If you’re a regular reader of Little Dog Tips, this blog post is probably not for you.
You most likely have learned a lot about potty training from my blog already, if it’s been one of your personal struggles, and know that there are many ways to communicate with a dog, like using potty bells, that help them understand where to poop and pee.
But if you’ve ever been given this advice, or even used this practice, and wondered if you’re doing the right thing… this is an article for you.
First off, I’d like you to know that this is written without judgement.
Conflicting advice from family, veterinarians, trainers, blogs and books can make it extremely difficult to do right by your dog.
Especially when you’re losing sleep over potty training.
Especially when you’re sick and tired of cleaning up.
And you’re worried about permanent damage to your home.
Why Do So Many People Rub Their Dog’s Nose In Poop Or Pee?
I’m in a lot of dog-related Facebook Groups, so at least weekly, I see a post about someone who has been rubbing their dog’s nose in their own poop or pee, and wondering why it hasn’t worked.
I don’t think most people can do this in good conscience. People are asking these questions because they don’t like punishing their beloved dog in this awful way.
I’ve read a lot of dog books and articles, and I’ve only seen advice against this. I’m not sure where this advice originates.
I don’t believe any reputable veterinarian would recommend such an unsanitary training method, if we can call it that.
I don’t think any trainers are still doing this, but since there are no required regulations in the training industry, it’s totally possible that people are still getting this advice.
I think this advice comes from way back in the day, when dogs were just starting to enter our homes. Dogs were not yet considered “part of the family” to most people.
All you need to know on this point: this advice is outdated. No professional would tell you to do this because there’s better, safer, more effective ways to communicate with your puppy.
Why Is It Bad To Rub Your Dog’s Nose In Their Wastes?
Actions must have consequences, right?
If a dog hates having their nose rubbed in their wastes, she’ll stop going potty on the rug, right?
Well, here’s the thing.
Even though it’s unsanitary to do this, if your dog is relatively healthy, they probably wouldn’t get sick from it. Dogs regularly eat their own feces, and the worst illness they would get is extended the lifecycle of worms that they already have in their body.
Dogs don’t dislike the odor of their own feces and urine quite as much as we do. For dogs, wastes are an integral part of the way they communicate with others of their own species.
Even so, one of the most effective ways to potty-train a dog is to use a crate. A dog will typically hold their feces and urine while crated because they do not want to soil their sleeping space.
So, rubbing your dog’s nose in their poop might not be as unpleasant as you might expect, though they definitely will not enjoy the experience.
The potentially traumatizing part of this practice is the physical force you’d use to hold the puppy down, and rub their nose into the carpet.
I’m not sure if people are getting more detailed advice about this. Are they restraining their puppy to the point of a struggle? Are they smearing feces all over their own dog’s nose?
It’s horrifying to imagine. I’m trying to remain non-judgmental, and I would hope that anyone who has make this mistake was able to avoid doing it to the point of extreme trauma.
If you were to rub your dog’s nose in their feces right after she had an accident, she will associate going potty on the floor with this bad experience – but she’ll learn that she needs to hide from you, rather than magically figure out that you want her to go potty outside.
If you were to do this long after the accident, it would be even less effective.
The truth is, the biggest lesson your puppy will learn is that you’re scary to be around. As this practice is often done early in the puppy’s life, it builds a relationship based on fear.
When your dog fears you, they don’t know when you’re reaching towards them to pet them – or to force them down.
But My Cousin’s Uncle’s Dad Did This And It WORKED
For every strange, abusive training method, there are dozens of people who will defend it with anecdotes. If it worked for me, they say, it must be the best way to do it.
People have success with all kinds of training methods because they build habits. No matter how abusively you treat a dog, if you keep taking them outside, they’ll sooner or later get potty trained.
But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes those dogs stay fearful, which leads to stress that makes it even more difficult for them to control their bladder.
What your so-and-so wouldn’t tell you is that they may have abandoned many dogs that they used this practice on when it failed.
