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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

We just brought home an adorable Cavapoo from a reputable breeder last week. Her name is Marilla.

We have previously trained and raised two other puppies: a yellow Lab, and a Vizla. We follow positive training methods and we've never had an issue with potty training before.

That hasn't been the case with Marilla. We take her outside in our backyard after she wakes up, eats, drinks, gets excited, or otherwise every 45-60 minutes. Quite often she will not potty outside. Sometimes it seems like it's because she's too interested in what's happening out there. We have her on a leash, but she's zooming around checking everything out and doesn't settle enough to potty. We've also tried setting up a small pen outside and putting her in that. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. In either case, we stand quietly with her outside so we don't excite her.

We've had several incidents where she then pees or poops shortly after coming back inside, after not going potty outside. Or, in a few cases, she has gone potty outside, but then she goes again inside 5-10 minutes later.

Her rhythms seem quite sporadic, which makes potty training harder. For example, she'll potty 3 times within an hour (without any obvious triggers like eating or drinking or waking up), then she'll go 2-3 hours without pottying at all.

On the flip side, she has been AMAZING at night. She slept through the night without needing to get up and potty the very first night that we brought her home—and every night thereafter. The exception was last night. She sleeps with our daughter. Our daughter woke up last night, which woke Marilla, and then Marilla peed on the bed (our daughter should have taken Marilla out to pee as soon as they woke up, but that didn't happen).

So now we're wondering if it's safe for Marilla to keep sleeping with our daughter? She had 6 nights straight of sleeping through the night, and only had this one accident last night.

I'd be grateful for any advice on the general potty training issues we're having (i.e. Marilla not going outside, and then going shortly after we bring her in) as well as the nighttime question. Thanks!
 

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Little breed dogs often find pottying outside harder to accept than big breeds. Mostly because they are lower to the ground and the grass hits their underside and tickles/itches. So you might mow the grass a bit shorter for the time being under her legs grow a bit.

When you bring her back in, watch her carefully for signs that she is about to go. Take her back outside as soon as she makes those signs OR in 5 minutes, whichever comes first.

You can also use cue words to help her focus. I use "potty" and "poop". When she starts to pee, say potty. After praise her like she just flew to the moon and back. When she starts to circle round to poo, say poop. Again praise her immensely for going. As you say these cue words, she'll start to connect them to the action. So, when she gets distracted with other things, you can say the cue word and she'll be all "oh yeah, I'm supposed to do that!". It's actually funny when they suddenly remember...

You can also take one of her poops and put it outside. Leave it for a few days to remind her where she's supposed to go.

As for letting her sleep with your daughter, I would say if you can impress on your daughter the importance of taking puppy out EACH AND EVERY time the puppy wakes up AND every time your daughter gets up, then go for it. I have allowed all my puppies to sleep with me during the night with no problem. You can always put a waterproof mattress pad on the bed to protect the mattress if you're worried about accidents. But I have found that most all puppies will try to get off the bed to potty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for getting back to me. We are using the cue "go potty" when she starts to go. We live in a winter climate, so the grass isn't long right now, but there are still some patches of snow and the ground is quite cold, so I wonder if that has something to do with it.
Little breed dogs often find pottying outside harder to accept than big breeds. Mostly because they are lower to the ground and the grass hits their underside and tickles/itches. So you might mow the grass a bit shorter for the time being under her legs grow a bit.

When you bring her back in, watch her carefully for signs that she is about to go. Take her back outside as soon as she makes those signs OR in 5 minutes, whichever comes first.

You can also use cue words to help her focus. I use "potty" and "poop". When she starts to pee, say potty. After praise her like she just flew to the moon and back. When she starts to circle round to poo, say poop. Again praise her immensely for going. As you say these cue words, she'll start to connect them to the action. So, when she gets distracted with other things, you can say the cue word and she'll be all "oh yeah, I'm supposed to do that!". It's actually funny when they suddenly remember...

You can also take one of her poops and put it outside. Leave it for a few days to remind her where she's supposed to go.

As for letting her sleep with your daughter, I would say if you can impress on your daughter the importance of taking puppy out EACH AND EVERY time the puppy wakes up AND every time your daughter gets up, then go for it. I have allowed all my puppies to sleep with me during the night with no problem. You can always put a waterproof mattress pad on the bed to protect the mattress if you're worried about accidents. But I have found that most all puppies will try to get off the bed to potty.
Thanks for getting back to me. We are using the cue "go potty" when she starts to go. We're also giving her high-value treats after she pees or poops outside. We live in a winter climate, so the grass isn't long right now, but there are still some patches of snow and the ground is quite cold, so I wonder if that has something to do with it.

