Once you have brought your new puppy home you will want to start toilet training immediately. Puppies need to go to the toilet lots and successfully house training them depends on anticipating their needs. For many new dog owners, successfully toilet training a puppy can be a frustrating and lengthy process, especially if they have not received the right advice.
In this article we are going to give you all the information and guidance to toilet train a puppy quickly. We are going to look at when to start potty training a puppy, how to it, and how to deal with any of the inevitable problems you will face along the way.
Training a puppy to go to the toilet outside can be broken up into three different stages; learning where to go, learning self-control and independent toileting. We will be looking at each stage of the training process, so read on below.
This is a large guide to toilet training for dogs and puppies, so make sure you use the table of contents section below to find the sections you need.
What Is Involved with Toilet Training a Puppy?
Toilet training, potty training and house training are all pretty much the same thing. All of these terms are about teaching your puppy or dog to go to the toilet in the correct place, and be clean around the house. You want to train your puppy to go to the toilet outside as nobody likes to wake up to a nasty mess on their kitchen floor.
Why Is Toilet Training So Important?
This seems like a bit of a non-question, but there is a bit more to it than meets the eye. Some question the idea that it is necessary to have a structured toilet training process. They believe that dogs will potty train themselves naturally given the time.
While it is true that dogs will empty themselves as far away from their sleeping area as possible, it is best not to really on it. Many houses are too big and puppies will simply go to the toilet in a corner somewhere. Additionally, it is almost impossible to give your dog access to the outside at all times, so they need to be trained to keep it in until they can move into an appropriate area.
Puppies have little control over their small bladders, and they do not understand that there is a right and a wrong place to go to the toilet. They will simply move away from their bed and go, whether this is inside or outside.
If you do not toilet train your dog, you will probably find that they develop a habit of emptying themselves around the house. This means that you need to teach them where to go as soon as possible.
When Is The Best Time To Start Potty Training a Dog?
You should start toilet training your dog the moment you get them home. This will get them trained quicker and it is actually very important that you make an effort to avoid ‘accidents’ as well. Toilet training a puppy quickly will limit the number of times you have to clean up after them, which is a major bonus.
The Two Essential Keys To Toilet Training a Puppy
As we said above, young puppies have no idea where is the right or wrong place to go to the toilet. It is up to you to decide on an appropriate bathroom spot and train them to use it. You also need to teach them that it is not acceptable to go to the toilet anywhere inside your house.
To successfully train a puppy to go to the toilet in the right place there are two keys to success. You will find that these two pieces of advice are the same for any method or technique you will find:
- Always praise your puppy for going to the toilet in the right place. Do it as often as possible and as many times as need be.
- Try to prevent accidents from happening inside your home.
Taking your dog out to their designated toilet spot regularly throughout the day is a massive part of successfully house training a dog. This will give you lots of opportunities to praise them and they will be less likely to make mistakes in the house.
The second rule is just as important as the first. This is because puppies will naturally go to the toilet where they have gone before. It is better to prevent them from building up any history of going to the toilet in your house if possible.
Of course, sometimes you will not be able to take your new puppy out during the day. You may be at work that day and have to leave them for more than an hour or so. In this scenario you will need to let your puppy go to the toilet in your house, which is essentially breaking rule two. Don’t worry about this. We will be discussing ways to let your dog go to the bathroom indoors, while still ending up toilet trained.
How Long Does It Take to Toilet Train a Dog?
Toilet training can be both a quick and slow process. For some dogs it may take them a couple of months to get the hang of their bowels, while other puppies can be successfully trained in a couple of weeks.
We are going to show you three methods to toilet train a dog and we suggest you pick the one that will suit your lifestyle the best. The first method is to crate train your puppy, the second one is to train your dog to go to the toilet on newspaper or special pads and the third is constant supervision.
Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Puppy Access to The Whole House
Restricting your puppy’s access to your home until they are correctly trained is very important. It will speed up the training process and will limit where accidents may occur.
Before you let your dog have the full run of the house you need to convince them that your entire home is their den. Remember how we said dogs don’t like to go to the toilet near where they sleep or eat, well, you need to use this to your advantage when toilet training a puppy.
Doing this is so much easier if you initially restrict your puppy to a single room. Train them to keep that area clean before slowly expanding the areas they can go into. Dogs don’t see your home as one big place, but as a bunch of different places.
