Q&A: Potty Training a Rescue Dog


We adopted a rescue dog in June, and we are working on potty training her. She is about 6 months old. She is a smaller dog (a mix of a beagle, and something else – nobody knows for sure). Anyway, her potty training has been very stressful. We take her out at regular intervals, and always go out with her. She does well most of the time when she goes out; however, it doesn’t seem to matter what we do, she continues to go inside as well. I am not sure what to do with her. When she goes outside, we praise her and give her treats. And just when we think that she is learning, she goes and does her business inside. Do you have any suggestions for us?



Hi Andrew

Potty training can be very frustrating for a lot of people, so you are not alone in feeling this way! The best thing to do here is go back to the beginning with your puppy. She either does not really understand the concept, or she is getting so distracted at other times that she forgets she has to go until it is too late. In many cases though, it is really that we believe our dog understands what is expected when they really do not. This being the case, go back to taking your dog out every 1.5-2hrs, and then within 15 minutes of eating. Use a word association like, ‘go potty’, and repeat this until your puppy goes. Your use of calm praise and even a small treat (not necessary but ok to do) is good. Try and stay outside until she does something. 15-20 minutes can seem like a lifetime when you are waiting, but the time she takes will shorten quickly once she realizes she gets praise or playtime after going.


You did not mention what type of accident she is having, but regulating water intake and/or changing to a different high quality dog food might help as well. Keep meal times as regular as possible. In addition, try not to leave your puppy unattended in the house. You can tie her up with a lead and attach her to a piece of furniture in the room you are in, hence giving her less opportunity to do something while you are not watching. Puppies need to earn their freedom in the house, and if she is not potty trained, she should not have free reign. If you do see her going you can use a firm ‘No’ command and pick her up immediately and put her outside. If you don’t catch her in the act, just clean it up and ignore it.

So back to square one; take her out more frequently, use the word association, praise, limit her freedom…and stick with it!


Beth Jefferey

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Beth Jeffery

Beth Jeffery is a Dog Trainer and Behaviorist with over 15 years experience in the field. She spent years in the Service Dog field, training both Guide Dogs for the Blind and Assistance Dogs for the Disabled, as well as many years working with pet dogs. Beth current runs her Dog Training business in San Diego, working with dogs of all breeds, all ages, and with all issues, from puppy training through to aggressive dogs.

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