The arrival of a new furry friend is the perfect time to celebrate – and to arm yourself with some tips and tricks for toilet training your puppy.
Toilet training takes time, patience and consistency, but once a routine is established, the result will be a happy household!
Tips and tricks for toilet training your puppy
The RSPCA recommends reward-based positive reinforcement training as the most effective method.
Start this training as soon as your pup comes home.
1. Choose a designated toileting area
Dogs don’t like to toilet where they sleep and eat – they need a separate toileting area. Many people choose an outdoor space such as the garden. The scents of urine and faeces will linger, reminding your pup this is the place to toilet, but don’t forget to scoop the poop on a regular basis to keep it clean.
If you don’t have a garden or a balcony, then designate an indoor toileting area. A litter tray or portable pet loo works well. Some models have a top layer of synthetic grass allowing urine to drain into a tray underneath.
2. Recognise when your pup needs to toilet
Pups have small bladders so need to toilet regularly. They often want to go first thing in the morning, after eating and after playing so watch them closely at these times. While they can’t tell you in words, these clever creatures can communicate their need to toilet. Have you seen your pup sniffing the ground, appearing agitated, walking in circles then crouching on the spot?
3. Develop a routine
Your puppy will fit into your household more comfortably if you develop a routine with regular feeding and toileting times. Set an alarm to feed your pup then take them outside. Use the lead to guide your pup to the designated area, point and use a command to encourage them to toilet. This is not the time to play or give them cuddles – puppies are easily distracted so keep their focus on the task at hand.
4. Use commands
Choose a word or phrase such as toilet, wee or go to the toilet. Use this command when your puppy shows signs of wanting to toilet and repeat it when they go to the designated area.
5. Reward their behaviour
When your pup toilets in the right place, offer a reward immediately to reinforce the behaviour. Give your pup lots of praise, a pat or cuddle, a food treat or their favourite toy. Don’t delay this step or the association with toileting will be lost.
6. What about accidents?
Despite your best efforts, accidents will happen! According to the RSPCA, puppies may not have full bladder control until they are older.
If your pup is about to go in the wrong place, quickly and calmly attach the lead then guide them to the designated area and give the toilet command.
If you stumble across a toileting accident, resist the temptation to raise your voice or punish your pup. This can do more harm than good and delay toilet training. A scared and confused pup may be unwilling to toilet in front of you and feel the need to hide their mess.
The positive reinforcement approach advises ignoring accidents. Make sure you clean up messes using products that will neutralise the scent. Non-ammonia cleaners work well and reduce the chances of your pup returning to inappropriate places. Continue to give your furry friend lots of opportunities to go outdoors and reward them when they toilet in the right place.
Toilet training your puppy can be a messy and frustrating experience but time, patience and consistency in following these steps is the key to success.