At the beginning of potty training we need to stay ahead of the dog’s needs. Go back to treating them like a puppy. About 20 minutes after eating, drinking, waking up or playing hard they should go outside. If they do then we reward, if they don’t then we bring them back in to a small enclosure and try again after about 30 minutes. When the dog goes potty outside then we have about 3 to 4 hours until they need to go out again. As potty training goes forward you can extend the time in between. You will also give them a little more space. So we begin with a crate, then maybe the crate open in a bathroom, then the bathroom open to the hallway with gates that block off the rest of the house and so on. We suggest that you give dogs a little more space once they can keep the designated area clean for a week.
If they have an accident while the humans are not around we just clean up and continue with the regular schedule. If you catch them in the act then we rush them outside, if you get a single drop outside we still reward enthusiastically when they are done. Then move back inside and clean up the area. There is no need to reprimand the dog at any time, this actually causes more problems than it fixes. We want your dog to be comfortable going potty in front of you so your potty training can be successful.
Make sure you clean with enzyme based cleaners following directions closely. These will break down the particles in the pee and poop so the spot no longer smells of it to the dog. If it smells like a spot where they have gone potty before they are likely to repeat the behavior, so these products avoid that.
When taking your pup outside do it on a leash or out to a pen of about 6 ft in radius. Take them directly to the spot you want them to use and wait there for about 5 minutes. Be very boring while dog sniffs, when dog goes potty praise enthusiastically. You can use treats as a reward as long as these don’t distract your dog from doing his business. Once you’ve had a successful potty break you can take your dog out for a walk or play out in the yard with him.
So potty first. Then go for a walk or play in the yard.
It is important to keep an eye on both water and food intake. For dogs with potty issues free feeding is not a good idea. If they are on a schedule you will be able to predict when they need to go potty.
Exercise is also a factor when potty training. If you have had a long walk with your pup the first thing they do when you get back is gulp down a bowl of water. This means that in about 20 minutes all that water will need to come out so plan ahead considering this. Always leave your dog on an empty bladder, not a full one.