When it comes to figuring
out how to potty train a
2 year old dog, it all comes down to breaking bad habits and
replacing them with good habits.
I write on a lot of subjects. I write many articles in diverse
ways on many subjects. But, I am pretty sure that potty
training articles keep me the busiest. Just when I think I
have covered EVERYTHING (and I probably have) I am reminded I can
simplify it or add more or break it up into more concise chunks for
fur parents to absorb.
Oftentimes, someone who has a fully-grown dog, whether it’s 2
years old or 4 years old, will say that their
dog isn’t potty trained. They’re exasperated. The dog’s
an adult now; why isn’t it potty trained yet? Well, when it comes
to dog training, if your dog isn’t trained, then it’s probably
The solution to an adult dog not being potty trained are
twofold. First, you need to stop the bad habits that have been
formed over the course of the past two years, or however long that
your dog has been alive – like defense in football. In order to
win, you need to keep the other team from scoring. The second part
of the solution is to teach positive habits that will make your dog
a potty pro – like offense in football. You need to score to
The Defensive Side of Potty Training Your Adult Dog
Several great defenses have
carried their teams to championships – such as the 2012 Ravens,
or the 2015 Broncos. You need to keep your opponent from gaining
momentum in order to win. In this same way, you need to keep bad
habits from forming
during potty training – and if they have, you need to break
So here are the two main reasons your dog or puppy is not potty
That’s right, 2 Simple Reasons
#2 Potty Pads
I hate them. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate and a few thousand
more hates… but you get the idea right? If I could I would make a
billboard and be out there protesting the makers of these products
right now so that they would STOP contributing to potty problems.
First off, back in the golden days of
dog training, it was simple. We actually called it “paper
training” and don’t get me wrong – I am not a huge fan of
using newspaper either…
But, newspaper has a very different and significant feel and
Ever smelled a freshly printed newspaper? Sadly there are some
out there who have not, but I will tell you they have a certain
smell and a certain texture. Nothing else, that is NOTHING ELSE in
your house smells or feels like newspaper.
Pee pads, puppy pads, and potty pads, however, have been
conceptually designed to be soft and plush and have an additive to
encourage your dog to go potty on them.
I agree; it sounds like a GREAT idea.
But it is not… how many other surfaces in your house are soft
- Bath mats?
The list could continue on just about forever…
And if your laundry, towels or anything else smells even
remotely soiled by you, I am just guessing that there is a
reminiscent smell factor that most people don’t even think
I once knew a Jack Russell who would use the bath mats, and if
the bath mats were picked up he would scratch a towel down, and if
the towels were too high he would find laundry, and if the laundry
was put up he would go to the next soft surface like rugs.
I think the soft, plushness of having been potty trained by
potty or wee wee pads encouraged him to both urinate and defecate
in the most inopportune places for his owner. And, the habit at 5
was very difficult if not impossible to retrain without constant
And, potty pads teach your dog to go potty INSIDE!
I don’t want my dog to ever get comfortable going potty inside.
I want my dogs to go potty outside!!
If I wanted my dog to go potty inside I would teach him to go
potty on the grassy indoor potty mats. For more on that click
I want to make it my mission in life to take my puppy out every
2 hours or so to make sure he conditions to relieving himself
I can’t get lazy and hope he finds a potty pad.
I never want him to get
into the habit of thinking it is okay to pee or poop in the
I think people think potty pads are some kind of miracle, when
really they aren’t, they are actually detrimental to potty
I recently had a brief argument with a frustrated owner who said
her dog would pee on the potty pad but would not poop on them, but
the potty pads were working fantastically.
No, no the potty pads aren’t.
If you are having accidents (which most dogs do once they begin
to associate the potty pad with other soft things) then it isn’t
I don’t say my outside potty training is going great if my dog
is still peeing or pooping in the house… it isn’t successful if
he is having any accidents at all.
Don’t Get Me Wrong
Now, don’t get me wrong.
