Why Puppies Should Never Be Punished for Potty Mistakes

"Imagine this: You are an eight-year-old child. You reach to touch a doorknob (a completely normal thing to do in your world) and a family member runs up to you screaming. he takes your head and forces it toward the doorknob continuing to scold. He may smack you on your butt or give you a shake but at no time does he tell you what he wants from you.

Now since you have to touch a doorknob from time to time and you have no idea what the problem is, what do you start to do? How about wait for that person to be somewhere else before you touch the doorknob? Because clearly, he has a big problem with doorknob touching. So whenever he leaves the room, you use the doorknob. Now that person is probably calling you "sneaky," "stupid," "spiteful," and "stubborn." If they come into your room you may lower your head a bit or turn away. Now you'll be accused of "knowing what you did wrong."

This is a puppy's experience with housebreaking. If you yell at him, smack him, or rub his face in his mistake, it will teach him - that you are crazy around urine and feces. It will not teach your puppy to think: Gee, I need to go. I should probably ask the person to let me outside. It will teach your puppy to think, Gee, I need to go. Better get as far away as my person as possible. She has a weird aggression problem.

What can you do? Interrupt the behavior. If you catch your puppy in the act of squatting in the house, make one sudden, loud sound - slap a wall or table with the flat of your hand or make one loud clap - with the goal of startling him into stopping midstream. Then rush him outside, where he is praised for finishing the job. If you find a mistake after the fact? It's too late. Clean up and learn from it.

*This is an excerpt from My Smart Puppy: Fun, Effective and Easy Puppy Training by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson. We bought the kindle version on amazon and downloaded the free Kindle PC program so we can read it on our computer. The book comes with a DVD, an you don't get that on Kindle, but the kindle version only costs $3 and that's worth it for us.

p. 220/320, Location: 2855 of 4510 on Kindle


Just like with good parenting and teaching, we need to focus on what a child SHOULD do, not what he should NOT do. I would also add, that you should attempt (as best you can) to control your emotions while interrupting a pee, from what I read puppies are very aware of these. Cesar Millan recommends an assertive calm, i think that would be perfect for interruption and then praise good for outside.

I really liked Kilcommon and Wilson's personification and illustration of the effects punitive punishment can have.

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