How to Toilet Train a Puppy
You’ve decided to bring a puppy into your life and all the energy and love that comes with her. But with this adorable ball of fur comes a lifetime of responsibility, starting with bringing her home and beginning the toilet training process. It’s an exciting time for you and your four legged mate, but it’s also a challenging time for the dog as it is full of changes. A new home, new environment, and new people can be both scary and thrilling for your dog.
Your puppy will strive to understand what you ask of her, but she will need some time to learn what you want from her. The quickest way to get your puppy toilet trained is to be patient, consistent, and kind through every step of the process. Remember that your dog is very young and trying her best, so even when accidents inevitably occur, your patience and consistency will teach her how and where to go. All puppies learn at their own pace, which is important to remember if you feel frustrated with your dog. Here’s all the information you need to know to toilet train a puppy the right way.
When should you start toilet training a puppy?
You should start toilet training a puppy the day you bring her into your home. Puppies have small bladders which are not capable of holding lots of urine, so they need to eliminate frequently throughout the day, generally every 1 to 2 hours. Typically, puppies have a strong urge to go after sleeping, feeding, drinking, or playing, so you will need to anticipate those times and take your puppy outside to eliminate after these activities. Establishing a routine and sticking to it will help them to learn where and when she should eliminate.
Why is house training puppies important?
From their birth, puppies are taught that they shouldn’t sleep where they urinate or defecate. Their mothers lick them to stimulate urination, then clean up after them. The puppies learn that there is never a scent of elimination in their “den” environment. As they grow older, puppies follow their mother’s lead and go outside of their sleeping area for the bathroom.
You want to build upon this instinct when you toilet train them. It’s important to house train your puppy for a variety of reasons, including strengthening the trust between you and your dog. With a house-trained puppy, you can relax and enjoy time in the house with her without worrying about accidents happening. You can travel in your car with your dog knowing that she won’t soil the crate or your car seats. Additionally, you will be able to take your dog to other people’s houses and pet stores and not have to deal with a mess.
Also, if your dog does eliminate inside when she usually doesn’t, you can check her for health concerns, such as digestive issues or urinary tract infections.
Establishing a routine
The road to quick toilet training goes hand in hand with routine. You need to develop a feeding, walking, and location routine for your pup, and you must follow through on this routine daily.
- Start a regular feeding schedule for your puppy.
Dogs are creatures of habit, not unlike people, and they find comfort and security in an established feeding routine. Puppies tend to need to relieve themselves about 10 to 15 minutes after eating a meal, so you can build in toilet training with your puppy’s feeding schedule. Integrating a “potty stop” after every meal allows the puppy to associate elimination with post-meal, outside locations.
- Take your puppy outside first thing every morning
Then every 30 – 60 minutes, depending on the puppy’s age. The general rule of thumb with puppies is that they can hold their bladders for one hour for every month of age; however, this change from puppy to puppy, and you should never push your puppy to the maximum time limit as accidents will happen.
- Finally, when you take your puppy outside, bring her over to the same spot every time.
She will recognise her scents from previous eliminations, and that will encourage her to urinate or defecate in that spot again. Always stay outside with your puppy while she eliminates. Help her with a specific phrase, such as “Go potty” or “Let’s go.” As soon as your puppy goes to the bathroom, praise her. Then, give her a treat as a reward or take her for a short walk.
Puppy toilet training in a home with a garden
If you live in a home with a garden, your main goal is to get your puppy to eliminate outside. In this living situation, you may find that using “wee pads” or newspapers helps with training your puppy to eventually toilet in the garden. Place the toilet pads by the door to your garden and over time, move them out into the garden until your puppy begins to eliminate out there.
What do I need to toilet train my puppy?
Here are the items you will need to toilet train your puppy if you live in a home with a garden:
- Puppy toilet training pads or newspapers
- Puppy pad holder
- Stain and odour cleaner
- Pooper scooper
- Puppy crate
How to Toilet Train your Puppy in a House
If you are raising your puppy in a house, you will want to establish the steps covered in the “Establishing a routine” section. Get a feeding schedule in place, take your puppy outside every morning, and take her to the same location to toilet each time.
- Establish regular feeding times for your puppy, and make sure to take her outside 10 – 15 minutes after she eats. Also, keep an eye on how much water she drinks and get her outside as needed.