How You Should Approach the Toilet Training Process
Due to the fact that your puppy has absolutely no idea what you are asking them to do initially, you are an incredibly important part of the training process. It is up to you to teach them what is acceptable or not in an understandable, stress-free fashion.
The way you approach training can have a dramatic effect on how smoothly the process will go, and this is the same for all training. You need to be patient and understanding, yet firm and consistent with your puppy.
Equipment You May Need
We have created a list of items you may need for toilet training. Some of these items are specific to the method you are using while some are essential for both methods.
By the end of this toilet training guide for puppies you will be able to determine what equipment you need and what method you should use.
- A suitable crate
- Pet barriers, baby gates or a play pen
- Old newspapers or puppy pads
- Poo bags and something to pick up the poo
- Plenty of cleaning products
- Food for rewards
- Tarpaulin or plastic sheets
Decide Upon an Appropriate Toilet Area
The first thing you are going to want to do is choose an appropriate area for your puppy to go to the toilet. You can even think about this before you get your new puppy home. Additionally, you want to prevent your puppy from going to the bathroom in the wrong place if possible.
At this early stage you want to restrict your puppy to a small area of your house. Try and choose a place that has washable floor as you are bound to end up with some accidents. We always choose the kitchen in our house as it has direct access to the outdoors (the toilet area) and has easily cleanable floors.
The first thing you want to do is develop a habit of taking your dog out to the designated toilet area as often as possible. Additionally, always make sure you take your puppy to the toilet after they have eaten, woken up, played or drunk.
Take note of how often your puppy goes to the toilet. You may notice that they have to pee every hour or so. Keep an eye on the clock and when you notice it is getting to about 50 minutes take your dog out to the toilet. Remember that your dog may be different so they might need to go to the toilet sooner or later than every hour.
Toilet training a puppy requires a bit of guess work and you are bound to make a few mistakes at the start. Don’t worry about these as you will soon get to know your dog’s natural toilet routine.
We recommend that you use an alarm to remind you when to take your dog out. Set it about ten minutes before they usually have to go to the toilet, as it is easy to forget to take them out.
Outside vs Inside Toilet Spots
We always recommend that you choose an outside toilet spot rather than an inside one unless you have a good reason not to. Outside toilet spots are easier for your puppy to understand and you will not have to worry about the smell as much.
However, some dogs suffer from mobility problems or live in high-rise buildings, where it is difficult to get outside quickly. In these circumstances you may have to settle for a bathroom spot inside rather than outside. Once your puppy has learnt some bladder control, you may be able to move training outdoors.
If you are using an indoor toilet spot you will need to use toilet pads or paper, otherwise there will be a nasty mess.
What Makes a Good Toilet Spot?
Many dog owners will let their dogs use the entire garden as a toilet, just as long as it’s outside. However, you may want to consider training your puppy to use one specific area every time.
If you let your dog use any old area in the yard it will be difficult to locate and pick up all of their excrement. Your dog’s urine may also cause ‘lawn burn’, which is where the grass turns brown and dies. Additionally, if your dog urinates or defecates close to a door or window it can cause quite a nasty smell to come wafting through your house.
Training your dog to use one specific area every time will be cleaner and more hygienic. Additionally, you will not have the problem of Nitrogen burned grass from your dog’s urine and it will be easier to keep the garden clean. However, if you plan to use a single spot make sure you regularly pick up what you can and keep the area as clean as possible.
How to Toilet Train a Puppy – Crate Training
This first method of using a crate to toilet train your puppy is excellent for those with a bit more time on their hands. If you can be with your dog for the first couple of weeks we suggest that you use this method.
Using a crate is the best way to prevent accidents from happing from the start and will make the training process faster. This method is laid out in two different sections:
- Learn self-control
- Extend the clean zone
Equipment Need for This Method
The main thing you are going to need for this method is a crate. You need to select the right size and type for your dog. Check out this one from MidWest Homes for a great cheap option.
How to Use a Crate to Toilet Train a Puppy?
As we wrote above, the first method we are going to look at is using a crate to toilet train a puppy. You need to learn to use a crate correctly before using one to toilet train your dog. We recommend that you check out this article from pet.co.nz to find out more about crate training.
It is important that you get your puppy familiar with a crate as soon as possible. Put it in an area of your house where people spend lots of time and let your dog explore it at their leisure. Some dogs will naturally start sleeping in a crate while others will require a bit more work.
