Training Tips: Why won't my dog poop on the Porch Potty?

Every month, our resident Certified Dog Trainer and Behaviorist, Siddhika Bhat, answers our community's Top 5 questions.

**Please note: Dog training advice online is merely a starting point for information. Dogs, like humans, are complex in behaviors and temperaments, please seek further advice from your veterinarian or in-person dog trainer.

Community Question 1: Why does my dog pee on the Porch Potty, but won't poop on it?

It is natural for a dog to not want to pee and poop in the same spot. Needing a virgin space could be one of the major reasons for this. Several dogs also prefer different surfaces for peeing and pooping. Some may be habituated to certain preceding and following activities when it comes to relieving themselves. 

Just like how some of us like to carry a newspaper or a magazine on the pot to get us going, many dogs like to step outside in the fresh air and keep things moving for better bowel movement.

Observe your dog closely around their potty time. What surface do they prefer? What activity do they do before pooping? Do they prefer isolation? Do they need your company?

Once you have answered these questions for yourself, try to replicate the scenario as much as you can around the Porch Potty. Dogs respond well to consistency. 

Here are a few things to try: 

  • Get your dog to play and be physically active around their pooping time.
  • Engage in physical activities around the Porch Potty so if your dog feels the need to go, they have an outlet readily and closely available.
  • Have a leash on your dog to lead your dog to the Porch Potty rather than trying to pick them up and physically put them on it.
  • Reward immediately and keep things positive.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum. Having too many things around the Porch Potty could distract your dog from the main objective.

Community Question 2: Can I potty train two puppies on the same Porch Potty?

Yes and no. Your puppies would be able to answer this question best. In several households, it is common for two puppies to use the same indoor spot to relieve themselves. This could be a result of puppies wanting to mark their territories by constantly overlapping scents or seeing and learning behaviors from each other. 

If your puppies are motivated by the above reasons, they could very well learn to use the same Porch Potty.

However, this cannot be guaranteed because every dog has a certain preference in terms of surface, location, preceding and following activities, etc. It is also possible that they begin to use the same Porch Potty but one of them may choose to grow out of it and may prefer another spot.

Here are some tips you could use while training two puppies to use the same Porch Potty: 

  • Have a bigger surface area by investing in a larger Porch Potty.
  • Make sure to thoroughly clean the Porch Potty after each pup uses it. Many dogs don't like to pee or potty in an already-soiled area.
  • Have a divider in the middle of the Porch Potty and lead your pups on either side of it
  • Combine two Porch Potties. 
  • Use attractants to draw your pups towards the Porch Potty.
  • Take one puppy at a time to potty. Taking both puppies together may distract them and they may end up playing with each other.
  • Reward heavily.

Community Question 3: I have a new puppy that I would like to train to use the Porch Potty. Should I avoid taking my puppy outside to potty until he uses it consistently?

Puppies need consistency and predictability to get streamlined into any kind of behavior or routine. Training them to use the Porch Potty for peeing and pooping would mean setting a schedule like planning activities, playtime, meal time, and walks around it. 

Having multiple outlets to relieve themselves would definitely confuse a dog. They may also end up picking their preferred spot, which in some cases may be the outdoors rather than Porch Potty.

Here's a simple and clever solution. To get your puppy to relieve themselves indoors, talk to a pet parent who is desperately trying to get their puppy to pee and poop outdoors but is failing despite repeated attempts. One pet parent's "mistakes" could be another pet parent's "must-do." Just kidding! (Or am I?)

Having said all of the above, every puppy needs some amount of outdoor time from a young age. If your puppy has started to use the Porch Potty, you can start taking your dog outdoors 15-20 minutes after your dog has pooped on it. This could be like a reward for pooping on the Porch Potty. 

Consistently take your dog outdoors several minutes after they have used the Porch Potty so that they don't confuse the timing and start waiting to go outside to relieve themselves.

