10 Steps for successfully toilet training your puppy
Imagine being just a few weeks old, taken away from your siblings and dropped into unfamiliar surroundings. Scary, right? That’s how your puppy feels when they join your family in your home. It’s all brand new and exciting, but a little overwhelming. Even an older rescue dog may feel that way too.
So, when house training toilet accidents will happen in the house until your pup understands what’s expected of them. If you have children, you’ll know that toilet training takes time. It’s not so different with puppies.
Here are some simple tips that will make toilet training easier.
Constantly supervise your pup
For the first 1-2 weeks, watch them closely whenever they’re awake so you can spot any signs of discomfort immediately and take them outside. Don't let them wander off where they can't be watched. Consider installing baby gates to close off rooms and stairs to confine your puppy to one area, so they can easily be supervised.
Take your pup outside regularly
Set your dog up for success by taking them outside at the following times:
- on waking (in the morning and after each nap)
- after feeding
- after drinking
- when your pup is excited
- after exercise or play, and
- last thing at night.
Puppies need to toilet every 1-2 hours in the first few months of their lives. They can't "hold on" like adult dogs.
Most puppies will be able to last all night when they get to 4-5 months old. Although this time frame is different for each pup. Until then, if your pup whines at night, be prepared to take them outside.
Take your puppy to the same place every time
Taking them to the same place reinforces the message “this is the right spot for toileting”. A leash may help direct them to the same spot if they have been trained to use one.
Be patient when you take them out
Initially, your pup may take a while to understand what's expected of them but they will catch on reasonably quickly.
If you like, introduce a cue word you use to signal that you want them to toilet. Soon, they’ll learn to associate the word with the action.
Praise your puppy immediately
House-training is most successful when it’s reward based. As soon as they toilet (within seconds), praise them. Cheer, clap, pat them, make a huge fuss! Show your pup they’ve done something fantastic. They want to please you, so the more they’re rewarded for doing the right thing, the faster they’ll learn.
Look for the signs
Your puppy may start to whine, walk in circles, sniff the floor or look generally uncomfortable. Walk them outside straight away when you see any of these signs.
Stick to the same routine
The more structure you give their days, the quicker they’ll learn what they’re supposed to do. This is especially important for mealtimes, exercise, play and toileting. This routine will help them settle in and help with house-training.
Share the responsibility
At least one other family member should share the house-training tasks with you so your pup learns to follow instructions from different people. Make sure all trainers use the same principles, commands and routine so you don’t confuse your dog. Set a stopwatch if that helps you remember to take your pup out every 1-2 hours.
Only scold, with a firm but gentle “no”, if you catch them in the act indoors.
Then pick them up quickly and rush them enthusiastically outside. Praise them if they do or complete the job outside.
Remember, your dog usually displays signs that they need to go. It’s up to you to spot those signs and help your dog succeed.
Accidents will happen initially. Calmly clean up with an odour removing cleaner, like this one, and continue with the house-training routine. Make sure you don’t use any ammonia-based cleaner as those won’t neutralise the odour, making reoccurrences in the same spot more likely.
Remember, your puppy is very young and needs time to get into a routine and understand what is expected. If you’ve adopted an older dog, you’ll have to go through the same process with them while they settle into their new home.
Puppy toilet training takes time, from several weeks to a few months. But your patience and consistency will be rewarded. Embrace everything when you get a puppy – yes, even the toilet training - because these special early weeks, and months, with your pup won’t last forever. All the aspects of training a puppy are part of raising a loving family dog.
If you want more information on preparing for a puppy, download our handy e-handbook now.