“Hi Angie, We recently adopted a 5 month old Australian Shepard mix. We used the 3 dog days methods when we first brought her home and have had very good results with her acceptance of us as the parents and general behavior. When we brought her home we leashed her when we took her outside to go potty, and praised her a lot when she went. We’ve relaxed that somewhat in that we don’t leash her but do go with her to the same spot in the yard. However, we’re experiencing issues with her still peeing and pooping in the house – sometimes randomly and sometimes right after she’s been outside. We saw the recent blog post and have a couple of questions we hope you can answer:
– If we do the 3 dog days program again should we ignore our dog again during this time?
– How do we get her to indicate that she needs to go potty?
– You mention respectful discipline in the blog – she did have accidents when leashed during the 3 dog day training
– is there anything specific we should do if she has an accident when leashed in the house?
– If we take her outside and nothing happens, how long should we wait until we try again?

Thanks so much in advance for your help. We want to get as much out of this next round of 3 dog days as we possibly can.”
Thanks, Louis and Devon Nyktas

Hi Louis and Devon~ I’m so glad you used 3 Dog Days and saw very good results! Thank you for your efforts toward your dog and thank you for your question. Those 3 days will pay back 100 fold in the relationship you developed with your dog. I chose your question to post for two reasons. It not only brings up some frequently asked questions, but also brings up a rare one. While potty issues can be somewhat common, going potty while leashed in their “spot” is not. Naturally, dogs want to go potty somewhere away from their den (spot/bed/crate.) This unnatural behavior can develop when dogs are forced by humans to go potty where they sleep. In my rehabilitation experience, I’ve seen it in dogs from hoarding cases, puppy mills, pet stores and even in dogs who have been in a shelter environment too long. As part of naturally raising puppies, responsible breeders and owners do exactly the opposite. They set up puppies with separate bed and potty areas, AND they introduce the crate as a very positive comfy place to rest. As you know from the 3 Dog Days program, a crate is an extremely valuable tool – especially for potty training. Now, let’s talk about how to fix this!

Potty training is more about the human than the dog. Unfortunately, there is a lack of information for average dog parent about successful, low-stress potty training. As a side note: notice I say potty or house training instead of “house breaking.” If there is anything that instantly makes me cringe it’s the word “breaking” used with anything associated with animals. We don’t want to “break” horses or dogs. We never want to break their spirits! We want to guide them with love and respectful structure. We need to strike that balance with children and dogs or with any being in our care. They need both love and structure in order to thrive and be happy. I make this point now, because this natural balance must be present to properly house train your dog.

So, successful; and less stressful, potty training needs a plan. Make and plan and work it. If you already have your plan in place, you will be less likely to get frustrated. Approaching any dog in a frustrated manner is a non-starter. They can get scared or aggressive, depending on each dog’s God-given wiring, if discipline is given when the parent is frustrated or angry, that’s abuse. We must provide dogs firm structure and guidance from a calm, loving and educated standpoint.

If the dog has a potty accident, don’t take it personally. It’s not failure. It’s just an indication that your plan made need a slight adjustment. Now, there are two main components to potty training: Control and Timing. You must control your dog’s movements and time his feeding, treats and outside time. Here are some tips to help compile your plan: First, re-watch 3 Dog Days focusing on the “Crate” and “Companionship and Control” sections. Make sure you are able to put your dog in the crate. If your dog is going potty when in the crate, make the crate just small enough from him to comfortably lay or stand. No extra room if he is having accidents in the crate. When he is not leashed with you, he should be in the crate. Napping in the crate a least a few hours a day is great for dogs and is essential for potty training. Of course, always take them outside to potty before putting in the crate. Also, make sure you take your dog outside about 15 to 20 minutes after eating, drinking and playing, and give him plenty of time to go potty. When he starts to actually poop or pee….I like to say “go potty….go potty….go potty” over and over the ENTIRE time he is actually eliminating. The moment he stops….you stop talking. Then, say “good boy!” and/or give a treat and/or praise. This is a time when you can really play up the excitement. Teaching your dog “go potty” is classic conditioning that will make your dog want to empty his bladder on command when he hears those words!

Knowing your dog definitely emptied his bladder right before he goes in the crate or you leave the house allows you to relax and not worry. You will know your dog doesn’t have to struggle with a full bladder or be under any stress when crated. If he doesn’t go potty within 10 mins, bring him back inside and leash him with you. He doesn’t run the house until he goes potty outside…..make sense? Always control the dog’s movement in the house while in the potty training phase. If you don’t, you will set him up for failure. For those of you not yet working your 3 Dog Days program, you can watch video program free with an Amazon prime account!

Secondly, please read my article “How and When you Feed your Dog Matters” This article goes into the details of how to get your dog to eat his meals all at one sitting. This is SO important for house training and the family schedule. Leaving food and water down all day during potty training phase is a lesson if futility; and as long as he gets all his needed food and water in a day, it if fine for you to control when he gets it. This method of feeding I call “hungry-full….hungry-full” is extremely important for house training. I don’t have my dogs ask or indicate when they need to go outside. They don’t need to. I already know their potty schedule because of how I feed. Also, I also see a lot of rehabilitation cases where the dogs gorge on water, and I can see them over-drink from anxiety. Almost like they feel they have to get it down quickly or they will never get any again. Fill the bowl only half full and pick up the bowl in between meals. Provide enough opportunity to drink, but don’t leave it down to gorge on all day long.

As always, show them food and water is only presented in a calm manner and that is how we eat; calmly. I always say, “meal time with dogs should be like praying in church” keep it calm and respectful. Lets talk about your two other questions. Do you need to ignore your dog after the initial 3 days? No, and rather than ignore, it’s providing silent support. That initial 3 day program is to show them they will not be left alone and to set you up as a loving, firm parent in each room of your house. Once you earn your dog’s respect; and you can feel your dog look to you for guidance, you will only be leashing and controlling him during the potty training phase. You can make eye contact and give affection at the appropriate times. However, I can’t emphasize enough! The biggest mistake owners make is to look at their dogs and praise them with excitement right when they arrive home or re-enter a room. That causes separation anxiety. The dog must feel calm about you leaving and coming. If he feels it’s bad when you leave and only good when you re-enter because he gets praises and treats; you will have separation anxiety on your hands. You do NOT want separation anxiety. The dog must feel you are the respectful parent and he is not involved with the decision of when you leave or return. So, you don’t need to pretend your dog is invisible after the first 3 days, but never want to make eye contact when you first re-enter the house or room. Walk in calmly, set down your grocery bags; and when your dog shows some calmness…pet him. Always wait for the calmness. It makes all the difference in the world. If you are working an eating/drinking/control schedule and your dog has a potty accident AND you see him do it – on leash or otherwise – calmly but firmly say “AT AT” or “No” and take him immediately outside to encourage “go potty….go potty.” If at all possible, it’s important for dogs to be taken to the door walking on their own feet. Grabbing them up and carrying them to door brings other unwanted psychological issues into the dog’s mind. It’s best if they walk on a leash or by the collar; no dragging with anger or frustration though. Of course, very young puppies are going to need carried to the door. I feel potty training works best with just a firm indication that you don’t want that behavior. Do not scream or hit the dog ever! Keep it calm and work the plan. One more tip: I like to use plain white vinegar to clean the potty accident area. It’s great for getting rid of the odor and most dogs don’t like the smell and, therefore, avoid the area in the near future. I hope this article serves you well and thanks again for your question.