Question: I just adopted an 11 week old puppy and have never punished or scolded her for going potty inside. However, I’m discovering that she is afraid to go to the bathroom in my presence. I take her out and stay out with her for up to an hour, always taking her out before and after meals, and several times during the day to her potty spot outside. But she only goes potty in her room when I’m not looking. Do you have any suggestions on this problem?

Answer: This is likely something that she will outgrow very quickly. It is not uncommon at all for young puppies to be very shy/nervous in their new environment. You are absolutely right…just keep up with the positive rewards for her going outdoors, never punish for indoor elimination.

A couple things you might try. Sometimes the great wide outdoors is very daunting to these small babies initially. When you take her outdoors, have a small enclosure set up (like a 5×5 or smaller space, enclosed in chicken wire or blocked off somehow) and take her right to it and let her go. Let her sniff around without you standing right there looking over her shoulder so to speak.

Have the enclosure be visible to you while standing out of her direct eyesight so you can see if she goes potty. Obviously reward her for any elimination efforts. If this doesn’t seem to work you can make her an indoor elimination spot…a potty mat so to speak so she can go potty in her room when you aren’t looking but at least she is going in an acceptable area.

This is likely to get better soon, as soon as she settles in and is more comfortable with you.

Good luck.
Dr. Donna Spector

Answers provided to pet owners by Dr. Donna Spector should be considered information and not specific advice. Answers are to be used for general information purposes only and not as a substitute for in-person evaluation or specific professional advice from your veterinarian. Communications on this site are very limited and should never be used in possible cases of emergency. Halo, Purely for Pets will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any information or content contained in a blog or article post. If you have consulted your veterinarian and if you are still concerned about your pet’s condition or if your pet has chronic, complicated or undiagnosed problems, Dr. Spector can offer consultations for you and your veterinarian via

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  1. Sue Ann Bauers says:

    This is wonderful advice. I have also found that often dog breeders use the same potty area and material for potty training pups. I know of one breeder that uses a mulch type area where she always takes her puppies to. This is important to know when purchasing a puppy as they get used that surface. A good breeder will let the buyer know this and some will even send some of the potty “product” home with the new owner until they get the puppy accustomed to going potty on a different surface, like grass.

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