The Last Resort For Potty Training a Stubborn Dog

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Have you tried everything when it comes to potty training your dog and feel like you’ve reached a breaking point? Does your dog wander around outside, doing nothing, and then relieve themselves inside the first chance they get, or when you are out of view?

These are oftentimes puppies, but they can be older dogs too that were just never taught that they need to potty outside. This behavior causes a huge amount of strain on the bond between you and your dog and can leave you feeling incredibly frustrated.

Never fear! We have put together some of the best steps you can take as a last resort to housebreak your dog. We will have even the most stubborn of dogs pottying in the great outdoors, like nature intended.

Before we get into training methods for dogs that refuse to go outside, we need to check that your dog doesn’t have any diseases that may be interfering with their ability to potty regularly.

I would recommend taking your pup to the vet and having them checked for a UTI or other bladder issue. This will help us rule out any physical issues that your dog may be having that could give them bladder trouble. If you have an older dog this is especially important!

Let’s Check Your Confinement Strategy!

Ok, so you’ve verified that there are no medical issues causing this issue. The next item we need to move on to is checking the confinement strategy you are utilizing with your dog.

Why is confinement necessary with potty training? Just like you, dogs don’t want to potty in their area. So by keeping them in a kennel or playpen, you can work to teach them where it is acceptable to potty and where it is not. This also keeps them from slinking away and using the bathroom in some hidden area of the house.

When learning to be housebroken, your pup needs to be in the confinement area pretty much at all times when they are not being supervised. This is because you absolutely have to catch them in the act of going to the bathroom if you want to be successful.

There are a few rules that you must follow when using this strategy:

  • Do not leave your dog in the confined area for too long.  A good general rule of thumb you can use is age in months + 1 hour (use this cautiously if your pup is in the 3 to 4 month range, they have small bladders and can only hold it in for so long!).
  • Never use this confined area for punishment. Don’t put them into “timeout” in there or scold them.
  • Make it a fun area: Give your dog meals in their crate and hide special treats inside. They will start to associate the area with rewards!
happy dog with brown fur outside

If your dog continues to have accidents inside the confined area, that means that it is too big! Use a smaller space until your dog is no longer having accidents inside.

When using this strategy, you need to be sure you are taking your dog outside regularly so they have a chance to use the bathroom outside of their confined area. This also starts the association to your dog of being outside and using the bathroom.

At the bare minimum, you should be aiming to take them out first thing in the morning, before and after mealtime and before going to bed. You should also look to take them out after your pup wakes up from a nap and whenever your schedule allows.

When your dog finally goes to the bathroom while they are outside, try saying something like “go potty” and praise them lavishly and give them a treat right after they are finished. This will help to build the association using the bathroom outdoors and being rewarded.

REMEMBER: Dogs will only associate a reward or punishment with the last thing they did. So reward them directly after going to the bathroom outside with lots of praise and love!

What To Do If You Miss Accidents

As stated earlier, it is imperative that you catch your dog IN THE ACT of using the bathroom.

Please please do not scold your dog after you find an accident in the house or shove their noses into it. It will not work and will most likely just make things worse. Your dog will start hiding where they are going to the bathroom, and because of the scolding the bond between you and your dog will suffer.

What we want to do is to catch your dog in the act of using the bathroom inside. When you do catch them in the act, try to interrupt the behavior and, as quickly and gently as you can, get them to go outside to finish.

Even if they finish their business before you get a chance to stop them, still take them outside immediately.

If you miss an accident, make sure to use an enzymatic cleaner to clean it up. Clear all dogs from the area and clean the spot up with the special cleaner as quickly as possible. This will help to remove the “mark” dogs use to find their repeat bathroom spots.

puppy in a bucket looking happy

One of Our Favorite Methods To Try

A last resort method you can try that piggybacks off of all this information is creating a small outdoor confinement area for your dog.

You should always be sure to supervise your dog while they are in this confined area. Start right after you wake up in the morning, and take your dog outside to their new confinement area. Give your dog some space and wait about 10 – 15 minutes and ignore them.

Hopefully they go to the bathroom during this time, and if they do it’s a huge success! Praise your dog like crazy and give them a tasty treat right after they finish.

If your dog doesn’t go during this time, take them back inside but keep them on a leash and supervise them the whole time. If your dog tries to use the bathroom when they are inside, you should quickly stop them and take them outside back to the area you have set up.

Eventually your dog will have to go and you can praise them – things are going great and your dog will start to make the connection.

VERY IMPORTANT – This training takes time. It will most likely take several weeks before the training takes hold. Please do not give up or stop the training early – stay consistent with this strategy for a few weeks and you will have a whole new dog on your hands!

After a few weeks, you can start leaving the area open and eventually remove it altogether.

Continue to stay highly alert of your dog and any chance they have for indoor accidents. For this process to work long-term you must try your best to catch any indoor accidents, preferably in the act, and clean them up ASAP.

The Importance of Finding a Trainer

Finally, if you are not already you need to enroll yourself in an obedience class. In person is the ideal method, but there are also online dog training programs that can be highly effective.

These classes are of course great for your dog, but are also very important for you as you can start to learn how to train and how a dog’s mind works. Trust me, this will make owning a pet so much more enjoyable and take a lot of the frustration out.

If an in person class is unavailable to you for whatever reason, we recommend an online class like Doggy Dan or Brain Training for Dogs. These classes give you an insight into how your dog thinks and processes information, and you will be a much more insightful dog owner for life.


Thank you for taking the time to read our article and learn about some last resort methods you can use to potty train your pet. We hope these tips help you to quickly and effectively potty train your dog and retake the ownership of your home. Owning a pet should be a fun and mutually beneficial relationship.

Please leave us a comment or send an email if you have any questions or comments. We also ask that you join our mailing list to get informed of our new articles, get exclusive training tips and methods, and more.



Hello friend, welcome to our brand new site, Off The Leash Dog Training. My name is Sam Blake and I absolutely love training puppies and dogs, of all ages! With this site, I hope to share the knowledge I have gained training my own dogs, as well as helping others with the process. Check out our categories and most popular posts and dive into the wealth of information we've put together here!

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