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I was in Loxahatchee last Wednesday installing a new Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System for a client and his Shiba Inu named Hillary.  They were on a five-acre property, but he only wanted Hillary to wander on the grass near the house.  The installation was pretty straightforward and Hillary quickly understood that it was better to stay near the house than wander towards the far end of the property.  As we were finishing up, my client asked me about another dog he had recently purchased.  This dog was a Shiba Inu puppy. The biggest problem with the puppy was potty training.  He had tried everything and nothing was working.  He wondered if I had any ideas on the matter.

Invisible dog fence

The first thing I asked my client was the age of the puppy and the puppy’s background.  He told me that the puppy was twelve weeks old and was purchased from a national chain pet store.  After further discussion, it became apparent that he was doing all the correct, standard steps for normal potty training.

He was keeping the puppy in her crate when they weren’t around.  He was taking the puppy out every few hours and was managing the amount of food and water he was giving the puppy.  He was also cleaning up the mistakes around the house as quickly as he could find them.

He went on to say that he would take the puppy outside and she would often potty and poopie.  He would think this was great and he would bring her inside and put her back in her crate.  Within twenty minutes, the puppy would make an accident in the crate.  He would take her out again and sometimes she would go.  Other times, she would just play and then lie in the grass.

He even got a smaller crate so that the puppy would have to sit or stand in her pottie if she went in the crate.  The puppy would go anyway.  He was ready to just get rid of the puppy and just keep Hillary.

I told him that it was his decision whether to keep or give the puppy away.  At that point, I gave him some of my thoughts based on my prior experiences.

I had noticed some dog medicine on the kitchen counter and asked him about that.  He told me that it was for the puppy’s bladder and stomach issues.  I explained that medicine can often play a large role in potty training.

Having his veterinarian prescribe medicine for the puppy means that there is something physically wrong that needs to be remedied.  The medicine can often upset the potty process.  He should hold off on the potty training until his veterinarian has given the puppy a clean bill of health and has discontinued the medicine for three or four days.

He also mentioned that he had purchased the puppy from a national pet store chain.  I was familiar with this chain and knew that they got all their puppies from puppy mills at approximately 8 weeks of age.  This meant that his puppy was taken away from her mommy and siblings before the social learning process that assists in socialization, focus, and potty could be complete.  Additionally, she was placed in a crate at the store where there was a complete lack of boundary definition and social enforcement.

One of the main things that puppies are taught at a young age is that smell can be used as a tool for survival.  Smelling the “hunt” will allow them find food and survive.  Their ability to stealthfully mask their scent will protect them from predators coming after them.  They are taught not to go to the bathroom where they normally sleep and rest.  They are taught not to mark on themselves.  This minimizes the smell that predators can use to hunt them.

Being removed from their “learning group” at an early age and being placed in an environment that completely stifles this natural instinct often leads to difficulty in potty training.  We often label the puppy as “stubborn” when the problem arises from the fact that they were improperly programmed.

We can’t undo the puppy mill and pet store experience.  All we can do is to be more vigilant in directing the puppy to the proper action.  The first thing I did was to tell my client that he needed to make a decision.  The puppy could be potty trained, but it would take a good amount of work and frustration for about four to six weeks.  If he was willing to do that, he should keep the puppy.  If he was not willing to do that, he should start looking for a new home for the puppy.

The process that he needed to follow was one of pure, brute force.

  • He needed to keep the puppy in the crate whenever he could not directly be involved with her.
  • If she was out, she always had to be on a leash by his feet or in his lap.
  • He needed to take her out to the grass every two hours and be with her for thirty to forty-five minutes. I suggested that he get a chair and sit in the middle of the grass and watch her to see if she goes potty.  He is to praise her when she goes and give her a small treat.
  • When she goes potty in the house, simply clean it up to completely remove the smell.
  • Feed her in her crate by scattering the food on the floor of the crate. This will help to slowly deter her wanting to go in the crate.
  • If he is noticing too many accidents in the house, decrease the time between “potty outings”.
  • Don’t get discouraged if it looks like she is getting better and better, but then has a “slip”. These things happen.  He needs to stick with the big picture and the final result.

I strongly emphasized that this would be a process that could last between one and two months.  During that time, his puppy would always have to be watched and managed.  It was not her fault that she came from a puppy mill and spent time at the pet store.  We (humans) were at fault in derailing her natural learning process.  It is now our responsibility to take the additional time to make things right.

Just like people, some dogs are just harder to train than others.  Potty training is based on repetitive conditioning and the ability to set the appropriate scene.  Just like our “times tables”, the right answer is there.  It is just a matter of time. Please ask us anything by going to  Dog Fence Training Help Loxahatchee South Florida or calling (954) 472-4724.  Learn more about Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® and obtain great dog training tips at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Loxahatchee South FloridaRobin and I are thrilled that we have been your local dog professionals for over eleven years in Loxahatchee and all of South Florida.  Our systems are wonderful in keeping dogs safe and on your property.  As you may know, Robin and I are also professional dog trainers. If you would like to know about our Dog Behavior and Obedience Training, please visit Home Dog Training Loxahatchee South Florida.