Trainer reveals the biggest mistake we make when potty training a puppy, and what to do instead

Weimaraner puppy lying beside owner while she cleans the floor
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's no denying it — learning how to potty train a puppy is no easy feat! If teaching this important skill is something you're struggling with right now, rest assured, you're not alone. 

Potty training is a commonly cited struggle amongst new pet parents and cleaning up after all of those accidents can result in a serious case of the puppy blues. But potty training needn't be a challenge, and when done correctly, it's a wonderful opportunity to bond with your fur friend and set them up with some great habits that will last a lifetime. 

Expert trainer Amelia Steele says there's one common mistake she sees people make that can derail their attempts to successfully potty train their pup. To find out what it is, check out Steele's Instagram video below or read on for a summary of everything you need to know. 

"A really common mistake that I see when it comes to puppy toilet training is using the wrong cleaner," reveals Steele. "Now, this sounds so weird, right? A cleaner is just a cleaner. Well, not all cleaners get rid of the smell completely."

Steele says that while lots of cleaners can cover up the smell for us humans, dogs are really good at detecting tiny little particles that are left over. If your cleaner doesn't get rid of all of them, then your puppy will return to the same spot to do their business.

And according to Steele, some cleaners can even increase the chances that your puppy will have an accident.

"Anything with bleach in is a no. The smell of ammonia actually makes your puppy want to pee more, which can make toilet training even harder. So if you feel like you're doing everything right with toilet training, but your puppy still isn't getting it, then try switching out your cleaner."

While having a new puppy in your family can certainly fill your home with joy, there's no denying that potty training can be a real challenge. If you find that you're not seeing the progress you'd like, we recommend reaching out to a professional trainer, or your vet, for advice and guidance. 

For more great puppy content to help your little one thrive in the first year of life, check out our guide to how to teach a puppy to sit.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.