Insights on Potty Training

Insights on Potty Training

How to Potty Train your Rescued Dog

No matter if your new dog is a puppy, or an adult, a change in a dog’s environment will require you to reinforce those potty training skills.We present key concepts to follow that will ensure successful training for your new Rescued Dog.

1. Schedule

Be consistent with a feeding and walking schedule! Make sure to take your dog outside after feeding time; the same goes for drinking water. It is important to make sure that your dog actually goes potty when you let him or her out. Once you see that your dog has successfully gone, then allow your dog back inside the house. If your dog is on a consistent feeding/walking schedule, the dog gets accustomed to this and learns when it is acceptable to go potty.

2. Timing

If crate training a dog, it is important to know how long that dog can be left alone without an accident. The same can be said for allowing your dog inside the house. A good rule of thumb is that a 2 month old pup should be able to go accident free for 2 hours, a 4 month old pup 4 hours, etc. For any puppy or adult dog in a new environment, begin with taking the dog out every 2 hours and continually build from there. The maximum time a dog should be expected to hold it is 8-9 hours. Forcing a dog to hold it any longer than this can actually hurt the dog’s bladder. If you see that your puppy is engaging in play (running, tumbling, etc.), take the puppy outside for a potty break. All of that playing typically makes a young dog pee!

3. Crate Training

When your puppy needs to stay home alone, crate training is an invaluable tool that reinforces house training. Because dogs are derived from den-dwelling animals, a crate can become a substitute for a den (i.e. a secure place for your dog to rest). Most dogs will not alleviate themselves where they rest, thus making crate training a perfect way to reinforce house training. To ensure crate training is successful, the size of the crate is crucial. The crate should be only large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around. Any larger, and the dog could alleviate himself in the corner of the crate, and sleep at the other end. Most larger crates come with a divider that allows you to partition the crate, allowing the crate size to grow with the puppy.

4. House Privileges

When beginning to house train your dog, it is important that the dog owner understands that access to the house is a privilege, not a right. Start by letting your new dog into one room, where you can constantly monitor your dog’s behavior. Make sure to close all bedroom doors, etc. Given the chance, your new dog is going to go potty in a room that you are not present in. When a dog has an accident, correcting that behavior (i.e. in a deep voice, “Bad Dog!”) is only meaningful to your dog when you catch your dog in the act. If you do catch your dog having an accident, carry the dog outside immediately and let him or her finish going outside. During the early stages of potty training, look for signs that your dog needs to go to the bathroom. Most dogs will pace, or begin to sniff the floor. If you see either of these behaviors, immediately take your dog outside! Once you can trust that your dog can hold it 2-3 hours, and you are consistent with taking him or her out, allow your dog more access to the house.

5. Positive Reinforcement

Although corrections are important when you catch your dog having an accident, providing your dog with positive reinforcement when your dog relieves itself in the proper area is just as important.  Such positive reinforcement can include, in an upbeat voice, “Good for potty!” and a pat on the head. Through this positive reinforcement, one can also train one’s dog to relieve itself on command. This can be very helpful in the mornings when the household is busy trying get out the door. To achieve this, take the dog to the same patch of grass, tree, etc. and while waiting for the dog to relieve itself, give the command “Go Potty!” Once the dog goes potty, give positive reinforcement. Eventually, your dog will be able to go potty on command!

6. Treating Accidents

Accidents will happen. When an accident does happen, make sure that you clean the area with an enzyme cleaner. These cleaners break down the scent molecules, while a regular cleaner will simply mask the scent. Due to scent cues, dogs typically alleviate themselves where they or other dogs have gone before, making it very important to properly clean up an accident. Enzyme cleaners are sold at all major pet stores.

Most importantly, never give a correction for an accident that you did not witness! Dogs cannot associate a correction with an action that occurred in the past.  Instead, use positive reinforcement when your dog successfully relieves itself outside. Remember that consistency is key when it comes to potty training!

Fernando Steffey

Founder, Canine Education





I got my start in dog rescue by using Facebook to help network dogs who were in high kill shelters in San Bernardino, CA.  While that was fulfilling, I really wanted to be more hands-on and interact with the dogs who were being saved.  I wanted to personally see the transformation from a scared shelter dog to a happy and adoptable dog.  So far I have fostered four wonderful dogs for The Rescued Dog and hope to foster many more!  I also love volunteering at the adoption events and watching when a match is made between a dog and their new owners.


My design thesis in my senior year of college revolved around re-designing the animal sheltering system. I spent hours and hours a day volunteering at a handful of shelters. I saw someone bring in a terrified dog as he screamed at shelter staff: “I just don’t want the damn thing anymore..” That was the tipping point for me… Also, this is my favorite quote…ever: “All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.”


