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How To ToiLet Train Your Puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting experience, but it’s easy to forget that puppies are also hard work. Toilet training a puppy requires patience, commitment, and consistency – as well as the knowledge that accidents will happen.

To find out how to toilet train your puppy, read on.

When Should You Start Toilet Training A Puppy?

Begin as soon as your puppy enters the front door. A puppy’s bladder is extremely weak, so they’ll take a fair while to achieve full bladder control. The sooner you start, the better.

How Long Does It Take To Toilet Train a Puppy?

Anywhere between 4 and 6 months. This varies, as a puppy's learning ability is influenced by many factors, including breed, weight, size, age, and intelligence. Sometimes, toilet training can take as little as a week! Remember, your puppy will need proper supervision before they’ve learned to hold their bladder for any significant period.

Essential Toilet Training Supplies

There are bound to be accidents, so housetraining and cleaning supplies are essential. You’ll need:
  • Puppy pads
  • Crate
  • Pooper scooper
  • Stain & odour cleaner
  • Poo bags
  • Puppy barriers
  • Treats
  • Leash & collar.
When you’ve got a new puppy, it’s really important to be prepared. So, you’ll need to get ahold of all the essentials before bringing your puppy home.

Sounds easy … but what are the essentials? It’s a daunting task trying to figure out exactly what you need to make their (and your) life as easy as possible, and you could easily get lost in the maze of equipment available. To quickly guide you through the various options, we’ve compiled a helpful list of essential puppy supplies.


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A Step-By-Step Guide to Toilet Training a Puppy at Home

Puppies are easily distracted, so it can be quite difficult to get their attention. The best way to toilet train a puppy involves patience and positive reinforcement. By establishing a regular schedule and firm boundaries, you’ll boost confidence, build trust, and decrease the likelihood of undesirable behavioral traits forming later on. Below, you’ll find a simple step-by-step process for toilet training your puppy at home:

1. Create a Toilet Training Schedule

When you’re aiming to reduce the number of accidents your puppy has in the home, it’s essential to create a regular schedule for them to follow.

Having a good idea of your dog’s daily timetable will help reduce the risk of accidents because this will give you the best chance to anticipate when your puppy’s likely to need to go.

Dogs thrive on regular daily exercise – so set aside time for walks, play, and obedience training as well. As well as helping with toilet training, this creates good manners!

When creating a toilet training schedule for your puppy, consistency’s the key. To help them control their bladder, as well as gain a better understanding of where and when to eliminate, remember to take your puppy outside at key times. For many dogs, these are:

Immediately after waking in the morning After a nap After meals After playtime or training sessions Before bed During the night (please mention here that for first-time puppy owners, they’re going to have to prepare themselves for toilet runs at all hours of the night)

Remember that this schedule isn’t the be-all and end-all for every puppy. Every puppy runs to a different beat, and that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you keep an eye on your own puppy’s daily clock, so you can make sure you stay on top of their needs. Take the above as a rough guide, and remember to adjust for your puppy’s personality.

Important note: Avoid large meals before confinement (restricting movement). Your puppy’s last feed should be several hours before bedtime.

2. Designate a Toilet Training Area

Section off a small indoor area for your puppy to be toilet trained before introducing them to the rest of the house. This will allow you to monitor their behavior, (hopefully) reducing accidents.

To stop your puppy from running away when you’re not looking, use a leash. Leash training a puppy takes time, but with encouragement (and treats), they'll get more comfortable with the idea of it. Once you've attached the collar and leash, allow them to walk through the room to get used to the new smells and surroundings.

If you're training your puppy to go to the toilet outside, take them on a leash to stop them from running off. As soon as they've finished, reward them with praise and treats.

3. Use a Crate

Crates (or small fenced-off areas) are great tools for toilet training. Being in a crate encourages your puppy to learn bladder control, because dogs are inherently clean animals by nature, and won’t want to leave their mess in the crate.

You can help your puppy become more comfortable with using a crate by offering praise/rewards each time they enter. Repeat several times a day, gradually getting them used to being inside. Eventually, they’ll become comfortable with the door being closed behind them. When they’re comfortable in there for around 30 minutes, try leaving the house for a short time.

Important note: Don’t leave your puppy in a crate for more than 2 hours a day.

