How to Potty Train a Stubborn Puppy: 8 Vet Tips

All puppies have their own personality. Your pup may be bold, shy, affectionate, protective, or a combination of these and other characteristics. Some puppies are particularly stubborn, especially when it comes to potty training. No matter how much you love your new little friend, potty training a stubborn pup — and dealing with repeated potty accidents around the house — can be frustrating.

Stubborn puppies generally thrive on the same basic potty training principles as all puppies. The difference is that you may need to apply these principles longer and more emphatically. If you’re having trouble convincing your pup that potty training is best, check out these tips on how to train a stubborn puppy.

1) Have patience

Potty training takes time. When working with a stubborn puppy, patience is key. Some puppies potty train in a few days, while others take six months or more. If you look at the latter end of this range, this is still considered normal; it just means you have to maintain your perseverance and consistency.

2) Be consistent

Establish your potty plan and stick to it, including the designated spot for your puppy’s potty. Choose a secluded location where it is quiet and calming. That way, you won’t have to change it later if passing cars or the barking of the neighbor’s dog become an unwanted distraction.

Take your puppy out at the same time every day, praise him the same way, and use the same commands.

3) Stick to a schedule

One of the biggest mistakes we can make as dog parents is not realizing how often a young puppy needs to go. Typically, a puppy can hold urine for as many hours as it has months. This means that if you don’t let your 8-week-old puppy outside every two hours, you’re more likely to end up with an indoor accident. This also applies to the night. If you’re a heavy sleeper, you may be able to go a little longer between potty breaks, but don’t stress.

Puppies should also go there right after waking up, after eating or drinking, and after playing. Scheduling your potty breaks at these times will greatly improve your success.

4) Reward, don’t punish

Puppy rewarded with positive reinforcement

Always use positive reinforcement and praise or reward your puppy for a job well done. Don’t punish them for having accidents indoors, or you risk creating a timid pup who is too scared to come out and do the right thing.

5) Cleaning accidents

Smell is a huge attraction for dogs and plays an important role in where they decide to do their business. If they can smell their previous accident on your carpet or rug, they will be drawn back to it. Just wiping it off isn’t enough; the smell will linger. Using an enzymatic cleaner is essential to remove all traces of an accident to eliminate the temptation for your pup to get dirty again.

6) Use a crate

Crate training has many benefits. It can be useful for travel, will keep your pup out of trouble while you’re away, and can serve as a safe place for him to go when you have company. Crate training may also be your go-to method of potty training.

The underlying idea is that puppies don’t want to relieve themselves in their personal space. If they’re housed in a crate just big enough for them to stand up and turn around comfortably, they won’t have the space to potty and walk away from it. It will make them think twice about when and if they should go.

When crate training, you will need to stick to the rule of letting them out often and listening and watching for the signals they need. Another benefit of the crate potty training method is that an accident in the crate is much easier to clean up than one on your mat.

7) Give them time

We’re all in a rush sometimes, especially if it’s the 13thand the time you let your puppy out for the day. Pressing your stubborn pup to do his business won’t convince him to do things your way. Make sure they have plenty of time outside to sniff the air, wander around the yard, and chat with neighbors. You can give them repeated but gentle commands to defecate, but don’t startle or agitate them.

If you have an unfenced yard and are concerned about their safety for long periods of time outdoors, consider installing a wireless dog fence.

8) Ask for help

There’s no shame in bringing in reinforcements. Help can come in the form of a dog sitter, dog walker, or friend who can let your pup out during the day while you’re away. Dog daycare is another idea that can help you provide the 24-hour potty opportunities that young dogs need. Help can also come in the form of a professional trainer or animal behaviorist who can work with you and your pup on different potty training strategies.

It is also important to communicate with your veterinarian. Medical issues, like urinary tract infections, can cause a puppy to simply not be able to hold their bladder. Always consult your veterinarian if you experience any delay in potty training to rule out medical causes.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let potty training your stubborn pup turn into an upsetting battle that threatens your relationship. Above all, keep your patience, then try these tips for an accident-free household.

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