Reward your dog with food for entering the crate and continue to give them treats when they stay inside. Once your dog shows no signs of fear or anxiety while in the crate, you can begin to confine them in there for short periods of time. Start out at one or two minutes and increase the time from there. Periodically reward your dog as they are confined in the crate and try and leave the room a few times.
Once your dog can stay in the crate for around 30 minutes you can leave them in there for short periods of time when you go out. If you are feeling confident, you can also try and let your dog sleep in their crate at night.
Make sure you do not appear too excited when you return to your puppy. Excitement can cause your dog to become more anxious over when you will return. Additionally, continue to crate your dog when you are around to prevent them from associating crating with being left alone.
Remember to Reward Your Dog
If you take your puppy to the toilet often, they will soon begin to learn where the designated toilet area is. They will happily empty themselves there when they are taken. To reinforce this, make sure you reward your dog with a treat after they have gone to the toilet.
Learn Self Control
As your dog gets older and more familiar with the toilet routine, they will begin to develop some self-control. Initially, they may be able to hang on for a few minutes before going to the toilet and with time this will increase.
However, always remember to regularly take your dog to the toilet as you do not want them to have an accident inside your house. Many new dog owners become less consistent with taking their puppies out once they start to develop a bit of self-control. If this happens, simply return to shorter periods between toilet trips and then slowly increase the time from there.
Try to supervise your dog as their bladder starts to full or when it is getting close to toilet time. You can use a crate to increase the amount of time between toilet trips as your puppy will try not to wee in their own bed. However, remember to not make them wait too long as accidents can still happen.
Increase The Time Between Toilet Tips and Open Up Your House
Now that your dog has begun to learn a bit of self-control you can continue to increase the time between toilet trips. Additionally, try and introduce your dog to other parts of your house, but try to keep them off carpeted areas. Do this one room at a time and continue to take your dog to the toilet regularly.
If accidents occur, go back to shorter gaps between toilet trips. Don’t worry if your dog has one or two accidents, but don’t let it grow into a habit. If your dog does wee on the carpet, make sure you clean it up immediately and remove any smell.
How Effective Is Toilet Training with a Crate?
Using a crate to house train your puppy is probably the most effective out of all three methods we are looking at today. Puppies will learn the correct behaviour quicker than the other techniques we will discuss below and you will probably find there will be less accidents along the way.
The crate training technique requires a little bit more work than paper training, but we still recommend it for most dog owners. However, if are at work all day we do not recommend this method as you should not leave your puppy in a crate all day.
How to House Train a Puppy – Paper Training
We’ve talked about using a create to toilet train your puppy above, now it is time to look at the second method. Puppies can’t be left in crates for too long as they need to regularly go to the toilet and they need company.
Paper or pad training a puppy is arguably the most common method for house training a dog. It is a great method if you can’t be at home all day to look after your new puppy.
Paper training involves teaching your puppy to go to the toilet on a wide area of pre-treated puppy pads or newspaper. You will want to place the pads or paper in a smallish room with washable floors (hint, your dog will miss the pads at the start). If you do not have an area like this in your home, you should purchase a play pen such as this one to contain them.
Equipment You Will Need
You can purchase puppy pads or we suggest you simply use an old stack of newspapers if you have some lying about.
How to Paper Train a Puppy?
Paper training is a simple process. Cover an area of the floor with pads or paper to begin with and encourage your dog to go to the toilet there.
Once your dog becomes more used to emptying their bladder on the paper, slowly cut the covered area down until they reliably use just a couple of sheets. You should find that your dog makes an effort to go to the toilet on the covered area, but it needs to start off large to get this behaviour started.
The next step is to slowly move the covered area towards the outside. You should find that your puppy begins to develop some self-control over their bladder. Encourage them to go to the toilet outside and move the paper outside as well.
If you are leaving your puppy inside for an extended period of time you should still use a pad, even when they start to get a bit more control over their bladder. Once they begin to get full control over their bladder and they have been taught to go to the toilet outside, you can eliminate the pads or paper from the equation.
One tip with this technique is that when you clean away the paper, keep one piece and place it in the middle of the new pile of papers. This will keep a slight scent of your puppy’s urine, which will attract them to the area. If you are using puppy pads you shouldn’t need to worry about this as most of them come pre-scented.
How Effective is Paper Training?
While paper training isn’t going to be fast as using a crate to house train your dog, it is still a very effective method. Paper training takes longer because you essentially train your puppy to go to the toilet inside and then re-train them to go outside.