For that one resilient dog who, on the off chance, was successfully potty trained without humane methods, it can seem to work. But that’s despite, not because of, the abuse.
Teaching your dog to communicate with PoochieBells (available on Amazon) ought to be the next generation’s sage advice for new puppy parents. They take so much of the frustration out of house-training.
How Should I Potty Train My Puppy Instead?
The most effective way to potty train a puppy is to prevent accidents before they happen. You can do this using a crate, but it’s also possible to train your puppy without a crate.
A wire crate will prove endlessly useful throughout your dog’s life. Get one you love! This pink crate from Carlson Pet Products is to die for. (price check on Amazon)
If you’re reached the end of this article, I’m hoping you’re jumping for joy at the idea that you actually don’t need to use training methods that make you feel bad on the inside.
Not everyone who has rubbed their dog’s nose in poop is a bad person. They may have not known any better.
Fortunately, we now have access to so much more information, so many more methods and choices that we no longer have to do things that scare our dogs just to train them.
Wednesday 22nd of February 2023
Or just leave the dog and it's mess outside where it belongs.
Saturday 8th of October 2022
Isnt putting your dog in a crate for no reason cruel? Taking away his freedom is a punishment. Punishing them for no reason very confusing. Do you lock your child in the bathroom to toilet train them? A loved dog has the freedom in your house to roam as you do. Caging is jail and like a punishment with no reason. Dog has no idea why he cant be with family and suddenly locked in a cage for no reason. No thanks i used the give the pup a smell of the mess to indicate these messes belong outside then they come back inside to play and sleep with their family. Not a caged up animal.
Tuesday 27th of September 2022
All of our dogs over the years from my grandfather to my dad had their noses rubbed in their poop and then thrown outside. It worked like a charm. Crating does too. I prefer crating now. I’m only saying this so that you don’t think that rubbing the nose in it doesn’t work. Everyone seems to be a little too politically correct these days. And please don’t try to say that the dog won’t remember. They know. Their not stupid. If they don’t remember pooping, then how do they remember you or someone else from a distance that they haven’t seen in a year without being able to smell you? Just saying. You ask the country folk how they train the dogs these days. They’ll tell ya. And before you get angry. I crate train now.
Thursday 23rd of February 2023
@Stacey, he is right. Stop getting offended over facts.
Friday 27th of January 2023
@Kevin, How rude and ignorant
Saturday 10th of December 2022
@Mike, there is a reason the country folk are the least educated in the country. The least in a lot of metrics actually.
Thursday 17th of March 2022
I agree, the rubbing of their nose works.
Dogs are not stupid. they learn from this VERY quickly.
No , its not nice to do, but it works, and the dog forgives you for it and understands.
It cannot be related to human feelings and be seen as cruelty.
If you want to shut your dog in a cage, I can think of a few people that would think that cruelty ? by your own words, a dog doesnt like fouling where it sleeps so holds it in until it cannot hold it any longer ?
THAT IS CRUELTY !
Just be done with the bigotted solutions to dog training.
Rubbing the nose works regardless of the pokitically correct fools that beleive your mans best friend will fear you.
If your dog is stuck for the loo, they will actually come to see you to let you know they need to go out and do what they need to do.
That is a mistake I have made and ignored only to find the dog had fouled by the door.
Did i rub the dogs nose in it ?
I actually opologised to the dog and learned more in dog communication therafter because of it.
I have also had many dogs in the family. Wonderful loyal creatures with so much unconditional loyalty and love for their owners.
Some of you need to spend more time with these wonderful creatures and maybe you will learn a trick or two from them ?
Friday 27th of January 2023
@Paul, Exactly! Being in a crate day and night is way more cruel. Common sense is gone.
Saturday 22nd of January 2022
I think the author of this article has the wrong idea your not rubbing the dogs nose in it to get physical excrement on him as a punishment your letting him smell his scent where he had the accident and telling him no,no pee pee in the house and then taking him outside I think dogs are smart enough to make that connection its pretty clear cut.