Canine Behavior/puppy


Hi Jody,
I know your bio states to read first if the subject matter is regarding potty training, which I have, so I'm hoping you wont mind reading my question and helping me out!

Basically I've got a ten week old male jug puppy and I know he's only a 'baby' and it takes a little time for them to be house trained etc but the way in which he goes to the toilet is really strange and frustrating. First I used puppy pads and for a little while he used them with a few exceptions of peeing in other places which was okay, I didn't mind as he'd tried his best. Then that all changed and he literally pooped and peed everywhere BUT on the puppy pads, even right next to them. So today I scrapped the puppy pad method and decided to keep on frequently putting him outside to teach him that this is the correct place to go to the toilet. He pooped and peed outside and I praised him every time so he knew he was doing it right... he isn't very confident with this yet however as I've only just started to try it with him. The most infuriating part of it all is the fact that I'll come in, clean and mop the mess up, have my back turned and he'll poop on the sofa. The first time this happened I ignored it as I just thought it was a mistake but now it happens at least once, but maybe a few times a day. Its like he does it to annoy me, however silly that sounds, he knows it is wrong as I make that clear to him. Either I'm not in the room or I quickly go out of the house for a little bit and I come back and there it is! It's really disgusting and unhygienic and I don't understand why he thinks its ok to poop on my sofa. He's also peed on it too. (He never ever does either when im in the room or can see him, he waits until ive gone). Another thing is ive just bought him a new bed which has now gone in the bin as he pooped all over it. I wiped it all off and put it on a very high temperature wash, dried it off and had it nice and warm for him, put it down on the floor and went to the bathroom, bang, 2 minutes later he had taken a dump on it AGAIN. No poop anywhere else in the room but he had decided to squat over his bed and have one all over it. so ive thrown it out as I am not going to keep putting poop into my washing machine and buying him such things for him to make a mockery of me and ruin them! can you please help?
ps ive just bought a crate and tonight is his first night in there. Yay, no poop on the settee for me to clean in the morning!
Kind Regards, Amy

Thank you for your question. I understand the frustration of potty training. When our schedule and that of our dog doesn't align, it can be difficult.

But, there is something else going on in your case as well - and that's anxiety. Your dog chooses the couch partly because it's a porous surface and dogs are naturally drawn to surfaces that will suck in their potty, rather than have it spread all over the place. But more so, he's choosing that place because it smells like you and when he's left unattended, he's looking for the comfort of you. Getting close to your smell. If his anxiety is up (fearful at being alone, or just plain lonely at being alone), then this can cause potty mistakes and those mistakes happen where the dog is. So he was seeking comfort of your smell and continued to feel anxious/fearful/lonely and out came a poop and/or pee. And now the couch smells like a potty spot which makes him more inclined to choose that location again in the future.

The first thing to remember in potty training is this:
If he really understood that it was not OK to go there, he wouldn't go there. Dogs do not have the capacity for "spite." They are incapable of the mental thought process involved in: "Mom left and that irritates me. I think I'll do something to irritate her. If I poop on the couch right now, then in a few hours when she gets home, and eventually comes to sit down on the couch, she'll see it and then she'll know how mad I was at being left alone and I'll be so happy!!!"

Instead, when we see behaviors like this, there is one of two things going on.

1. The dog simply isn't potty trained (and at 10 weeks of age, he can't yet be potty trained because he's only just learning to recognize that the sensations he feels in his rectum/urethra mean that something is about to come out of him). He just doesn't understand where the right place is and that there is a wrong place....

2. He's crying out for help. He's acting out in a way that says there is something wrong for him either physically (e.g. bladder infection if he's peeing in weird spots or at weird times), or emotionally - fear, anxiety, loneliness, etc.

So please know that your dog is not setting out to "make a mockery" of you. He's not capable of that mental process, nor does he want to upset you. When humans are upset, dogs are upset because bad things happen whether it's being ignored or scolded or worse - physically punished. When humans are happy, dogs are happy because good things happen - wither it's love and affection, toys and games, treats, cuddles, smiles, etc. So in the end, our dogs prefer to see us happy and never go out of their way to upset us.

Your pup is only 10 weeks old. He should never be left unattended in a room for even a few minutes without supervision. At this age/stage, the rule is: Supervise or Contain. You've gotten him a crate and for bedtime, a crate is a great idea. It should be large enough that he can stand at his full height with at least 4 inches above his head. He should be able to easily turn around and he should be able to lay down on his side with legs stretched out long with an inch between his body and the walls of the crate. Smaller than that is too small. Bigger than that and he can potty in one area and sleep in another....

I strongly encourage you to purchase Dr. Ian Dunbar's book, After You Get Your Puppy . It's an excellent book that will help you through many of the early puppy issues and help you prevent many future behavior problems. Chapter two walks you through an excellent potty training regimen.

Essentially, during the day, the dog should be confined to a space that is 3 times longer than it is wide. At one end is his bed, in the middle is play space and at the other end (as far from his bed as possible), is a potty surface - ideally the same surface you'd prefer him to go on for life. Most dogs will move as far from their bed as possible if given the choice. If you'd prefer he go on grass, then in this confinement space, there should be either real grass or one of those fake grass potty trays that you can get at local pet stores.

