Toilet Training Your Puppy
Toilet training is something that frustrates many new puppy owners. The simple truth about successful toilet training is that it takes planning and management to get it right the first time. You have to accept that there will be accidents, and those accidents are always our fault.
Much like in human children, individual dogs will vary in how quickly they achieve 100% house trained status. The time this takes will also be dependent on how successfully you manage their space and time when inside, and how observant you are of your puppy’s behaviour.
When does my puppy need to go to the toilet? Short answer: ALL THE TIME!
But here are some of the most common times you can expect your puppy to need the loo:
- Shortly after eating a meal
- Shortly after having a drink
- After a big play or run around
- After a big sleep
Pay careful attention to your puppy’s behaviour when they are inside. If your puppy is wandering aimlessly and sniffing the floor they are likely thinking about toilet time and should go outside.
Observing your puppy’s behaviour is made much easier when we limit their access to the house. The more space they have to roam, the more likely they are to slip away unnoticed.
How do we manage our puppy’s space?
Puppy Play Pens
Play pens are fantastic for providing our puppies with enough space to still comfortably move about and play, while removing the possibility of them sneaking away unnoticed. These are great for when you can’t keep a direct eye on your puppy.
Using a Crate
Toilet training is just one of many, many reasons that crating is a fantastic thing to teach our puppies. Unlike a puppy pen, crates are a little more restricted in space. This means they are not ideal for extended periods of time, but they are very good for managing your puppy’s toileting overnight or during brief periods of the day when the puppy cannot be monitored directly.
This seems like common sense if you have a secure backyard, however, it’s important to remember that they are not guaranteed to conveniently toilet right before coming back inside. If your puppy has been out for an hour, this does not mean they won’t come inside and go straight to the carpet for a poo.
Baby Gating The House
Baby gates are great for limiting the amount of unsupervised roaming your puppy can do in the house. Similarly, closing doors to unoccupied rooms will make it easier to keep an eye on what your puppy gets up to.
Set Your Alarm
In the first couple of weeks it is necessary to toilet our puppies during the night. When I have puppies, my nightly toilet routine is usually along the lines of:
- Toilet my puppy at 9pm before bed
- Set an alarm to toilet at 1am
- Get up and toilet at 5.30am
To make this process easier I also remove my puppy’s water bowl after they finish dinner. Your puppy won’t dehydrate overnight.
Tether Your Puppy To You
In instances where your puppy is already forming a habit of regularly toileting inside, temporarily tethering the puppy directly to you is sometimes the best option. This totally restricts the dogs ability to wander away and toilet inappropriately.
How do we deal with accidents?
- If you don’t catch your puppy in the act DO NOT punish them. Even if you think it happened recently, that ship has sailed.
- Thoroughly clean any accidents and take your puppy outside to make sure they have finished.
- It can be beneficial to get a purpose made cleaner in these instances as many human grade cleaners contains chemicals that actually enhance the odour to our dogs and encourage them to toilet there again in future.
- If your puppy is toileting in the house and you catch them in the act, pick them up and get them outside to finish.
- When you toilet your puppy outside make sure you praise them heavily for going in the desired place.
- Toileting can be put on cue by repeating your chosen word as the puppy toilets and then marking and rewarding them when they are finished.
Toilet Training Pads
Using toilet pads in the house can seem like a useful thing when our dogs are young, however, there are some things to consider before rushing out to buy some. If your end goal is for the dog to toilet exclusively outside, at some point you will have to fade out the pads. When fading out the use of pads it is not uncommon for dogs to get confused and start toileting on things in the house that look similar – rugs and door mats. This behaviour becomes difficult to break.
At the end of the day the easiest thing is to take the time to create a routine, properly manage your puppies space while inside, and get them used to toileting out of the house.