You are also more likely to experience accidents with this method and you may come home to shredded paper or pads (like our Daisy liked to do when she was a puppy).
Still, if you are somebody who is out of the house for extended periods of time, this will be the best method for you to use. Paper training your dog is still helpful for those who want to use the crate method as you never know when you may have to leave your puppy for extended periods of time.
It is also a more passive method of toilet training, which is a plus for many dog owners. It requires less effort than any of the other methods in this article, but you will need to spend a bit of time cleaning up accidents along the way.
Why You Should Paper Tran Your Dog Just in Case
We feel it is always a good idea to paper train your puppy, even if you plan to use one of the other two methods in this guide. This is because depending on your dog’s age, it may be physically impossible for them to hold on for more than a few hours.
Even if you plan to never leave your dog for more than an hour or so, there is bound to be times when you have to leave your dog alone for much longer. You should plan for this not to happen, but you should be prepared if it does.
This means that you should paper train your dog as a backup solution. If you are crate training your dog you cannot leave them inside the crate all day, so it may be best to leave them in a smallish room with paper for them to go to the toilet on.
While we still feel that crate training is still the most efficient solution, paper training is useful for the odd occasion you are not home. Many dog owners use a combination of the two methods to get the best results with the least amount of mess.
How to Toilet Train Your Puppy – Constant Supervision
If you are home all the time you can try and constantly supervise your dog. You will need to work out your puppy’s toilet schedule and take them outside when they show signs that they need to go. We recommend that you set an alarm like we described in the crate training method.
What Equipment Do I Need?
Absolutely nothing. You are simply taking your dog outside when they need to go to the toilet and that’s it.
How Effective is this Method?
This really depends on how committed you are and how much time you can spend with your puppy. It is obviously not going to work if you have to go out for extended periods of time, but it is ok for those who are always home.
The problem is that no matter how good your intentions are, you will almost certainly let your guard down. It also doesn’t take advantage of your puppy’s natural instinct to not go to the toilet where they sleep, like crate training.
For this reason, it is not as effective as crate training and paper training will probably be better for the majority of dog owners. Constantly supervising your puppy can be quite tiring and you need to always be ready to take action, which is why we do not recommend this method for most dog owners.
How About a Combination of All Three?
In reality, combining all the three methods above is the best way to house train a dog. This will give you the best outcome and will get your puppy toilet trained quickly.
Crate Training is the most effective and quickest method, so we recommend using it if you can. Teaching your dog to use a crate also has a raft of other benefits which will help future training. It also uses your dog’s own natural instinct to quickly teach your dog where not to go to the toilet.
Paper training is helpful because you can’t always be there for your puppy and young dogs have almost no control over their bladder. While paper training isn’t nearly as effective as crate training, it is a great back up plan if you have to leave the house for extended periods of time. This why we recommend using it in addition to crate training.
You should be constantly supervising your dog when possible to prevent accidents from occurring. We don’t recommend contestant supervision on its own, but we do feel it is an important part of house training your dog. You should always be watchful and ready to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.
Can You Toilet Train a Puppy in One Week?
Owning a puppy is great, however, cleaning up their accidents is not. Toilet training can be a frustrating, messy process, so naturally there are plenty of people out there who want to get their dogs trained as quickly as possible.
There are plenty of articles and guides out there that say they can get your puppy toilet trained in a week or even a couple of days, but are they telling the truth. Is house training your puppy in less than a week even possible?
In one-word no, toilet training your dog in seven days or less is not possible, but there is a bit more to it than that. A dog is not completely house trained until they can wait at least a couple of hours between toilet trips, understand where the toilet area is and try not to wee in your house if you are late home.
Many people tend to think that they have successfully toilet trained their puppy when they have not had an accident for a few days. However, a dog is usually completely house trained at around five to six months.
Quick success with toilet training is usually a case of good management and a puppy that has some control over their bladder. It takes much longer for a puppy to develop complete control over their bladder and learn where they can and cannot go to the toilet.
Help! My Dog is Pooping and Peeing in the House!
Accidents can and will occur, however, repeated accidents can set your training back. As we have already stated, dogs like to pee where they have peed before so you need to keep accidents to a minimum.
If you do find that your dog is weeing or pooing in the house, you need to take action straight away. This isn’t because your dog is being naughty, they simply haven’t learnt to control their bladder yet.
