Correctly toileting is a new behaviour and you cannot expect that your puppy already knows what to do. Like children it takes time and a lot of energy to achieve. 

 

When toilet training you are teaching your puppy two things:

  1. To hold their bladder for longer and longer periods (this will happen naturally over time as their bladder expands and the muscle gets stronger)
     

  2. To only toilet outside (this is what requires a lot of effort from you)

 

Large breeds are quicker to toilet train than small breeds as smaller breeds have a higher metabolism so they process food more quickly. 

 

Dogs are hardwired to be clean animals that do not soil in their sleeping, eating and living spaces. Your puppy is too young to comprehend that the entire house is the living space and needs to be kept clean. It is very important in the initial stages when you are toilet training your puppy that you do not allow them to have access to the whole house to avoid toileting in inappropriate areas. To restrict your puppy’s access you can use a combination of crate training, conditioning your puppy to love being placed in a small room such as a bathroom or laundry, sectioning off areas with a baby gate or have your puppy connected to you with a lead so they won't disappear. If you are allowing them to free roam, which they are allowed to do, as long as you are completely supervising them and giving them your full undivided attention. Start by having your puppy refine to one area like the ones mentioned above and gradually expand the area. Full access of the house is at the end of the potty training process which is listed below.

 

Avoid using puppy pads when you are home, only use them when you are out for long periods of time. When the puppy pads are down and you are around you are not actually teaching your puppy where the correct place to toilet is and they will become reliant on them and will have accidents if they are not out.

Timeframe of potty training:

  • 2- 3 months every 20 minutes 
     

  • 3-4 months every 30 minutes, for some dogs already an hour 
     

  • 6 months old 2-4 hours should be possible (again, small breeds might be slower and larger breeds faster with this)
     

  • 8-10 months, most dogs are completely toilet trained


To get them there, try and encourage them to walk there themselves so they start to learn how to get to the spot by themselves. Don’t clean up all of the poo from the designated toilet area. Leave at least one that you can encourage your puppy to sniff to remember that this is the correct toileting area. If your puppy gets distracted when you need them to toilet, put them on lead 

 

When they are at the correct area to go to the toilet do not engage with your puppy or say anything even “toilet” as you can accidentally condition the action of sniffing to the command “toilet”. Be patient and wait for your puppy to be in the action of weeing to say the command “toilet” then wait for them to finish bridge with “yes” and then follow through with a really high value treat reserved for toilet training and make a big fuss. Try and stay outside and play with them for 5 minutes post toileting so they learn to toilet as soon as they hit outside and time together comes afterwards, otherwise what can happen is that they delay toileting to spend time with you as they learn very quickly that as soon as they toilet you go back inside and continue on with what you need to do which generally doesn’t involve them. 

 

When your puppy is little don’t assume that they will indicate that they need to go, you need to be proactive and take them out. As they get towards the end of the potty training process watch for the obvious times and signs that your puppy will need to toilet. These include; after a meal or a big drink, upon waking up, after a play session and sniffing, circling, beelining for old toileting spots, corners, etc. If you notice that your puppy is showing the toilet signs, rush your puppy to the correct spot but make sure that you keep your puppy close to the floor level so that they can see how to get there themselves. If your puppy is in the midst of toileting do not rush in and pick them up as you can startle them and make them scared of toileting. Unfortunately you will have to let them finish and get frustrated at yourself for not keeping a close enough eye on them.

 

When to take your puppy outside:

  1. After waking up - generally a time when he has to go very urgently
     

  2. After eating/playing/training - these three things are very exciting and get their body moving 
     

  3. Every 20 minutes in addition to the other rooms

 

If your puppy doesn’t go to the toilet and you have waited outside for a while, bring them back inside but they must go into an enclosed space and try again 10mins later

 

It can also be helpful when your puppy knows how to get outside by themselves to put their water bowl out there. It will encourage them outside to drink and whilst they are out there they will have the visual reminder to go to the toilet. Puppy’s also tend to go to the toilet after they eat and drink naturally, so this way they are already close to where you want them to toilet. 

 

Puppies that are being potty trained should not be free fed. If you free feed you can not control when things go in and when things come out. 

 

Make sure that you thoroughly clean the areas where your puppy has had accidents with an enzymatic cleaner that kills odor causing bacteria and the protein in the urine that your puppy can smell even after disinfecting.

 

Our aim is to minimise the number of inappropriate toileting and to reward toileting in the correct location. If the above instructions are followed diligently your puppy will not have the opportunity to toilet incorrectly and you will be constantly rewarding the correct behaviour. 

 

Never reprimand or punish your puppy if it does go in the wrong location. You will not teach your puppy not to toilet in the house, you will teach your puppy not to toilet in front of you which will also create a puppy who won’t toilet in front of you even in the correct designated location. Your puppy given the first opportunity will also take itself away to find an appropriate spot to eliminate where you can not see them so you will find accidents in places like your walk in wardrobe, corners of rooms, behind the lounge, etc.

 

If your puppy has incorrectly toileted accept it and take the blame yourself. You can not reprimand a normal bodily function as you will only create anxiety in your puppy. It would be like me giving you an electric shock every time you sneeze, definitely not fair.

 

Most of all, be patient.

Toilet Training