- Make sure your puppy goes outside every 30 – 60 minutes to eliminate, and immediately after eating or playing.
- Take your puppy to the designated toilet spot, let her sniff around, and give her your chosen command (“Go potty,” “Let’s go,” etc.).
- Don’t play with the puppy or distract her when you want her to eliminate.
- After your puppy has eliminated, praise her and reward her (a small treat or a short walk).
- Bring her back inside.
Puppy toilet training in a home without a garden
House-training a puppy in a home without a garden or yard presents some new challenges. As such, an indoor puppy toilet is the best way to address this obstacle. Indoor puppy toilets can be used indoors and outdoors, so it can fit in the house or out on your balcony.
How to toilet train a puppy in an apartment
Similar to toilet training a puppy in a home without a garden, house-training your puppy if you live in an apartment means adjusting to your living circumstances. If you are on the ground floor, and your apartment has some grassy areas, you can take your puppy straight outside to eliminate. However, if your apartment is too far up to get your dog outside quickly, then training her to use an indoor pet loo is your best bet.
- Your puppy will probably need to go to the toilet every 30 to 60 minutes. Keep an eye on her, and when she begins to signal that she needs to eliminate, guide her toward the indoor pet toilet.
- Should you catch your puppy eliminating on the floor, bring her over to the indoor toilet even if she hasn’t finished going. This action will teach her that the indoor loo is where she should eliminate while in the apartment.
- Remove any faeces from the synthetic grass on the dog toilet. Scoop it into a bag, and don’t let it sit there for long. The smell will spread through your apartment, and your puppy may step in it and spread it around the floor.
- Always keep your dog’s indoor toilet clean.
A puppy’s age and toilet times
Although puppies mature and grow on their own schedule, there is a general standard to keep in mind when house-training your puppy. Puppies, especially those who are only weeks old, will not have full control of their bladder until they are older. Generally, Pups would hold their bladders for one hour, and it will increase for every month of their age; for example, a three-month-old puppy may be able to hold her bladder for up to three hours. Again, that’s a general standard, but it does not apply to all puppies.
What can be done, when leaving your puppy alone
How do you handle toilet training your puppy if you need to leave the house for a few hours? You need to continue your puppy’s elimination training even when you’re not there. Don’t let your puppy wander around the house by herself when you’re out, as she will likely eliminate wherever she wants because you aren’t there to reinforce her training.
An ideal way to address this situation, especially if you’re going to be out of the house for a few hours, is to crate train your puppy. Place a puppy pad on the base of the crate with a blanket or a puppy bed. Include some of your puppy’s toys as well. She will learn to hold bladder, especially as she views the crate as her “den” and knows instinctively that she shouldn’t eliminate in it. However, accidents may happen, and the pad will make clean up easier.
If you won’t be home for longer periods, you can cordon off a section of your kitchen, bathroom, or mudroom with a pet gate and keep your puppy there until you return. Make sure you have the following items in this area:
- Clean puppy pads secured in a puppy-pad holder or an indoor Pet Loo
- Crate with bedding or a dog bed
- Water in a heavy bowl that is hard to tip over
- Toys that are safe for chewing
Signs your puppy needs the loo!
How can you be sure your puppy needs to use the loo? Here are some toilet signals to keep an eye out for:
- Licking or sniffing her groin or rear end
- Abrupt changes in behaviour, play, or activity
- Going to the door
- Pawing or scratching at the door
- Returning and sniffing areas where she previously soiled in the house
Spotting these signals and acting upon them helps accelerate your puppy’s house-training. It also saves you time and effort in cleaning up accidents in the home.
How to toilet train your puppy at night
Once you have toilet training down during the daytime, you need to address your puppy’s training at night. Decide where you want your puppy to sleep. If you choose to crate train your puppy, locate her crate near enough where you can hear her if she cries to go out in the middle of the night.
Although you may want your puppy to sleep on the floor near you or in your bed, understand that she may not understand boundaries very well at this age, and is more likely to soil your floor or bed linens. Crate training is an ideal way to house-train your puppy and allow her to learn proper manners and boundaries. The space inside the crate is small enough to feel like a den, and therefore she will be discouraged from eliminating in it. You can also place puppy pads on the floor of the crate in case your puppy has an accident before you get up to let her outside.