If you find that your dog is going to the toilet inside, you need to do a couple of things:
- Always clean up mistakes thoroughly and remove any odour.
- Increase the amount of times you take your dog out to the toilet throughout the day.
Your dog’s bladder is small and they do not have much control over it so you need to take them out regularly. Additionally, a puppy has a short memory, so they need to be reminded frequently where their designated toilet area is.
If you do not clean up accidents quickly and thoroughly, your dog will probably learn to go in the same place again. This is because dogs love to go to the toilet where they have been before, especially if the scent is still around.
How to Extend the Time Between Toilet Breaks
We have already talked about how dogs need regular toilet breaks, but how do you go about extending the time between them. While all puppies are different a rough rule of thumb is that an eight week old puppy needs to go every 30 minutes, at 10 weeks every 45 minutes and so on from there.
We talked about setting an alarm to let you know when to take your dog to the toilet earlier in this article, and that will be helpful when you want to increase the time between breaks. Increase the time between toilet breaks by five minutes every four or five days.
If you find that your dog starts having accidents, dial back the time a bit and repeat the process again.
Slowly increasing the time between toilet breaks will teach your puppy the necessary bladder control to get them successfully house trained. Additionally, as your puppy gets older their bladder size increases and they will naturally gain more control over their bladder.
Below we have listed a guide to how often you should take your puppy to the toilet up:
- 8 weeks old – every 30 minutes
- 10 weeks old – every 45 minutes
- 12 weeks old – every 1 to 1.5 hours
- 16 weeks old – every 2 hours
- 20 weeks old – every 3 hours.
By the time your dog is five to six months old they should be capable of holding on for around four hours.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is About to Go to The Toilet
While we recommend you set an alarm to remind you to take your dog to the toilet, you should also be observant of your puppy’s behaviour. There are a number of signs you should be on the lookout for:
- Pacing or circling around an area
- Barking and/or whining
- Moving towards or scratching the door to the outside
- Leaving the room or heading to a hidden spot away from their bedding
- Biting or naughty behaviour
Any time you notice these signs you should take your dog to the toilet. While many of them can signal something totally different, you don’t want to risk a nasty mess on your floor.
Puppies will tend to display one or more of these behaviours before going to the toilet. However, remember that all dogs are different so it is important to learn your puppy’s particular behaviour patterns.
Predicting When Your Puppy Needs to Go
There is no sure-fire way to predict exactly when a puppy needs to go to the toilet, but you should expect about three to six poops a day and many more pees. Additionally, you can use your puppy’s activity schedule to work out when they might need to go to the toilet.
- Puppies will tend to go to the toilet after the following:
- Soon after eating or drinking
- Immediately after playtime
- Immediately after they get any excitement
- When they wake up in the morning or after a nap
- Before going to bed
How to Train a Dog to Go to The Toilet On Command
While this is not an essential part of house training a dog it can be an incredibly useful command to teach your dog. It can be helpful in situations where you do not have much time or right before bed time.
Each time your puppy goes to the toilet in the designated toilet area, you can use a cue or special word. It doesn’t really matter what you use as long as it is quick to say. For example, we say “be quick” to our dogs in an upbeat sort of way.
However, remember to be consistent with this word. There is no point in training your dog to use this command if you are constantly switching words around. If you have multiple people in your house make sure they all use the same word.
After a couple of weeks, you will find that your dog begins to associate the word with the action of going to the toilet. When you say the word your dog will get the urge to go to the bathroom. Always praise and reward your dog for doing this as it will further reinforce the command.
In a couple of months, most puppies will have learnt to go to the toilet on command with this simple training technique.
Note: Do not use a word for your toilet command that gets used at other times. For example, if you use something like ‘hurry up’, you may accidentally use it when leaving the house and things could get messy. We like to use be quick because we don’t usually say it to our dogs.
Why You Should Train Your Dog to Use a Collar and Lead Early
Toilet training can be made much easier if you train your dog to use a lead and collar at an early age. Some dog owners like to pick up their puppy to take them out or just let them walk by themselves, but this can become a problem later on.
When you first get your puppy home they will probably go to the toilet as soon as you take them outside for the first couple of weeks. However, as your dog gains more control over their bladder they will want to play when you take them to the toilet.
Training your dog to use a collar and lead will mean you can keep them close until they have finished. If you don’t do this you could be waiting while your dog plays and investigates all the interesting smells, sights and sounds.
