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Potty training - need help

Discussion in 'Puppies 101' started by scarolina, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. scarolina

    scarolina Forums Novice

    Feb 12, 2014
    South Carolina
    How do you get a 4mo puppy to understand going outside to potty is not time to play? I bring him back in after 20 mins and put him in the crate for about another 20 mins and then back outside again. I usually take him to one area of the yard and and let him walk as far as the leash lets him and he will go around in circles picking up whatever he can find in the yard having a blast. I repeat go potty but it's like he doesn't even hear me.

    He will go both pee/poop first thing in the morning on leash outside but no matter how many hours we do the 20 in/ 20 out he just will not go outside. All he wants to do is chase blowing leaves or eat the dormant grass. We let him know how happy we are when he goes outside in the morning with treats and happy voices and play a few minutes before coming in, but can't figure out why he won't go any other time outside.

    He was paper trained by the breeder (up north where it was too cold for the puppies to be outside). I've gotten to the point that by late evening after he has two meals inside him (lunch & dinner) and still doesn't go outside, that I will put down paper just so he will go and not hold it inside any longer.

    Anyone have any suggestions?
  2. corbinam

    corbinam Moderator

    Oct 14, 2008
    Spend just a few minutes outside when you take him out--5 minutes is plenty. If he doesn't go, he goes back inside under constant supervision or in his crate. No playing outside at all until he uses the bathroom.
  3. cookieP

    cookieP Forums Regular

    Jan 28, 2014
    Spartanburg, SC
    I second corbinam. If he is going to go, he will go within five minutes. Repeatedly going out for 20 minutes at a time while he plays gets him in a routine of playing outside. If the only time you play outside is after he potties, he will not only be more likely to potty but he will be less likely to play when you take him out for potty breaks. My dog was originally paper trained by the breeder, and we crate trained him when we got him. They can do it, it just takes dedication.
  4. scarolina

    scarolina Forums Novice

    Feb 12, 2014
    South Carolina
    Thank you both for the quick responses. My Aussie was so easy but then he was born in the South during the summer so he was used to going outside. I will certainly give your suggestions a try. Thanks again.
  5. melbell

    melbell Forums Enthusiast

    Feb 4, 2013
    Erie, Pennyslvania
    Also, since he's paper trained, I'd put paper outside. See what happens. He may shock you and just not get the correlation that he's suppose to go outside and not on the paper. From there I would reduce the amount of paper outside and then eventually no paper.
  6. roxyllsk

    roxyllsk Forums Enthusiast

    Apr 28, 2012
    New Jersey
    I agree, put a preferably soiled sheet of paper outside. I had to start my puppy in the garage on pee pads because of the snow, and I put a slightly use potty pad out on the grass when I was first able to take her out there. It worked well and she knows to potty in the grass if we are there.

    And yes, 20 minutes is too long. Keep him on a leash and stand right at the newspaper, don't let him run around. If he doesn't go, back into the crate he goes for another 20 minutes then try again.
  7. Tagg

    Tagg Forums Enthusiast

    Jan 4, 2012
    Brantford, On
    All my westies were paper trained before going to their new homes. All learned about outside almost immediately - no problem because they had learned to be clean and to go somewhere other than on the bare floor.
    I take dogs outside until they do something. I stand there and freeze, get wet or whatever until they perform. Yes, sometimes they play but eventually, if I know they have to go, they do and as soon as the haunches start to go down I say, gently, either find a spot or go pee depending on what is about to occur. Right away I tell them good baby in a soft lilting voice so as not to distract them. Toileting outside is a habit that we teach by making it a habit. Eat, go outside and toilet. Play, go outside and toilet. When they are in and loose, watch for the signals and then ask them "Do you want to go outside?" while encouraging them toward the door. Take them out and say "find a spot", "go pee" or whatever you have decided is going to be the cue.
    Do not bring them in and put them in a crate on a regular basis. If you need to bring them in and they haven't done their job, keep an eagle eye on the pup and then return it to the outside as soon as you see signs. Dogs learn to hold in the crate very well but this is not what you are trying to teach. Putting a paper down at this point is confusing. Think if you had a St. Bernard pup, would you want it peeing on paper at the age of 4 months? It doesn't take long once you are religious about it. It can be frustrating but once they get the idea of what you are teaching, you are well on the way.
  8. scarolina

    scarolina Forums Novice

    Feb 12, 2014
    South Carolina
    Here's the update after following your suggestions:

    He did pretty good today with the 5-minute outside routine even though we were outside alot. He had only one accident in the gated kitchen. I had taken up the pee pads there and cleaned the floor earlier and I wanted him to realize the pads were not there anymore. I was getting lunch and it was my fault for not watching him. He did pee where the pads used to be and not just random.

