How to Help Prevent “Accidents” During New Puppy Potty Training

PetMD Editorial
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PetMD Editorial
Published: April 7, 2011
How to Help Prevent “Accidents” During New Puppy Potty Training

Image via Martin Gardeazabal/

It is normal for puppies to have "accidents." In fact, puppy potty training accidents are unavoidable in the early days of training. The chances are that several soiling accidents will happen inside your home before your new puppy gets a handle on controlling his bodily functions. What’s most important is that you learn how to address these situations correctly in order to help your new dog understand the puppy potty training process.

It is common for new puppy owners to make mistakes in handling accidents, but you must take into consideration that puppies are not like human beings. Puppies do not have the capacity to understand cause and effect, especially when the cause happens well before the effect. It is futile to punish a puppy for having an accident, especially if it occurred hours ago, or even a few minutes ago. Doing this will only confuse and frighten the puppy, which can place a strain on the bond that you are trying to create with your new puppy.

Acting Without Overreacting to Accidents

Reactions to accidents should always be within reason and should not be severe, no matter how messy the accident was. Do not punish your new puppy or engage in extreme punishments like rubbing the nose of the puppy into his mess or spanking the puppy. These kinds of punishments are simply acts of cruelty; they are not the right way to raise a puppy. Your new puppy will grow up fearing and mistrusting you.

To avoid accidents, you must always keep an eye on your puppy. An appropriate reprimand must be given to the puppy as soon as you see that he is eliminating inside the house or is about to. Signs your puppy is about to eliminate include sniffing at the floor, scratching at the door, whining or looking uncomfortable. 

Stop the puppy from eliminating by saying something like “Eh eh!” or “Whoops!” Another effective way to stop him would be to startle him with a sudden noise (not too loud), causing him to immediately stop what he is doing.

In all of these instances, follow by taking him outside immediately so he can finish eliminating, and reward him with a dog treat. You want your new puppy to associate going outside to eliminate with good responses from you.  

Remember that it is your responsibility to keep a constant eye on the puppy, and when you cannot do this, you will need to place the puppy in his crate.

Keeping Your Puppy From Remarking an Area

Cleaning up thoroughly after an accident is very important, because a puppy has a very keen sense of smell and will return to the spot where he previously eliminated unless all of the dog urine scent is removed.

Using common cleaning products like soap or detergent powder simply is not enough. To completely eliminate the smell of dog urine, it is best to use specially formulated stain removers, such as Nature’s Miracle odor remover spray or Simple Green outdoor odor eliminator, and dog odor absorbers, such as Smells Begone odor absorbing gel jar.

If you did not buy a pet-formulated odor eliminator before bringing the puppy home, now would be a good time to get one. After you have cleaned the mess, keep the puppy away from the area so that he does not ingest or come into contact with the cleaning products.

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