4. Try Out Puppy Pads

Puppy pads are a highly recommended tool when you’re toilet training your puppy. They soak up the mess, so they’re a great way of protecting your house before your puppy learns to control their bladder. The texture and appearance of the pad is designed to encourage your puppy to go to the toilet when standing on it.

If you’re wondering how to toilet train a puppy on pads, we’ve got you covered.

Put puppy pads down in places where you’d like your puppy to pee, so they don’t go where they shouldn’t. Puppies won’t start using pads automatically, so bring them to the pad when you’d like them to go toilet, making gentle encouraging noises.

As soon as they pee on the pad, offer praise and treats. Start the praise whenever they begin moving towards the pad by themselves, and they’ll soon go there by choice!

5. Introduce a Command

When your puppy starts to sniff, circle, or paw at the ground, they probably need to go. Introduce a cue command such as “go toilet”, so they associate going pee with your chosen command.

When they’ve finished, encourage them with verbal praise (e.g. “good job” or “yes”) and a treat. Eventually, you can use the “go toilet” command to encourage them to do so in various situations.


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6. Don’t Give Your Puppy Too Much Attention

Offering too much attention during toilet training can result in your puppy associating the outdoors with “playtime”, rather than using this area to go toilet.

Too much attention can also result in behavioral issues, such as separation anxiety. That’s why we recommend keeping coddling to a minimum.(we know it’s hard!)

7. Positive Reinforcement Is Best

As we mentioned earlier, it’s imperative to your puppy’s training that they receive plenty of praise whenever they do something good.

Give your puppy plenty of verbal praise whenever they do something good (like going toilet in the designated area). Using “good boy” or “well done” will encourage them to continue their good behavior. Treats help too!

Important note: Treats aren’t balanced food. They can spoil your puppy's appetite for their normal diet (which provides essential nutrients) or increase obesity risk. Limit their treats to no more than 10% of their daily feeding, intermittently substituting them with belly rubs, pats, toys and praise. If your puppy’s really food-driven, try using regular puppy food instead of treats.

8. Look For Signs They Need to Go Toilet

The easiest way to avoid a puppy eliminating indoors is by knowing the signs to look for and acting quickly. Here's a list of common signs that puppies need to go:
  • Circling and pawing at the ground before squatting
  • Barking or whining excessively
  • Going to a door and scratching
  • Sniffing or licking their genitals
  • Revisiting a previously soiled area
  • Restlessness and/or aggressive behavior
When you see one of these happening, take your puppy outside immediately.

9. Monitor Your Puppy’s Diet

Puppies need to be fed three times daily until they're five months old. Puppies fed on a consistent schedule go toilet regularly, aiding toilet training. Remember, your puppy’s stomach is (relatively) tiny. They can’t deal with huge meals, so break their feedings down into small, regular meals. Feed them at the same time each day, which will promote regular toilet habits as well.

Don’t forget quality food, either. Lower digestible foods or over feeding may not be absorbed well and could cause problems with your puppy’s digestion. A high-quality, fully balanced dog food will be a great help in your toilet training journey.

10. Repeat the Process

The moment your puppy indicates they need to go, pick them up and take them to their designated toilet area (inside or outdoors). This process will soon become natural, so you won't need to supervise them as frequently.

When your puppy’s finished toileting outside, bring them in immediately. (We don’t want them to associate the outdoors with ‘playtime’.) Wait for an hour or so, (sometimes less) before taking them outside again to go toilet.

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How To Prevent Toilet Training Accidents

Remain calm when your puppy has an accident, avoiding any form of punishment. Punishing your puppy will cause unnecessary stress, which will prolong the process.

Getting angry can encourage your puppy to avoid you when going toilet, which makes it difficult to teach them the correct behavior. Keep reading to find out how to deal with toilet training accidents.

1. Pay Attention to Your Puppy’s Needs

Different puppies need the toilet at different intervals, so keep a close eye on them to get a sense of their ‘natural schedule’. You’ll soon get the hang of it.

2. Take Your Puppy Outside for Frequent Breaks

To prevent accidents inside, take your puppy outside for regular toilet trips.

So, how often do puppies pee? For a puppy between 7 and 12 weeks old, toilet breaks need to be roughly every 20 to 30 minutes (especially during periods of high activity or playtime). The question of how long puppies can hold their pee varies, but that’s a good rule of thumb.

