View Full Version : Potty training question

27th July 2013, 01:02 AM
Hello, I have an eight month old cavalier named Wilson. He is my first cavalier and a real sweetie. I have been reading and learning so much from this site since January when I got Wilson. Now to my question. I am wondering at what point do you start to wean them from potty treats. He is doing really well so I don't want to backslide. He has had two pee and one poo accident since april. I have had a few people comment about still giving him treats for that. I feel like its important to continue with treats but after a few comments I began to wonder. Thanks

22nd January 2014, 08:10 PM
Alice, my Cav, is almost 4 months (I got her at 12 weeks) and I watch her like a hawk indoors. I never let her wander around the house unsupervised (I have a very small open-plan ground floor so have put decorative metal gates across the archway into the kitchen to keep her in there when not supervised.)

She hasn't had any accidents for a couple of weeks and when she did it was my fault as she snuck out of her crate while my back was turned, after a nap, and peed on the sitting room carpet! I'd left the gate open!
She is now very good at peeing/pooing in my little garden (which is gravelled/paved) and I don't tend to give her a treat there now- just lots of 'good girl' noises! She is just beginning to have a pee when on walks - until the last week or so she would hold on until she got home! I always put her outside after naps/play/15 mins after a meal or if she looks 'anxious' or whines for no apparent reason.

Your Wilson seems to be doing well - depending on the circumstances re the accident. Was it when you weren't looking or when he was alone? Alice has never poo'd indoors - just the odd pee and she did wet her bed a couple of times in the beginning.

At our weekly Puppy Class the instructor advised not to treat every time when training. Yes, give them a treat at the outset until they are used to the command then treat maybe every other or every 3rd/4th/5th time. That way they seem to be even more interested. Not sure if this applies to pottying - if Alice needs to go she goes straight away (she does a few up and downs or circles then does the splits!!) If she needs a poo she goes round and round/backwards and forwards very fast in ever decreasing circles for about 20 seconds before 'going.' It's on walks I have to try to persuade her to go - then I always give her a treat and lots of praise.

I have a very good book I bought on Amazon by Bruce Fogle called Complete Puppy & Dog Care which I recommend to everyone who has a dog. With potty accidents he advises rolling up a newspaper, securing it with an elastic band and then whacking yourself over the head with it for not paying more attention to your puppy!!
Also, you may like to check out Victoria Stillwell's site on the internet. She's brilliant.
Hope these ideas are of some help or at least made you smile! :jmp2:

12th July 2014, 03:59 AM
Our two cavs, Fred and Ginger, will be 4 months old next week (July 16). We have been trying to housetrain them for the past five weeks, but it has been not been successful. We take them outside, one at a time, several times a day. Sometimes they relieve themselves, but almost as often, they simply return to the house and poop on the floor! They still have no idea that they are supposed to do that outside.

We keep them in a crate for several hours during the day, but we also let them roam free in the small hallway where the crate is located. (We don't want them to feel "punished"). At night they stay in the crate, and usually wake us up around 5am, at which time we take them outside, one at a time (otherwise, they will chase each other around the yard instead of releaving themselves.

We have been rewarding them with treats when they poop outside, but we're thinking of halting that practice for a while, because none of this potty training has been sinking into their little brains. (Yes, they are as cute as can be, but we're trying not to let that influence us.)

Any suggestions as to how to hasten their house-breaking will be welcome. Or are we expecting too much too early?

Thanks in advance,

Roy and Jean
New Mexico

12th July 2014, 09:19 AM
It is much harder with two, but it sounds like you might not be taking them out often enough. With young puppies, they need to go out after every meal, every time they wake, when they've been playing for a little while, or been excited, and every hour in between! Exhausting but its really worth it, the more accidents they have indoors, the more likely they are to do so again. You need to go outside with them, and give them plenty of time to relieve themselves.

I would strongly recommend http://www.dogstardaily.com/taxonomy/term/182 and http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/after-you-get-your-puppy

Dr Ian Dunbar 's books, which you can download for free.

You need to restrict the area they are allowed to roam inside, so they gradually learn where is acceptable to toilet.

Generally Cavaliers are very clean and easy to train, it does depend how they were raised by the breeder too, good breeders will already have started the process. You would not usually expect them to go through the night or be totally reliable until they are a year old.

14th July 2014, 11:10 AM
Four months old is very young still, and you are seeing typical issues with housetraining and definitely should not discontinue rewards. :) If anything, perhaps the reward is too 'low value' -- the better the treat (eg say the commercial dried liver treats are very desirable to a puppy, as is a bit of hot dog etc) the housetraining lesson registers far more than with say a piece of dried kibble. Housetraining with two generally takes considerably longer, as well.

I agree with Nicki on the extra challenges of two puppies -- trainers advise not to get two puppies together, especially two siblings. Dog trainer, Kelly Gorman Dunbar, noted yesterday in a discussion on this, that it's like having THREE puppies -- because you really need to be raising the two mostly separately -- so they need to each get concentrated daily time with you separately, and then, supervised time together, hence; three puppies.

I'd actually totally separate the puppies as much as possible every day, for housetraining and at night. Give them some play time together but other than that -- they should be separated.

