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  • Writer's pictureLisa Buchanan

Puppy Insights: Who's House Training Who?

Updated: Mar 29

If you heard this would you know we were talking about the dog?!:

Lisa: “Steve, did he poop?”

Steve: “Nope just a little pee!”

Just when I thought we had rounded a corner, there was an accident and I always felt like it must have been something I had done wrong. Some sign I had missed. For someone who struggles with perfectionism, this was torture! With each new puppy in the house I've jumped right back in!

Working with my incredible clients this year, I’ve realized that the struggle is real for SO MANY people. It’s quite possible I could specialize in just house training puppies and be busy 24/7.  There are just so many variables and every website has the same advice and the same bulleted lists that are going to “guarantee success”.

Mr. Darcy would: Beg. To. Differ. I brought this little guy home and he never once did any of the things the notebook from the breeder said would be signs he had to potty. IF he turned in a circle, it was for about one and a half steps (this was supposed to be a guaranteed poop sign). Every time he had an accident in the house I took it as a personal failure because there must have been some sign I had missed. It felt like there was this invisible poopy doomsday clock ticking! It was exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally.

I’m sure some people are reading this and thinking, “wow, she has really made a mountain out of a mole hill”. That’s okay, this blog isn’t one you need then!

For those of you who DO identify, read on for my top three list of what I didn’t find online!

Tummy trouble

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there are some health issues that could relate to house training problems but that can’t be identified by most Veterinarians. For example, it can be pretty tough for a person to tell if their dog is slightly constipated or has stool that’s a bit too soft. This will make it tough for the dog to tell when they need to poop and how much time they have before they need to go. That was an issue that I had to work through with Mr. Darcy.

If Fido is outside, then so are you

It is really important to be with your puppy when they are going outside so that:

a)       you will know for sure if they did potty and,

b)      to monitor what is coming out. Watching for colour and consistency of both urine and stool is really critical to see if there might be a health issue,

c)      being with your dog outside when they potty will also help you to see their behaviour just before they pee or poop. Maybe your dog does turn in a circle. Maybe they walk a little backwards just before. Whatever the signs are outside, they are probably going to be the same inside the house.

Unfortunately, the other dogs in the family and the squirrel in the yard are simply just not going to report back with the data you need!

Pee Pads

These aren’t something I’ve used. I’ve got a wonderful friend who managed them very successfully and then weaned her dogs off them quickly. For the rest of the folks out there, I’ve not seen this. My advice on pee pads is to ensure you have a plan for how you are going to stop using them before you start using them. Most importantly, make sure to use an enzymatic cleaner underneath your pee pads. The scent will soak through.


Fast forward to age two and a half now and Mr. D is pretty awesome. I trained him to ring bells and to press a button, but I haven’t gotten him to connect that with going outside to potty. Basically, he jumps off whatever piece of furniture he is on and stares us down!

I am 100% certain that Mr. Darcy has definitely housetrained us.



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