How to Toilet Train Your Puppy: 5 Top Tips
Puppies, much like toddlers in potty-training, need some guidance with where and when to go when nature calls. Sticking to a good training routine will not only keep your carpets clean, it’ll build life-long habits for your pooch to stick to.
It’s important to be encouraging and use a reward based system when toilet training our pups. This is all about reinforcing good behaviours, so be ready to give lots of praise when they get it right.Be patient with them when accidents do happen though - they’re still learning and it can take up to six months to become fully toilet trained. They’ll get the hang of it eventually if you’re consistent with their training. Practice makes perfect!
We’ve pulled together our top five toilet training tips to help teach your young tail-wagger to pee and poop, when and where they should.
1. Take your puppy outside regularly
Pick a designated toilet training spot in your garden and take your pup there every hour for a few minutes or so to see if they need to go. That way, they begin to associate that spot with doing a wee and a poo. If they don’t go after five minutes of gentle encouragement (try not to distract them by playing), take them back inside and repeat the process again in ten minutes until they do. Make sure you give them lots of praise when they get it right; it teaches them that going outside for the toilet is the right thing to do rather than inside on your favourite rug!
As they get used to where they need to go, you can work more on the when - slowly start leaving longer gaps between each trip to the chosen spot as they get used to the process. We would always recommend getting your puppy out to their toilet spot as soon as you wake up, after they've eaten or drank, after playtime and before bedtime to help avoid accidents.
2. See the signs
Your pooch will often show signs of needing to go to the toilet, so make sure you’re alert and receptive to what they may be trying to tell you. Dogs typically pace or walk around in a circle, frantically sniffing the ground to pick out a good spot to relieve themselves. They might sit by the door waiting to be let out and bark to get your attention - door knobs are not the most paw friendly so you’re essentially the bouncer to their VIPee party.
If you see your pup pacing, sniffing and starting to squat, or sneaking off to a room they’ve had an accident in before, try to distract them into going outside to their toilet spot. If you can, try to avoid picking them up and putting them outside - instead encourage them to get out on their own so they develop a sense of independence and confidence in getting themselves to the right spot - this can be difficult when they’re really young so is more something to work towards as they grow.
3. Stick together
Puppies are incredibly needy and often become anxious when left alone, so it’s important you stay with them whilst they’re out on a toilet break - pee pals, so to speak! If they feel scared and alone, they will either be too distracted trying to find you, or they may associate being sent out for the toilet with being abandoned.
Be present but not distracting, so they feel safe and secure enough to relieve themselves knowing you’re nearby. Be sure to reward their efforts with lots of praise and play time, go easy on feeding them treats as too many may upset their stomach or cause them to become overweight.
4. Clean up - inside and out!
Accidents are bound to happen in the house during your puppy’s toilet training, just like they do when potty-training toddlers. The important thing is to stay calm and not punish them for it by getting angry, shouting or ‘rubbing their nose in it’. They might begin to associate going to the toilet with punishment and fear, causing them to potentially struggle doing their business outside where they’re supposed to!
Instead, clean it up without making a fuss - ideally not in front of them - and give them lots of positive praise when they do get it right outside. Avoid using products with ammonia in them as it may leave a scent that encourages your dog to relieve themselves again. Instead, use some biological washing powder mixed with warm water. Remember, be patient! You’re trying to encourage the development of good habits rather than an association of going to the toilet with being in trouble.
Puppies don’t typically have bladders strong enough to last through the night without any accidents, so expect to come down to a few piddles and the occasional poop in the morning. Puppy pads in their crate are great for night times, giving you peace of mind about your carpets and them the security to go to the toilet without getting in trouble as they learn to hold it until they're let out in the morning. Make sure you replace the pad each morning with a clean one to avoid them going back to it during the day rather than outside, as well as keeping the room smelling clean and fresh.
It’s important to keep outside clean as well as inside, picking up any poo from their designated toilet spot. If it becomes messy with the remnants of previous toilet trips, your pooch may be put off using it as a toilet spot and they may revert to doing their business indoors, undoing all your hard toilet-training efforts!
5. Consistent toilet training
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect! Sticking to a consistent routine is key for your puppy to succeed in toilet training, developing good habits through a praise and rewards system. The lessons learnt during training will not only help keep your pup feeling safe and settled at home, it will keep your carpets clean and rugs stain free!
If your dog starts to have accidents in the house when they’re toilet trained, it could be a sign of an infection or they may be getting anxious when left alone. If you’re concerned or notice any significant changes in their toilet habits, then get in touch with your vet so they can explore it deeper.
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