Just when you think you have a handle on the house training and you haven’t had to clean up pee or poopy in a while, BAM! You find that your puppy is soiling in the house, again. The frustration sets back in and you’re left asking yourself, “why is my house trained puppy having accidents”?
House training a puppy is often one of the things that frazzle puppy parent the most. Figuring out your puppy’s potty habits, ensuring your puppy gets out frequently, and learning your puppy’s potty habits can feel exhausting. Not to mention, who really wants to clean up pee and poop?
What would cause a house trained puppy to have accidents?
The first thing you want to determine is if your puppy is peeing more frequently. If your puppy is urinating more often than usual, they may have a UTI or other underlying medical condition. You can’t house train your puppy out of a medical condition. See your vet for frequent urination to rule out any medical problems.
Ok, great, you don’t have any underlying medical issues that need to be taken care of. So now what?
I often have people contacting me when their puppies are 5, 6, or even 7 months old with concerns of regression in house training.
The number one reason I see for puppies who have previously been house trained but are suddenly having accidents again is a management and scheduling issue.
Here is what is typically happening…
Puppy parents try to be diligent and limit accidents when they bring home their puppy. They have taken their puppy out often, followed their puppy around so they can usher them outside if they need to go, kept a watchful eye for subtle signs their puppy needs to potty and they now finally have a house trained puppy. Phew! What a relief.
This is when puppy parents often start to sit back and relax a little more.
People are no longer keeping as watchful of an eye, they have started to give more house privileges and aren’t using gates as much and feel a sense of relief for not needing to take their puppy out as frequent.
These are all ingredients for a recipe of disaster.
Puppy parents are typically extending the time between potty breaks in larger increments than their puppy is ready for. Couple that with no longer feeling the need to be as watchful and relaxing management, it’s often thought a puppy is regressing. These puppies aren’t regressing. Simply, too much is being asked of them.
What should I do if my puppy is regressing with their house training?
- Remember, this isn’t a puppy problem. This is a management problem.
- Evaluate your management plan
- Use gates so your puppy can stay within your eyesight
- Revisit your potty break times and shorten the time between each time you take your puppy out
- Start a new log to determine your growing puppy’s potty habits to determine when they need to eliminate after eating and how frequent they actually need to go out and urinate
How do I discipline my puppy for having house training accidents?
The answer is… you don’t.
While it can be frustrating to have to clean up “accidents”, it isn’t our puppy’s fault. Any accident my puppies have ever had lay solely on me. I missed their sign telling me they needed to go. A gate was left open while doing things around the house and I wasn’t watching my puppy. I’ve lost track of time and didn’t offer them an opportunity to go out. These are my mistakes.
Punishing puppies for potty accidents can set your house training back. You might find your puppy is sneaking off to potty in the house.
Disciplining a puppy for potty accidents can cause a fracture in your bond. Your puppy can start to look at you as scary.
Punishing your puppy for potty accidents can bleed over into your other training. If your puppy is starting to view you as scary, they can feel you are unpredictable- sometimes you are fun and sometimes you are scary. Your puppy may start to feel reluctant to play training games with you because they don’t know if they are going to be punished.
A puppy doesn’t know pottying in the house was wrong. They had a need to relive themselves and had no other place to go other than inside.
Read our house training blog for more help.
How long does it take to house train a puppy?
The answerer is “it depends”.
It’s been my experience to see puppies house trained by 4-5 months old. Much of this depends on the management you have in place. The better the management and the more a puppy is successful going potty outside, the faster they will be house trained. The less diligent we are in our management strategies, the more a puppy will potty in the house making it harder for them to understand where the appropriate place to eliminate is.
Furthermore, can take 9 months (or maybe longer) depending on the size of your puppy and the management strategies that are in place. Whether can also hinder your house training plan. If you brought your puppy home during a harsh winter or an unusually rainy spring or summer, this can throw a curveball into your house training despite your best efforts. A lot of puppies can find it uncomfortable or hard to potty in the cold, in the snow, and when rain is falling on them (can we really blame them??). It’s much more comfortable to potty in the house, away from these weather conditions.
Puppyhood more than you bargained for? Yes, I could use help navigating puppyhood.