3 Potty Training Options for Your Puppy

The Dog Trainer reviews 3 housetraining options for your puppy - and why the low-tech way still works best (but requires the most effort).

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
2-minute read

The prize for this week's Most Awful Dog Product goes to ... the "Potty Trainer"!

Get this: Your dog or puppy wears a diaper thingamajig with a sensor inside. If she/he starts to pee, it sounds an alarm, Puppalini stops peeing (unless she lets go completely in terror, who's to say?) and then you can "correct" her and take her outside to pee. Of course, after a few rounds with the "Potty Trainer," Puppalini might be too scared to pee at all, in which case the $169.95 (I kid you not) that you just spent on this nonsense will pale next to the amount of money you have to spend undoing the physiological and behavioral damage you've just wrought.

Coming at the grave challenge of housetraining from another angle is this week's housetraining option number 2 (no pun intended): the “Pavlovian Puppy Potty Trainer.” This is basically a pee pad with sensors embedded. When the sensors sense “moisture” (what a delicate word!), they activate a treat dispenser.

I don't hate this one as much as I hate that first "Potty Trainer" -- hey, I’m always glad when “high tech” isn’t code for “new way to be mean to dogs" -- but can you foresee a little problem here with a bored, clever puppy? It goes like this: If you want more treats, all you have to do is pee more often! You never actually empty your bladder, so you’ve always got a little in reserve next time you feel like a snack. Deposit 6 drops at 10 am, 5 drops at 10:15, 3 drops at 10:22 … This is exactly why, when you’re housetraining a puppy or dog in the normal, low-tech “Darn it, I actually have to get myself up off the sofa and take the beast outside” way, you usually throw a little party only for the first pee of the outing. The idea is to encourage Puppalini to empty her bladder right away, not to turn the spigot on and off every few seconds like a plumber testing a repair job.

Speaking of normal, low-tech housetraining, you guessed it: that’s Potty Trainer Version III, the oldest and still the best. Take your puppy out often, reward appropriate elimination with a fun walk, and supervise and confine Puppalini between outings. It’s, you know, work. But it also … works.

Puppy with toilet paper image from Shutterstock.

About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).