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Client Question: Puppy’s Reluctance to Use Indoor Potty Area

Puppy's Reluctance to Use Indoor Potty Area

Charlotte Bryan

Published On Jan 09,2024

A question about a puppy’s reluctance to use indoor potty area.


Hi Charlotte,
I started with my mini retriever Jasper in your puppy class on Sunday. Jasper has been living with me these last 2 weeks and is not 10 weeks old. Of a day he spends his time in a huge playpen out on the covered verandah while I’m at work and a sitter comes and plays with him for half an hour in the middle of the day. He has a Kmart potty in the playpen that he uses perfectly during this time. However, when I am at home and he come inside he won’t use it. Tonight was a perfect example, I sat out in the playpen with him for 15 mins waiting for him to go to the toilet, he wouldn’t go. As soon as we go inside he walks over to the other side of the room and wees on the floor. Advice please on how I can stop him doing this.

My answer:


Hi Julie,

Hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Years – sorry for the delay.

Thanks for asking this question. It is quite a common issue faced by puppy owners (including me) – I’ve got a couple of tips for you:

Jasper may be doing this for a couple of reasons. First, he may not have full understanding of where he should be eliminating – this is quite common when first starting out with potty training. Secondly, he might not be associating his knowledge of toileting on the potty when you’re present. Remember, dogs are very specific animals and when they learn something they tend to only apply their knowledge of the context of the situation in which they were taught. It may be as simple as Jasper understanding that when you’re not there, he should use the potty but may not understand that it’s still the potty area even if you are there. A third common reason could be attention-seeking – especially if you’re out a lot during the day.

To fix this if you’re still struggling with it, you could try the following:

Continue to reinforce the potty training routine consistently. Consistency is key in reinforcing desired behaviours. Take him to his designated spot frequently, especially after meals, naps, and playtime. Use positive reinforcement such as treats and praise when he does go in the correct spot.

Scent Attraction: Use a cleaner specifically designed to eliminate pet odours where he has had accidents indoors. Additionally, using a small amount of his soiled paper towel or a bit of his urine-soaked material from the playpen on the designated indoor potty spot might encourage him to use it inside as well.

Supervision and Timing: When Jasper is inside, maintain close supervision. If you notice signs that he needs to eliminate (sniffing, circling, etc.), quickly guide him to the designated spot. If he starts to squat in an inappropriate area, use your cue “ah ah” and immediately take him to his designated spot.

Limit Access: Until Jasper becomes more consistent with using the designated indoor potty area, consider limiting his access to other parts of the house where accidents have occurred. This can help reduce the chances of accidents in those areas. You could do this by placing a playpen inside as well so when you’re not fully supervising he can play in there. Or you could try the ‘umbilical cord’ method – keeping his leash on so you can keep him closer.

Give these tips a go, hope they help. It may take a bit of time for some puppies to get the hang of toilet training but I’m certain he’ll get there in the end. Always happy to help.

Kind regards

Charlotte