A Brief Guide To Toilet Training Puppies


Toilet training young pups is something that all puppy owners have to deal with. Thankfully puppies learn pretty quickly and with the correct guidance and positive reinforcement they can pick up their potty habits in just a short amount of time.

Some things to understand before embarking on the potty rules:

  • – Remember puppies are ‘babies’. They are young and everything is new and strange. They do not know what that full feeling in their bladder means yet. This is something that they will learn through repetition of toileting.

  • – It is unrealistic to expect your ‘baby’ to tell you when he needs to go. Until they learn what that full feeling means by associating it with doing the deed, they have no idea when to tell you.

  • – Accidents may still happen! Toilet training is a big learning curve for them. Be sure never to tell them off for accidents whilst they learn. Doing so could cause them to associate that negative feeling from being ‘told off’ with the action of toileting – potentially leading to nervous worrying over needing the loo in the future.

  • – Clean up! If accidents do happen be sure to clean them up with an effective enzymatic cleaner to remove all traces of urine to stop pups from being attracted to the spot again. We love Urine Off and Fizzion for this job!

Take it step by step, don’t expect too much from your pup.

Remember your pup is a baby and they haven’t yet learned the association between the ‘need’ to go to the toilet and the action and place it should take place. Toilet training pups takes time and patience. Here a few tips to get you started.

Be there for him

Be there for them and take them to your desired toileting area time and time again. By taking them to the same spot each time you are building an association between that spot and the deed that is easy for them to learn and understand.

Take him out to toilet every 30 minutes!

This means that you will be taking the pup out many times during the day including:

  •  When they wake up
  • When they start to move about after resting

  • After they drink or eat – puppies have very short digestive systems and will need to toilet soon after eating or drinking. Try to keep them to a feeding schedule so that you can better plan their toileting needs.

  • After play or exercise

  • If they sniff the ground and/or circles

  • If they becomes excited e.g. when visitors call

If they ‘perform’ you must reward them with treats, play, and praise. On those occasions when they do not ‘perform’, let them return quietly indoors.

Repetition is key.

By repeating the process of going to their pee spot time and time again you are teaching them that the ‘need’ building is directly linked to going to the toilet spot you have chosen. Remember, dogs learn best through repetition and positive reinforcement. Building this association will allow them to learn what the ‘need’ means and how to act upon it. The puppy will soon start to move towards the door when they need to go to the toilet – so watch carefully and be sure to give them lots of rewards and praise for ‘telling’ you.

Be clear about toilet time and play time.

If you are teaching the pup to go to a particular spot in the garden. Be sure to take them only to that spot to toilet, once done, take them quietly back inside. Separate trips to the garden should be made for playtime. Leaving the door open is something many owners fall into the habit of especially during the summer months when toilet training a puppy, however doing so is teaching them that going to the garden is a trip to an adventure playground, not a business trip. Staying with them and taking them to your pee spot before play will help stop bad habits from developing.

Verbal Cues.

Adding a verbal cue when you reach the pee spot and the pup does their business will improve the ability to tell the dog when to toilet once the training is complete. Cue words such as “quick quick” or “wee wees” are great options as they are rarely used in everyday interactions, reserved only for the purposes of telling the dog to go to the toilet.

Be Patient.

Following the tips above should help your pup to establish good toileting habits. However, some problems can still occur: Some nervous puppies or those who are not very confident may find it difficult to relax enough to toilet outside. This will be overcome by good socialisation and desensitisation to their environments during their early weeks with you. Be patient and consistent to allow these pups to overcome their worry.