Why Dogs Go Through Potty Training Regression (And How to Fix It)

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

Pooch forgot where to go potty? This is what you need to do when your previously potty-trained dog pees or poops in the house.

Just when you thought you had it all under control – a nasty accident happens in the house! Your doggo has a potty accident indoors and leaves you with all the mess to clean up. Sometimes, this can be understandable. Either it is a one-time accident, or you’ve neglected to provide an outdoor potty break in due time. But what about those occasions when your dog seemingly “forgets” their potty training and reverts to the original state of pooping or peeing indoors? This curious little phenomenon is called potty training regression – a state that sees your dog back to square one. Are all your potty training efforts lost? Is there a way to fix it? Read on!

Why Do Dogs Go Through Potty Training Regression?

There is no need to lose your composure or patience when your pet goes through the period of potty training regression. This is most commonly observed in puppies. A common reason why a puppy will regress after a period of successful potty training can be simply due to their brain development. As they grow, their brain does too, and puppies will learn new things and may forget some others – training included. Here, it is important not to lose your composure, and to simply continue with the training and be persistent. You’d be surprised at how quickly your pupper will learn everything once again.

Separation anxiety can be another reason why dogs regress from potty training. It’s no secret that puppers can be super clingy – and follow their favorite person (you!) everywhere and always. When this person happens to leave for a while, the separation can affect your dog and trigger anxiety issues that lead to potty accidents indoors. Separation anxiety can be fixed with some help from your vet, and of course, patience.

It is important to remember that dogs will often be dependent on routine. When you take a certain approach to potty training, make sure not to introduce any big changes. Of course, you shouldn’t be surprised about indoor potty accidents if something major was changed in that routine. A good example is an indoor redesign, or a new house and environment. Sudden change can bring about accidents!

Of course, there could always be an underlying medical issue at hand here. If you notice that your dog has a good grasp of the whole potty training routine, but still fails to “hold it in” while in the house, it could be good to have a casual vet checkup. Conditions such as incontinence (lack of control over bowel movements) or an inflammatory bowel disease can be the major culprits here. For senior doggos, dementia is another possible factor that causes potty training regression.Whatever the cause is, there is no reason to lose your composure. Remember that your dog is not to blame, and yelling and punishments will only tarnish the trust your dog has in you. Instead, try to use positive reinforcement and patiently let your dog know that outside is the place for potty time.

When an accident happens, it is crucial to act at once and let the dog know they did the wrong thing. In the end, one of the best failsafe measures is a steady routine: when things such as potty breaks happen on time, your dog can grow to expect them and depend on them. Stay patient and stay positive, and the training will soon resume as usual.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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