Toilet training begins as soon as you bring your puppy home. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly, your puppy has a small bladder and lacks the control of an adult dog, so he/she needs to go every 1-2 hours. It helps to set an alarm on your phone or use a timer to remind you. Secondly, there are common signs your puppy will show that they are needing to go to the toilet;
They will start sniffing around intently.
Then they will start circling.
As soon as you notice these signs take them outside. If they go to the toilet wait until they are completely done (so you don't interrupt them) and then praise enthusiastically and give them a treat if you have one.
Not only should you take your puppy out every couple of hours, but also take them out after you feed them, and when they wake up in the morning or after a long nap. These times are the most common times they will need to go to the toilet. If your puppy does have an accident it is important not to tell them off, yell at them, or rub their nose in it. All this does is teach your puppy to fear you and will not prevent accidents. Just clean it up carefully and move on.
Many dogs can be trained to go to the toilet on cue. You can start teaching this by using a cue when you take them outside. This can be any word you choose; I personally use “toilet”. It can take quite a while for this to click for them, but keep it up, as it can be very useful.
Most puppies will be toilet trained within a week if you are careful and consistent. The important thing is to crate them (see our article on crate training for advice) or put them in a puppy pen when you cannot directly supervise them. If they are allowed to have regular accidents, it will take far longer to train them. We advise having a doggy door, so your pup has easy access to the backyard when he needs to go. Most puppies prefer going outside to toilet if they can get out there. If you do not have a doggy door leave a door open if you can.
Written by Millicent Hayes.
Owner of Unleashed Potential Dog Training.