What’s the best way to toilet train a puppy?

February 4, 2020

If you’re a new puppy owner, you’ll want to know the best way to toilet train a puppy. We asked our community of dog owners who have been through the puppy toilet training experience to share their top tips. Here’s what they told us: 

Plan ahead

“We got our puppy when we knew we would have someone at home so he could be taken outside to go to the toilet. He had a few accidents but was house trained within weeks.”

The best way to house train a puppy quickly is to be ready to take them outside every time they want to go to the toilet. Not leaving your puppy alone in the early weeks and months so you can be on constant puppy watch will help to keep accidents in the house to a minimum. 

Use praise and reward

“Patience, praise and treats! Out after naps, meals and every time they start sniffing around…”

Toilet training a puppy takes time and requires plenty of patience. Praise and reward your puppy every time they go to the toilet outside. This will help them to learn in a positive way. Be prepared for accidents – particularly with young puppies who have tiny bladders and little control. Don’t tell your puppy off if they have an accident – they won’t understand what they have done wrong. Instead, just clean up the mess and praise your puppy when they get it right.

Be consistent

“Taking your puppy out straight after naps, after play time, after food and every 20-30 minutes if puppy is awake.”

You can help your puppy by getting into a good toilet training routine from their first day at home. There are certain times when your puppy will need to go to the toilet. These are: as soon as they wake up, have had some food, have finished playing and before they go to bed at night. 

Don’t forget night times. It will be some time before your puppy will be dry through the night. Until then, you can expect some night time toilet trips to the garden. This means some broken night’s sleep for you. In the early weeks with your puppy, it can be a  good idea to set an alarm a few times during the night to take your puppy outside. You can increase the length of time between night time toilet trips as your puppy grows. 

Spot the signs

“The more you watch him or her the more you will notice their habits which should, hopefully, help you minimise the number of indoor mishaps.”

By closely observing your puppy, you will soon learn to spot the signs that they need to go. The signs to look for include sniffing, circling and whining. Some people find it helpful, during the toilet training phase to leave a lead on their puppy. That way, when you spot the signs, you can respond quickly and take your puppy outside. 

“We didn’t have many accidents and when we did it was mostly because we didn’t see the signs.”

  • Did you know we have a community forum for new puppy parents to share their experiences and support each other? Join our Puppy Parenting Club for expert advice and community support to help you care for your growing puppy.

Use a cue word

“Finding a short command word helps your dog to quickly pick up what you want him/her to do and lots of praise when they perform.”

The last thing you want at night is a puppy who takes their time exploring the garden before they go to the toilet, while you’re standing there freezing and yawning. You can help your puppy to understand that it’s time to go to the toilet by using a cue word, such as ‘toilet’ to encourage them to go. And don’t forget to praise them each time they go. 

In summary, the best way to toilet train a puppy is to plan your time so focus on your puppy’s training, use praise and reward, be consistent with your routine, learn to spot the signs and introduce a cue word. Happy puppy toilet training!

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