A Guide to Toilet Training Your New Puppy
Training and Behaviour
Welcoming your puppy home is an exciting time! From introducing them to their new environment and family members to cuddling and playing with them.
Bringing home a puppy also means you’ll need to spend time teaching them the fundamentals that will set them up for success. Toilet training your puppy is one of the most important things you’ll teach them as it will create a much more enjoyable routine and environment for you both. Also referred to as house training or potty training a puppy, your puppy will learn bladder control and where they should be going toilet.
How Long Does It Take to Toilet Train a Puppy
Typically puppies can be toilet trained in four to six months, however, some puppies are not 100% reliable until they are eight to twelve months old.
Your puppy's age, learning experience, as well as, your method of training, and consistency can affect the length of time it takes to toilet train. For example, an 8-week-old puppy is a sponge of information, whereas an older puppy will usually take longer to learn because they will need to change what they have already learnt. Puppies that have come from a less than ideal situation will typically face challenges.
In some cases, you’ll find your puppy may catch on early but then regress, or they may go toilet outside at home but are going toilet inside when you are in a different house or environment. This is all normal. Developing bowel and bladder control will take some time. They also may be mentally capable of learning to eliminate outside, but not yet physically capable of controlling their body.
How Often Will My Puppy Need to Pee
When you are toilet training your puppy you want to give them the opportunity to do the right thing and receive praise. When your puppy doesn’t have any bladder control and you are beginning to house train, we would recommend taking them out every 30 to 60 minutes. You will also want to make a habit of taking your pup out to pee or poop;
- as soon as they wake in the morning
- before they go to sleep at night
- before and after they go into the crate
- after they wake from a nap
- after a meal
- after playtime
As your puppy starts to grasp the concept of toilet training you’ll be able to build up the amount of time between taking them outside. All puppies are different, but as a guide, a puppy can typically hold their bladder for the same number of hours as their age in months. For example, a four-month-old pup should not be left alone for more than four consecutive hours without an opportunity to go outside to go toilet. They will be able to last longer at night because they are inactive, just like we can. By the time your puppy is about four months old, it should be able to make it through the night without needing to go toilet.
Toilet Training Tools and Products
Often taught at the same time, crate training a puppy is a useful toilet training tool and can help speed up the process. The reason for this is that dogs are clean and they don’t like to go to the toilet in their own space. As they learn that the dog crate is their own personal den, and as you build up the length of time they are able to spend in their crate, they will also learn bladder control.
Puppy Training Pads
This one is tricky, as you are giving your puppy two options and it can often be counterintuitive. However, in some cases, such as apartment living or at night time, puppy training pads are helpful when toilet training. Puppy pads give a dog an approved spot to go indoors if they need to relieve themselves before taking them outside.
How to Toilet Train Your Puppy
Toilet training is accomplished by positive reinforcement when your puppy goes to the bathroom where you want them to go and by preventing them from eliminating in unacceptable places you don’t want them to go, such as inside. With consistency, reward, patience, lots of scheduled toilet breaks, and, of course, some accidents along the way your puppy will become house trained.
- Keep your puppy on a consistent daily feeding schedule and remove food between meals.
- Choose an acceptable area for them to go toilet, such as your backyard. It’s best to take your puppy to the same place each time because the smells often prompt puppies to go to the loo.
- Take your puppy to go toilet at least every hour, as well as shortly after meals, play, and naps. All puppies should go out first thing in the morning, the last thing at night, before and after time in the crate, and when they've been by themselves.
- In between taking your puppy to go toilet, you need to keep an eye on them and watch for early signs that they need to go pee or poop so that you can anticipate and prevent accidents from happening. These signs include pacing, whining, circling, sniffing, waiting near the door, or leaving the room. If you see any of these, take your puppy outside as quickly as possible.
- Stay with your puppy when you take them to go toilet and reward them when they eliminate in an acceptable place such as the outdoors. As with all dog training, rewarding your puppy with praise and treats works best.
- If you catch your puppy going toilet inside or if they have had an accident without you seeing it happen, don’t punish your pup (including rubbing your puppy’s nose in their waste), they won’t understand why they are being punished, even if its minutes ago. Stay calm, clean up the mess and continue repeating the above steps.
- Once they have got the hang of toileting outside, you can slowly build up the time between taking them outside. A puppy can usually hold their bladder for the same number of hours as their age in months.
Toilet Training Tips
- There will be accidents, so be patient and continue taking them out regularly and looking for signs. You may possibly need to take more frequently than you do.
- Watch your puppy carefully between your scheduled toilet times. Not all puppies learn to let their owners know that they need to go toilet by barking or scratching at the door.
- Some puppies will eliminate early on in a walk. Others need to move about and play for a bit first.
- Clean accidents with an enzymatic cleanser to minimise odors that might attract the puppy back to the same spot.
- Once your puppy is toilet trained at home, you will generally need to also reinforce the toilet training when visiting different homes or environments. Make sure you watch your puppy carefully when you visit new places together and take them out regularly.
- Likewise, if something in your puppy’s environment changes, they may have a lapse in house training. For example, a puppy might seem completely toilet trained until you bring home a large potted tree—which may look like a perfect place to lift leg.
Written by The Pet.co.nz
Written by The Pet.co.nz Team
A team of specialists with backgrounds in animal nursing, animal care, and all things pet related.