Have you heard the one about the family who tried to potty train their dog by yelling and throwing him out the window every time he pooped in the house? After a few days, the dog came into the living room looked at the family, pooped, and then jumped out the window.
Potty training doesn’t need to be a big dramatic deal, especially with adult dogs. We have had a lot of luck with simply crate-ing a new dog (puppy or adult) for as long as it takes to acclimate to his or her new house and then taking the dog out at regular intervals to alleviate itself. Dogs don’t like to pee or poop where they sleep, so we don’t keep pee pads in the crate (pads also encourage dogs to soil their crate). Once your dog is acclimated to the crate, you can start letting her out for five minutes at a time, then increase by five-minute intervals until you dog can reliably stay outside of the crate without having an accident.
Dealing with Accidents
Inevitably, your dog will have an accident in the house. When this happens, we used to rub their noses in it and put them outside to praise them until they pee or poop outside. However, we have seen this encourage some dogs to lick their urine or eat their feces. Neither habit is desirable, especially poop eating! So we don’t use this method anymore. Instead, when the dog has an accident, we simply say “oops” or “uh oh” and then put them outside and praise them when they go outside.
We have had great luck using large playpens for dogs for this process. We keep the playpen indoors and in rooms where we spend the most time so the dogs are with us, but in their own space too. This is especially important for Dobermans because you want your Dobbie to bond to you; if you stick them in the basement or a room you rarely use, it isn’t much better than tying them up and leaving them alone outside. Isolation will work against you in your endeavor to make fun life with a Doberman, so we highly recommend making sure that your crate is near you as much as possible.
Potty Training Difficulty
All that said, some dogs are very difficult to potty train. Our female Doberman, KC is a good example. KC was rescued from a hoarder house and was used to urinating and defecating where she slept. She must have lived on the carpet because for years she would defecate on carpet and rugs.
One holiday, Kris’ family was visiting and staying in our house. Kris’ brother was in the basement with KC and the rest of us were in the kitchen upstairs. All of the sudden, we hear a shout “KC, NOOOOOOOOOO!” KC had diarrhea and had taken a huge, nasty dump in the basement.
The trick with more persistently difficult dogs like KC is to be consistent and to set them up for success. For example, with KC we put up baby gates to block her from going to the carpeted basement when we weren’t home. And we made sure to always let her out to alleviate herself before we left her home alone for any period of time. Some dogs (like Kai) love a schedule, so helping them keep on their schedule can be an effective way to potty train.
By observing what works for your dog, and having consistency, patience, and time, your Doberman will be potty trained and all will be well in your household.