You can and should read up on how to raise two puppies to avoid problems. It isn't that this is impossible -- it's just that you have an enormous amount of extra work to do. It really annoys me that breeders ever sell siblings to people without explaining all of this in detail. :(

On the plus side: like many people, I've just raised two sibs of another breed myself. so it definitely isn't impossible :) -- but it WAS a major challenge as each needed hours daily of focused time away from their sibling. They also needed training classes separately. It was very time-consuming for my partner and me. Housetraining definitely took longer than previous single puppies we have had.

Keep in mind too, that you have dogs of opposite sex and the female can go into heat as early as 4 months. This is going to be another challenge and a responsibility, as you do not want to risk an accidental mating especially between siblings, in this already genetically-challenged breed. It will require a fair bit of managing (and again, separation) as they get sexually mature -- this is generally around 6-9 months but can be earlier -- and best to talk this through with your vet on what to look for, when to split them (once a female is in heat she needs to be separated by two doors at all times from the male, for 4 weeks, absolutely never risking them near each other). Your vet can advise on managing and/or neutering at a safe time.

I've added some links on the two-puppy issue below :D If this seems overwhelming -- and for some people, it will be a slowly dawning shock! -- you may wish to weigh up all the pros and cons of raising two together. If you want to see what it is like to focus on just one, perhaps the breeder would take one back and let you try a singleton as an alternative just for a week as a trial. Some people find they prefer to stick with one, once they consider the realities that perhaps weren't really presented to them before they opted for two. I know those are hard options, but the end goal of course is for owners to enjoy the experience of having a dog, and not feel overwhelmed; likewise for every puppy to get the attention, time and training it needs. You may feel alternatively that you are well able for this challenge, having read through some of the advice in the links; we'll certainly be happy to offer advice too here!

14th July 2014, 11:26 AM
Here are some resources on raising two puppies, just to help with understanding the issues and possible approaches:





30th July 2014, 11:29 PM
Karlin and Nicki -

Thanks for the thoughtful replies. Here are some updates:

The reason we bought two pups is because we felt that they would comfort each other and take that load off us a little. We have left them alone for several hours at a time (while we do our errands, etc.) and when we return to the house they are usually asleep or playing in the crate. They seem quite attached and happy with each other, and aren't constantly demanding attention from us. They entertain each other, usually by wrestling on the floor. Also, Jean has had experience with raising siblings.

Fred and Ginger usually sleep 8 hours at night, plus have about two hours' worth of sleep during the day.

They are gradually adapting to their leashes as well. They seemed confused at first, but not any more. We haven't taken them walking in public places yet, just around the yard, but we let them lead the way as they sniff around the plants and rocks.

They also know their names and several words. One of them is "No!" and another is "treat!". They also like to fetch tennis balls. (It's fun to watch them fight over who brings the ball back.)

As for the house training, that's still moving slowly. We have a system whereby we take them outside 5 or 6 times a day. Four of those times, they go out separately, so they can concentrate on relieving themselves quickly. The other two times, we let them go out together, so they can wrestle and chase after each other around the courtyard. This eventually tires them, and they return to the crate (with a treat) and go to sleep for a while. About every other day, one of them drops a pile in the enclosed hallway, but that's a major improvement over the way things were a few weeks ago.

Thanks again for your advice, as well as the book links,

Roy and Jean

PS: Ginger is due to be spayed on 9/15.

PPS: I should also mention that Jean and I are retired and do have the time to raise two pups.

31st July 2014, 09:33 AM
Thank you you for the update, great to hear that things have improved somewhat. If they are still having that many accidents though, I would be taking them out more frequently and increase supervision.

6 months is early to spay, but it's difficult in this situation when you have opposite sexes.

Make sure the puppies also spend some time away from each other, so they are not totally dependent on each other.

21st August 2014, 11:41 PM
Hi Karlin.

We appreciate your feedback on Roy's questions. (We are newly-weds at 70)
I bred German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers for many years. I was sometimes left with pups until age 4-5 months due to their ear surgeries, exc. I managed to incorporate individuality with "community" living with individual attention and never really experienced what you describe. My pups took to me, my husband and the teenage kids with an independent affection.

Furthermore, you stated you used hot dogs as a treat. I never used them myself because they contain sodium nitrites and poly phosphates, and MSG. My pups love baby carrots and parboiled green beans.

Your site is very helpful. We will continue to monitor it.

Thanks again,


31st August 2014, 01:46 AM
Hi Nicki,

Sorry you're having trouble with two. I guess we're blessed. Fred and Ginger do indeed bond when they are alone, but when we have them out they are independent souls. Housebreaking is still a bit of a challenge but it's working well. We leash walk them independently and spend time with them independently. I guess we have the advantage of being retired and making them a prime focus.

Ginger will be spayed Sept. 15. We will have her separated from Fred for about two weeks and when the time is right, he will be altered.

I have had sibs who lived for many years and grew old just like comfortable humans.

They are so smart....at 5 months...they sit on command and go to the crate on command. We are very fortunate!!

We will stay in touch,

Roy and Jean