90% of puppies are going to have accidents at some point and
they must be cleaned up well and managed.
I think people get too comfortable with potty pads too which makes
them lackadaisical about potty training – and no one wants to be
lackadaisical – but you clean them up and work toward the goal
of having your dog or puppy potty outside!
And, I believe the number one problem, which actually totally
ties in to what I was just talking about is:
Again, this is why I hate potty pads because I think they trick
us into being complacent and inconsistent at a time when our dogs
need total consistency.
I have had 9 week old puppies that were totally potty trained
because I didn’t allow accidents and I got them out every 2
Because the truth is, potty
training is not about your puppy.
Your puppy came from a place where, most likely, he could pee
and poop whenever he wanted.
And, dogs don’t discern inside and outside and what is a
social potty faux paus!
As a tiny baby, he pooped and peed when he wanted.
Now you expect him to suddenly realize he doesn’t want to
potty inside and he must communicate with you (a totally different
species) that he has to go to the bathroom; when before he just
squatted and went?
YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU a million times… you are responsible for
You are responsible to follow that puppy around like a toddler
in a china shop.
You are responsible to make sure he doesn’t sneak off.
You are responsible to take
him out every 2 hours, and after he eats, after he drinks, after he
exercises, after he naps, etc.
He is a baby.
We don’t expect our human babies to suddenly potty train
themselves, and the truth is that puppies don’t either.
Humans, at least grow up with the same social norms and
But puppies and dogs will continue to potty in the house if they
are not taught to avoid it.
And, once your puppy or dog develops a habit…. Well it is
not 100% impossible to break a bad dog habit; but it is very, very,
distinctively, horrifically difficult.
Because dogs are canines and not people!
People find it horrifically hard to change a bad habit. Ever
tried to quit smoking or quit an addiction?
As a human you are capable of “setting your mind to change”,
but your dog is not.
He toddles along the same path and the same habits each day.
Again, it is YOU that must be consistent if you want to make a
The Offense of Potty Training an Adult Dog
Just like with sports, simply keeping the other team from
scoring a ton of points won’t help unless you manage to score.
It’s the same way with dog training; you can teach your dog one
hundred things not to do, but you won’t have success until it’s
successfully trained on what the right response is.
You need to form the
right potty-training habits in your dog to replace the old, bad
ones. You need to train it on the right place and right time to go
potty if you want to have success while potty training dogs.
Part 1: The Potty Spot
Teach your dog where he SHOULD take his potty breaks, instead of
trying to use punishment to teach him where he should NOT go potty.
If you focus on what you want him to do, instead of what you
don’t want your dog to do, you’ll get faster results. Teaching
your dog where it’s OK to go is very important, and one of the
reasons why so many people are never successful in potty training
They just spend too much time yelling at their dog for peeing
and pooping in their home, and never actually reward and praise him
for going where he is supposed to go. After all, how would a dog
even know that it’s supposed to go outside? Dogs don’t speak
English, and just because we might yell at our dog as we catch him
in the middle of peeing on the floor and then rush him outside
where he finishes it off… doesn’t mean we did an effective job
at telling him that outside was where he was supposed to go. We are
usually too focused on getting him NOT to go inside, instead of
It’s important you establish a spot while potty training that
your dog knows is where he needs to perform his duties. You must
take them there every time except of course when you are away from
home. This is extremely important in the dog potty training
process. Pigs actually learn this all on their own but we have to
teach our furry friends.
So, as long as you didn’t buy your dog from a puppy mill or an
un-reputable breeder, the puppy you bring home comes pre-programmed
with this belief:
Potty Where I Eat & Sleep = Bad
Potty Anywhere Else = Good
…so, with a bit of luck, hopefully you got your dog from a
breeder who teaches these techniques. This will be handy in the
crate training and potty training processes.
When you suspect your dog is ready to go take him to the potty
breaks spot. The signs are usually pretty clear. They’ll start
sniffing around or walking a little funny. If it’s been a couple
hours it’s probably best to just take them out.
