The Number One Tip That is Making Your Puppy Potty Training Fail

puppy potty training

Okay, okay, as I write this, I am mentally preparing myself for the backlash.

There is one potty training tip that drives me crazy and ruins puppies’ success.

Now, if you know me, you know I hate potty pads; but I almost hate this tip more.

And, it is so commonly used that my distaste for it is going to shock you!

What is the #1 Tip That is Making Your Puppy Potty Training Fail?

What could it be? What is the most commonly used puppy potty training tip that is actually making it worse?

"Give Your Puppy a Treat for Going Potty Outside"

Sounds crazy, right?

I mean, I am definitely pro-treat.

And I certainly want my puppies to go potty outside.

But this is the ONE time I don’t use food rewards for good behavior.


I think it confuses puppies!

I also think it stops puppies from finishing their business.

Puppies have a hard enough time focusing! Sometimes, adding the excitement of a treat completely blows their concentration.

And, let’s face it, this is the ONE time you don’t want your puppy to be distracted.

I know, I have just blown your mind.

And, I realize there are people who successfully use that tip with their puppies.

So Let’s Talk About It

Let's talk more about why this number one tip is making your potty training fail for you and your puppy.

It is Confusing for Your Puppy

You know that you are rewarding your puppy for the very complicated act of “going potty OUTSIDE”, but is that how your puppy sees it?

I think some puppies think they are being rewarded for going potty in front of you.

puppy potty trainingI mean, how do we know they are associating the great “out of doors” with the equation?

I think this is why some owners are seeing their puppies drop and squat in front of them inside of their homes.

For the puppy, the easiest thing to associate is the act of “potty” being rewarded.

So then, it makes sense that the puppy comes back inside and squats in the hope that he will earn another treat.

It is Distracting for Your Puppy

He squats to take care of business, and you squeal and bombard him with treats because you are so happy that he is going potty outside.

It only makes sense that as soon as he becomes distracted, he stops what he was doing.

And, if you stop him mid-flow or mid-poop, chances are he is going to come back inside and need to finish his act.

I get this complaint ALL THE TIME.

“I took him outside, and he went potty, I rewarded him, and he came in and had an accident”.

The problem is that you didn’t wait for him to finish, or he thinks the more often he goes in front of you, the more treats he will get.

Either is a problem and ends with puppies having more accidents in front of their owners in the house.

What’s Worse?

The old ideal of rubbing your puppy’s nose in it is worse.

This only teaches your dog to sneak off and have accidents.

Plus, it is cruel.

What Should You Do?

I am fond of keeping my puppy on a leash and getting him out every 2 hours, and then QUIETLY PRAISING HIM FOR GOING POTTY OUTSIDE.

That's right; I don’t make a big deal out of it.

I don’t reward for it.

I quietly tell him he is a “good boy” when he relieves himself when we are outside.

I don’t want him to think that going potty in front of me is bad, but I also don’t want him to think going potty in front of me will bring him a tasty treat.

And, I don’t want to distract him from what he is doing.

I REALLY want him to finish!

So, I am super quiet, and calm.

After all, going potty is natural, and I want my dog to learn to actually “relieve” himself, fully.

This makes potty training easier!

If your puppy is distracted, he is more difficult to potty train.

It’s Up to You

But the truth is….

It is up to you!

It is your job to teach your puppy to go potty and totally relieve himself outside.

After a few days, I know how often my puppy poops and how much volume he pees.

If you think he is lacking, it is up to you to crate him and try again in a few minutes.

What people don’t realize is that potty training is about YOU and has little to do with the puppy at first.

You must take him outside, you must stay with him; you must then either crate him (because he didn’t go), or keep an eye on him.

Once we help him understand that going potty and relieving himself outside brings freedom, then he can learn.


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  1. Robyn says:

    What is crating? I have never heard of it where I live.


    Minette Reply:

    Using a dog crate


  2. Emily Ellefson says:

    Please help! We adopted a 3 year old bulldog about 2 months ago. We were told she was house trained. We are experienced bulldog owners and know they can be hard to potty train. However, we are really struggling with her. She’s peeing all over! She’s a retired breeder who was a pet (not mill) and she hasn’t been spayed yet. Do you have any pointers?


    Minette Reply:

    I would take her to the vet and see if she might have an infection.


  3. Dana says:

    If have 8 month old puppies yes i have 2 puppies from a litter. Their mom is potty trained but these 2 are not. And hopefully not to late to get it right. I cant live like this its not acceptable. So please tell me any thing n any tips to help make it possible.


    Minette Reply:

    search my articles for help with potty training.


  4. Robyn says:

    Hi what do you use a dog crate for and how? This sounds really useful. The crates we have are for short trips for aggressive dogs. Thanks for your patience


    Minette Reply:

    I prefer plastic crates, like the varikennel


  5. Jan hooten says:

    We have a 3 year old rescue chihuahua dauchsound mix. She goes outside most of the time but stills has accidents in the house sometimes. Help please.


    Minette Reply:

    read this


  6. Robin says:

    I have a 2 year old pug I have to train him to use potty pads because I can’t go up and down steps very well I loose my balance and fall. I’m not stable on my feet. He want to lay on potty pad or try eating it what do I do to show him it’s not a bed or for tearing up its to potty on only he has all kinds of toys to chew on and play with. Thanks


  7. Kathy Jenkins says:

    Hi I just stumbled across your site. Do you have a video on potty training. My Puppy has had a set back after being nutered and having an infection he was pretty much crated constantly for three weeks just being let out for his pee and poo. Prior to this he was going out on the balcony himself everytime he had to go now however he just does it where ever and when ever he wants I feel so frustrated its like he just wont wait till I open the door?


  8. Jan hooten says:

    I have put her on a leash to go potty outside. No matter how long I walk with her in the backyard (up to one hour in 25 degree weather) she will not go potty. She either sits or acts like she is being punished. I have also tried just going outside and walk around. When I do this she tries to sneak back into the house, we have a doggie door. Any ideas?


    Minette Reply:

    Eventually they have to go! just keep up with the leash training and out every 2 or so hours until you have success.


  9. Annie says:

    My Yorkie refuses to go on the grass when it is wet. He walks around like a gay man trying to wear stilletoes for the first time. He will NOT relieve himself.


    Minette Reply:

    If that is his only option, he will learn. Or cover the grass with a tarp before it rains


  10. Vicki says:

    My dogs won’t go out if raining.. What do I do??
    I’ve tried leaving them out awhile.. They won’t go potty in the rain
    Don’t know what to do ????


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