How to Prevent Puppy “Accidents”

Even well-trained dogs have accidents, but there are things you can do to help prevent the occasional “oops.” If a dog’s crate is too large, he may begin to sleep in one corner and relieve himself in the other. He should have enough space to stand up, lie down, and turn around—but not much more.

Place food and water outside his crate so he’ll never be caught inside with a full bladder or bowels. Also be sure to take your dog outdoors to eliminate just prior to being left alone for prolonged periods of time.

Other ways to fend off accidents include: avoiding sudden changes in your dog’s diet, eliminating late-night snacks, and making sure he spends ample time outdoors. And, should he have an accident, clean the area with a pet-odour neutralizer so he won’t be tempted to repeat his mistake.

How can I get my puppy to “go” on command?

Waiting for your puppy to take care of business can be a trying experience, especially at 3 a.m. in the rain. Here’s how you can get your puppy to “go” when you want.

Every time you take him outside, take him to a designated spot. If he walks away, put him back. This makes it clear that this is where his bathroom is and that he’s there for a purpose, not for play.

Whenever you take him out for this purpose, say “go potty” or “bathroom” (the words are up to you) and wait. Don’t give him any other command or say anything else. When he goes, praise him using a one- or two-word command (“good boy,” for example. Your puppy wants to please you, and praise confirms that he’s figured out how to do it. Once he knows the command, your 3 a.m. trips will be shorter.

How can I stop my puppy from treating the indoors like the outdoors?

If you catch him in the act, distract him by shaking a pop can filled with pennies (small stones work, too), or by saying “ahhh” in a serious tone. This will stop him in mid-stream. Then take him outside to finish the job. Praise him enthusiastically for “going” using your “go” command. If you don’t catch him in the act, say nothing and do nothing. Punishment doesn’t work. Just remind yourself to take your puppy outside after every meal, drink of water or nap to the same area to eliminate. Or take him out on the hour, like clockwork, and praise him every time he does what you want him to do.

Four steps to successful housetraining:

  1. Schedule his food, water and exercise. This will help make his digestive system more predictable and take the guesswork out of housetraining.
  2. When crating your puppy, the maximum crating time in hours is one hour plus your puppy’s age in months. For example, the maximum time for a four-month-old puppy is five hours. Adult dogs should be crated no more than eight to nine hours.
  3. If you decide to continue to confine your puppy, make sure he has an appropriate area to eliminate. If you can, pay a reliable neighbour to take him out for a quick walk at lunchtime. This will benefit both his housetraining and socialization. Always supervise your puppy when he’s loose to avoid accidents.
  4. Always praise your puppy for appropriate behaviour. This strengthens and reinforces his behaviour. If your puppy has an accident, evaluate what you could have done to help him prevent it. Remember, a dog is only as good as his owner.

What about that smelly wet spot? Fear not! Some products actually work. Consult your local professional for advice. Look on the label for any combination of orange or citrus oil, natural citrus peel, citrus or di-Limonene. These are safe, non-toxic ingredients that eliminate the odours rather than just covering them with perfume. Buy a small bottle the first time, and be ready to return for the industrial size.

What’s the scoop on poop?

Puppies know no etiquette, so it’s your job to find the acceptable spot for the call of nature. It’s also your job as a responsible pet owner to tidy up. That means always being armed with some form of scooper.

Plastic bags may be the most convenient when out on a walk because they can easily fit into a pocket or bag, but anything will do in a pinch. The shovel and scoop designs are terrific for home use.

The important thing is to actually get the job done. Many parks do not allow dogs primarily because of the not-so-little treasures they leave behind. For cities and parks to be responsible for all visitors, maintaining a clean environment is essential. Dogs will not be shy about where they make their drops, but as responsible community members or visitors, we must clean up after our puppies.