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How to Toilet Train Your Puppy

How to Toilet Train Your Puppy

By – Carly Bowden Diploma of Canine Behavioral Science  

As a dog trainer one of the areas that I see new puppy owners struggle with is toilet training. Puppies arrive in their new homes as cute, tiny little balls of mischief and little ‘mistakes’ happen often and we are quick to forgive due to those big adorable puppy eyes. However, there are ways that you can easily set your puppy up for success to get on top of toilet training from the get go and ensure your puppy is house trained quickly.

What are secrets to toilet training a puppy quickly in a stress free way for all parties involved? Follow these easy steps below and you will on your way to having a harmonious, wee and poo free home in no time!!! 

1.  Management. Always ensure that the puppy’s environment is set up accordingly so your puppy cannot fail. When you are unable to fully supervise your puppy and give them your full attention, they should be contained in a pen area or crated. Just like a new baby they require 24/7 supervision and when they are not in your line of sight, having them contained safely where they cannot hurt themselves, or get up to mischief or toilet in areas they shouldn’t. Puppies will not normally toilet in confined areas where they sleep or eat. Using their pen regularly will help with keeping them confined and settled in their own space. The puppy will need space for a bed, space to eat/drink and if using puppy pads placing them at the furthest point away for their bed and food/water. Setting up their pen like their own little mini apartment with segregated areas. Here is a great example of how a puppy pen should look:

2.  Regular consistent visits outside. Puppies only have small bladders and need to be taken outside regularly. When you are home, setting alarms for every 45 minutes/hour, taking out puppies when they wake up, after eating, after playing and when they are coming out of their play pen/crate. When teaching a puppy to toilet outside visits to the yard need to be a calm time where you wait patiently for your puppy to toilet. When they toilet outside in the right area ALWAYS reward your puppy with some treats or a fun game. Dogs do what works! So if they are rewarded for going to the toilet outside on the grass, they will repeat that behaviour over time. Over time your puppy will start using the puppy pads less in their pen and as they grow you can gradually take them away. 

3.  Patience. When taking your puppy outside for them to toilet it is important to remember to be patient. Most puppies are often excited and over stimulated when they are first taken outside and want to run around and play instead of calmly sniff around and toilet. Some puppies may need to be kept on lead when going into the yard for toileting time and once they have done their business, been rewarded for toileting in the right place, then they can have their off the lead play time. Not all puppies will toilet immediately, sometimes in wet weather, night time or windy weather it may take extra time or coaxing, do not give in.

4.  Living in apartments. Introducing puppies into life in apartments where there is not easy access to grassed area means reliance on puppy pads more. Just like normal toilet training you would focus on rewarding your puppy for toileting on puppy pads and gradually increasing the size of play pen area as long as they still remain using the puppy pads.

5.  Puppy pads. When using puppy pads it is important to remember that they are to be used whilst your puppy is being house trained and being left alone for long periods of time. Similar to rewarding them for toileting outside, you can utilise a leash and walk them over to the puppy pads regularly and reward them when they make the decision to do their business on their puppy pad! Material puppy pads such as the ones made by Dundies are perfect as they are reusable and environmentally friendly and they cannot be shredded and eaten by little sharp puppy teeth. You can purchase them HERE:

What Not to Do! 

1.  Never punish your puppy if you catch them in the act (or after the act) and they have toileted in the wrong area. Your puppy does not make associations like us humans and often will not understand what they are being punished for. Punishing, yelling or “rubbing their nose in it” will often result in a puppy who becomes anxious or scared of toileting in front of you and you end up with a puppy who will run off and hide their “accidents” for you to find later. You want your pup to feel comfortable toileting in front of you so you can continue to reward them when they do go in the right place!

2.  Always clean up accidents using a product that actually neutralises the smell for the dog and not just the humans! Many commercial lovely smelling cleaning products may get rid of the smell for us, but dogs sense of smell is so strong they can still smell the urine and will continue to toilet in the same spot. The easiest way to clean up smells for good is to use a mixture of white vinegar and water.

3.  Never let your puppy have free reign of your home until they are fully toilet trained. Ever toilet trained a human toddler? Leaving a puppy will full access is like leaving a toddler roaming around your home without a nappy, you will only find lots of surprises for you to clean up!

4.  If you let your guard down, you are letting down the team. If your puppy is having lots of mistakes inside then you need to ensure that you are managing the puppy’s environment accordingly and setting them up for success.

Once you have tackled the joy of toilet training you can focus on enjoying the rest of puppy hood! I promise you if you put in the hard yards and set them up for success in the first few weeks it will pay off. Patience, consistency and lots of rewards means a happy healthy puppy and a nice clean and pee/poop free home!

Carly Bowden DipCBST


Carly has completed a Diploma of Canine Behaviour and Science (Dip. CBST) and has been training dogs for over 5 years now. Continued education is important to her and she attends many dog training courses, annual conferences and is a registered members of APDT, and PPG. She is currently doing a certificate in Nose Work and my Force Free Pets certification. She loves to learn and being in an unregulated industry, pushes herself to continue to upskill and learn as much as she can in order to help her human and dog clients. 

You can read more about Carly and her training here.



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