When he starts to go to the potty spot say your command whatever
it’s going to be. We’ll use “go potty.” After he eliminates
give him large amounts of praise and a special treat.
Note: Fido gets rewarded NOT when he starts to go, and NOT after
he comes back to the house, but as soon as he finishes. Yes – you
must take him out and stay with him. Fido quickly learns that
eliminating outside gets a tasty reward.
You could also use your clicker here if you’re using one as
positive reinforcement training. Your dog lives for your praise
so needless to say it’s important in dog potty training as
Part 2: Having a Schedule
This is a big one – In order for you to be successful at potty
training, you need to set up a schedule, regardless of your dog’s
age. Whether he’s a full-grown dog or just a pup, you must
If you don’t have a routine in place, you can start by taking
your puppy out every two hours. Your puppy needs to be in his crate
when you are gone, aren’t supervising him and while he’s
sleeping at night. The crate is his home until he’s potty
This goes back to the basic behavior that we talked about
earlier: a dog doesn’t like to eliminate where they sleep. In
this case, it’s his crate. This will help teach him to hold it
for extended periods of time. Once you return or wake up, you
should immediately take him out of his crate and continue to take
him out every 2 hours.
Next, start adding more time between his potty breaks each week
by 15 minutes so he gradually learns to hold it for longer. This
applies to older dogs, too, if they’re not potty trained. So if
you start with an 8 week old puppy and 2-hour intervals, your
weekly schedule should look something like this:
- Week 1 – Every 2 hours
- Week 2 – Every 2 hours and 15 minutes
- Week 3 – Every 2 ½ hours
- Week 4 – Every 2 hours and 45 minutes
- Week 5 – Every 3 hours
A 15-minute increase is in line with your puppy’s age if you
start him at 8 weeks. But regardless if he’s 8 weeks, 8 months or
8 years, adding a time gradually will help ease him into
controlling his bladder without either of you feeling too much
Puppies generally have to use the bathroom after eating or
drinking, after waking up from a nap or if they have been playing
for a while. So although you could take your puppy out after you
see they have woken up from a nap in order to avoid a mistake, that
won’t keep him on a schedule, and that’s what you want to
If I take my dog out at 10
a.m. and he takes a 30-minute nap in his crate, that would put us
at 10:30 a.m., which is 1 ½ hours away from his next scheduled
potty break. So, instead of taking him out, I will place him in his
crate until 12 p.m. and then let them out of his crate to go potty.
I do this each time the scheduled potty breaks fall out of line
with the schedule – with the exception of after eating or
If I take my dog out at 7:30 a.m. and feed him at 8 a.m., I will
take him back out 15 to 30 minutes later and start my 2-hour
schedule from that point.
I know I keep mentioning this, but it is SO IMPORTANT for you to
understand that in the dog potty training process, there are going
to be accidents. What you do when your dog has an accident is very
important. Yes I know that nobody likes cleaning up after the fact
but if you react negatively your dog will start to associate your
anger or frustration with him going to the bathroom and will be
afraid to eliminate around you. I would say this is the biggest
mistake people make while dog potty training.
So, instead of reacting negatively by yelling or even rubbing
their nose in it, concentrate more on heavily rewarding the good
behavior – positive reinforcement. Now your family has a
potty-trained dog they can enjoy in the house or if you’re dog
sitting you can return the dog fully potty trained to the owner
with of course a small bill!
So, in Short:
It can be difficult to potty train a 2 year old dog, but it’s
definitely worth it! Nobody wants the type of present that will be
left behind if they aren’t potty trained.
Don’t fall prey to potty pads! They do so much more damage
than they could ever be good for (I apologize to anyone who works
in a potty pad plant).
And, make it your mission YOUR
MISSION to be consistent and make your dog successful!
Source: FS – TheDogTrainingSecret
How to Potty Train a 2 Year Old Dog