You’re outside with your dog for what seems like an eternity of sniffs and circles, waiting to praise your pup like mad for the long-awaited potty committed squat.
But nothing happens.
Eventually, you give up, figuring you’ll take them out again after a bit. You walk inside with your waggy-tailed canine, take off your shoes, grab a cold drink from the fridge, head to the couch for some relaxation then…
You don’t even have to look. You know exactly what is seeping into your sock and you know exactly who did it. Baxter looks at you from the living room and you swear you see him side-eye you in shame.
You reach down to pull off your now yellow-stained sock and think, “My dog won’t potty train.”
Why is My Puppy Not Peeing Outside?
We know all about indoor puppy potty accidents, but what happens when your puppy refuses to pee outside? It’s an interesting predicament because shouldn’t puppies naturally know to “go” when they’re in a backyard?
"Reverse house training" is what happens when a dog will only go inside.
You’d be surprised why puppies may not go potty outside, so check out these reasons with simple solutions about how to train a puppy to pee outside!
First, rule out any medical issues. UTI’s and other illnesses can hinder bladder control or cause stress peeing.
Once that has been ruled out, it’s time to look at other possibilities. While this “reverse housetraining” is seen more often in rescues, shelter dogs, or puppies and dogs that have been strictly confined indoors, it can still happen with puppies that don’t have traumatic pasts.
Also, believe it or not, some puppies are anxious outdoors! Maybe a pup had a bad experience outside with other pets, is scared of loud noises, or wasn't properly house-trained. Of course, there could be numerous other reasons your puppy won't go potty outdoors, but there's no need to worry. This behavior can be fixed, even with the most stubborn puppy!
How Do You Train a Puppy to Pee Outside?
Whether this is a new behavior that requires re-training, or this is your first go (pun intended), your first two lines of defense against an off-target canine bladder are:
- A consistently followed schedule
- A crate or some other method to restrict access to the house
A consistent schedule is usually the first thing to go out the door when dog parents start seeing some semblance of housetraining. All too often, they start slacking, don’t watch their dog as close as they used to, and before they know it, find themselves right back at square one.
Every accident reinforces the behavior. Stay consistent.
It’s time to get back on it with a firm commitment to sticking to it for the foreseeable future. What this potty training schedule looks like:
- Feed and water your puppy or dog at the same time every day based on the needs of your dog’s age.
- Take your dog out 15-30 minutes after eating and or drinking, 5-15 minutes after if your puppy is less than 6 months old.
- Let your dog out to potty immediately after naps and playtime as well.
- Use a potty command like “Go potty!” every time they start to squat. Eventually they will equate the command with the sensation of peeing or pooping and the command can be used to encourage them to potty quicker.
When your dog pees outside, lavish praise and treats. Likewise, if they show signs inside that they need to go: sniffing, pacing, circling, or squatting, usher them outside quickly.
Don’t punish your dog for accidents in the house. They will not understand and it will only make them afraid of you, which may actually make the house-soiling worse and more frequent.
Leashes aren't just for outside. Use them indoors to keep your puppy with you.
When your dog is indoors, keep them with you or keep them confined. You can achieve this in a number of ways.
- Keep them on a leash and with you at all times indoors. (Note: Don’t tether them away from you. That will create barrier frustrations. If you’re going to use a leash, they should be with you.)
- Follow a crate training guide and set a schedule of crate, potty, play, crate, potty, play. Only allow them access to the house for a short time after they have done their business outside.
- Use baby gates to restrict access to parts of the house where you can’t actively watch them.
Every accident indoors reinforces the behavior, by limiting the opportunity to pee inside, you will see faster results.
How Long Does It Take to Train a Puppy to Potty Outside?
Many factors can affect how quickly your puppy or dog learns to pee and poop outside. Age, history, even breed and temperament all come into play. However, you can have an accident-free pup in as little as seven days with this potty training schedule.
Be forewarned, potty training in seven days requires dedication, consistency and discipline of yourself (and you thought you were training your dog, *wink*).
Remember, one of the most common mistakes in potty training a dog or puppy is relaxing on a consistent routine too soon. Just because your puppy’s incident report has been pegged at “zero” for a bit now, doesn’t mean he’s fully potty trained.
