This video will explain what to do if there are accidents and how to fill out my Housetraining Chart to help make sense of your housetraining mystery. I recommend watching the video, reading all the notes and download the Housetraining Chart.
Don't Frighten Your Puppy
If you do something that frightens your puppy when he goes potty in front of you, he could learn that this event is dangerous for him. If this occurs, you might have the problem of your puppy not going in front of you and instead finding a safe place under your coffee table or in another room.
Pushing a dog's face in their waste is a really bad idea and can lead to your puppy being afraid of you or even Coprophagia, or feces eating.
Download the FREE chart that I created and use with all of my private clients. Keep track of all your puppy's patterns and make housetraining easier.
What the Chart Means
Download the chart above and take a look at it. You will see that there are columns and rows. Here is an explanation of the column.
Date that you fill out the chart
Location that you take your puppy to go potty
The current time
"0" - nothing happened
"1" - urine
"2" - feces
The time you put your puppy back in the crate after his "freedom"
Time that he eats breakfast, dinner, or anything substantial such as a rawhide
Anytime that he drinks even a sip of water. If he drinks a lot, I recommend adding +++ next to the time to designate more water intake
In Case You Need A Refresher
Filling Out the Chart
Each time you think your puppy has to go potty, fill out one row. Let's say it is 10am and your puppy is in the crate (a good place for him to be). Take him out of the crate, put the leash on and take him to the "Location", let's say "backyard". Say, "Go Potty" one time and wait 3-5 minutes. If he goes potty, give him an OUTSTANDING treat and give him some freedom.
On the chart, you will write the Date, the Time, the Location, and the Output. So, you should circle 0, 1 or 2. You should circle 1 and 2 if he did both. I count either urination or defecation as a "success" and allow freedom after that. It is really difficult, if not impossible, to train a young puppy to do both when you want. Puppies can defecate multiple times per day, or sometimes might just go once per day. It is difficult to predict.
Keep in mind that puppies can hold it generally one hour per month of age (from the Crate Training Video). So if you have a 10-week-old puppy you can expect him to be able to hold it approximately 2.5 hours during the day.
You want to make sure that he is IN the crate at the END of his time period. So, if he went potty at 10am, he will probably have to go potty at 12:30pm, which is 2.5 hours from the time he went.
So, I recommend that he is out of the crate for 1 - 1.5 hours at the most after he goes potty and then he is in the crate until he has to go again. During the time he is out of the crate it is important that you are watching him to make sure he does not have an accident. If you can't watch him for 5 seconds, put him in the crate. Period. When he is out, you can take him for a walk, play with him, train him or he could be sleeping at your feet.
You can also tie him gently to your belt or around your waist with a leash and have him follow you around the house so he doesn't get into mischief.
So, in this example, he should be out until 11 or 11:30 and then placed gently back in the crate.
On the chart you will write 11:30am for Crate In. Then at 12:30, pay attention to what your puppy is doing. At 12:30pm, if he is sleeping and you don't have to go anywhere, ignore him. If you have to go out, wake him up to go potty, or use a Long Term Confinement Area (watch this video for instructions).
If he sleeps past 12:30, that will help condition his bladder to hold it longer in the future. As soon as puppies wake up, they generally have to go potty, so be prepared to take him right outside, or on the puppy pad if you are using pads.
When you are ready to take him out, the Crate Out time is the same time as the time on the next line. This is because when you take him Out of the crate you will immediately take him to the potty area.
What Does the Zero Mean on the Chart?
If you ever take your puppy outside or on the pad, say, "Go Potty" and nothing happens after 3-5 minutes, put him back in the crate. You should then circle "0" on the chart and take him out again in 15-60 minutes, depending on your confidence level of how long he can hold it. If you took him out of the crate at 10am, you would write 10:05am on the Crate In box, since he was out for 5 minutes maximum.
Zeros actually are good, because it means that your puppy is holding it longer. But, don't get discouraged if you rarely or never get a "Zero" because puppies often go potty every time they go outside. The main goal is to avoid accidents.
So Back to the Question About Accidents
I wanted to make sure you knew how to fill out the chart, because that is important information that will help you keep track of your puppy's patterns. If he does have an accident, calmly clean it up and circle the time, location, and what happened (1 or 2). Pay attention to his water intake (Time Drank), food intake (Time Ate) and all of the other information on the chart.
If he has accidents in the crate, you need to adjust your schedule. If it during the evening, you need to set your alarm and wake up to let him out, or have him sleep in a long-term confinement area. If he has an accident in the crate when you are at work, get dog walkers or use a long-term confinement area.
If he has accidents out of the crate, watch him more closely, chart his progress and take him out more frequently.
Water is a HUGE Variable
Often puppies drink WAY more water than they need. If your puppy is a manic drinker, limit his water to a 5-10 sips and then take the water away. Also remove the water at 6 or 7pm at night to help him make it through the night. Make sure you are charting all of the times that he drinks during the day. Can't watch him? Crate him. Period.
What If He Goes Potty Outside and Comes in and Goes???
Puppies are not random, so if you gather enough data, you should be able to see patterns. One pattern might be that he goes potty outside and has an accident shortly after coming inside. Often what happens is that puppies get distracted outside and "forget" to finish. If this happens, chart all the information and remember it tomorrow. After you bring him inside, put him in the crate for 15-30 minutes and then bring him outside again to finish.
If you have to leave the house, use a long-term confinement area.
I hope this helps. Housetraining can be very challenging, but stick with it, chart your puppy's progress, and you will do great.
Also, don't be shy about using the crate. Feel guilty? Read this post about guilt.