Here are steps you can take to get in the habit of taking your puppy out to toilet at night:
- Set alarms during the night. You will get in the habit of waking up to take your puppy outside or to take her to her indoor toilet.
- Try to take your puppy out at least 2 to 3 times a night until she is old enough to wait until morning to go.
- Listen for your puppy’s whine. She will let you know when she needs to go!
Dealing with toilet training accidents
Toilet training your puppy involves lots of frustration, but it’s part of the process of raising a young dog. Accidents will happen, and when they do, how you deal with them will impact both your puppy’s toilet training progress and her relationship with you. Positive reinforcement is the only way to successfully toilet train your puppy. Never punish your puppy for an accident. It isn’t her fault that she eliminated where she did; it’s your fault for not keeping a close eye on her and getting her outside or to her indoor loo.
If your puppy has an accident, DO NOT:
● Yell or shout
Your puppy can pick up on how you are feeling at any time, and if you are angry and yelling about an accident, you will succeed in nothing but scaring your little dog. She may become frightened of you, thus damaging the relationship between you both.
● Force or rub the puppy’s nose in her accident
By grabbing your puppy and forcing her head in her urine or faeces, or rubbing her nose in it, you are accomplishing nothing more than teaching your puppy that going to the toilet is wrong. Your puppy will be likely to pee or poop in private spots, such as behind the couch, to avoid your anger and physical abuse.
● Discipline your puppy after the accident has happened
Dogs live in the moment, especially puppies. Their short-term memories mean if you don’t use positive reinforcement methods right after an accident has happened, it’s too late to do it. Your puppy won’t make the connection between the accident and your discipline. Clean up the accident, and keep a closer eye on your puppy around the house.
● Have unrealistic expectations
Be patient with your puppy. She is just a baby, and she does not have sufficient bladder or bowel control just yet. Keep a schedule, be consistent, be positive, and watch your puppy closely, and in time, she will be housebroken.
If your puppy has an accident, DO:
● Ignore the mess
The accident has already happened, so learn from it. Clean up the mess thoroughly and try again next time.
● Clean up the mess fast
Don’t let the accident sit on the floor for long. As soon as you see it, clean it up using an enzymatic cleaner. This type of cleaner removes all traces of the accident, thus preventing your puppy from using that spot again.
● Point out when your puppy is doing wrong
Remember to use positive reinforcement techniques, even when your puppy slips up and has an accident indoors. If you catch your puppy eliminating inside, say “Uh-oh!” or “Oops!” and quickly take her to her designated toilet spot.
How to clean up puppy urine and faeces
Pet owners often get upset about indoor accidents because urine and faeces are difficult to clean and remove from surfaces. Enzymatic cleaners are typically the best kind to use on various flooring surfaces because they remove the uric acid crystals that are found in urine. Soap and water, and other types of household cleaners, are not sufficient because they can’t break down those crystals, thereby leaving the stain and scent in place.
Here’s how to clean puppy accidents from different flooring surfaces:
- Keep your pet in a separate room.
- Blot up the urine and/or remove the waste using a cloth or paper towel.
- Use an enzymatic cleaner to saturate the soiled area.
- Let the area air dry.
- When dry, blot the area dry with a small amount of water.
Porous hard flooring (hardwood, concrete, unglazed ceramics, and marble)
- Put your dog in a separate room.
- Remove the waste or blot up urine with a paper towel.
- Spray with an enzymatic cleaner.
- Cover the soiled spot with cling wrap to prevent evaporation.
- Blot dry with a cloth.
- Use a clean, damp sponge to wipe the surface and remove residue.
- Repeat these steps if the odour or stain remains.
Non-porous hard flooring (slate, vinyl, and glazed tiles)
- Move your pet to a separate room.
- Blot up the urine or remove the waste with a paper towel or cloth.
- Use an enzymatic cleaner to spray the soiled spot.
- Let the cleaner air dry.
- Wipe the surface with a damp, clean sponge to remove remaining residue.
Toilet training a puppy is a challenge, but it’s one that you and your puppy can overcome together. Stay positive and stick to established routines, and remember that your puppy is a baby who looks to you for love and guidance. Love her in return by respecting her and staying consistent and upbeat as you train her. You will have a toilet trained puppy in no time at all.