Dog for 8/14/19

Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers. You can reach him at

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Dog Gone Problems,

Help! I have a 9-month-old Yorkshire terrier and have been trying to potty train her. We recently bought a new house and it mostly has carpeted floors. I want her to be able to roam around the house and be happy. Any advice? Thank you.



Hi Gael,

Congratulations on your new house. Hopefully this dog behavior advice on potty training is a welcome house-warming gift. If you follow these steps strictly for one to two weeks, you should be able to potty train your puppy.

I'm assuming you first checked to make sure the puppy doesn’t have a urinary tract infection, but if not, make sure you check that first. If she has a UTI, she isn't having accidents; the condition makes holding urine in painful.

Now, before I cover how to potty train a puppy, it's important you know the two common mistakes most people make. The first is rubbing the dog’s nose in any accidents, and the second is yelling/verbally correcting the dog for an accident. Either one of those will make potty training take longer and be a lot harder.

When potty training, the first thing to do is limit your dog’s access to small areas you can observe. You can accomplish this by using baby gates or puppy play pens to limit the dog’s access to areas you aren’t observing. Additionally, the three times a dog is most likely to have an accident is right after waking up, five minutes after eating and 15 minutes after playtime starts. So take your dog out to the yard for those situations without fail. Finally, I advise my clients to take their dogs out once an hour no matter what (aside from sleeping overnight).

When you do take your dog out to go potty, give her up to five minutes to go while you stay within 10 feet or so of her. Resist the urge to tell her to go; simply follow her while casually observing. If she doesn’t eliminate in five minutes, bring her inside and hold her or tie the leash to your belt and wait 15 minutes or until your dog is whimpering or whining. Once this happens, take her outside for another five-minute potty opportunity. Repeat this process until she eliminates.

As soon as your dog starts to go No. 1 or No. 2, say a new command word for potty. I use the word “business,” but you can use any new word you like. The old word likely is confusing, so be sure to pick a new name. Also, be careful to say it the same both times. Many people baby talk or add extra excitement to their verbal delivery, which can slow things down.

As soon as your dog finishes, make sure you're ready with a treat. Crouch down while she's looking at you, which should cause her to come to you. If not, call your dog and extend your arm so she can see the treat. Pop the treat into her mouth and say the new command word a second time.

If you go out with your dog for each potty attempt this way for one to two weeks, you should notice your dog whining by the door. This is her way of saying “Hey I need to go do some business outside.”

Good luck and remember — everything you do trains your dog. Only sometimes you mean it.


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