You should start training your dog to use a collar and lead as soon as you get them home. Delaying lead and collar training will just put them back and make other training more difficult. Cesarsway has a good introduction to puppy lead training which we recommend you check out.
How to Take Your Puppy to The Toilet Spot
In a perfect world you would open the back door and your puppy would quickly go to the toilet in the right spot and return to you. However, we are not in a perfect world and your puppy will probably want to play and investigate the environment when they get outside.
As we recommend above, you should train your dog to use a lead and collar as early as possible, so that you can keep them close when you take them to the toilet. This will stop them wandering off and as soon as they have emptied themselves you can take them back inside.
You should also use your toilet command or cue word when you take them outside. Remember to say this word before you take them to the toilet and when they are in the act. They will soon learn what this word means and what they need to do. Saying the word every time will lead to faster results and less waiting around outside.
Stay with your puppy when you get to the toilet spot. If you are using a lead then you will obviously be close to your puppy, so this is for those who choose not to use one. Failing to stay near your puppy while they are going to the toilet will only make them more anxious to return to you. Their anxiety may make your puppy take longer or they may not go to the toilet at all.
Do not distract your puppy. Once you get to the toilet spot, don’t do or say anything that may distract your dog. Be as uninteresting as you can possibly be until they start to do their business, then you can praise and reward your dog.
Rewarding and praising your puppy will show them that you are happy with what they are doing, and that they are doing the right thing. A reward can be anything from playtime, to food to cuddles, so remember to mix it up.
What If My Puppy Just Doesn’t Want to Go?
You are probably going to come across and the first thing we recommend is making sure you are spending enough time outside with them.
Many dog owners will take their puppies outside for a minute or two and then come back inside. This is simply not enough time, as a dog will not go until they are ready to do so.
Some people recommend that you stay outside for as long as it takes whether it is 5, 10 or 15 minutes, and then reward them once they have relieved themselves.
We feel that waiting more than five minutes is probably a waste of time. If your dog hasn’t gone in five minutes, they probably aren’t ready to empty themselves yet.
While you are outside, say the toilet command every 30 seconds or so and don’t do anything else. Just stand there holding their lead, so they cannot move away.
If your puppy doesn’t relieve themselves within five minutes, bring them back indoors and then closely supervise them. Keep a look out for any signs (like we discussed earlier) that they may want to go to the toilet. Take them to the toilet spot again 10 minutes later to see if they want to go.
For those using crate training: Put your puppy back in their crate and leave them for around 10 minutes. Once ten minutes is up or they start to show signs of needing to go to the toilet, take them outside again. Do not leave them in the crate for too long as they may be forced to soil themselves in it. Avoid this at all costs if possible.
For those using paper training: Bring your puppy back in and confine them to an area that has paper or puppy pads. Then take your dog outside again after ten minutes or when they start to show signs of needing to go.
Remember to not take your eyes off your puppy as you may have just brought them back in with a full bladder.
How to Toilet Train a Puppy at Night
Young puppies will usually not be capable of lasting all night without going to the toilet. However, some lucky owners may find that their puppies can last six or seven hours before needing to go to the toilet at night. For most puppies around eight to ten weeks old you should expect them to last around four hours before needing to empty themselves during the night.
The reason for this is that a dog’s body slows down during the night and they do not need to go to the toilet as often.
Remember to take your puppy to the toilet right before they go to bed so they can empty their bladder. We then recommend that you set an alarm for about four hours after their bed time and then take them to the toilet.
If your puppy has made a mess in this time, you should set your alarm slightly earlier for the next night. Increase this time by 15 minutes every successful night where your puppy has not had an accident.
While it is a pain to wake up in the middle of the night to let your puppy go to the toilet, it is necessary for house training purposes. Luckily, the time that your puppy can hold on for overnight will increase rapidly. By around 10 weeks you will probably find that your puppy can last around seven hours without needing to go to the bathroom. However, not all puppies are the same, so yours may be capable of lasting longer or shorter.
Puppies that are 16 weeks and older should be capable of lasting a full night, especially if you do not feed them for 3 hours prior to bed time. Always remember to let your dog go to the toilet before bed time as well.
Using this method of gradually increasing the time between toilet breaks at night will limit the number of accidents that occur. There will be a couple of inevitable accidents along the way, but don’t worry about these.
What to Do When You Take Your Puppy to The Toilet at Night
As hard as it may seem, night-time toilet trips are not a time to play with your new puppy. You need to teach your puppy that night-time is for sleepy and not cuddles or playtime.
