Oppsies in the House: 11 Potty Training Mistakes New Puppy Parents Make

Here are 11 common puppy potty training mistakes that you need to avoid if you want to successfully potty train your puppy.

As new parents to a fur baby, it is easy to make mistakes. I know I did… We aren’t perfect and that’s okay! It is easy to avoid these puppy parenting potty training fails when you know what they are to begin with.

Don’t worry if you have already started the process, with a few tweaks you will be back on track to successfully potty training your puppy.

Today I am sharing with you 11 common mistakes new puppy parents make that I have learned over the years. Some in which I have made myself. I will also share with you how you can avoid these mistakes or correct them if you are already making them.

Making these mistakes can cause your puppy to have accidents and even lose their trust in you. Making potty training a nightmare.

11 Common Puppy Potty Training Mistakes:

  • Inconsistency
  • Infrequent Potty Breaks
  • Inconsistent Potty Cues
  • Undesignated Potty Area
  • Punishing Accidents
  • Not Watching Your Puppy
  • Leaving Out Water and Food
  • Using Puppy Potty Pads
  • Too Much Freedom
  • Not Cleaning Accidents Properly
  • High Expectations


Not being consistent with a potty training routine. When you aren’t consistent with potty training your puppy, you are setting yourself up for a huge headache and your puppy up for failure. Your puppy doesn’t properly learn good habits or where they should go potty.

How to Avoid/Fix: Create a schedule and establish a routine. Puppies need a routine. They need to learn what is expected of them and where it is appropriate to go potty.

Include feeding and playtime and/or walks into your schedule.

RELATED====> What is a Good Potty Schedule for a Puppy (+ FREE Worksheet!)

Infrequent Potty Breaks

Puppies have small and weak bladders. As babies, puppies do not have full control over their bladders and can’t quite tell you yet when they need to go potty.

Not taking your puppy out frequently to potty is sure to end in a mess.

How to Avoid/Fix: Take your puppy out at least every 2 hours. You also need to take your puppy out as soon as you wake up in the morning, 10-30 minutes after your puppy eats or drinks, after playtime, nap time and before bedtime.

Also take your puppy out immediately if you see a change in their behavior such as circling, sniffing more than usual, or whining.

RELATED====> How to Train a Puppy FAST and EASY!

Inconsistent Potty Cues

Giving different verbal potty cues every time you take your puppy potty. When you say something different each time can cause confusion to your puppy and they are unsure of what you really want from them. Instead, your puppy may just look at your or try to explore.

How to Avoid/Fix: Choose a word that you want to associate with going potty. You can keep it simple and say “Go Potty” or you can choose a creative word like your exes name. Either way use the word you choose consistently when you take your pup to do his business.

RELATED====> How to Teach Your Puppy to Potty on Command

Undesignated Potty Area

Not designating a puppy potty area can do a couple things. One, your puppy doesn’t know what is expected of him, so instead of going potty, he may try to run around and play.

Which leads me to number two (pun intended…lol). Not having a potty area for your puppy can make for an unpleasant backyard experience for you, your guests and your lawn mowing guy leaving it a landmine of poop.

How to Avoid/Fix: Choose one area in your backyard for your puppy to potty in only. You can use the woods line like me if you have one or you can use the corner in the back part of your yard. You can even fence in a small area just for going potty in.

Doing this will teach your puppy where the appropriate place to potty is.

Punishing Accidents

When you punish your puppy for having accidents, you do a few things.

It breaks you and your puppy’s bond and causes him not to trust you. Punishing your puppy makes your puppy fearful of you. So instead of listening to or following you, they will coward down or retreat (run from you).

It makes potty training more challenging and can make you lose the progress that you’ve made so far.

How to Avoid/Fix: Don’t yell or scold your puppy when he has an accident. Also, don’t rub your puppy’s nose in pee.

Instead pick him up immediately and take him to his potty area. Then clean the soiled area up with an enzyme-based odor eliminator cleaner. And reward your puppy for good behavior.

Punishing a puppy for peeing

Not Watching Your Puppy

Accidents happen the most when you are not watching you puppy. When you aren’t watching your puppy closely you miss the signs in your dog’s behavior that they need to go potty (circling, sniffing, whining).