Life has so much to offer if we remember to look beyond ourselves. I volunteer because it continuously teaches me something new about people, about cooperation, about compassion, and about myself. I have a great passion for animals. We have three rescue dogs that came to us in 2008.  Since then I’ve wanted to work with an origination that helps save dogs and put them in forever, loving homes so when I came across this opportunity with The Rescued Dog to help I jumped at the chance.  I am passionate about their mission to save dogs from high kill shelters and I truly believe that help comes in many forms, volunteering is one way to accomplish what we are supposed to accomplish in this lifetime.


I started volunteering with TRD in 2015. Volunteering has been great. I love dogs, I mean who doesn’t right?! However, I do not own a dog…not yet. I live vicariously through the rescue. If you can’t afford to adopt a dog or don’t have the ideal living situation to have a dog, like me, you can still “scratch your itch,” that’s a great thing about volunteering with us. So, the irony is I have been telling you about how great it would be to adopt a rescued dog and save them from their unfortunate circumstance and put them in a happy and caring home, and in my case, I didn’t know it then, however, the rescue saved me. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be a part of and for filling my need to be around so many furry friends.


I was introduced to rescue as a child when I met a greyhound rescue organization one night at Balboa Park and convinced my parents to adopt one.  Our family greyhound Bookie and I were best buds for the ten years we had him.  Since then I have been a sucker for rescue dogs.  I am so glad I was introduced to TRD by a friend and fellow foster, and have had a chance to work with some great people and dogs, and found my little buddy, Madison!


I was introduced to The Rescued Dog while working at a local shelter.  I was excited about their mission to save dogs from high-kill shelters & wanted to participate with this mission.  I love working with the TRD team and fosters to get these pups out of the shelter, into a great foster home and finally on to their furr-ever homes!


I have always been a firm believer that doggie cuddles could save the world. So, when my mom said she wanted to start fostering dogs I was very excited. In the short period of time I have been volunteering with The Rescued Dog I realized I want to be an advocate for change. I took on this role not only to push myself but to also be a bigger voice for all of the shelter animals, since they can’t do that on their own.


The bond I have with my dog, Otis who I rescued about 2 years ago,  is that of a family member, a best friend, and a companion. Saving dogs from high kill shelters is a rewarding task, but adding a new member to someone’s family is life changing. Rescued is truly the best breed.


I got involved with rescuing dogs when my own dogs and animal loving kids got a touch older and realized I had a tiny amount of free time to fill! My kids begged for Chihuahuas, Daschunds, Huskys etc….so naturally I thought fostering would be great!  Once I got in, I was hooked and wanted to do more to help shelter dogs find the forever love my own dogs had. In regard to volunteering, I believe that if we all give a little we can accomplish a lot!


10 years ago I took a road trip from Philadelphia to San Diego with my beloved English Bulldog.  As a travel nurse, I was given the opportunity to move across the country, and with working only three days a week, I had time to volunteer with my first passion, rescue dogs.  Through volunteering, I met an amazing group of women who shared my same vision, so we collaborated The Rescue Dog!  I am so proud of our accomplishments and I look forward to continuing to educate and save lives!


I was fostering for the SD Humane Society but was looking for a rescue I could become more involved in. A friend foster failed with TRD so I filled out an application. I feel like I’ve found my calling! There is nothing like getting a dog right out of the shelter and making him feel safe. Now as an adoption coordinator I get to see the rescue through to the end, a great family and a forever home!!


I rescued my first dog in 2010 and started volunteering with a rescue a year later and loved it! After meeting a few amazing friends, it became evident rescue work was more than just a fun hobby. I truly believe the best dogs are rescued dogs and have come to find my true passion in life is in dog rescue. Fostering is one of the most rewarding experiences one can have and I highly recommend it to everyone! I can’t imagine my life without dogs, and thankfully I’ll never have to. I’m so excited to be working with such a fantastic group of people and I can’t wait to see what The Rescued Dog accomplishes!



It is easy to buy a dog from pet stores, online ads, or from dog breeders, but rescuing a shelter dog is definitely more rewarding.  How can you not admire that once sad dog, now all waggy and happy because they’ve been given a second, sometimes third chance at finding their forever home?  The ability of these pups to recognize and embrace their new life never ceases to amaze me.  The Rescued Dog saves dogs from high kill shelters and prepares them to meet and be adopted by a loving family.  TRD fills the corners of my life and it makes me happy to know I’m doing something worthwhile for these sweet pups.  Having rescued – and been rescued – by my own dogs proves that rescued really is the best breed.


My passion for rescuing dogs comes from my great experiences with rescue dogs in my life. I personally have had my life brightened by many great rescue dogs, and I have seen how having pets, and dogs particularly, has improved the lives of my friends and family. For me, the best part of dog rescue is seeing the connection that dogs and people make, and knowing that when we connect the right dogs with the right people, we are improving the lives of everyone involved, both human and canine.