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Solving Potty Training Failure in High-Energy Dogs

Updated on December 5, 2017

It can be a major problem when having a high-energy dog to properly potty train them. This is because high-energy dogs can often mistake bathroom time as play time and cannot focus on going to the bathroom when they are outside so it can quickly lead to bathroom accidents inside. This was my experience when I got my high-energy dog and I quickly realized I was going to need to get serious with training in order to avoid accidents in the house completely. Continue reading in order to solve the problem of difficulties when potty training a high-energy dog. If you are not sure if you have a high-energy dog or not, check out my article that walks you through common signs/problems of high-energy dogs here!

It is important to create a schedule that works for you when it comes to taking your dog outside. This means everyday you take your dog outside at that same time without fail. This will train your dog into knowing when they will be taken outside to go to the bathroom and they will gradually learn to hold it until those times. At the beginning, these times should be exact to the minute in order to really reinforce the benefits of having a potty schedule. As your dog gets more consistent with their bathroom habits, the schedule can be loosened and you can trust your dog to hold it until its outside. This is only after the training process has been implemented without fail for at least a few weeks.

During these walks, be sure to bring treats with you so you can reward your dog immediately after they go to the bathroom outside. Be sure to not let your dog see that you are grabbing treats before the walk because they will likely be fixated on the treats the entire time and not focused on the job at hand. When awarding the treats, try to reinforce the behavior with a loud "good job!" and give the treat within 5 seconds after the dog has gone to the bathroom. Timing is key here because you want your dog to be able to understand that going to the bathroom outside means treats and praise. If you forget to bring treats with you on the walk, do not forget to continue with the praise directly after your dog goes. It is important to stay consistent so that your dog does not forget. This training should continue until your dog is consistently going outside and no longer having accidents.

If you catch your dog going to the bathroom inside the house, quickly pick-up your dog and bring your dog outside and allow them to finish going outside. What I found is that whenever I made a loud noise like "hey!" when I saw my dog having an accident, she would stop halfway and I would get the opportunity to quickly bring her outside. If I was to see an accident in the house but after it had already happened, I never reprimanded my dog because dog's have a very limited memory and it is unlikely your dog will understand why they are getting scolded. Dog's will not be able to remember going to be bathroom inside the house and cannot connect the punishment with the action. By being consistent with these tips, it should quickly lead to your dog understanding where they need to go to the bathroom and the accidents will dwindle. Be sure to continue all of the tips mentioned until you are certain that your dog is completely trained.

When you are leaving the house, you must make sure to always lock up your dog. This can be done however you see fit. Some people prefer crating their dog until they get back. I decided to use a dog gate in my bedroom door in order to still allow my dog the freedom of the bedroom but not the entire house. Crating is a technique that also works but if you find your dog is distressed when left in the crate like I did, try using a dog gate in the doorway to a dog friendly room. This technique worked well for me and seemed to cause my dog a lot less anxiety when I left because she was able to still walk around and sleep on the bed. By confining your dog to one room, you will reduce the chance that your dog will find a corner in the house to use as a bathroom spot and you will quickly be able to identify if an accident did occur while you were away. I always provided my dog with available food and water in the room when I left and this never seemed to have a negative impact on her potty training or caused more accidents.

My experience with backyards and my high-energy dog was not a successful one. Some people may let their dogs out into the backyard as an alternative for walking when they are short on time. When training my dog, she did not seem to understand that the backyard correlated with going to the bathroom. She would be too busy having fun outside to realize that it could also be utilized as a place to go potty. This would therefore turn into my letting her back inside the house, thinking she was good to go because she had been outside for a while, and then she would have an accident not much later. It seemed to me that my high-energy dog understood that the leash meant walking which meant time to go to the bathroom. The backyard time was leash free so that hindered her from understanding when she needed to go. I decided to stop relying on the backyard option at all for bathroom breaks. In order to fully potty train your high-energy dog, you need to take your dog on walks everyday and leave the backyard as an option to use when your dog becomes more consistent. Take this into consideration if you are still having bathroom problems with your dog and your prime method for bathroom time is letting them into the backyard. Many high-energy dogs are too focused with playtime and it can affect their ability to go consistently when utilizing the backyard.

© 2017 Emma Kelley


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