Be present for as many potties as possible. Don't just put him outside. Go out there with him and give him a single command, "Go potty." When he strikes his potty pose, whisper "good pee" or "good poop" or whatever you'd like to call it. The moment he finishes - while you're still out there in the potty area, make a big fuss over him. Tell him what a rock star he is for going in the right place. Give him 3 tasty treats one after the other while you fuss over him. Make it like winning the lottery. Not only does going potty feel good, but look what happens when you do it here!

Inside, he should be supervised at all times. if you cannot be eyes on him, he should be in that confinement space. That confinement space should be in the main living area so you're not isolating him away from the family. He should eat in there, play in there, you should sit in there with him and play and cuddle so that it's a wonderful place to be. He should enjoy long lasting chew items such as Bully Sticks, antlers and food-stuffed Kongs in there so he learns to entertain himself when he's unattended. This helps set up good chewing habits - choosing the right things to put his mouth on rather than your cell phone, remote control, wires, etc. It also helps him build confidence at being alone and avoids future separation anxiety. It also prevents him getting on your couch to potty....

If he potties in the confinement area, make a note of the time and then be ready the next day during that window to get him to the right place BEFORE he goes.

If you are present for 99% of potties and those happen in the right place, then you have that many times available to tell him how great he is and that he's doing it in the right place. This sets you up well so that if you catch him in the act of going in the wrong place and you interrupt with a sharp "no!" and then scoot him out to the correct place, he will better understand that it must have to do with location and not with your presence.

A mistake that many fall into is that they put the dog out but don't supervise those potties. Then when the dog messes in the house and the owner shouts, the dog doesn't learn that going inside is wrong. What the dog learns is that going in front of his person is dangerous! So they sneak into another room or they go on the walk with you and wait until they get home and then sneak into the closet to go where it's safe (by their standards). So if you're present for all of them and 99% of the time telling him how great he's doing, then the mistakes will be clearer that it's not about being unsafe to potty in front of you, but rather it must be the location.

Rule of thumb: Dog is not potty trained until you've had 90 days without an accident. Anything less than that and there is not a complete education. And that's what this is. You are educating him about where is and is not OK to go potty.

Keep a diary. Note when he goes potty, if it's pee or poop or both. Note what he was doing just before (ate within the last 90 minutes, just woke up, playing, resting, snuggling, chewing on a toy, etc) and if it was in the right place or a mistake. Note where the mistake was if it was in the wrong place.

Clean mistakes when he's not in the room and use a product like Simple Solution Stain and Odor Remover . If you can't find that product, read the ingredient labels. You're looking for a product that contains live bacteria. It will either say "friendly" or "nonpathogenic." The sole purpose of this bacteria on this planet is to eat/digest the enzymes in urine and feces that make it smell like urine and feces. Remember, your dog's sense of smell is roughly 40,000 times more acute than yours - and he's willing to put his nose right up onto the surface to see if it smells right. So it's important that we remove the smell altogether, not just so that we can no longer smell it.

Times he will need to go potty:
When he first wakes up
Shortly after meals - anywhere from immediately up to about 90 minutes
After any long rest or nap
Any time you see him looking for a potty place (sniffing corners, edges of rooms or furniture or previously used potty areas)

And during play, he'll need to go every 20-40 minutes.

You can take his age in months (10 weeks is 2.5 months) and that's roughly the number of hours he can go between potties. So outside of play, he should be able to go a couple hours between potties. During play, it may be as often as every 20 minutes.

Remember also, that many puppies have potty sequels. Meaning they'll poop, and then 5-20 minutes later they need to poop again - and then they're probably good for a while. Ditto on pee - especially if they're highly aroused/excited and playful.

Potty training is definitely one of the more inconvenient and less fun things we teach our dog. But if you keep your eye on the prize and know that 3-6 months of heavy supervision and vigilance now will result in a lifetime of good potty habits, then it is worth it. And in a life that may be as long as 15 years, what's 3-6 months, really?

If you go to my blogs (links below) you'll see my alternative for setting up a confinement space - I covered the whole thing with potty pads for 3 weeks until my puppy showed a clear location where he preferred to go, then I began weaning the pads down. Each week, I'd expose about 6 more inches of floor. When he made a mistake, I recovered that area plus another 6-10 inches for a week and then began weaning down again until I had just the two pads at the far end of the pen from his bed area. Since your dog seems a bit more indiscriminate about his potty locations, that might be the better way to start than with Dr. Dunbar's example. But aim to reach his setup (which is what mine ends up as eventually).

And think of the confinement area as your babysitter. You put the dog there knowing it's OK if he potties in there because you've given him pee pads. If you have to shower or leave the house or you really just want to watch the movie uninterrupted... he should be confined. He should take naps in there and as I said earlier - eat, play, relax, chew in there as well. But... if you're home, then you should be maintaining his potty schedule and taking him out in a timely fashion so that 99% of his potties happen outside in the right location and with you present so you can tell him what a rock star he is for going in the right place.

This is the one that has pictures of how I set up my confinement area.

I hope this proves helpful. Patience and consistency/routine will be your very best assets during this process.

Good luck! Please let me know how it's going once you get a schedule and confinement set up.

Los Angeles Behavior Specialist

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 8 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members and many other issues. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been a professional obedience trainer for 9 years, and specializing in behavior modification for 8 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I own my own dog training and behavior modification business called Nutz About Mutz.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a masters degree (MS) in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I also have 3 years of graduate education in Animal Behavior and Learning from UM-Missoula and UL-Lafayette. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences, workshops and seminars. Beginning in March, 2017, I will be the Behavior & Training Manager at Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ.

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