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Potty Training

Puppy Blog

Welcome to Foxglove Farm, I love to write about our beautiful Cavachons. You may also find puppy training tips, product reviews, and a few good stories.

Potty Training


If you invest some time & energy up front, and give your puppy few opportunities to make mistakes in the house, you’ll have a house-trained puppy in no time!


This is baby “Bella” she’ll be our poster child for what to do and more importantly what NOT to do to help your puppy navigate through the perilous potty training waters~!  I’ll try to break everything down into baby steps, have everyone stay on this course & your puppy will soon graduate potty training 101~!

Each time your puppy goes outside, go with her if at all possible, (I know life happens but do your best), being present while your puppy is learning this important skill is important for several reasons, you can’t praise good behavior and reinforce with a yummy treat if you are not there to monitor, you can keep puppy focused on the area of the yard you want her to do her business, and most importantly, you’ll know if it’s safe to consider her “empty” because you saw her go,,, that way you’re less likely to bring her back inside only to see her immediately have an accident on the floor because you didn’t ensure that she had done her business outside.

When puppies first get outside, it’s only natural and good that they have time to run around a bit and vent puppy energy (remember TIRED PUPPIES ARE GOOD PUPPIES), that being said, it’s also easy to let puppy play and zoom around and scoop her up to go back inside and realize that it was indeed all a play time and she forgot to go because she was having too much fun.  

It’s very important to balance interacting with her

and yet not distract her too much from the business at hand.  


Keep a sharp eye out for pre-potty behavior, sniffing the ground, circling, and stand still, stop speaking (be a tree!) until she finishes, then enthusiastic praise,,, this is important too,,, don’t leap and shout for joy (though you might be tempted that thank goodness FINALLY she seems to be getting it!), instead, use her name, making the vowel sounds long and full of quiet praise: “Bella, gooooood giiiiiirl, go potty outside,,,, goooood girl!” Then quickly, (remember, have great timing) a bit of treat for a job well done. (You want to reinforce that good behavior with a double reward, your praise & a puppy cookie).  Never forget what an important tool your voice is, use it wisely, softly, keep commands and praise short and not too wordy,,, “OH BELLA!!! GOOOOD GIRLLL! GOOOOD DOG!!!! OH WHAT A GOOD DOG GO POTTY OUTSIDE NOT ON MOMMA’S CARPET” etc, you get the point : )

NOTE:  It's easy to miss when tiny puppies actually "go", they are so low to the ground it's easy for you to think they haven't gone potty when they actually have.  

If you're sure she hasn't gone, (keep an eye on her so you know for sure)  then bring her in and put her back in the crate, wait 15 minutes or so and take her back outside. If she’s too intent on zooming about the yard and not concentrating on business, you might have to try putting her on the lead, Puppies are just little kids, they go outside, get excited and forget why they went outside in the first place. Again, letting that energy be vented with playtime outside is good, but be sure the reason you're out there isn't forgotten in all the fun.


When “Bella” potties outside – give a treat, play with a favorite toy, use your voice as a reward "Good puppy Bella!"  make sure that the puppy thinks, “Wow! Going potty outside is loads of fun, I’m going to do this again!”  Here’s where the NuVet is a help, try having a few pieces of a tablet  in your pocket to reward “going” in the right place and not fill puppies tummy with junk food or empty calories.

Use a tether while inside –

Tethering is a great idea, you can slip the end of a lead over the drawer knob of your computer desk, onto your wrist,       (or the older children’s!) Bella can snooze at your feet while you are on the computer, or while the kids are doing homework watching TV, or whatnot, the tether keeps her in a 2 or 3 foot area and she’ll be much less likely to “go” in the wrong sport (or chew up your new gym shoes!). In my house, I like to use the knob on my kitchen door, I have a nice soft rug there and when Bella is tethered, I put a couple of tempting toys (a Kong with a bit of peanut butter is a great puppy pacifier), and puppy learns to wait patiently while I tidy up the kitchen or do a stir-fry. Bella is close to the action which helps her learn to be a responsible canine citizen, she learns to be patient and wait while I’m busy, she even learns to entertain herself and be content even though she’s not my entire focus at the time, the planet will not stop revolving if she doesn’t have my attention every moment, good for all of us to learn~!  One last tip about tethering, keep in mind, puppies can easily get tangled in the lead, don’t leave a tethered puppy without supervision even for a moment.

