What Should You Not Do When Potty Training Your Puppy

by Jamie Tedder on Nov 15, 2023

french-bulldog-on-grass-potty training

Having a new puppy brings a profound sense of joy into your home. The bond between you and your furry new companion almost instantly forms from the first tail wag. 

However, that joy also entails responsibilities. Puppy potty training, in particular, is essential, and while teaching them where to go may involve occasional accidents from the beginning, mastering this skill helps strengthen your bond.

Patience, consistency, commitment, and understanding are key to potty-training success. As a dog owner, learning what not to do is as important as knowing what to do during potty training. In this article, we share the common mistakes pet owners make when potty-training their puppies—the following tips work with older dogs, too! 

4 Common Mistakes When Potty Training Your Dogs

1. Giving Too Much Freedom

Giving your puppy freedom before you even set boundaries is a common mistake that sets them up for potty failure. When you set them down and let them go the moment you welcome them into your home, you’re allowing them to soil everywhere simply because that’s most natural to them. 

What to Do:

A pivotal step in puppy training is establishing their space by limiting indoor access. It can be anything from putting a dog gate across a doorway or putting them on a leash. You can hold them while on a leash or tether them to a nearby piece of furniture–keep the leash’s length to the standard six feet for the perfect balance between freedom and control. Doing so lets you watch for signs that your puppy has to take a potty break or at least catch them in the act, thus giving you a teaching opportunity.

2. Skipping Crate Training

Contrary to common perception, crate training is essential to housebreaking puppies. Because dogs don’t like to soil their territory, confining them in a crate teaches them to hold their bladders and bowels whenever they are not under your direct supervision.

What to Do: 

A good rule of thumb is that you can crate your puppy overnight and for up to half the day, provided their social and physical needs are met outside the crate. Ensure that their crate has enough room to comfortably stand, sit, lie down, and turn around—the goal is to make them feel comfortable inside the crate, not trapped.

3. Scolding Dogs for Accidents

Scolding your puppy for accidents during potty training is counterproductive for many reasons. First, it may confuse them as they need help understanding the connection between the punishment and the scolding. It also creates fear and anxiety that makes them less cooperative and more stressed during house training and may encourage sneaky behaviors such as eliminating hidden spots to avoid scolding.

What to Do: 

Accidents happen—even after you thought they were already potty-trained. Sometimes, you briefly take your eyes off your dog; the next thing you know, they have already had an accident.

It’s extremely important not to scold or punish your pet in these situations. If you can catch them in the act, firmly say “no” to let them understand that what they are doing is not allowed, then take them where they should go. Even better, if you bring them in time to finish outside, don’t forget to praise or reward them with treats.

4. Rubbing Your Puppy’s Nose

This is outdated potty training advice, which doesn’t do anything but confuse and scare them. Again, most dogs don’t understand the connection between accidents and punishment, and this approach may only instill fear or anxiety instead of promoting learning.

What to Do:

When your puppy pees or eliminates in the wrong spot, remain calm and don’t punish them. Instead, clean up the mess to remove any scent that might attract them back to the same spot. Focus on positive reinforcement, and give a reward when your puppy eliminates in their designated area.


Should You Use Potty Pads for Toilet Training? 

In a perfect scenario, your puppy would learn to hold it indoors and only do their business once you take them to their outdoor spot. Unfortunately, specific situations require a more realistic and convenient solution.

For pet owners with demanding jobs that make it challenging to take their dogs out multiple times a day or puppies and small dogs that have small bladders and less bowel control, pee pads or potty pads are a viable option. These pads provide a space for dogs to relieve themselves indoors—and like baby diapers, they absorb moisture and can help with potty training. Below are some other situations where you can benefit from using potty pads.

  • When you live in a high-rise apartment with limited outdoor access for dogs.
  • Have limited access to pet care during the day.
  • Own small dogs or breeds that require more frequent trips.
  • Have an older dog with mobility issues.
  • Are frequently on the go, particularly when traveling in an RV or riding a boat.

How to Potty Train Dogs with Indoor Pee Pads

Choose an appropriate, consistent location

The first step to using potty pads is to keep them in the same spot where you want your pet to use the bathroom. It should be visible, easily accessible, and separate from where they eat and sleep.

Establish a routine

Set a regular feeding schedule and bathroom breaks. Remember that young puppies relieve more frequently and may have to go after waking up, eating, or playing. Take them to the pee pad at these times.

Use command cues

Introduce a specific command such as “go potty” when your puppy is on the pee pad and repeat it consistently during potty training.

Watch out for signs

Besides your scheduled potty breaks, look out for signs that they are about to go potty: barking or scratching the door, squatting, circling, sniffing, or restlessness. When you see these signs, take them to the pee pad in anticipation of them having to go.

Positive Reinforcement

Immediately praise and reward your puppy when they go potty on their potty pad. It can be anything from petting or giving them a treat reserved only for potty time.

Gradually Transition to Outdoor Training

As your puppy becomes consistent with using the pee pads, slowly transition to outdoor potty training. Gradually move the potty pad toward the door or outside where you want them to relieve without it.

Final Tip

House training your dog is a rewarding process, even though it takes time, patience, and determination. A puppy may take 4-6 months to be fully house-trained. Some puppies may even take about nine months. 

The key is to remember that its success depends on repetition and positive reinforcement instead of punishment. We recommend that you potty train your new pet as soon as they come home to establish good habits early on–and during this period, potty pads may work to jumpstart your training.


Real Grass Pee Pad for Dogs at Bethel Farm

At Bethel Farms, we offer all-natural grass potty pads for dogs. These leverage the dog’s instinct to relieve on grass. Because they provide a familiar texture and smell for dogs, they are an effective tool for potty training, making the transition from house to outdoor training easier.

We take pride in integrating the benefits of real grass—odor control and moisture absorption—into our innovative interlocking tray design that allows you to adjust it as your puppy grows. Its modular snap-and-go feature also makes it portable and perfect for travel, providing a consistent and comfortable option for your pet wherever.

It’s sustainable, low maintenance, and everything you need for a stress-free potty training experience.

Order your dog grass pads on our website today!

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