puppy being toilet trained

Toilet Training Your Puppy – Tips To Help Get It Right


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Toilet training a puppy is one of the not-so-fun parts of getting a new canine family member. But if you’re diligent and know what you’re doing, you can avoid most of the accidents. Toilet training your puppy correctly from the start will set you and your dog up well for life and you can then rest easy that they’re house trained.

Be ready for a few sleepless nights in the interim though!

Tips for toilet training your puppy

Getting your puppy housetrained will require some patience and dedication. But if you’re consistent and kind, you should have cracked it within a few weeks. Much quicker than a human baby (bonus).

And once your toilet training is sorted, here are four more age-appropriate puppy training tips to get started with.

Give them lots of opportunity to go at the right time

When you’re toilet training your puppy, you want to set them up for success. If you expect them to hold it in for hours at a time, you’re basically asking for a mishap. Make sure to take your puppy outside once every hour or so (as well as when they indicate they need to – the signs will become familiar) to give them the chance to relieve themselves.

At night, feed your pup at least three hours before bed and then remove their water about two hours before bedtime. Take them outside right before you go to bed and again first thing in the morning. You may also need to get up in the night to take them outside. If you do this, be quiet and calm so that your puppy doesn’t think it’s play time.

Establish a routine and location

Seeing as we’re on the topic of babies, both human and fur ones respond well to a consistent routine.

Feed your new puppy at the same time each day to help yourself predict when they’ll need to go to the toilet. Take them out first thing in the morning without exception (no coffee first!) so that your puppy learns they’ll have an opportunity to do their business early.

Taking them outside to the exact same spot each time is also a useful way to get that toilet training going. They’ll learn to associate that spot with toileting, through both sight and smell. Anyone who has scoured their backyard for dog poo will agree that one toilet is better than many…

Other helpful tips for toilet training your puppy

Lots of little things can help your puppy get toilet trained more quickly. Here are some additional tactics you can try to put into action:

  • Use the same word every time you take your puppy outside to go to the toilet – word association helps animals retain information better too
  • Remember that most puppies will need to go within half an hour after eating a meal. Plan for this and use it to your advantage
  • You can keep your puppy shut within a room with you while you’re house training. This just means you can watch for any signs that they need to go out and catch them before there’s an accident in the house. Obvious signs include whining, scratching at the door, sniffing and walking in circles, and starting to squat or lift a leg.

What to do if your puppy has an accident

It’s to be expected that your puppy will get it wrong from time to time, even with the best trainer in the world. How you respond to little accidents is a big part of successfully toilet training your puppy.

If you find a mess somewhere in the house, don’t punish your dog. The age old advice of rubbing their nose in it and giving a smack doesn’t actually work, according to Pet School Academy’s Puppy Potty Training Guide. They say that the mess might have been from hours ago, and puppies aren’t able to make the connection. Instead, your puppy will just learn that you could punish them without warning and for seemingly no reason. You can imagine how that might make them scared and mistrustful.

What are you encouraged to do instead? Simply clean it up quietly. Make sure to clean thoroughly though, as any remaining odours might encourage your puppy to repeat the offence in the same spot.

If you do happen to catch your dog in the act of toileting inside your house, tell them no. Then, pick them up and take them outside where you want them to do their business. Once they’re done, give plenty of praise and a treat. Now you’re teaching them that if they go to the toilet in the right place, they get lots of love and praise. Done consistently, they’ll understand that this is the right choice.

Does your puppy need pet insurance?

While you’re navigating the important business of toilet training your puppy, maybe it’s time to think about getting a quote for pet insurance too? It can’t help you housetrain your pup but insurance can provide a “soft landing” if things go wrong and your puppy needs veterinary attention.

And while you’re thinking about vets and pets, here’s a guide on how to give medicine to your puppy.

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