And remember, they’re only little. There may be many accidents when you’re training an 8-week-old puppy (for example) … but they’ll quickly learn that outside is the right place to go. (Once they’re more confident, you might like to check out our guide on interacting with other dogs.)

3. Always Supervise Your Puppy

Heavy supervision is essential at first. Crates are perfect for controlling your puppy's whereabouts, while giving them enough space to roam if they’re left alone during the day.
As they become more reliable, you can allow them access to more areas while gradually reducing the supervision level.

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What Not To Do During Your Puppy’s Toilet Training

While the above tips should get you a lot of the way there, there are also several things to avoid.
  • Don’t punish. Not only is punishment ineffective, it’s also unfair on your puppy. Toilet training is a difficult new skill, so help your puppy build confidence by offering praise and kindness instead. They’re trying their best, so go easy!

  • Don’t hesitate to take them out. If they’ve just had a nap or a play, take them out to see if they need to go to the toilet. (No worries if they don’t need to – just take them back inside.)

  • Don’t ignore them. When your puppy goes outside, they may not remember to go to the toilet. Stay with them and supervise until they’ve been.

  • Don’t be inconsistent. It’s often hard to remember what you did yesterday, so try writing down exactly what you did last time. (For instance, you could say that you put on the leash, opened the front door, and waited with them in the front yard while they peed – then do exactly the same thing next time.)
Toilet training can be slightly messy at times – but it’s also a highly rewarding experience (and a nice bonding experience, too). By taking a positive and proactive approach, you’ll be giving your puppy a great start in life

What to Do If Your Puppy Has an Accident Inside

Accidents are inevitable, so knowing how to deal with them will better prepare you for next time (and there will be a next time)!

If this happens, pick them up and place them in their designated toilet area. When they finish doing their business, reward them verbally or with a treat.

How to Prevent Your Puppy Peeing In the Same Area

If they’re allowed, puppies will return to pee in the same area. To prevent your puppy from peeing in the same area twice, follow these steps:

  1. If you see your puppy relieving themselves inside, quietly interrupt them and take them outside to finish. Don’t use a correction or say “no” – this will teach your puppy to avoid going toilet when you’re there.

  2. Clean the spot thoroughly with a biological cleaner for pet waste, and intensify your supervision.

  3. Place your puppy's favorite treats near where they eliminated. Puppies don’t like eating where they go toilet, so this will hopefully deter them from revisiting.

  4. Close off areas where you don’t want them to eliminate, or use a crate.

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How do I toilet train a puppy while working from home?

Creating a routine will make toilet training easier when you’re working from home. It’s impossible to be with your puppy every second of the day, especially with a full-time job.

A crate is a game-changer for full-time workers because it lets you keep your puppy in a confined space to do their business while you work. (Remember, crate training isn't a long-term solution, and puppies should only be inside one for up to 2 hours with enough room for a bed, food, water and an area for the pee pads.)

Puppy pads are also useful when toilet training puppies, especially for convenience. Clean-up is as easy as tossing away one pad and replacing it. (And of course, frequent toilet breaks are a must.)

How do I toilet train a puppy while at work?

If you're at work during the day, toilet training will progress more slowly.

Try a dog walker or puppy daycare to help with training when you’re not home. Or section off an area with a crate or playpen, covering the floor with newspapers or puppy pads.

If you have to leave your puppy for more than a couple of hours, ask someone to check on them throughout the day.

Important note: Leaving your puppy unsupervised in a crate or playpen can lead to aggressive, anxious behavior that causes excessive barking or separation anxiety. Keep your puppy entertained while you're away with plenty of food and water, their favorite toys, and a bed.

How do I toilet train a puppy at night?

Toilet training a puppy at night requires clarity, so calmly navigate them towards their toilet area before bedtime. Puppies will often fall asleep at night instead of going toilet, so you need to wait and check.

Avoid playing with your puppy at night. Nighttime is for sleeping, so encouraging playing may confuse them. (Again, we know it’s difficult!)

Proper supervision, frequent toilet trips, a regular schedule, and plenty of positive reinforcement are the essentials. With patience, you'll start seeing results in no time!
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