Ohh poop! How to toilet train your puppy

Like us humans, puppies aren’t born with bladder control. And for anyone who has taken on the challenging task of toilet-training a toddler you will remember it takes time (and a bucket-load of patience) to learn and develop appropriate toileting habits and control. There will be some hits and misses, we just hope those misses tend not to be on the cream carpet!  Although there are a few variables around how long it will take, if you are consistent with preventing mistakes, a pup should be fully toilet trained by approximately 6-7 months old.

So you may be wondering, how do I best create an environment where my pup can thrive at toilet training?  Follow our tips below to give you and your pooch the best shot at success. 

  1. Find a room, pen or crate for a pup to be in when not directly interacting with you, away from rugs, carpet and other nice soft surfaces that feel nice to toilet on.

  2. Develop a regular schedule of being taken to the appropriate toileting spot (outside) every 1-1.5 hours. Keep in mind, your pup will need extra appropriate toileting opportunities after eating and drinking, movement (playing and exercise), sleeping or napping.

  3. Keep a close eye on them, looking for ‘I need to toilet’ signals such as circling and sniffing the ground.

  4. Never punish or get cross at a pup for toileting inside. It is up to us as the owners to provide ample opportunities for them to learn the correct behaviour and toilet outdoors. Getting cross can result in an increase of inappropriate toileting as they become fearful and lose bladder control.

  5. Instead of using pee pads, as this can confuse some pups about learning to toilet outdoors, try a grass pet toilet. These make transitioning to toileting outdoors on grass easier as they can be artificial or real grass. Not only that, but they are also more environmentally friendly than disposable pads. These are a great option for those living in apartments unable to get to an appropriate yard or outdoor space as needed.

Accidents do happen and at least initially, there will likely be appropriate toileting opportunities missed. If so, be sure to clean any accidents with cleaning products that contain enzymes to break down the proteins in urine (such as diluted biological washing powder) to prevent further encouragement to toilet there again.

If your pup does not go to the toilet when taken outside, but you know they will likely need to relieve themselves, carry them back inside and keep them in your arms or in your lap. If they are put down on the ground, they will likely find a nice spot on the rug to do their business. After a few minutes, head outside for another try. Repeat until pup goes to the toilet outside. If you are unable to hold them, place them in their puppy pen or crate for a few minutes, keep a strict eye on them then head back outside.