Potty Training a Stubborn Puppy (A How-To Guide)

potty training a stubborn puppy

Last Updated on October 20, 2021

Potty training – it’s not the most glamorous or fun subject when it comes to puppies, but it sure makes life easier when it’s mastered. Sometimes a puppy masters it right away. However, not all puppies get it at the same rate. So what happens when you’re potty training a stubborn puppy?

Ideally, you’ll take your sweet puppy outside to potty on a regular basis, it’ll take a week or so and they’ll get it perfectly. Right? Not so much usually. It can happen but don’t beat yourself up and don’t get frustrated with your new baby when accidents happen. Give yourself several weeks when potty training a stubborn puppy.

Allow yourself and your puppy some grace. Get the right supplies for puppy potty training and have some patience.

Remember that potty training is a new skill for your puppy. They aren’t born knowing how and where to do everything and they have to be taught.

Potty Training a Stubborn Puppy

First of all, it’s super helpful if you get some supplies that will make the process of potty training your puppy a little easier.

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Puppy Potty Training Supplies

  • Stain and Odor Eliminator – You’ll want some of this on hand because puppies often come back to the same spots over and over again. You’ll want to do your best to get all odors removed so it doesn’t become a potty spot for them.
  • Potty Pads – These will help if you are training inside as well as outside. It gives your puppy a place that’s designated specifically for going potty.
  • Potty Training Bell – Puppies are smart and can be taught a variety of skills. One is ringing a bell when they need to go out and this one is perfect!
  • Training Treats – these are my favorite for training. You can break off little pieces as rewards and the puppies love the flavor.
  • Crate – If you decide to use a crate, this can be a huge advantage for potty training your puppy. Most puppies or dogs will not want to soil the area they sleep in. Just don’t leave them alone for too long. Generally, one hour above the month of age is a guide.

Signs to Look for When Potty Training a Puppy

As always, learning comes through patience and consistency. When it comes to urinating, your puppy will mainly want/need to go:

  • When he wakes up
  • After each meal
  • After a game or training session
  • Every 2 hours for the first few weeks, once or twice at night

Looks for signs like sniffing around in a circle, returning to the same place they peed before or going to the door.

Potty training should take place as soon as the puppy arrives home. If necessary, take it to your yard or outside on a leash. You have to take him out every hour (yes, his bladder is small!), especially when he wakes up.

Above all, you have to define a very precise space for it in your home. This will allow him to get used to your absence and facilitate his toilet training.

Use a KeyWord When Potty Training Your Puppy

Let them know with a keyword or short phrase, what you expect from him, such as “Go Potty” every time you take him out to potty. Repeat this and be patient until your puppy does his thing.

It can take time, but above all, remember to reward your puppy in the end.

When you open the door to go out, repeat the keyword again – “let’s go potty”. If it’s a small dog, you can set it in the grass and repeat the keyword again. Have the treats on hand and ready for immediate reward when your puppy successfully goes potty.

Give them lots of rubbies and love when they hear the keyword and perform the behavior. Dogs and puppies want to be loved and petted – they relish the praise.

Be consistent with using the keyword and don’t give the reward if he/she doesn’t go potty. Even stubborn dogs will be highly motivated with food or treats and they will want to do what it takes to get the reward.

The Most Important Tool When Potty Training a Puppy


Teaching a puppy potty training is hard. It’s frustrating and you’ll be sick of cleaning up messes. Try your best and just know that there will be accidents. Messes can be cleaned and soon your puppy will be a master at the skill.

What Not To Do When Potty Training Even a Stubborn Puppy

Never resort to violence. You don’t want to punish your puppy for having an accident. They’re learning a new skill and it takes time. Especially if the accident happened a while ago and you didn’t even see it happen.

If you punish a puppy with violence or shoving their nose in it, they won’t have a clue why you’re doing it. You can’t correct the behavior that happened hours ago.

If you catch them in the act, do your best to pick them up or get them outside to finish if possible. If not, clean it up and move on. You don’t want to hit them or punish them.

Puppies are at a vulnerable age. You’re their protector and supposed to love them and teach them.


In reality, potty training puppies is basically the same for most puppies, stubborn or not. You just have to realize that it may take longer for some.

To summarize good practices for potty training a puppy/dog, here are 8 main tips to follow to achieve this.

  1. The dog is an animal that lives in the present moment. He would then absolutely not understand your anger if you discover an accident, which could have happened hours ago. If you find an accident, move forward from that point.
  2. Reduce your puppy/dog’s space when you are away. Giving him free access to the whole house or the whole apartment will only stress him more and increase his likelihood of an accident.
  3. Create a forbidden space in your home where your puppy/dog will not be allowed to follow you. This will teach her to deal with loneliness even when you are in the house.
  4. Take your puppy/dog out at the appropriate times, namely: after the meal, a nap, or a play/excitement session to put all the chances on your side for him to potty during the outing.
  5. If you catch your puppy/dog in the act: react! Firmly say “no” and walk him outside. If, by chance, he ends his needs outside, then congratulate him greatly, even if it means appearing ridiculous! Do not hesitate to do tons of it (very high pitched voice, a smile on the lips, etc.).
  6. A tried and tested method called “the 4-3-2 method” requires courage from you. It consists of taking the dog out every 4 hours for 3 days and 2 nights. Every time your puppy urinates outside, over-praise is given and rewarded with a puppy treat. It quickly becomes a very regular ritual that helps the puppy to understand what is expected of him.
  7. Use a keyword consistently and every single time you take the puppy out. They will quickly associate the word you choose with the behavior you are expecting.
  8. Use a crate for training since puppies generally don’t want to use the bathroom in the place they sleep. However, be careful that you aren’t leaving them in there for extended periods of time without taking them out to pee or poop. You’ll increase their success rate if you frequently take them out even at night when they are in a crate.

Hopefully now you have enough tools to help you successfully potty train your stubborn puppy. And really, puppies are so cute that even the stubborn ones can melt your heart. Those puppy kisses and snuggles make it all worthwhile.

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