Stay diligent for several months, slowly offering more freedom indoors as time goes on. If there’s an accident, back up to the previous step and stay there until you're ready to try moving on again.
Helpful Tips While Teaching Your Dog to Pee Outside
Potty training doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, you’ll find your dog or puppy is much more receptive to it if you provide some new challenges and reasons to celebrate.
For instance, when your puppy displays signs of needing to "go," you can direct them to the door and use the command, "Go out."
Another technique is having your puppy sit by the door and let them out when they bark. It may take more training for your puppy to understand to sit by the door when they need to go potty, but it's effective at preventing accidents. Some families even train their dogs to ring bells when it’s time to go.
Make sure to limit outside play if you teach your dog to ask to go out with a bell or bark. It's okay to let them sniff around and get fresh air after going potty. But if you let your pup run around for a while, they will equate this outdoor potty time with playtime, which confuses them. For example, your puppy could sit and bark at the door when they want to play outside, not when they need to potty.
That doesn’t mean your puppy can’t ever play outside, you can establish a different routine for play time so that your dog will learn the difference between the two.
To speed up your puppy's process in outdoor potty training, reward your pup with praise and a treat every time they go potty when you let them out. The praise and treat will reinforce the idea to your puppy that they have a potty spot outdoors.
Another great tip is to choose a specific yard area as a designated potty spot. This way, your puppy doesn't have free range of the whole yard. The many options may overwhelm them, making potty time outside longer than it needs to be, not to mention that it makes yard clean up a whole lot easier.
How to Train a Stubborn Puppy to Pee Outside
You’ve gone through all the guides. You’ve implemented schedules, crate trained until the cows came home and still no dice.
Speaking of cows, your house is starting to smell like a barn from all the accidents. You’re at your wit’s end.
First things first, repeat after me, “My puppy is not doing this to spite me.” Now say it again. Keep saying it until you believe it, because it’s true.
Your dog is not having accidents in the house because they are “getting back at you” or mad at you. Dogs simply aren’t built that way.
As mentioned earlier, there are many factors that come into play with potty training. There could be underlying illnesses or medical conditions such as canine diabetes that cause persistent accidents. Your dog’s history before living with you can affect their development.
Or, it could be something as simple as missing or not effectively cleaning accidents.
Your puppy uses his or her nose to decide where he or she should potty.
A dog’s nose is somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times more sensitive than ours. Cleaners often mask bad odors to us, but your dog can smell right through them. Few biological triggers are stronger to a dog than their own scent.
In order to properly clean up accidents, you’ll need to use an enzymatic cleaner like TURFtastic. Powerful enzymes break urine down at a molecular level, so that not even dogs can detect their “uh oh”’s.
When to Seek Additional Help for Potty Training a Dog
In the event there are medical reasons for your dog’s accidents, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian on how to best manage your dog’s condition. If you suspect the issue is behavioral, enlist the help of a certified dog trainer and behaviorist.
You may want to try other methods of house training such as puppy pads if your vet or trainer believes it’s a temporary problem or consider a dog potty like Porch Potty for a more permanent solution.
Bane has special needs and can't always make it to the yard.
Donna, a member of the Porch Potty community, uses Porch Potties for her special needs bulldogs. Several of her dogs have intestinal issues that often prevent them from making it to the yard. She keeps her Porch Potties in strategic spots so that they are available for her dogs when Nature calls.
Other members, as a last resort for dog potty training, took the “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” approach and found quicker, more manageable success by setting up a Porch Potty in a laundry or utility room. This is particularly helpful with extremely nervous or reactive dogs.
If your dog simply won't go outside in the yard, consider a Porch Potty.
Regardless of what challenges you and your dog face on this potty training adventure, there are solutions. Follow these steps and you’ll both get there:
- Establish a potty training schedule.
- Use a leash, crate or baby gate to limit access to the rest of your house.
- Try teaching some fun ways for your dog to ask to go potty.
- If necessary, enlist the help of your veterinarian or dog trainer.
- Consider alternative solutions.
Most importantly, look for opportunities to have fun and bond with your puppy or dog during this time. Remember to always celebrate successes and move on quickly from mistakes. That’s good advice for all sorts of circumstances.
For more information on potty training your dog, check out these articles: