How to toilet train a puppy

How to toilet train a puppy, successfully!

One of the biggest questions I get asked by pet owners is “How do I toilet train my puppy?”. There are many techniques to help us pet owners establish a plan which works for us and our new puppies, so I’ll cover them here.

Just make sure you replace all your carpets with wooden floors first!

(just joking!)

“Easiest way to toilet train a puppy”

“toilet training a puppy with pads”

Getting started with toilet training your puppy

The key is to teach your puppy from day one the best place to go to the toilet is outside.

This sets them up for life, regardless of where you live and where you may visit in the future with your pooch.

Puppies can always relate that outside is the best place to toilet. To quote my dog behaviourist Lin, “always set your puppy up for success”. Starting immediately with toilet training is doing just that.

Top tips for toilet training your puppy!

Simply keeping in mind the following bullet points will make it far easier to toilet train your puppy. Just like babies, puppies will toilet after specific events.

After each of these events, make sure you take your puppy outside. In the early stages of toilet training you might need a little patience, so be prepared to sit with them until they go to the toilet:

  • After eating
  • After drinking
  • After a nap
  • After play
  • If you notice your puppy circling or sniffing around the house
  • At regular intervals, every hour or so and wait outside with them

Make sure you keep all these in mind. The next step in how to toilet train your puppy is mastering the process once you take them outside.

How to toilet train a puppy, successfully!

Make sure you master this process. If you do, I can guarantee you’ll have success in toilet training your puppy. I’ve used this tried and tested method on many puppies, and it’s a proven technique.

How to toilet train a puppy, successfully!
How to toilet train a puppy successfully – Bobby takes his first outdoor wee wee!

Sometimes you may need to wait outside with them for up to an hour before they may go but patience and persistence will result in success and less pain for you as the days go by. Not having patience will make you more frustrated in the long run, so learn to appreciate sitting in the garden.

Don’t play with your puppy while in the garden, as that will prolong your waiting and be counter productive.

When your puppy goes to the toilet say a specific command word. “Wee Wee’s” or “Toilet” are good examples, but as long as you keep the command word consistent it doesn’t really matter.

“Make the bladder gladder Bruno” works just as well, but might get some odd looks in the park a few weeks from now!

Puppies will associate this command with their actions, which is something you can reinforce by rewarding or praising them once they have finished.

The key is to set your puppy up for success.

If you see your puppy toileting in the house, distract them and take them straight outside. Wait for your puppy to toilet then praise and reward them as you normally would. Keep calm and quiet, and simply clean up any messes in the house.

DO NOT reprimand your puppy for toileting in the house!

Telling your puppy off for toileting in the house will have little effect and likely be counter productive. I covered the reasons why in this article about dog behaviour, but it’s because puppies don’t understand guilt, only rewards.

You don’t want your puppy being too scared to go to the toilet in front of you. Puppy’s all have mishaps during the training process, so the key is to be consistent with your training.

Positive reinforcement is far more effective on puppies, and something you should always keep in mind.

Effective toilet training takes time, patience, consistency and positive reinforcement. If you really apply yourself to this then your puppy should be well on their way within a few weeks of training.

All being well, you’ll have a successfully toilet trained puppy in no time!

Toilet training a puppy in an apartment (this also works in a house or unit!)

Sydney has shown a rise in apartment puppies, and I expect the same to be the case in all Aussie cities. Toilet training a puppy in an apartment is totally doable, with the easiest method being puppy pads.

Puppy pads are basically just absorbent material you place on the floor in an area where you want your puppy to go to the bathroom. When your puppy soils the pad, you’ll need to replace it with a fresh one.

Over time, as your puppy begins to get the hang of things, you’ll start moving the pads closer and closer to the apartment door.

You’ll find in no time your puppy will start going to the door whenever they need to toilet. It’s then up to you to read the signs.

Whenever your puppy goes near the door, simply give them some praise, put their lead on, and take them outside to a suitable toilet spot.

Another great option is an indoor grass potty, which is better than puppy pads as the turf mat gets your dog used to urinating on grass rather than an indoor floor. It’s a simple device which uses a grass mat over a tray which can easily be emptied and cleaned.

The PaWz Indoor Grass Potty has had great reviews which I can testify to as I’ve used it myself:

How to toilet train a puppy in an apartment

One thing to keep in mind when using puppy pads or a turf mat is they shouldn’t be used as a permanent solution. Once trained, an adult dog can go many hours without needing the toilet, so if you’re feeling like you’re losing a battle at the moment, don’t worry, it’s temporary!

My dog would often wine at 5am after being indoors since the previous afternoon, and I would find I’d take her outside only to find her grab a ball and want to play. No wee wee needed!

What if toilet training doesn’t work?

An important distinction most of us pet owners fail to make is the different between reward based training (positive reinforcement) and behaviour issues.

If toilet training is proving unsuccessful then there could be an underlying issue causing your puppy to behave in such a way. This could be an underlying anxiety, possibly triggered by an earlier event, or even something you didn’t know happened.

Often when a puppy has been reprimanded in the past for toileting inside, this can stick with the puppy and prove hard to rectify.

If you’re really at your wits end, then perhaps call a local dog behaviourist who can assess your dog and how you interact with them, and put you on the right track.

Just don’t give up! You’re probably closer than you think to having the puppy you want!

Common questions about toilet training a puppy

How long does toilet training a puppy take?

Some puppies can be trained in as little as a week, while others may take up to several months. The key is patience and consistency on the part of you as the owner, knowing when your puppy will likely toilet, and using a consistent method of toilet training will go a long way.

When do you start toilet training a puppy?

The best time is right away, the day you bring them home. If you were lucky enough to have a good breeder it’s possibly your puppy is already half way there.

Final thoughts about toilet training a puppy

There are many techniques to toilet train a puppy, although what I’ve mentioned in this guide I’m sure is the easiest way to toilet train a puppy. I’m so confident in it I almost called this article “How to toilet train a puppy in 7 days”!

But I’m always open to feedback! If you’ve had success using any other methods, or had success with this method, then let me know in the comments!

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