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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have a 12 week old female puppy named Sadie, we brought her home 5 weeks ago. I am starting to lose my patience. This is my fourth puppy, so i've been through this before, but I don't remember it being this difficult.

I don't expect her to be fully potty trained yet, but I would have expected at least some progress by now, a glimmer of hope that soaking up pee and scrubbing poop stains will come to an end sooner rather than later. It really struck me today how little progress she's made when she woke up from a nap, and as per our ritual I said "let's go potty" and put on my shoes. She walked right by me and proceeded to pee on a blanket that had fallen off the couch. So I ran across the living room floor in my shoes that are caked with dog poop from parading her around the yard at 4 am every night leaving a nice trail of crap across the rug.

That is negative progress. She knows by now what the ritual is, she knows we were going outside, but nonchalantly peed on the blanket instead, perhaps as a matter of convenience. This isn't an isolated incident, I clean up by far more messes inside than she makes outside, probably by 2 to 1.

She will go potty outside if she has to, usually. But she won't ask to go out yet, in fact I get the impression that she doesn't want to go out at all unless I make her, she's far more comfortable just going in the house. I thought maybe I just wasn't catching her signals so we've got bells on the door now that I make her ring when we go out, but that hasn't proved fruitful yet (only been a week though).

When she does go outside she's praised, and she knows she has done well, she wags her tail and runs over to me for her reward (attention and occasionally a treat). If I catch her in the act in the house i'll grab her as fast as I can, sternly tell her no, and immediatly escort her outside (stopping only to ring the bells). Her demeanor says she knows she was bad, so now lately I just haven't been catching her in the act, as if she knows she won't get scolded if I don't see it. So now I usually find unpleasant surprises around every corner, usually with my socks.

Also she's crated at night in my room and hasn't had any accidents in her crate, although she wakes me up at 4 to 5 am every morning to go pee.

Now I know that probably none of this is her fault, it's probably all things i'm doing wrong. Or maybe she's just not old enough yet to expect significant results, we brought her home at 7 weeks which is the youngest puppy i've ever had. She seems pretty intelligent, so I don't think she's dumb or anything, she's got a great personality and we've bonded well.

The breeder told me to let her eat as much as she wants until she's done with vaccinations so she has her food out from morning until about 7pm, and she nibbles little meals all day long. I've decided to stop this and feed her 3 times per day so I can better predict when she'll have to go.

Any other suggestions on how to proceed? By what age would you generally estimate a puppy should be house trained?
 

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I feel for you. We have a 15 week puppy, and I was getting frustrated as well about 12-13 weeks. Sounds like you're doing most everything right. When we started with the bell, it seriously only took a couple days for her to start using it regularly to go out...keep trying. Make sure you have her bat the bell before you take her out.
A couple other small suggestions, take them or leave them.

1) Don't let the puppy out of your sight when not crated. Don't go to the other room. Don't run to the basement for something. Etc. Just too easy for them to "be bad".
2) Don't wait for signs from the dog (yet). Go out every 1/2 hour at least. If for nothing else, than to get her used to going out.
3) For quite a while, when I was determining when to take ours out, I'd scoop her up rather than have her walk there herself. Might work better for you, if she's having accidents on the way to the door.

Hang in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
1) Don't let the puppy out of your sight when not crated. Don't go to the other room. Don't run to the basement for something. Etc. Just too easy for them to "be bad".
I think this may be part of the problem, we've gotten a bit lazy with the gates and let her expand her territory without really earning it. She has access to the kitchen, dining room, living room, and hallway which I think gives her too much opportunity to get out of eyeshot, so for the next couple of weeks we're going to try to never let her out of our site for even a second.
 

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aka Ali, Oscar's mom
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That is negative progress. She knows by now what the ritual is, she knows we were going outside, but nonchalantly peed on the blanket instead, perhaps as a matter of convenience.
...
But she won't ask to go out yet, in fact I get the impression that she doesn't want to go out at all unless I make her, she's far more comfortable just going in the house. I thought maybe I just wasn't catching her signals so we've got bells on the door now that I make her ring when we go out, but that hasn't proved fruitful yet (only been a week though).

When she does go outside she's praised, and she knows she has done well, she wags her tail and runs over to me for her reward (attention and occasionally a treat). If I catch her in the act in the house i'll grab her as fast as I can, sternly tell her no, and immediatly escort her outside (stopping only to ring the bells). Her demeanor says she knows she was bad, so now lately I just haven't been catching her in the act, as if she knows she won't get scolded if I don't see it. So now I usually find unpleasant surprises around every corner, usually with my socks.
...
The breeder told me to let her eat as much as she wants until she's done with vaccinations so she has her food out from morning until about 7pm, and she nibbles little meals all day long. I've decided to stop this and feed her 3 times per day so I can better predict when she'll have to go.
Congratulations on your new puppy! I TOTALLY feel your frustrations though; Oscar wasn't quite that bad, but pretty close... :doh:
Here's my advice, based on what worked for us... though honestly "time" will help a lot!! Oscar was pretty good by about 3 months old, but at 12 weeks he wasn't "getting it" either, so it might be a while longer for you as well :(

