My Dog Is Potty Training My Daughter

by ParentCo. December 02, 2017

baby looking at a dog

I have two kids in diapers right now, so I’m changing soiled Huggies approximately every 30 seconds. I’ve spent entire hours that consisted of nothing but diaper changes (this includes the kid clean-up, the wardrobe changes, and the rinsing/soaking of the blow-out outfit). My wife and I aren’t pushing potty-training on my oldest child who, at 22 months, is 15 months older than her baby brother. But we aren’t shying away from it either. According to (which I’ll grant isn’t the most unbiased source), my daughter Emma is showing five of the six common signs of potty-training readiness: She’s pulling at a wet or dirty diaper; she’s hiding to pee or poop; she’s interested or copying others’ use of the potty; her diaper is staying dry for a long time; and she’s telling us before or after she goes to the bathroom.

The only sign we’re missing is “awakening dry from a nap.” The diapers I pull off Emma post-nap are as filled as the water balloons I used to throw at the cars that drove down my suburban street when I was a kid. My favorite potty-training sign is the hiding. Once or twice a day, Emma will pull an Irish goodbye. After a few minutes of calling her to no avail, we’ll smell something and find her tucked away strategically behind an end table or a recliner, often concentrating on the cell phone she discreetly pilfered and took with her for company – just like grown-ups do it. When it looked like Emma was ready to start the potty-training process in earnest, my wife picked up one of those mini singing toilets as well as a toddler seat that fits right on top of the “big girl potty.” Initially, Emma loved her new toys. “Pee-pee!” she’d scream, and we’d rush to pick her up and plop her down in time to capture that life-changing milestone – the blessed moment she used a toilet for the first time.

Unfortunately, that moment never came. Emma did enjoy sitting on the potty initially, but she never actually felt compelled to use it. For a few minutes at a clip, she’d happily rest on her throne, beaming with pride at her accomplishment. Then she’d ask for a handful of toilet paper, wipe her mid-thigh area carefully, and call it a day. Just when we’d given up any hope of Emma ever using a toilet ever, she surprised us. I was giving my son a bath when it happened. Emma, who had been avoiding her mom’s attempts at getting her into pajamas, strolled in, naked as jaybird, and casually sat down on her singing toilet and peed. By the time I’d registered what happened, Emma was gone. I didn’t even get to make a big fuss over her. Meanwhile, the toilet failed to the one thing we bought it for: sing. That pleasant little surprise hasn’t happened since. But we have made potty-training progress of sorts.

See, a few weeks after the anti-climactic non-singing potty incident, Emma got a wicked case of diaper rash. Diaper changes were torture, so we let her go without clothes a lot of the time while the rash ran its course. She loved the freedom of being naked, which became a problem. When the rash eventually went away, we had a helluva of time convincing Emma to wear clothes again – and I worried that her affinity for the natural state foreshadowed a career as a stripper. There were a lot of accidents during Emma’s nudist phase, obviously. Even though she promised she’d let us know when she had to go, Emma would instead squat down and urinate on our hardwood floors like a drunk girl relieving herself in the parking lot at a Kenny Chesney concert.

I wish I got a picture of my dog’s genuinely confused face during those moments. “Wait, we’re allowed to do that in the house now?” my dog’s look said. Sign number three on the list is when a child shows interest in or copies others’ bathroom use. I’m guessing the “others” referred to humans, but Emma has been much more interested in the bathroom use of our Boston Terrier, Judith Weiland, than anyone else in our home. On walks, when Judith squats to do her business, Emma stops whatever she’s doing to focus on her beloved dog. The interest has become an obsession. One morning, we were playing in the backyard when I saw Emma staring intently at Judith, who happened to be in the middle of her morning BM. A little while later, there’s Emma, still naked due to the rash, in the same exact spot and the same exact bodily position as Judith had been in, pooping right in our backyard. She even mimicked the little kicking thing the dog does to cover up the scent. If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed it actually happened. But it definitely did. As it stands right now, we’ll probably have better luck teaching Emma to go to the bathroom outside with Judith than to use that stupid, defective singing potty.



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