Ask the Dog Trainer: Appropriate Rewards When Potty Training

Dear Kendal,
I have a four month old Labradoodle puppy named Sachet and we struggle with potty training. I work from home and take her outside a lot, but she often pees on the carpet right outside the porch door, in the dark corners of our living room, and inside her crate. To help!
Purgatory Jar

Dear Potty Purgatory:
My husband and I raise and train puppies to be service dogs every year, so we sympathize with your struggle. Don’t worry, with a combination of planning and supervision, your potty training problems will be a thing of the past.
My first suggestion would be to discuss Sachet’s frequent urination with your vet and confirm that she does not have a bladder infection or other medical condition that is impeding her progress.
Dogs have an exceptionally keen sense of smell, so start by scrubbing all the floors in your home with urine odor killer spray, making sure any odors are removed from previous accidents. Wash his toys and remove all bedding from his crate. As she progresses, you can replace her covers, but until then, a clean plastic floor makes accidents easily visible.
You can also check that his crate is not too big; Sometimes, when the crate is massive, the puppies will just relieve themselves in a corner and then fall asleep near the door. Make sure her crate is just big enough for her to get inside, turn around and lie down comfortably and make adjustments as she grows if needed.
Now on to the training part! Young puppies over three months old are usually able to hold their bladders for about an hour for every month of their lives. You can set Sachet to succeed by making sure he doesn’t go to bed after gorging on water, and set an alarm to remind you when it’s time to get his potty. In our household, our water bowl is collected around 7 p.m. and our household sleeps at 10 a.m. This gives our dogs a few hours after the “last call” to visit our garden and allows them to sleep soundly without the discomfort of full bladders. .
When your alarm goes off, it’s time to put Sachet outside. Attach her to a long leash and pocket some treats. Stand outside and stay still while she walks around and sniffles. If she squats, it’s praise time! Channel your inner joy and serenade it with an abundance of love and a treat or two. If he doesn’t go potty after waiting five minutes outside, put him back in the crate, wait about 10 more minutes, and come back outside to try again.
Throughout the day, it’s helpful to keep Sachet close to you via a tether or in a play pen so she can’t wander around your house and quietly potty in a corner. If you see her about to squat, you can clap your hands hard to interrupt her, ask “Do you have to go potty?” and lead her into the garden. If, however, you find a crash several minutes later and you weren’t able to interrupt it when it was happening, you shouldn’t scold her. Simply reset your alarm and monitor it more closely in the future.
Dogs learn best from success, so be sure to reward Sachet for walking to your back door and looking at you, peeing outside, and pooping quickly. By following this plan, you will be released from Potty Purgatory and enter the pearly gates of Heaven formed by the House.
Kendall and Chandler Brown are owners of Custom K-9 Service Dogs, a dog training business serving Minden/Gardnerville, Carson and Reno. For more information, visit or email

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