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How to toilet train a puppy?

10/03/2022 - Puppy Training Advice

How to toilet train a puppy?

So, you’ve just brought your new little bundle of joy home – the fun can now begin! But, alongside all the wonderful and brilliant things puppies bring to our lives, are the not-so-fun things. For example – toileting in the house. This is, understandably, a big priority for all puppy owners and something we want to get right from day one if we can. Knocking this one on the head early will save everyone a lot of hassle! So, what are the most important things to remember when toilet training your new pup?

Be Patient

Young puppies are still learning how to physically “hold it,” and even if we are with them all day and do everything perfectly, they may have the odd accident! Be patient with them, and with yourselves.

Never Scold Them

We never, ever want to scold our puppies for going to the toilet. For one thing, it’s just mean – they’re babies, and they don’t know the “rules” yet. But, beyond it being completely unfair to cause our little pups distress in this way, it’s also going to completely screw up our training. All our pups will learn from being scolded is 1) that maybe you, their human, aren’t so nice to be around and 2) that they definitely DON’T want to go the bathroom with you there. Why is this a problem for toilet training? Well, we’re probably supervising our puppy when we take them outside at the moment – waiting to praise them when they go to the loo in the garden. If they don’t want to go to the toilet around you, they’ll hold it until they can get inside and then probably go and hide behind some furniture to do the business!

Praise Them or Ignore It

Whenever puppy goes to the loo in the right place, let them know they’ve done a good job with praise or even a treat. If they go in the wrong place, simply clean it up calmly and don’t worry about it. It happens – it’s not fun, but it’s not the end of the world. And, as we’ve already discussed, there is absolutely no benefit in getting annoyed with them. Pups can be very sensitive to our body language, so try to take a breath and relax so they know nothing is wrong.

Avoid Puppy Pads

I know, I know – many puppy owners will be panicking when they read this one! We understand that sometimes a puppy pad is handy – it’s certainly easier to clean up once our pups have had an accident if it’s on a puppy pad. But here’s the thing: we don’t really want them to have accidents in the first place, do we? So, what is a puppy pad teaching our dogs? It’s teaching them to 1) go to the loo inside and 2) find something nice and absorbent to go on. Once we start phasing out the puppy pads, that plush rug is starting to look like a pretty suitable alternative. But don’t worry, we have more tips for you that will explain how to toilet train without them!

Regular Loo Breaks

This is the BIGGEST one. As we’ve discussed, our pups are still learning – both mentally and physically – how to hold it. We need to take them outside to give them a chance to do their business as often as we can, and particularly after ANY activity or event. As soon as they wake from a nap, after every meal, and especially if they’ve just been busy playing or training! Even when your pup is starting to get the hang of letting you know when they need the loo, they will easily miss their own internal signals if they are busy doing something else like interacting with you. That makes this a prime time for them to get caught short! So, whizz they straight out afterwards, just in case.

Night Time Loo Breaks

Another vital one. We know the prospect of broken sleep is not a fun one, but waking up every morning and having to clear up our dog’s mess is going to get old pretty quickly. Young puppies simply can’t make it all night, so rather than leaving them to have an accident, plan to get up in the early hours to give them a chance to go. They’re also more likely to sleep in a little later if they’re comfortable, so you’ll make up your lost sleep time when they’re snoozing soundly later on!


Throughout the day, you need to be supervising your pup and paying attention to their signals. They may start fidgeting, whining, sniffing with a purpose, circling etc when they need the loo – keep an eye out for these and nip outside when you see them for a chance to make sure they’re in the right place at the right time!

Teach Them How to Communicate

Thing about what you’d like your dog to do to let you know that they want to go outside – and take them outside whenever they do it. Our puppies aren’t silly, they will notice the pattern quickly. So if you want them to stand by the back door to ask to go out, pop outside with them whenever you catch them doing this! 
Just like with any training, toilet training is really all about setting our dogs up for success. That means making it as easy as possible for them to get it right! Dogs are naturally quite happy to go to the toilet away from where they like to eat and sleep, so giving them plenty of opportunities to do the deed outside, praising them for doing so and being consistent is the best way to ensure they learn quickly. Be patient, and remember that your puppy really is still a baby – your persistence WILL pay off!
If you are struggling with any elements of your puppy’s training we offer 121 training which can be tailored to help any puppy training need. Book here

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