You also miss the opportunity to correct accidents because often times you don’t know they had an accident until you have a soggy sock, feel something mushy in between your toes, or smell something stinky.

How to Avoid/Fix: Keep a close eye on your puppy at all times. Tether your puppy to you using a training lead or crate your puppy when you can’t watch him.

Leaving Out Water and Food

Puppies have to pee and poop after they drink or eat. Leaving food and water out for the puppy to get whenever they want is setting your puppy up for having an accident. This is because don’t see when they drink the water or eat the food so you don’t know when your puppy needs to go outside to potty.

How to Avoid/Fix: Get your puppy on a feeding schedule. If you want to feed your puppy twice a day choose the times and stick to them. This will help you know when your puppy will need to poop.

You may have heard to leave your puppy fresh water all day but this will make your puppy have to pee all day. Until your puppy is potty trained schedule water breaks so that you can take your puppy outside within 10-30 minutes after drinking it.

Using Puppy Potty Pads

Puppy parents think that they should use to potty pad to prevent accidents from happening inside the house when in fact it has the opposite effect.

Using puppy pads or newspapers teaches your puppy that it is okay to potty in the house. So it can be very confusing to a puppy to know where it is okay to go… is it inside or outside? They also pose a choking hazard as puppies love to play with them.

How to Avoid/Fix: Decide if you want to train your puppy to go potty inside or outside.

If you want to train your puppy to go inside skip the puppy pads and litter box train your puppy. It is much more cost-efficient and eco-friendly. If you want your puppy to go potty outside, skip the potty pads altogether and teach your puppy to go potty outside. Using potty pads can drag out potty training your puppy to go outside longer than it should.

RELATED====> How to Litter Box Train a Puppy Guide

mistakes when potty training a puppy- pee pad

Too Much Freedom

When you get a new puppy you want to enjoy your puppy and give ’em lovins. You let him run around the entire house, after all, it is now his home too. You want him to get used to it.

It’s not long before your puppy disappears and when you find your puppy he is going potty on the kitchen rug.

Give your puppy too much freedom too soon and you can count on an accident happening. Once again, you can’t watch your puppy like you need to during that stage. It’s like letting your baby crawl around the house and you not knowing what your baby is doing.

How to Avoid/Fix: Confine your puppy to one room using doors or baby gates. If you have to walk out the room tether your puppy to you with a training lead or put your puppy in a crate. As your puppy becomes potty trained he can earn access to more rooms, one by one.

Not Cleaning Accidents Properly

If your puppy has an accident on the floor or on the carpet and you just wipe it up with water and soap your puppy can still smell his pee or poop.

Dogs have highly sensitive noses and can smell things that we humans can not.

Not properly cleaning puppy accidents can leave a scent and attract your puppy to go and use the same spot again.

How to Avoid/Fix: If your puppy has an accident, which is very likely and common during puppy potty training, then use an enzyme-based cleaner that will remove odors such as pet odors. Do not just use soap and water!

High Expectations

As your puppy gets the potty training thing it is normal for a puppy parent to get mad if their puppy has an accident after they are supposed to KNOW where to go and what to do.

High expectations lead to frustrations when things don’t go the way they should. Remember your puppy is a puppy, learning.

How to Avoid/Fix: Be patient with your puppy and don’t get angry if your pup has an accident after he has done so well for a few days. It is okay. Continue to be consistent and your puppy will fully get it. It takes some puppies just a couple weeks and some puppies it takes a little longer.

RELATED====> How to Potty Train Your Puppy Like a Pro: 7 Expert Tips!


Potty training mistakes are common among new puppy parents. These mistakes can easily be avoided if you learn about them before you start the potty training process. And if you’ve already started and are struggling potty training your puppy with a few small changes, you can easily get back on track.

Being consistent and establishing a routine is key to potty training a puppy. Use a consistent verbal command and avoid puppy pads so you do not confuse your puppy. Watch your puppy closely and take your puppy out frequently. Avoid punishing your puppy if they have an accident and properly clean it up if they do.

Potty training a puppy is a process. Don’t expect too much. By avoiding these common puppy parenting mistakes and being consistent in your training, you will potty train your puppy quickly and easily!

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