that spot.

    Once you havent had an accident in several weeks then it is time to teach him to ring the bell with consistency.


  16. Denise says:

    I have just acquired a rescued dog, a chocolate lab. The vet isn’t sure how old she is but Chaco’s teeth and bare patches indicate she was caged, outdoors on concrete but with little to no training. So, she could be anywhere from 3 to 8 years old. She behaves like a younger dog. We live in the woods with a river in our back yard.

    We’ve found that Chaco’s happiest outside, but we bring her in to eat and sleep. We do have will come when called or whistled, and loves riding in a pick-up or ATV. Could have been a hunter’s dog? We think she had a broken leg that never healed properly since she limps on occasion or favors that leg.

    We’ve had her two months and she now sits for a treat but not on command unless there’s a treat. Chaco is not house trained. but only goes near the kitty litter area. As long as we give her plenty of time to roam outside, she does everything outside but I don’t think she’s connecting the two. The only time we put her on a leash is when we walk on the road. I’ve tried taking her out to the areas where it’s ok to go and praising her when she happens to go but seldom are the two combined. She just doesn’t seem to get it. Any concrete suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    keep her inside and treat her like a puppy.

    She is use to going outside whenever she wants, she doesn’t understand that there is a difference in order to teach her that there is she needs to be inside more and kept on leash and taken outside to potty.


  17. cheri says:

    We just got a German Sherpard Puppy, Three months old and she was kept in a plastic box at the pet store, you know the kind where you can see into but cant touch. We’re starting to think she has never been out side and she doesnt like the grass at all, she keeps doing her business on the patio and back step. I walk her onto the grass and she lays down. I’ll wait out with her for a while and as soon as she comes in she goes to the bathroom. When she goes in the house I clean it up with a paper towel and put it on the lawn and tell her go pee pee. How do we get her to reconize the lawn as her bathroom?


    Minette Reply:

    You just have to keep going out with her and not letting her have access to the house unless you are with her… eventually she will understand, but it will take lots of time and persistence!


  18. Dot Paterson says:

    I have 3 puppies, should I concentrate on one at a time .


    Minette Reply:

    Oh My!! Well yes, as best you can especially for obedience training, but potty training may need to happen as close to all at once as you can… i.e. they all need to go out first thing in the morning… you have your hands full!


  19. Fran Jones says:

    my Chihuahua is 5 months and is great to go potty when I take him out. How do I get him to tell me he wants to go out. Thank you, Fran Jones


  20. Diane says:

    I have a one year old dog who thinks the crate in the house is a potty area. He goes outside when I take him out but then will have a huge pee and poo in the crate just five minutes later. He only does this in my house. If I leave him crated in the car or when we go to training or visiting at someone else’s house he’s fine for several hours and has never had an accident. But at home he might go four or five times in one day even after he’s been out. I clean up diligently with the enzyme cleaner and have tried different crates and different locations in the house. I also cut out all random treats or food so he only gets food on a regular schedule thinking it might help with having to poop at odd times, but nothing has helped. He just doesn’t seem to care – he’ll make a big mess and just lie in it. It’s very frustrating when I have to go to work and know that he’ll make a mess when I’m gone. Having someone come let him out wouldn’t help because it seems pretty random when he decides to go and even if he goes out and potties it doesn’t mean he won’t do it again inside. I have had a vet check him out and they found nothing, plus seeing that he’s fine all other places I doubt it’s a medical issue. I have had lots of dogs before and all crate trained successfully, but this one is really stumping me. I’ve never had a dog not care about going in his own space like this.


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