Jul 29

Potty Training My Min PIn–Again



After our Min Pin, Athena, was potty trained in 2008, I didn’t think I would have to do it again, but I was mistaken. I have taken her to my parents’ house, and she doesn’t consider their house her den like she does at our house. Why? I have no idea. If you have any ideas, please let me know.

Regardless of the reason, I am out at 3am for another potty training lesson. Needless to say, I am not happy to re-learn the art of cheering over dog potty at this time of night. But, I am a dog owner, and so I am.

Here are the basic principles: Set her up for success and reward when she potties outdoors. Notice I do not scold her when she goes indoors. It would be fine to tell her “no” if I catch her in the act but useless to do it long after she has pottied.

Setting her up for success: She gets the privilege of being free in the house only 1-2 hours after she has both pottied and piddled. After 2 hours, she goes outside again and if she does nothing, I put her in her crate for an hour. (She sees her crate as her den and won’t potty in there.) This way, she doesn’t have much of an opportunity to go to the bathroom in the house.

Reward: She gets a treat as well praise when she goes outdoors. I usually give her dog food as treats. It is handy, stores well, and, for some reason, tastes much better if it comes out of the treat bowl than it does coming out of the sack. I am also her one-person cheering section. When we go out, I give the command “potty” or “piddle.” Usually, I tell her to piddle first and, after she has done that, I tell her to potty. When she does one, I tell her “good potty” or “good piddle” several times along with “good dog.” I do this in a high-pitched, enthusiastic tone. (The enthusiasm can be faked, especially at 3am.)

This is my strategy for potty training. If you would like to share your tips or strategies, please leave a comment.

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  1. Tricia

    I do all of these things, but at 22 months, she still goes on the floor. She is adopted and her foster home kept her crated with food, water and newspaper because she was so small. I started crate training her, but she just pooped and peed in there too. Any other suggestions would be great. Also, what do you feed yours? Thank you.

    1. Jana

      Re-training an adult dog is never easy. We adopted a dog that had likely been in a situation similar to your dog’s. He was left long hours in a crate. This poor dog has scars on his hind legs from sitting in a cage for so long.

      My best advice is to use persistence. There are actually two parts to the training you’re asking of your dog: Learn that the old way is no longer acceptable and what new behavior you expect. This is very difficult to overcome when bathroom habits are concerned because it is instinctual for a dog to “go” in the same place. You will have to repeat the reinforcement step many times. Use lots of positive reinforcement–praise, treats, etc.–and limit negative reinforcement to a stern “no.” Unfortunately, your dog may never be perfectly potty trained, but if you reinforce and repeat, she will be get the idea.

      Until your dog is sufficiently housebroken, you can let your dog train you. Make sure to let it out at prime times: in the morning, after eating, and before crating, and before bedtime. Also, look for other prime times that she may need a potty break and signals that she is getting ready to go. Supervise the activity so that 1) You know your dog is ready to roam free in the house, at least for a few hours, and 2) You can adequately reward your dog for going outdoors.

      All the Best!

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