If you have recently welcomed your puppy home, it is advisable to limit outdoor time until they have received all of their vaccinations. However, we cannot completely cut them off from the outside world because then you'd be putting your puppy at risk of under-socialization and behavioral issues due to under-exposure.

The first week of welcoming a new pup home must be all about setting boundaries and acclimating your dog to the basics such as potty training, crate training, etc. Keeping your pup strictly indoors for the first week will keep them safe from potential diseases, help them know the household better, and housebreak them faster and more effectively. 

However, from the second week, make sure to include outdoor time even if your dog hasn't been using the Porch Potty consistently for potty time. To make things easier, take your dog outdoors during off times such as noon or late at night when you know for sure that your dog doesn't have to go potty or has already used the Porch Potty. This is to give a clear indication to your dog that outdoor time and potty time are not the same.

Try to find what works best for you and your puppy without denying them essential aspects of life such as outdoor walks and playtime.

Community Question 4: I have a question about my youngest pup. She is now seven months old and is so crazy anxious. She's a mini-sheepadoodle and I also have her full sister from an earlier litter. Daisy barks at the TV, mirrors, bags, everything!  And she is terrified of people! I need help. I've had dogs my entire life and have never dealt with this before. Thanks.

Sounds like Daisy could use some positive exposure to her triggers.

First, let's begin by understanding the difference between socialization and desensitization. Socialization is when we introduce a puppy to a stimulus (people, animals, objects, etc.) for the first time in a positive way. Desensitization, on the other hand, is when we try to change a pup's existing response (fear, nervousness, etc.) towards a certain stimulus through gradual and positive re-exposure.

Daisy needs to be desensitized toward her triggers. She has a set reaction towards people, animals, and objects in her environment which need to be changed. This can be done only through very slow and super positive exposure to them.

Make a list of all the triggers starting with those that she is most fearful towards. Focus on reintroducing these triggers to her, but this time, at a pace that she is comfortable with. Keep these tips in mind while working with a fearful dog:

  • Never force her to interact with her triggers.
  • Don't let her deal with conflicting situations on her own. Give her a safe space to go where she can effectively calm down (crate, another room, playpen, etc.) whenever you are expecting guests at home.
  • Reintroduce one trigger at a time and take ample time to calm her down and then reward her heavily once she manages to settle.
  • If your other dog is confident, take her help to teach Daisy. Dogs learn best through other dogs. However, make sure your older dog is not picking up behavioral issues from Daisy. If that happens, separate them immediately.
  • Consider hiring a behaviorist to understand Daisy better and help her out of this behavior.

Community Question 5: My adult dog has started having accidents in my house. I think she is mad at me because of my new boyfriend. Is this a thing?

Your dog is not mad at you! There are several reasons why dogs suddenly start soiling new surfaces in the household. 

Some of these reasons include:

  • She may need a training refresher.
  • There might have been a change in her schedule. This often makes dogs pee and poop in different places. For example, when we go out on a trip exceeding 7-8 days, my dog ends up peeing and pooping inside the house for the next couple of days. It takes her time to get readjusted to her old schedule.
  • She may not be very familiar with your boyfriend (or a male energy/scent inside the house). This could be her way to mark her territory (not out of anger, but out of instinct).
  • She could have a urinary tract infection (UTI). 
  • Changes in the weather. 

 You could use some of the following tips to streamline her into her old ways: 

  • Physically lead her to the spot where she is supposed to relieve herself and reward her heavily.
  • Take time to make your dog feel comfortable around your boyfriend. Ask him to spend time feeding, playing, and walking your dog. This will quickly form a bond between them.
  • Place your boyfriend's old T-shirt on your dog's crate or bed for her to get accustomed to his scent.
  • The three of you could engage in several group activities.
  • Take your dog to the vet and get her thoroughly checked.

If there has been a change in routine, try to keep things as familiar for your dog as possible. Too many changes can be overwhelming for dogs. Give it some time and desensitization towards the changes in the household. It's going to be fine!

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