Toilet training

Posted 21 Nov 2022

Teaching your puppy or dog to toilet in the right spot can be a stressful experience for you both.

A new addition to the family will need time to adjust to your home and routine and get used to the new location – house, backyard and neighbourhood included. And it’s not just the sights that matter to your dog either, but also the smells and noises.

While you should start toilet training your puppy as soon as you get home, it’s important to remember that it takes time and patience, and every puppy is different.

How often does my puppy need to toilet?

Baby puppies need to empty their bladder much more frequently than adult dogs, so it’s important to offer lots of opportunities for them to go in the right place.
The number of toilet trips should align with your puppy's age. As a rough guide:

  • Puppies aged 6 - 14 weeks will need to toilet 8 - 10 times daily
  • Puppies aged 14 weeks - 5 months will need to toilet 6 - 8 times daily
  • Puppies aged 5 - 7 months will need to toilet 4 - 6 times daily
  • Pups aged 7 months and older will need to toilet 3 - 4 times daily

‚ÄčHow do I teach my puppy where to go?

Dogs generally learn where to eliminate through associations with smell, location and surface type. For this reason baby puppies should be set up in a den to limit unsupervised access to the home and avoid accidents in unwanted places.

We recommend setting up a puppy pen with bedding, food, water and toys and on the opposite side adding a garden tray filled with a substrate that your dog is going to need to learn to toilet on such as turf, artificial turf, pebbles, paving slabs, or a professionally made indoor dog toilet.

The trick is to observe your dog closely at times when they are likely to need to go to the toilet, then take them to the desired location on lead and stand and wait with your dog (without interacting so they don’t get distracted) until they eliminate.

To show your dog that they’ve done the right thing don’t forget to praise them when they get it right!

What should I watch out for?

Common signs that your puppy might need to toilet include:

  • Sniffing the floor
  • Circling
  • Looking restless, pacing or whining
  • Going into a room they have previously toileted in

Puppies will also generally need to toilet after waking up from a sleep, following a large drink, after eating and after playing either with humans or other dogs.  

What happens if my puppy toilets in the wrong place?

Accidents will happen! It’s a fact of life. Crucial to this; however, is not to get angry. A dog who is punished for toileting may start to hide when they need to go, which makes training muhch harder. Don’t make a fuss or an issue over it, just simply clean it up.

It’s also important to use an ammonia-free cleaning product and make sure you clean it well when a puppy has an accident. If the area smells like the toilet area to your pup, it will continue to be used as one.

If you notice your dog is about to go in the wrong place and you’d like to avoid an accident, interrupt them in a calm and cheerful way, and take them to the correct spot. Remember to praise them when they go!

Still struggling? Email [email protected] to book an in-home or online behaviour consultation!  

New dog or puppy?

Book a course or behaviour consultation today!