    I was going to try the suggestion of taking the pads outside on the grass but it has been very windy here for a few days and I'd have pads flying though the air - the wind also makes the leaves blow across the yard which also makes him want to chase them and not do what we came out for. He also spends most of the time outside pulling up dormant grass and eating leaves.

    I carry treats with me and when he has a mouthful of dead grass/leaves I rattle the bag and he will spit out the grass and run to me for a treat. But I kinda feel like this is playing and not pottying (new word :razz: ) Any ideas - should I not do that?

    I haven't figured out his 'schedule' yet. When he used the pads indoors he usually did both fairly soon after eating, but when outside he may not go for 3-4 of our trips outside.

    I have one last question... at night I worry about taking him outside while he is so little. We live in a rural area not far from a state park with the only lighting coming from the houses. Our neighborhood is small and has had reports of small wild animals roaming around at night.

    My 3yo (70 lb) Aussie goes out by himself (in fenced backyard) and has a fierce protective bark and would alert me if there was anything out there but if they go out at the same time then my Sheltie just wants to play. Eventually I hope he will learn to potty first and then they can play.

    Would I be totally confusing him letting him use pads for his last potty of the night for a while longer? Once daylight savings changes, it will still be light outside almost to the last potty for him before bed.

    Again, I want to thank all of you for the great suggestions.
  9. Cowgirl32

    Cowgirl32 Forums Regular

    Mar 1, 2014
    South Carolina
    I was in that boat with my girl. Honestly, 5-10 minutes is all you need to let them eliminate. I would not play with your new puppy outside until he gets the concept that outside is for potty. After he potties outside, praise him! You had mentioned you would play with your puppy when he went out potty the first time in the AM. That is not a good idea; puppies have ADD. He will associate outside/pottying with playing. Puppies want to play all the time!

    Also, giving a puppy treats when they potty is confusing. The concept that dogs don't like to eliminate where they "eat" can apply to eating treats from your hands. Feeding them treats when they potty can associate this instinct. I know it sounds gross, but smear some of his stool on a tree/bush where you want him to go. Take to the same place every. single. time. It can be very frustrating. I've had several shelties and some would by potty trained by 10-12 weeks. No accidents what so ever and my last two have been slower to "get it", but they are plenty smart. They eventually got it between 4-6 months. Good luck!
  10. tesslynn

    tesslynn Forums Enthusiast

    Mar 3, 2014
    what worked for me 2X and now with the 3rd

    I am on my 3rd sheltie...and this is what worked for me. I purchased what was called a puppy go potty, like a huge litter box, and taught the sheltie to relieve herself in the litter box...no accidents, used the housebreaking liquid, then would always get a bit of soiled paper and lve in a corner...as reinforcement. Weather isn't always cooperative in CO with new puppies and they need a place to go when outside isn't available. Standing out in weather that is foul is just not my thing. And then when we went outside I reinforced the place with an area that was acceptable. Mine GOT it, when we went outside and were told go potty, they did. When they were inside they used the litter box until they got older and could wait. And when they aged and could use outside regularly but times were TOO cold for them to go outside, the puppy go potty went in the garage, and they remembered how to use it when told go potty. And when they aged, it was placed where they could go as they couldn't hold it later in life. Some people said I was crazy, but I think it prevents the going on the floor because there is no alternative, and then you don't have to deal with removing their marking a place. Newspaper is easy to remove, marked areas aren't. It worked, and I now have a new puppy and she is getting the drill. At night she is crated-open door for safety not really training, with it available in the enclosed area...and then I don't have to get up, that trains me, not the dog is my opinion. The crate is a den, not a confinement. When we traveled to unfamiliar places...it came along as a precaution-to me it beat having to deal with accidents. Bottom line you do what works for you and you can be consistent with, because overall the goal is conditioning. I had female dogs, I don't know if a male would do well with this method.

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