When your alarm goes off, quickly take your dog outside and say the toilet command. When your dog goes to the toilet, praise them and say the command again to reinforce it. Following this, simply take your puppy back inside and put them to bed. Do not make a fuss of them and avoid any games.
If you start playing or cuddling your puppy at night you will soon come to regret it!
For Those Using Crate Training
Letting your puppy go potty in their crate is a big no-no. If your puppy is forced to go to the toilet in their crate it can ruin their natural instinct to keep it clean. Your puppy’s natural instinct of keeping their crate clean is the single biggest advantage of that method.
The odd accident is fine, but if it starts to happen more than once in a given week you need to progress slower. If your puppy does make a mess in their crate, set your alarm back 30 or 45 minutes and move from there.
Try and add 15 minutes every two days instead of every one. Additionally, you may want to forgo the crate at night and simply use an exercise pen or a small room. You can then place paper or puppy pads down on the floor, so that your dog can empty themselves there if they really have to. Keeping your dog’s natural instinct to keep their crate clean is incredibly important.
Puppy Toilet Training While Working Full Time
The reality for most of us is that we have to work full time or be out of the house for extended periods of time. This means that we have to leave our puppies for quite a while between toilet breaks.
If this is you, you need not worry. We have touched on this earlier in the article but we thought it deserved its own section.
For those that want to use or are using crate training, you cannot leave your dog in the crate for an extended period during the day. Your dog will be forced to empty their bowels in the crate, which will be upsetting for them and will ruin the crates power as a toilet training tool.
Some families or people may be able to enlist the help of other people or work out a schedule so somebody can be home at all times of the day. However, this isn’t possible for everyone but we recommend that you give it your best shot.
With that in mind, what if you simply can’t get anyone to help or everyone is out for the day?
Confine Your Puppy
We don’t mean confine your puppy in their crate, but in a much larger space. We recommend somewhere like a kitchen with hard, easily cleanable floors. If you don’t have a room like this, we recommend using an exercise pen or a baby gate to lock off an area of your house.
For those who plan to use an exercise pen, make sure you place their bedding, toys and a water bowl in there.
Additionally, confining your puppy to an area of the house will keep them safer. Puppies and adult dogs can get themselves into all sorts of trouble if they are left alone in the house. Keeping them in one area means that you have control over everything they have access to.
Use Paper Training
In the confined area or exercise pen you should place some paper or puppy pads, so that your dog can go to the toilet on them. This is why we recommend you train your dog to use paper or pads, as it should stop them from going to the toilet in places you do not want them to. Additionally, it will be much easier to clean up when you get home.
What If I Find an Accident but Didn’t Catch My Puppy in The Act?
If you find a wee or poo, but didn’t see your dog doing it, there is nothing you can do about it. Do not try and punish your dog or get angry at them. Your puppy will not be able to connect your displeasure with going to the toilet in the wrong place.
Getting angry at your puppy may encourage them to start eating their own poo as a means to hide it. Additionally, they may try to go to the toilet in a secret place to keep it hidden from you.
If you do stumble across an accident on the floor, simply clean it up and move on. Remember to also check your schedule to see why the accident may have occurred. Are you leaving your dog too long? Or are you not taking them out to the toilet after they have had dinner? If so, correct these mistakes or reduce the time between toilet breaks to prevent any accidents from occurring.
Food and Water Are an Important Part of House Training
While you may not think it at first, food and water has an incredibly important role when it comes to toilet training a dog. After all, what goes in must come out!
You need to select a food product that suits the breed and age of your dog. Food is something you shouldn’t cheap out on and higher quality dog food products have their benefits.
High quality food can result in less bowel movements. Interestingly, higher quality food products will almost certainly result in fewer number 2s. This is because lower quality food is harder to digest and is full of cheap fillers that pass through your dog’s digestive system quicker. Higher quality food is more easily digested and more nutrients get absorbed from the food, which will result in fewer stools throughout the day.
High quality food has a higher nutritional value. A higher nutritional value food product is better for growing puppies and adult dogs alike. It will lead to less health complications down the track and your dog will thank you for it.
High quality food can help your dog last longer. As it takes longer for high quality food to be digestive, your dog’s stools will be firmer, which can help teach your dog bowel control. Firmer stools will also be easier to clean up than soft or liquid ones.
