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The Six Biggest House Training Mistakes Puppy Owners Make

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Are you making any of these mistakes while you housetrain your puppy?

6) Scolding or punishing their pup for peeing or pooping in the house.

Unless they are caught in the act, puppies will not understand why they are being punished. Even if they are caught in the act, unless they are over a year of age and fully understand potty training, punishing your puppy will just make them fearful and anxious. Researchers estimate that if your response—either positive or negative—does not occur within 3 seconds of a dog’s action, it will have no idea that the two are related. All punishment does is make dogs fearful of and stressed by their owner.

5) Taking their puppy out at fixed intervals, usually every hour.

Although many people recommend setting a timer and taking your puppy out every hour, all this will do is develop what we call a “one-hour bladder.” This method does not strengthen the puppy’s muscles so it can hold its urine and feces longer and longer. To achieve an increasingly strong blader while still ensuring your puppy doesn’t go in the house, you need to let your puppy tell you when it needs to go out, rather than doing it for your pup.

4) Not cleaning accidents up thoroughly so their pup cannot smell even a whiff of past mistakes.

Remember, a puppy’s sense of smell is much better than ours, and dogs are drawn to investigate pee and poop. In fact, how does a dog know where to potty? By smell! So, we must clean up so well that our pups can’t smell any evidence of past mistakes. That takes more than just scrubbing or nice-smelling cleaners because dogs can smell right through them. Instead, we must use enzymatic cleansers to our pups don’t keep going back to the same spots over and over.

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3) Giving their puppy too much freedom too soon.

Puppies would prefer to sleep in a clean place so it is confinement to a small space that makes them become house trained. That means we need to either be directly supervising our pup to catch them before they potty inside or confining them so they will try to keep their area clean. Although it takes self-discipline on our part to keep our pups confined or supervised, too much freedom too soon will set your puppy back for weeks or months. The more often pups potty inside, the stronger that habit becomes. It is worth limiting our pup’s freedom for a few months to have a housetrained dog for a lifetime!

2) They confine the puppy so far away that no one hears it ask to go outside.

One of the key lessons we want our puppies to learn during house-training is that if they ask to go out, someone will let them out. If we can’t hear our pup cry, whine or scratch to go out and it potties in the house, we’ve taught the pup that it isn’t worth asking. At that point, then pup will just potty whenever and wherever it needs. So, if we have put our pup in the basement or garage, or even downstairs while we sleep upstairs, chances are we will quickly teach our pups not to ask to go out.

And the #1 reason that puppies do not get fully potty trained is…

1) Not confining their puppy!

Many people feel sad when they see a pup in a crate or pen, yet confinement is the easiest and fastest way to housetrain your pus. Without confinement, puppies will simply move away from their immediate area to pee or poop. Limiting your puppy’s living space encourages it to hold it and ask you to take it outside. 

For more information about potty training your puppy.


Everything you need to raise a great pup from 8 weeks to 18 months! Socialization, house training, crate training, and manners for your puppy, but also what to do with those juvenile and teenage pups. All through this self-paced, online program that includes live weekly support from top trainers!


  1. dogtraining

    An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who was
    doing a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch due to the fact that I stumbled
    upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this….
    Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending
    some time to talk about this subject here on your website.

    • Marcy Burke

      You are more than welcome! We have found that so many potty problems happen because people think like people, not dogs (imagine that!) Our potty e-course has been really successful because we teach people step-by-step how to train understand how to communicate with their pups, along with so many other things!
      Hope you enjoyed your lunch!

  2. June Summa

    I just adopted a “puppy” we think he is less than a year old. He has been worked with and is very smart. I am trying to figure out his breed and how to best teach him. He is excellent when visiting the rest home today. They want him to come again. I am trying to work with him with farm work. Cattle and horses. He has a german shepherd face and is blond with white spots on his chest. He is going to be “big”. I am willing to learn and want to do the best I can.

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