Take puppy outside often -

Typically I’d say every one to two hours during the day, the exceptions would be worth noting:   

~  Immediately after waking in the morning carry puppy outside to avoid her getting “lost” on the way to the door.

~  After a period of excitement or rambunctious play (not too rambunctious of course), it's easy to be surprised by the sight of your puppy suddenly coming to a screeching halt when in the midst of a game, nose dropping to the ground as she suddenly remembers she has to GO!  If you keep her “empty” before freedom in the house, and are alert for her pre-potty cues that it's time to scoop her quickly up and take her outside, you’ll get her house-trained in the quickest manner possible!

Watch for "pre-potty cues" puppy stops, walks in a circle with her nose to the floor, you have about 10 seconds to scoop her up before an accident happens so be quick!

Teach puppy to let you know when she needs to go outside –

It’s a huge help when your puppy will let you know when she needs to have a potty break, you can facilitate this process by pausing at the door as you carry her outdoors, ask “Bella” let’s go potty! Good girl! Potty outside? good Bella!” Praise is important at this step, at the door, you are giving her clues to what pleases you, how to find the bathroom, it’s very much a mystery to your baby puppy so it’s your job to provide the clues she needs to solve the mystery of how to make mom really happy & get yummy snacks too!  Keep in mind that if you give your puppy one last potty break as you close down the house for the night (this means waking her and taking her outside right before you retire for the night), that is time well spent, usually puppies who have a late evening chance to relieve themselves right before bedtime will typically sleep more soundly and often not wake until around 7 or 8 am, no real need for “walkies” at 3:00 am if you follow this golden rule~!

Paper training –

I’m not a fan of giving puppies a place to go potty inside the house. Some small breed owners swear by them. I think they are confusing to puppy if your ultimate goal is for them to potty outside. It will take longer to house train if you first teach your puppy to potty on paper, then turn around and want her to potty outside. Cavachons are fairly hardy for small dogs, they love the snow & brief potty breaks outside even in winter are fine so don’t let the weather get you off track with your training schedule. That being said, if you absolutely MUST use pads or papers, it’s not the end of the world, these are smart little characters and they indeed can figure out even the ins and outs of pads vs going outdoors to potty!

Invest in a good odor neutralizer -

Mistakes are going to happen so plan for it. If you are observant you’ll notice your puppy will give subtle but clear signals that he’s about to go potty, sniffing the ground, walking in a small circle are indicators that your need to quickly scoop puppy up & tell her “No! Potty Outside!”  If your puppy has an accident (and these won’t be often if you keep your eye on her & she’s only loose when supervised and AFTER having a potty break) WHEN the accident occurs hopefully you catch her “in the act” and again, scoop her up and hurry her outside to the potty place. It’s ok to mildly scold, no shouting, remember this is a baby. Use an odor neutralizer like Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solution – these products neutralize odor instead of covering it up. You don’t want the puppy going back to the same spot on your carpet. (By the way, NO access to carpeted areas for the first week is really a great idea, then only supervised access until puppy is dependable).

Don’t be afraid to be a firm leader, dogs LOVE LEADERSHIP!  The biggest mistake I see is people who don’t discipline their puppies for bad behavior because they think they won’t love them if do.  Just the opposite is true, dogs are most drawn to and love and respect the leaders of their packs, be they canine or human leaders, puppies feel safe when they know someone is in charge!

Be aware it’s not unusual to for puppy to regress for a brief period.

Some time after you think your puppy has got it, that she totally understands the house-training thing & you can allow her more freedom,,, to have an accident when you thought all that was behind you?  Step back a bit in training, you might have given too much freedom too quickly, take away a few privileges and go back to tethering and limited access to all but a small area of the house, your puppy will quickly catch on and the accidents will happily become a thing of the past!

Hang in there, with perseverance and patience, you’ll be through this stage quickly and your puppy will be the canine good citizen you are proud to own!