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Debunking Common Toilet Training Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction

23/08/2023 - Adolescent Dogs

House training a new puppy is often number one priority for dog owners – for obvious reasons! For some, this process goes incredibly smoothly while for others it can be a bumpy ride. It is integral to us living a happy life together and how we approach this task can make all the difference. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths out there around toilet training which are not only unhelpful but can actively delay our success! We’re here to debunk a few of these myths and help you get off on the right foot from day one.
Puppy Pads
The use of puppy pads is probably the most common method of house training. The idea is that our dogs learn to do their business on the pads and, over time, we can move these towards the back door, reduce the area we cover with them and even move them outside if needed. Of course, plenty of people have gotten there eventually using this method but did you know it could actually be slowing down your progress? Using puppy pads actually encourages our dogs to find something absorbent inside the house to go to the toilet on. We can then run into problems when we try to move or reduce the use of puppy pads, as puppy looks for the next best thing – a throw blanket, a rug, our furniture! 
Rubbing Their Nose in It/Scolding
A very outdated – and, thankfully, much less popular – piece of advice is to “rub their nose in it.” While most people know that this is the wrong approach, many still fall into the trap of scolding their dog when they see them toilet indoors. Many of us don’t even really mean to – but as the mess is unpleasant to us, we allow our emotions to spill out and this can affect our puppy. It’s really important that we make any accidents indoors a non-event and simply call puppy outside in case they have any more to do before clearing up the mess (make sure you use an enzyme cleaner to avoid this becoming a regular toilet spot!). Overreacting or actively scolding our dogs when they go to the toilet doesn’t teach them that going indoors is wrong – it teaches them that going when you’re around is a bad idea! This can quickly lead to a dog who will hide behind furniture where we can’t see them and go there and who we can sit outside with for ages while they hold it because they are too anxious to go with us there! 
Night Time Toileting
Many of us accept accidents happening overnight – but did you know that this can massively delay the toilet training process? Not only is it much nicer for our dogs to sleep in a totally clean environment but, every time our dogs go to the loo inside, they are learning that this is a suitable place to get relief from that uncomfortable feeling of needing a wee. If we want our dogs to learn, over time, how to hold it and wait until they have access to the outside, now is the time to really put the effort in to avoid them going indoors as much as we possibly can. It’s not the most fun aspect of raising a puppy, but middle-of-the-night trips outside for a wee and getting up early are vital! At some point between 12-20 weeks (on average, varying depending on breed/individual), your pup will be able to hang on until morning.
How Long Does It Take?
How long it takes for our pups to become fully toilet trained will vary from breed to breed. Larger breeds can often hold it for longer at an earlier age than smaller breeds, simply because they have a bigger bladder – but don’t expect miracles if you have a large breed pup, as they also have to drink more water to stay adequately hydrated! It will also vary depending on how they were raised at the breeders – did they have puppy pads everywhere, did they have a designated toileting area, access to outside or maybe even a puppy culture litter tray?! The habits they started building during those first few weeks will certainly make a difference. Unsurprisingly, it’s often quicker to house train our pups during the summer, when it’s more pleasant outside and we may even be leaving the back door open so they can pop out as they please. Our human schedules will also make a HUGE difference – if we can be available throughout the day for regular, short trips outside for the loo, this will speed things along beautifully. If we’re not able to do this, our dogs will inevitably have more indoor accidents and it will take a little longer for them to learn the ropes.
Whatever your circumstances, remember that your puppy is just a baby – in those early weeks, they literally cannot hold it. When the need strikes, they’ve gotta go! It’s our job to set them up for success and keep them on the straight and narrow! 
Top Tips
  • Lots of regular trips outside after every nap, playtime, training session or meal.
  • Monitor their body language – if they’ve just dropped their toy and started having a frantic sniff, it’s probably wise to whizz them outside!
  • Never, ever scold them. In fact, avoid sounding too startled as this can startle our dogs, too, and have the same impact as scolding them even if we don’t mean to.
  • Remember they are babies and show compassion – it’s not fun clearing up dog mess from our carpets and homes, but we chose to get a puppy and it’s entirely down to us to provide the time, patience and understanding they need to learn and thrive.
  • Keep stocked up with enzyme cleaner, so you can properly clean any areas where they do relieve themselves – this will help to prevent them establishing toileting areas indoors. Even if we can’t smell it, without the use of appropriate enzyme cleaner our dogs certainly will!
  • Relax! Look, you’ve brought a baby animal into your home – accidents WILL happen, no matter how present and vigilant you are! It’s not the end of the world and if we bring out human hang ups and anxieties to the table, it can easily spill over and influence our dogs. The last thing we need is a dog with anxiety about toilet time!
  • Get in touch with a dog trainer – your new pup is going to need the education and socialisation of a structured group class, anyway, and a trainer can give you the support, reassurance and advice you need if you’re struggling with this universal truth of puppy raising! If you need any extra assistance with teaching your dogs how to go to the toilet outside, book a 121 with us.

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