how to toilet train your puppy

The easy steps to toilet train your puppy

House training or toilet training your puppy is a journey that all new owners must go through. Many owners take it in their stride and see it is just part of owning a puppy. However, some owners can get very distressed because the puppy doesn’t seem to get the idea quick enough. This page is going to give you some background on toilet training your puppy from both the owner’s perspective and the puppy’s. It will give you some easy win tips on how to toilet train your puppy at their pace.

Toilet train your puppy from the owner’s point of view

Many new owners dread the fact their new puppy is going to toilet in the house. From day one they start to blame the puppy because it fails to ask to go outside when it needs to toilet. As a puppy trainer, I often see first-hand how this challenges the new relationship between owner and puppy. The owner’s expectations are far too unrealistic. They put extra stress on themselves and the young dog to achieve toilet training in the shortest time possible.

Puppy comes already toilet trained

What many people don’t realise is that the puppy is actually already toilet trained. It will be very rare for a young puppy to toilet in its own bed. The mother taught the puppy to toilet in a specific area away from the bed. To a dog being toilet trained means don’t mess in your bed area. What the new owner needs to understand is it anywhere away from the bed is the right place to toilet for the puppy. In its world, it is doing nothing wrong and does not understand that toileting in the house is wrong under human rules.

The way the mum taught the puppy to toilet away from the bed was to use the urine as a marker for future toileting. Understanding this means we have to be very careful letting the puppy roam freely around the house and toileting. The puppy will be leaving markers for future use and the process of our training will be significantly slowed down.

The best approach an owner can take when trying to toilet train a puppy is to be relaxed, never get angry and try and understand the issue from the puppy’s point of view. With the right technique, persistence and patience the puppy can be taught not to toilet in the house. If the owner has children then I usually relate toilet training a puppy to train a child. It takes time and patience and the acceptance of accidents when teaching a child to be dry. Usually, when owners think of it this way then they start to understand the journey they need to take with the puppy to house train it.

Toilet training from the puppy’s point of view

It is both a scary and exciting time for a puppy. They have just been taken away from their mother and siblings and put into a strange environment. They have a warm bed, nice food and people who make a lot of fuss and strange noises. When the puppy needs to toilet it remembers what its mother taught it and that is never to mess in its own bed. It walks out of the crate and finds a corner and does its toilet. Suddenly these strangers start making strange noises and don’t appear very happy. The puppy doesn’t understand what it has done wrong.

During this incident of the puppy acting out a normal behaviour, there are several options which may have occurred. Hopefully, the owners didn’t say anything to the puppy and picked it up and took it outside. The owners may have scolded the puppy or worse still smack the puppy.

Remember that toilet training is a skill we must teach the puppy. We are trying to take a behaviour which is already good at and extend this so that it occurs outside the house. We can only achieve this through patience and kindness. If we try any other method of punishment or shouting then the puppy will not understand what it is doing wrong and will start to try and hide its toileting behaviour. The puppy will quickly associate toileting with you getting angry so it will go and hide to toilet.

Like human babies, puppies have weak bladders and cannot hold the urge to toilet very long. They also become somewhat predictable with their toileting and this allows us to anticipate when they need to go.

Toilet training techniques

The number one technique is to be vigilant and anticipate. You will quickly learn behaviour changes which indicate your puppet is about to toilet. If you think the puppy needs to toilet then act on that and take the puppy outside. It is best to get the puppy to walk the route of going outside so that it learns which direction it needs to go. Carrying the puppy each time it needs to toilet will slow down this learning process of where the puppy needs to go.

Your puppy should be taken to the toilet area outside every time the puppy wakes up, has eaten, had a drink and been playing. You should also be observant for your puppy sniffing or circling as this could indicate it is about to toilet. If you think the puppy needs to toilet then act don’t wait to be proven right!!!

Toilet area outside

If possible I like clients to take their puppy out on a lead. The reason being is because the puppy cannot then wander off and think it’s playtime and forget the toileting. You think the puppy doesn’t want to toilet and take them back inside where they then do their toilet. Have a lead placed near the door you will exit to the garden and quickly put it on as you go outside. You can then lead the puppy to the correct toilet area. It is better to take the puppy out into the garden without the lead on and put it on out there. What you don’t want to happen is that the puppy toilets in the house whilst you are trying to put the lead on.

As you take the puppy outside say something like ‘go toilet’ as this will start to train the puppy to toilet on command. Whilst the puppy is actually toileting do not speak or get treats out. If you do the puppy is likely to stop and you will think they’re finished. Once inside, and they have had the treat, they will complete the toilet. When it is evident the puppy has finished its toileting then you can make a fuss and give it a treat.

Restrict access to the house

Hopefully you have some understanding of how toilet training a puppy works. For me, a crucial part of teaching a puppy that the house is not a toilet area is to restrict its access whilst toilet training. Each time the puppy has an accident in a part of the house, particularly where carpets are, then toilet training is slowed down. Each time there is an accident the puppy has left a marker for next time it needs a toilet. Therefore, I think it is very important to restrict the puppy’s access to a single room whilst toilet training. If you are happy the puppy is just toileted then it can have restricted access to other parts of the house if people are with it. The puppy should never be left alone in these areas without supervision.

Puppy toilet training at night

So what happens at night when we are toilet training a puppy? We have to remember that the puppy already knows it should not toilet in its own bed. Therefore, we must ensure if we lock the puppy in a crate that there is an area where it can do its toileting which is away from its bed. This is very important as it could be quite distressing for the puppy to be forced to mess in its own bed.

When working with clients I’ve come across some who are happy to get up several times in the night to take the puppy out to toilet. Other clients choose not to do this option. I am not going to advocate right or wrong here because I have seen both ways work.

What is important is that you take the puppy out for a toilet as late as possible at night and you get up as early as possible in the morning. Some people restrict water access to the puppy in the hope this will reduce accidents. Personally, I don’t agree with this because if the puppy is fed dry food then it will need access to water. If the puppy is fed a raw diet then they will drink less water due to the water content of the raw meat. Therefore I would always suggest the puppy has access to water.

Toilet training a puppy to be dry at night is somewhat out of your control because you are waiting for the bladder to mature. Therefore if the puppy has accidents at night but is dry in the house during the day then don’t stress about it and nature will take its course.

Muttley Solutions can help you toilet train your puppy if you live in Dorset

If you have taken on my services to help you train your puppy I can discuss this further and put an appropriate plan in place which suits both your environment and lifestyle. Remember toilet training a puppy is about setting it up for success, everyone being very vigilant, patience and never being angry if accidents happen, as they will. My support is excellent and I am at the end of a text when you hit the inevitable hiccups. I live locally to Wimborne so cover a large area where I can do emergency visits if you are struggling with toilet training your puppy.

How quickly should my puppy be toilet trained?

The moment we put time limits on training it becomes stressful. All puppies are different and just because your friend had one which was fully trained at 2 weeks does not mean you will be. Put in place what I have said and better still get a trainer to help you and it will be sorted when the puppy is ready.

Should I use a newspaper to help with toilet training?

Some people say this is the way. My thoughts are if you are using it to allow the puppy to toilet in the house then you are teaching it the house is the toilet. Better still anticipate and be super observant.

When should my puppy be dry at night?

Night toilet training takes longer because we are asking the puppy to go longer. Their bladders are not fully matured so it may be a while after being dry in the day. The same as human babies really