This morning we had what I think was a good sign, where she walked over to the sliding glass door (that goes outside) and started to whimper. I was already on the way over to her because I noticed some other signs in her body posture, but she couldn't hold it and went pee on the floor. This seemed to suggest that she knows she should go outside, but just wasn't capable of waiting.

Right now we have the entire kitchen closed off with gates. We also have a puppy play pen and a small crate. She's been spending time in each of those areas. She has only peed once in her puppy play pen and never in her crate, but she's had several accidents in the kitchen. Now we're thinking of gating off a smaller part of the kitchen so it's easier to track her and so that she may start to see that as a "no pee, no poop" area. Then we could gradually expand the area as she's making that distinction better and she is more able to hold it.
 

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At 9 weeks, her bladder is very very small, her bladder muscles are weak, and her brain-to-bladder connection is non-existent. So when she has to potty, it's an immediate need.

Definitely section off a smaller portion of the kitchen for her. You're already taking her out often enough, but whenever she wakes up, after she eats and/or drinks, and after she plays, take her outside immediately. If you've ever been working at a desk and get up to get a cup of coffee, etc, and realize "I have to pee", you have a very slight idea of what she feels. Every time she does something, her bladder is a dam at breaking point.

Yes, cold and snow will definitely affect her desire to potty outside. The good thing is that by the time she's at an age where she will be better able to hold the pee until she's back inside, it will be warming up and she will enjoy being outside. Having a 6-12 month old in the winter can cause backsliding.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just a brief update and some further questions.

She's doing pretty well overall. Part of this might just be adjusting our expectations. Potty training with our Labrador Retriever was so easy. She only had a handful of "accidents" in the house, and she seemed to have much better ability to control her urges (probably because of her larger bladder size?).

Marilla (our Cavapoo) seems to understand now that she is not supposed to go in the house, and I'd say about 75% of the time she is peeing/pooping outside. But there are still some challenges. Yesterday afternoon, I took her outside, and she peed in her spot. I brought her back in, and was doing a few things in the kitchen (keeping her in the corner of my eye; we now have a smaller space for her gated off in there), and not five minutes after she came in I looked over to see her peeing on the floor. The pee she had done outside was on the small side, but I don't know why she is not going fully out there and instead waits until she comes back inside.

This has also happened with poop a couple of times, where she goes outside, and then within a relatively short time she goes again inside.

Another challenge is that it's just much harder for us to read her signals than it was with the other two dogs we raised as puppies. Sometimes it's fairly obvious... she circles, sniffs, etc., and it does seem easier to recognize with pooping. But with peeing, she can just go straight from walking or running around her gated-off area to peeing in less than a couple of seconds, which isn't enough time for us to catch it and get over to where she is to take her outside.

Is this just normal given her size, lack of bladder control/brain-to-bladder connection? If it is, then we'll just proceed and trust that she will gain more control over time and not worry about it. She is very smart and eager to please, and I think she does now know she's supposed to go outside. Thanks again.
 

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I'm glad you're making progress and things are better.

My puppies have always been of larger working breeds. Even the puppy I got last year because I wanted to downsize is of a mid-size breeds. So keep that in mind when I mention what I've always done. It's always been my understanding small breed puppies are harder to housebreak than large breeds.

Unless conditions outside are very cold or wet, I never take a puppy outside, have it relieve itself and then go back inside. For me that's because I don't want them to start stalling about going in order to stay out longer, but it also means if they don't empty in one go, they're out long enough to go again, and I believe moving around helps with that too. The first Rottweiler puppy I ever had would actually take three or more efforts to empty her bowel. She wasn't constipated, that's just how she went until she was older.

So with a puppy like yours, I wouldn't take her back inside after a single squat but would walk her around the yard for another 10 minutes or so and see if that way any second squat would happen outside.
 

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I agree with giving her more time outside. She may very well be going a bit to please you, then doing the rest inside to please herself.
 
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I have raised eight pups for Guide Dogs - Labs or Lab/GRs. Some have been like yours, almost no accidents. But some - especially the latest one have widdled indoors whatever I’ve done.

It’s about bladder maturity and they are all different.

But they all get there in the end. :)

My Cavapoo puppy, Ted, arrives in two weeks time. I’ll let you know how he does!

Dog Dog breed Liver Carnivore Companion dog
 
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