Don’t Change Dog Food Brands
Well, within reason. If you really have to change the food you feed your dog then go ahead, but there is a good reason why we suggest you keep the same one.
Dramatic or constant changes in a dog’s diet can often cause diarrhea or loose stools. Your puppy may simply not be capable of holding it in, which is obviously a bad thing when it comes to house training.
Pick a good, high quality dog food that is nutritionally complete for your dog. You may want to select the same one that your puppy’s breeder is using or you may want use one that is recommended by your vet. Changing once is usually fine, but if you are selecting a new dog food every week or two than problems will begin to appear.
Feed Your Puppy to a Schedule
If you feed your puppy at the same time every day they will begin to develop a toilet pattern. They will go to the toilet at roughly the same time every day, which makes house training a lot easier.
Base your schedule around the times you feed your puppy. Your puppy will soon learn your schedule and will try and hold on until a toilet break.
Additionally, you should not free feed your dog. This is where you leave food out for your puppy all day and they can come and pick it up at any time during the day.
If your puppy eats at random times they will need to poop at random times as well, making it impossible to create a solid schedule. With no predictable pattern it will be much harder to toilet train your dog.
Remember to always stick to a feeding schedule. Whether that be twice or three times a day at set times. It is often recommend to feed a young puppy three times a day until they get older and then you can move to twice a day.
What About Water?
Unlike food, you should certainly not limit your dog’s water to two or three times a day. Your puppy should have water freely available to them throughout the day. Remember to monitor their intake of water to see if they are drinking too much or too little.
The only time you may want to restrict water is for a couple of hours before bedtime. If your dog drinks too much before they go to bed, you are probably going to wake up to lots of little puddles all around the place. However, when we have house trained our dogs we have never worried about restricting water and we have never run into a problem.
A Toilet Training Checklist
Before you get your puppy home, you should make a checklist to make sure you have everything you need to toilet train your dog. If your already have your puppy don’t worry, it’s never too late to make one.
We’ve created an example checklist that you can use if you want. This is just a simple guide so chop and change it as you see fit:
- Decided upon an appropriate bathroom spot
- Decided when you will feed your dog and the food product you will be giving them
- Purchased a collar and lead
- Trained your dog to use a collar or lead, or are in the process of training
- Selected the appropriate training method. We recommend using a combination of all three, but sometimes this is not possible
- Purchased a crate and bedding
- Purchased an exercise pen or chosen a place of confinement
- Bought toys for your puppy to play with. Check out this article for the best toys for puppies.
- Decided on any commands or cues if you will be using them
- Purchased puppy pads or have old newspapers on hand
- Bought a tarpaulin or protective sheet to use under the crate or exercise pen
- Purchased some dog treats
- Worked out a plan with your family and friends, or those in your house
- Purchased cleaning products and stain removers
How to Know When to Stop Toilet Training?
The simple answer is when your dog stops having accidents in the house. However, as we discussed earlier there is a bit more to it than that.
While your puppy may not have had any accidents recently, it does not mean they are house trained. Most dogs can be house trained by about five to six months, but some may take longer than that.
A toilet training dog should be capable of lasting at least four hours without needing to go to the bathroom. You need to watch your dog’s behaviour and only stop when you know you can trust them.
Mistakes can set you back, so avoid them at all costs.
The odd accident is bound to happen but you should avoid them at all costs. Many dog owners become complacent too early and give their puppies too much freedom. This leads to accidents which can set you back a couple of weeks.
Stick to your plan and slowly increase the time between toilet breaks, always reverting back to a shorter time if an accident does occur. Don’t every punish your dog or rush them at any point.
We recommend that you keep on house training your dog as normal until they haven’t made a mistake for around six to eight weeks. This will ensure they are trained and you can trust them.
Summing Up How to House Train a Puppy
As you can see there is quite a lot of information to take in about toilet training a puppy. You need to keep accidents to a minimum and make sure you heavily reward your dog for doing the right thing. The more you do this, the quicker they will learn.
Always keep an eye out for your dog’s behaviour and if you notice any changes take them to the bathroom spot as soon as possible.
Remember to keep a schedule and make sure you feed your dog at the same time of the day every day. Take them out to the toilet regularly and take into account your puppy’s capabilities, age and natural instinct.
Toilet training is probably one of the lest enjoyable parts about owning a dog, but it is incredibly important. This guide should cover everything you need to know about house training a puppy, so make sure you share it with anyone who may need it if you get the chance.