Where would you like your dog to do their business? Choose an area outside (yes, even if you adopted your puppy in the winter!) and every time you go outside, you’re going to go directly there, puppy on leash, place your puppy in that spot and give your cue in a calm, gentle voice. Lengthen the leash so that they have space, and be patient. Sniffing and circling are normal – let them do it!
Some ideas for cues are “hurry up”, “be quick”, “go pee/go poo”, “finish up”, etc.
Ideally, your dog will grow up to be comfortable pottying in your yard or neighbourhood AND pottying in other neighbourhoods and novel places too. It’s never fun to have a dog who will hold it until they’re home when you’re on a three day road-trip.
What if my puppy has an accident?
Roll up a newspaper, and smack yourself on the head, promising not to let it happen again!
But seriously, think about the word “accident”. Defined as “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.” How can this be punished in a just born creature? It cannot be punished and it must not be. If we punish our dog for doing their business in a place we don’t want them doing it, the dog does not understand that it’s the geographical location that is the problem; they become increasingly anxious about doing their business in front of you and over time they might even stop doing it in your presence (like on a walk or in the yard). Instead, they hide various places in the home to do it, or they even eat their own stool as a way to hide it from you and avoid the punishment. 8
If your puppy has an accident while you are watching, say “uh oh!!” in an urgent (not angry or startling) tone, pick them up (they will stop going temporarily) and get them outside fast. Once you put them down, they will finish and you can reward that part heavily.
If your puppy has an accident and you find it after the fact, don’t even make a peep. Simply clean it up with a pet enzyme cleaner (do not use regular household cleaners!) and promise to watch more closely next time.
What if my puppy does their business in the hallway/elevator/lobby?
Well, not to worry! This isn’t going to happen! You are going to carry your puppy to their “spot” every time until they are more reliable in holding it! Over time you might put them down just before you get to the spot, then put them down just before opening the main door and going outside, then put them down when you get off the elevator, then put them down before getting on the elevator, lastly, don’t pick them up at all – walk all the way there, keeping their attention on you and watching closely. At the first sign of a squat, pick them up quickly and take your time in this process.
On behalf of everyone living in condos and apartments, if your dog has an accident in a common area, clean it up immediately or if you cannot, notify someone immediately. Leaving it there is VBK (Very Bad Karma) and is completely unacceptable. Your neighbours will thank you!