Toilet training or house training is one of the first things dog owners will be teaching their puppy. For puppies, urinating and defecating inside or outside is no different so how do we teach them that outside is the place to go?
Toilet training your puppy is actually quite simple BUT it requires commitment, consistency and constant supervision.
SO how do you start?!
First, establish a routine by taking your puppy out at exactly the same time every day. During the first few weeks, take your puppy out every 30 minutes. You do not need to wake up your puppy if he is asleep. As your puppy gets older and is becoming used to his routine you can gradually increase the length of time between taking him out. Please note that smaller breeds have smaller bladders and therefore will need more frequent trips outside than larger breeds.
In addition to the 30 mins, you should also take your puppy out:
After sleeping (first thing in the morning and after a nap)
Last thing at night
If he starts to sniff around & turn in circles
If your puppy does not want to go the toilet after 5 mins of being outside, come back inside, don’t let your puppy out of your sight and have a little play. Play and excitement is stimulating and will help him want to go to the toilet. After 5 to 10 mins, go back out again and repeat until successful.
If you have children at home and need to take them to school or have other commitments, think about planning your toilet outings around your schedule. Keep a wee and poo diary. After a few weeks you’ll be able to start predicting when your puppy needs to go to the toilet.
Feeding your puppy at the same time every day will also help him go to the toilet at regular times and therefore help you predict when he needs to go.
When you need a break
If you need to leave your puppy briefly then keep him in his crate or playpen. Puppies don’t usually like to go to the toilet in the same place where they sleep or eat. If you are working from home, putting puppy on your lap for a short period of time can help you keep an eye on him without an accident occurring.
Accidents can happen and that’s okay. Avoid punishing your puppy as this will delay your training and only teach him that going to the toilet in front of you is not a good idea. Clean the area straightaway using a biological detergent to eliminate the smell. Leaving the smell untreated will only encourage your puppy to go back to the same area!
When it is time to take your puppy outside
Be as prepared as you can be before you go outside. You will need:
Treats on you
Wellies and a coat by your door (for those winter months!)
An umbrella in case your puppy does not like to get wet.
If you have a garden, you may wish to have a designated toilet area which is easy for your puppy to access and convenient for you to clean up afterwards. A piece of astro turf is recommended if you live in an apartment and cannot access an outdoor area quickly.
When taking your puppy outside, stay with him and avoid any distractions to keep him focused on the job in hand. Wait patiently and quietly, watching at all times. Only if and when your puppy has successfully finished, praise and reward with a treat.
Adding a cue
You can choose to teach a command to stimulate your puppy to go to the toilet on cue. As soon as he starts to go, quietly say ‘wee wee’ or any other word of your choice and then reward with a treat when done. After a few repetitions, say your cue before your puppy is about to do a wee. Praise and reward with a treat once he’s finished.
Puppies cannot control their bladder until around 20 to 30 weeks of age so the training steps listed on this post will need to be repeated until your puppy is able to show you that outside is where he needs to go.