I agree with Altizer about the crating WHENEVER you aren't watching Sadie like a hawk - i.e., whenever your full attention is not to her. Puppies that age sleep a lot during the day... so play with her a lot and then put her in the crate. If she hates being taken out of the fun and is crying, and she isn't hungry or needing to go to the bathroom, she probably needs some more playtime... but if that isn't possible due to YOUR schedule, give her a Kong stuffed with peanut butter, or some other treat she needs to work at to give you some quiet time. We had Oscar's crate in our bedroom, so during the day we would just put him in there and shut the door. Sometime he'd fuss or cry, but eventually would fall asleep... and it's important for them to learn that crying won't get them out, and they will have to spend time alone sometimes/all time during the day if you are at work. (We work from home, but still sometimes Oscar needs to be crated if we are out of the house.)

Oscar was exactly the same way with seeming to understand "going" outside was GOOD, because he would also be happy and expecting a treat for his efforts. But he didn't seem to "get" that going INSIDE was "bad" -- but, IMO, other than saying "NO" in a firm voice when they pee inside and CARRYING them outside, there's not much else you can do to discourage it, even when you catch them in the act... If you think Sadie is acting like she "knows" she did a bad thing, IMO she is probably more reacting to YOU being upset, rather than putting together that it is the pee=bad that is actually making you mad. And as you are finding out, you don't want to "teach" her that she should be HIDING her pottying inside rather than coming to ask to go outside!
What we tried was ONLY treating Oscar when he went to the potty outside (instead of giving treats for other things, we think he was just not motivated by the treats outside otherwise), and making a CRAZY BIG DEAL out of it when he did (lots of praise). You can also save some extra special treats for going to the bathroom outside, like freezedried liver or something she loves.

I don't want to disagree with your breeder about the food, but I never heard of that "free-feeding" until vaccinations are complete strategy. We left water out all day, but never food (also we do not give Oscar free water in his crate, although he often gets ice cubes in there). He is still getting 3 meals a day. I would definitely think that structuring her mealtimes should help with potty training! We even tried structuring Oscar's water intake, but eventually we gave up on that because I felt he was drinking too MUCH water at the same time as eating all that kibble (which IMO is NOT good for their stomachs/digestion.. IMO they should ideally be drinking smaller amounts often throughout the day, and before/after playtimes, although that means more potty breaks!).

We set a timer for 30 mins... then 45... then 1 hour... now he is able to "hold it" for several hours! We tried bells but Oscar never really figured it out... just scratched up the door playing with them :doh: ;) so maybe we'll go back that when he has more self-control... but for now we just take him out every 2-4 hours, depending on his schedule (playing, sleeping, eating, etc), and also whenever he sits at the door or cries (which is his "signal").

BEST OF LUCK TO YOU! It sounds like you are on the right track, though I know how frustrating it can be. Trust me, it will all be a distant memory soon enough!!!! I really think the extra crating will help you... although if she starts "going" in there or "going" more frequently, make sure you rule out a bladder infection/UTI with your vet, because that can be one reason they have trouble with the potty training. (They just need to test a urine sample.)

... OH and P.S., make SURE you are using an enzymatic or bacterial cleaner to clean up the urine on floor/carpet, rather than just a chemical odor/stain remover, even the special cleaners for "pet stains/odor". We switched to Nature's Miracle at the advice of many people on this forum. You can usually find it in the pets section, we got ours at Petsmart. Dogs have a crazy sense of smell, so even if the stain & odor are "gone" for you, she may still be able to smell it, and not be able to "help" herself since that smells "right" to her. You can even put some in the wash with your blankets and stuff, especially if she likes to pee on soft surfaces (Oscar is the same way!!!!)
 

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It seemed almost overnight Hank became reliable at 12 weeks. It was like all of a sudden he "got it". Hang in there, I bet you'll see an improvement soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies. It's been going better, I cut her back to 3 meals per day and have been more diligent in making sure she's always in sight. I thought yesterday was going to be the first accident free day, until she wandered off for a few seconds and peed in the hallway. Man she's quick!

Still no luck with the bells though, i'm hoping she'll start telling me when she needs to go out soon.
 

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Bells are a great idea... How do you implement them? I have a 4 month old male named Duke and he doesn't have an issue going outside most of the time but never lets me know when he has to go out. We can be outside and he will go pee but then when we come in he immediately finds a place to poop just out of my sight. Its very frustrating. If he would give me some sort of warning it would make it so much easier.

Thanks for the help!
 

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Bells are a great idea... How do you implement them? I have a 4 month old male named Duke and he doesn't have an issue going outside most of the time but never lets me know when he has to go out. We can be outside and he will go pee but then when we come in he immediately finds a place to poop just out of my sight. Its very frustrating. If he would give me some sort of warning it would make it so much easier.

Thanks for the help!


When we started using the bell we just had her bat the bell with her paw before taking her out. After a couple days she went over and hit it or tres to hit it herself. As long as you have her ring it before you take her out that'll start the reinforcement. The fun part comes later when they ring the bell just to go out and play. Gets a little trickier whent
that stars to happen.
I can say happily that after starting the bell Bailey has only had one accident and not one in the past 2 weeks.
 
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