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How to toilet train a puppy

How to toilet train a puppy

In the first few weeks, puppy toilet training can feel like never ending toilet breaks and little accidents. Here’s how to toilet train a puppy.

How often do puppies need to go to the toilet?

Puppies have little bladders and will need to pee often. This could literally be every few minutes with an eight week old puppy. An eight week old puppy will also need to do a poo within about 30 minutes of eating – the number of poos will depend on how often their eat and their activity levels. As puppies tend to be fed little and often this means that you can expect to make lots of toilet trips, day and night.

When to start toilet training a puppy

Start potty training your puppy from day one. Young puppies have short attention spans but the earlier that you start toilet training the better.

How to house train a puppy

  • If you have a garden, you can start potty training your puppy to go outside. If you don’t have a garden, choose a spot in the house for your puppy to start potty training a puppy. You can protect the area by covering it in newspaper or puppy pads, which will absorb wee. The sooner you can get your puppy to the right place at the right time, the quicker they will learn where their ‘toilet spot’ is.
  • When you start toilet training, give your puppy with lots of opportunities to go to the toilet. This should include when they wake up, have finished eating and before you want to go to bed. As young puppies – like babies – generally sleep, eat and sleep again, you’ll be making lots of trips to the garden or the toilet spot in the house.
  • Choose some command words to encourage them to go the toilet – e.g. ‘Do a poo’ or ‘Do a wee’ and say this to them when you take them into the garden or toilet spot. They won’t know what this means at first, but if you reward them with lots of praise after they have been to the toilet, they will learn to associate your words with going to the toilet.

How long does it take to house train a puppy?

We all want to know how fast you can house train a puppy, so the rule of thumb is that by the time your puppy is six months old, they should be fully house trained (no accidents indoors) and won’t need to wee or poo during the night. The success of your house training will depend on your ability to get your puppy to the right place at the right time. Consistency is the key.

  • New puppy owner tips! We asked other dog owners to share their tips on the best way to toilet train a puppy. Read what they suggested.

Signs your puppy needs to pee

You’ll soon come to know the signs that your puppy needs to pee or poo.  They may freeze, stop playing, become restless, sniff places where they have previously had an accident or start to squat. 

Should you scold a puppy for peeing inside?

It’s highly likely that in the early days there will be accidents because your puppy won’t be able to hold a wee or poo for very long. Whilst it’s not nice finding a puddle or a poo on the floor but the worst thing you can do is tell your puppy off or rub their nose in it (this is an old wives’ tale, which does more harm than good). Your puppy won’t understand that they have done something wrong and will just feel scared of you if you scold them. They will also be less likely to go to the toilet in front of you, which will make toilet training even more difficult!

Instead, clean up the wee or poo and take your puppy to the garden or their toilet spot and praise them when they go to the toilet where you want them to go. It’s much easier to establish good habits with a puppy than break bad habits so the more you persevere with the house training routine, the sooner the accidents will stop.

How to clean up dog pee

There are bound to be some accidents in the house as you toilet train your puppy. Using the right cleaner to get rid of the smell of pee is really important. This is because a lingering scent of pee on the carpet or hard floor will encourage your puppy to go in the same spot again. Avoid using regular household cleaning products that contain ammonia. This is because your dog’s urine contains ammonia, so an ammonia-based cleaning product won’t get rid of the smell – in fact it will just make it worse. Instead, you need an enzyme cleaner to effectively get rid of all trace of your puppy’s pee. You can buy enzymatic pet urine cleaners* online or from pet shops. Alternatively, you can try making your own.

Puppy toilet training at night

Young puppies have very small bladders and, for a few months, won’t be able to hold a wee in overnight.  Make it easier for your puppy and you by not feeding them just before bedtime. Allow enough time between their last meal and when you go to bed for your puppy to have a wee and poo.

You will need to get up during the night – probably a couple times in the early weeks. By doing this you will both help your puppy to learn about where they should go to the toilet and prevent little accidents. Increase the time between night time toilet trips a little each night, dropping down to one toilet trip and eventually no night time toilet trips as your puppy grows. Keep night time toilet stops as boring as possible so that your puppy doesn’t start to trying to engage you in a game.

You may be tempted to use puppy pads at night to catch any accidents. However, dogs don’t like going to the toilet where they sleep and could become distressed if forced to do so. It’s much kinder to your puppy – and better for you in the long run – if you take them out to the toilet during the night.

How to toilet train a puppy on pads

There is mixed opinion about puppy pads – the gist of it is that if you use puppy pads your puppy will learn to go the toilet indoors and this could be a hard habit to break. If you have a garden, then it’s best to start taking your puppy outdoors straightaway, but if you live in a flat or an apartment and it’s not easy to or it’s too early to take your puppy outside, this may not be an option. You can still begin potty training and get your puppy used to using the toilet spot by using your command words and reinforcing their good behaviour with praise and reward. 

Puppy toilet training problems

You will probably find that you have good days and bad days with toilet training your puppy. As a new puppy parent, you’ll still be getting used to your puppy’s routine and if you’re busy with other things it can be easy to forget to take puppy to the garden or their toilet spot. Regular supervised trips to the toilet spot should be your aim rather than expecting your dog to let you know if they need to go out.

If your puppy has an accident when they have been left alone at home, this is likely to be because they felt anxious. Slowly getting your puppy used to being alone can help minimise their stress and accidents in the house. 

You may like this blog post: Toilet training tips: ‘two pees & a poo’

Frequently asked questions by other new dog owners

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