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The Right Way To Stop Your Dog’s Accidents

The Right Way To Stop Your Dog’s Accidents

The other day, I caught Matilda just as she was pooping on a plastic shopping bag I’d left on the floor.

She looked up at me, quivering, her ears crooked, as she squeezed out one of her famous logs.

She’s 1.5 years old, and fully potty-trained. She knew she wasn’t supposed to poop there, and I could tell by the look on her face that she was well aware.

What did I do?

I soothed her. I told her it was okay, and stroked her back until she finished.

Then, I cleaned up, asked her to ring her potty bell, and took her outside.

I didn’t yell at her, spank her, and scold her in any way.

I realized that I hadn’t left her a potty pad. I’m not sure if she remembered to ring her potty bell, but if she had, I must have not heard, or even ignored it. Maybe I’d been neglecting her, as I’ve been spending more time with my sister-in-law and her new husky pup. (Hi Janie!!!)

All in all, Matilda only pooped on the bag because she needed to go, and saw no better option. She even took care to use a piece of trash that was easy for me to clean up. She’s a good girl.

So I didn’t scold her.

And, guess what?

She hasn’t had any more accidents since.

What I’m getting at here, is, you don’t always need to scold your dog to make them behave.

Some positive trainers say you never need to scold your dog. As I get better and better at understanding dogs, I’m starting to think they’re right. I’m finding fewer and fewer reasons to so much as say, “No!” and discovering more creative ways to encourage good manners.

The Right Way To Stop #Dog Accidents #dogtrainingWhen Your Puppy Pees Or Poops On The Floor

If you’re potty-training your new puppy, you’re going to catch her mid-accident many, many times over the next few weeks.

Since she doesn’t already know the rules of the house, you will have to do something when you catch her having an accident.

The best thing to do is this:

  1. Pick her up, even if she’s still going. Even if she’s not going anymore. Be calm. Don’t say anything.
  2. Place her on her pad, or take her outside.
  3. If she finishes her business, or at least sniffs around, praise her and give her a yummy treat.

Picking up your dog mid-stream or mid-log is discouraging enough to prevent future accidents. Can you imagine someone grabbing you while you’re on the toilet? How annoying.

She’ll be happy to use the correct spot if she realizes that’s the only place she can relieve herself without being interrupted.

Saying or yelling “No!” just scares your dog. The potty-training process needs to be anything but scary. It’s harder for your dog to pee and poop when she’s afraid of you.

When you pick up your dog, and bring her to the appropriate place, the message is pretty clear.

In addition, the appropriate place should carry her own scent. Soak up her accidents with a pad, and leave her poop outside in her potty area. She’ll instinctively relieve herself in areas that smell like her own waste. That’s also why it’s so important that you properly clean her messes with an enzyme cleaner. If it smells like pee under your bed, she’ll keep peeing there.

Dogs don’t pee or poop where they eat and sleep. So, if there’s an area of the house where your dog won’t seem to stop having accidents, try moving her bed or food there. I can’t say I’ve tried it, but it could help!

Why Your Dog Pees And Poops On The Floor

I’ll leave you with this: remember your dog’s intention. Know her heart and mind.

More likely than not, your dog is peeing and pooping on the floor because she had to go. 

She either didn’t know what else to do, or simply couldn’t hold it any longer.

Once she figures out what you want from her, she’s going to be more than happy to do it.

Visualize her as a perfectly trained pooch. Then work backwards to make it happen. Work on reducing accidents, avoid getting frustrated and don’t take shit too seriously.

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.

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Michelle Rutkowski

Friday 2nd of December 2022

My dog Max will be 2 in March. He's fully potty trained. Recently he had diarrhea and even though it's gone he's still having accidents in the same spot while I'm sleeping in my room with him. I walk him all of the time and he never has any problems except for where he had the diarrhea. Can you please help?

The French Bulldog Encyclopedia

Monday 7th of May 2018

Thanks for this advice... my Frenchie has accidents but I can never catch her in the act. I don't know why she doesn't ever make much of an attempt to go out but she will whine just to play outside lol. Guess it's going to take some more time... she's not even a year old yet!


Tuesday 18th of July 2017

I have tried this method and honestly, it doesn't work. I don't know what to do, but I am at my wits end. I really think my puppy thinks, hey she isn't upset so this is ok to do. Today, he has had three accidents, one in front of me and I yelled at him and promptly brought him into his quarantined area and I felt bad. Why? Now I am mad at myself for feeling that yelling was wrong. We will see if this method works.

Lindsay Pevny

Tuesday 18th of July 2017

I understand, I really do - when your pup has an accident in front of you, it shows that they are not afraid to use your house as a bathroom, but when you yell, or even use this method - picking them up and interrupting them - they can become afraid to relieve themselves in front of you, and then he'll be more likely to have accidents behind the couch, when you're not looking, etc. The best thing to do is prevent accidents as much as possible, but I know how hard it is to do that when your puppy has to go 15x+ per day. When Matilda was a puppy, I lost my patience and yelled, too, and it actually made the process take longer because she didn't like relieving herself in front of me, indoors or out. So I went back to praising her just for using her pad, extra treats and playtime for going outside. It will pay off!


Tuesday 7th of March 2017

Great article, I agree 100% that there are no need for yelling or spanking. It will only provoke aggressive behavior.

How To Potty Train Your Puppy Without A Crate - Little Dog Tips

Saturday 3rd of September 2016

[…] you catch your puppy having an accident, you can stop it by picking her up and bringing her to her pad or outside. Praise her when you get […]

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