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I have a 5 month old Bichon-poodle, Butters, together with my girlfriend, who now attends college over two hours away. As a result, he is sometimes stays with me, and sometimes with her, usually a couple of weeks at a go.

I live in a high rise apartment, and want to train him to potty on a specific spot indoors. I have put together a tray with a grating above as a sort of indoor potty patch.
She lives in a duplexish place where she has quick access to the yard outside, so she wants to potty train him to go outside.

Butters goes to pee and poop on the grass quite quickly, when he wants to (like shortly after meals or waking up etc). However, he still has had several accidents. We are still in the process of crate training him.
I have read that it is possible for puppies to be trained to potty differently at different locations, and that they do not generalize. At my apartment, I follow the usual potty training rules, where I take him right to the indoor spot that I want him to eliminate at after waking up, or shortly after eating. If he doesn't eliminate there then I put him back in his crate. The problem is, sometimes he goes perfectly, and sometimes he doesn't go at all, and then later goes and soils my rug and floor. There were times where I spent a good 15-20 minutes in his cordoned off potty spot with him, repeating the same cue words, and he just refuses to go. Then a minute after I let him out of his cordoned area, he eliminates elsewhere. The cordoned off area contains his indoor potty patch, and an additional 6-7 sq ft of room to move around.

I was wondering if I am doing anything to confuse him, or if the cordoned off area should be much smaller, or if I am not persistant enough in leaving him in there. I have recently also bought one of those puppy training sprays to attract him to the potty spot. It doesn't seem to change anything so far.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I have searched the forums for such a unique situation but I have not come across any such thread yet.

Cheers!
 

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I know dogs don't generalize well. But, I honestly think training him to go indoors in your place, and then, every couple of weeks, training him to go outside is going to be a big challenge.
As for your individual situation at your apartment: I am not a huge fan of using the crate to potty train. I know, it works, and I know some people swear by it. But, I far prefer to have a puppy out and about in the living area with the family, and just work on supervising closely, and using a potty schedule. I just think a puppy, out and about, will learn the overall rules of the house faster, and you can see them all the time, so you know if they're about to have an accident. Some pups actually start having accidents in the crate, and if they do, you can't really see that to prevent it.

Anyway, besides taking the puppy to the potty spot after eating and waking up (even from naps), you should also take him there after play/exercise, and about every 2 hours besides that. If you need to, set an alarm. Take him to the area. Wait five minutes, saying the same potty words each time. If he tries to move off the potty area, put him back. After 5 minutes, give up and try again in 5 minutes. If you've still decided to use the crate for potty training, you'd put him back in the crate for 5 minutes, and then try again. Basically, if it's time (according to the schedule) to go, try five minutes, then put him in the crate, and wait 5 minutes, and try again for another 5 minutes, if nothing, back to the crate for 5 minutes. Alternate trying to potty for 5, and going back to the crate for 5.

Now, if you opt to keep him out more, and not use the crate for potty training, if he doesn't go after 5 minutes, keep him tethered to you with a leash (so he cannot leave your sight), and keep your eyes on him, give it 5 minutes, and then try potty again. If nothing after 5, give up, try in another 5. Alternating the same as if you were using the crate.

Give a treat and lots of praise if he gets it right. If he has an accident, don't fuss at all, clean it up with an enzymatic cleaner and move on.
 

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Just curious... you said you had a tray with grating on top. Is there any turf (real or fake) on top or is it just metal grating? If it's the latter it might be uncomfortable for him and if he's used to going on grass at your girlfriend's then it might help if you put some turf down.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just curious... you said you had a tray with grating on top. Is there any turf (real or fake) on top or is it just metal grating? If it's the latter it might be uncomfortable for him and if he's used to going on grass at your girlfriend's then it might help if you put some turf down.
I have considered that and have searched extensively for good affordable turf. I have ran into two problems:
1) Where I'm at right now, isn't really the season where they have good turf in stock (and astroturf really sucks)
2) They usually sell it in at least 48 sqft sizes, and starting at about $4-6 per sqft. So that's quite pricey considering I will be using only about 4-5 sqft of it.

If anyone knows where I can get good turf in smaller increments, I'll be glad to check it out.
 

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Have you searched for 'Potty patch' on ebay or Amazon? They have some pretty cheap on ebay. Maybe they would work for you if you sprayed it with attractant and every time you see your pup sniffing around like they want to go you pick them up and put them on it if you don't have a playpen to contain them in.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Have you searched for 'Potty patch' on ebay or Amazon? They have some pretty cheap on ebay. Maybe they would work for you if you sprayed it with attractant and every time you see your pup sniffing around like they want to go you pick them up and put them on it if you don't have a playpen to contain them in.
Interesting. Thanks for the suggestion. I just might go try one of these patches. Has anyone else had experience with these potty patches? The one I looked at is called Petzoom. They sell the item itself, as well as individual replacement grass patches. I'm afraid the 'grass' will be prickly and uncomfortable, and someone described it as being like a Christmas tree.

Update: Yesterday, Butters refused to eliminate all day, as I had him crated and constantly took him out to the grate (indoor potty spot). Around 11pm, I decided he had enough and took him outside, and he eliminated within a minute.

This morning, Butters peed on the grate all by himself after I left him alone in the cordoned off area. I gave him some treats when I realized what he had done. Might have been a minute or so after he did it though. Shortly after playing and eating, he started to squat on my carpet, and fortunately I saw this and quickly brought him to the cordoned off area again. He then started to squat on the floor, so I had to place him right on the grate. After pooping, he then walked off, sniffed around, and started to squat. I had to re-place him on the grate twice before he peed just a little. I gave him some treats for going in there.

Hope I'm doing the right thing so far :/
 

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It sounds like you're doing exactly right! The hardest thing is to constantly keep your eyes on him. As you said, fortunately you saw him start to squat on the carpet. That's a big thing! As I said, keeping him tethered to you with a leash helps keep him in your direct line of sight. Or, you can tether him to a heavy, stationary piece of furniture.

Also, saying "good!" or "yes!" as soon as he starts to pee/poop in the right spot can help, as it helps him know exactly what thing he was doing to make you happy, and then give the treat right away...
 

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It sounds like you're doing exactly right! The hardest thing is to constantly keep your eyes on him. As you said, fortunately you saw him start to squat on the carpet. That's a big thing! As I said, keeping him tethered to you with a leash helps keep him in your direct line of sight. Or, you can tether him to a heavy, stationary piece of furniture.

Also, saying "good!" or "yes!" as soon as he starts to pee/poop in the right spot can help, as it helps him know exactly what thing he was doing to make you happy, and then give the treat right away...
Yeah I try and praise him alot while he's eliminating in the right spot. I also keep saying the cue words like "Go pee!".
Just now, I left him in his cordoned off area again, and went away for a minute or so. I came back and found that he had peed a ton right next to the grate :(
 

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I would try putting some of the fake grass on top of the grate. I think it would be more comfortable for the dog than just the grate then maybe he'd be more inclined to use it. Maybe you could even find some at a craft store that would work.
 
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