Toilet training for your new puppy

Your new puppy is a dream-come-true. Cute as can be, funny, warm, cuddly. But with the good, comes the … not-so-good. Your gorgeous bundle of fur and fun is also pooping and peeing machine!  Toilet training is the top of most new pet-parent’s agenda, and it’s important you understand what to do from the get-go.

Follow these key steps for success:

  • Puppies have small bladder capacity, so they must have frequent opportunities to go outside. If your pup is inside with you, set your alarm & take him out every hour on the hour.
  • When your puppy is outside for a toilet break, wait with him so you can reward him when he’s finished. While waiting for the puppy to do his business be as boring as possible!
  • After he has finished, reward with a treat & lots of praise.
  • Be patient and always go with him – even if it’s cold!
  • Walk your puppy to the desired area so that he learns to walk there. If he finds that too hard at the beginning, carry him part the way there and let him walk the last few metres. As he gains more confidence, start to decrease the distance he is carried.

When will he want “to go”?

  • If your puppy is sniffing the ground, circling it is a sign they are about to toilet, so immediately take your pup to the toilet area.
  • Regular breaks – take puppy outside every 1-2hrs for an 8-week old puppy. As he gets older, the time between toilet breaks can increase.
  • After meals – regardless of how regularly he has been taken outside, always take him out after a meal. Watch for the signs, (sniffing, circling), anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour after the meal.
  • After a nap – when your puppy wakes after a sleep, take him to the toilet area.
  • After a play period – take puppy outside for a toilet break after a play session. He is likely to have been so engrossed in the play that he will have forgotten to think about toileting needs. And he is likely to want a sleep after play and will settle much more quickly with an empty bladder.
  • The middle of the night wake-up call – if your puppy wakes at 5am or the middle of the night and starts to whimper, this probably means he needs a toilet break. If his cries are not answered & he toilets in his sleeping area, both he & you will be stressed. Worse, if puppy learns that no one listens to his cries, he may stop crying and just toilet wherever he is.

Accidents Happen!

  • Dogs are attracted to a place they have previously done their business by the residual smell, which normal detergents and cleaners do not remove. Clean up accidents using an enzymatic cleaner such as Biozet Attack or another enzymatic laundry detergent. Rinse carefully and if necessary, use a pet odour neutraliser to remove any residual smell.
  • When your puppy has an accident, clean it up but ignore it and make a note to yourself to be more vigilant in supervising your pup in future.
  • Never punish your pup for having an accident. The most likely consequence of being punished is that he will learn to toilet where you can’t see him, behind the sofa or under the bed. Instead, make a note to yourself to be more vigilant.
  • Confine your puppy using baby gates or a puppy pen, so that he doesn’t have the run of the house. Remember, if you can’t see him, you will miss the warning signs that he’s about to toilet.
  • Crate training is another way to confine your puppy. He will be reluctant to soil his eating & sleeping area, so encouraging him to use a crate with a food bowl, sleeping mat & toys will encourage him to hang on until his next outing. Be sure not to leave your puppy in his crate for longer than he is able to hold on.
  • Excitement wees? Some little puppies lose control of their bladder & urinate when excited, such as when visitors arrive. Try your best to make these occasions calm, and give your puppy a chew toy on which he can direct his excitement. Or better still, have these greetings outside where it doesn’t matter if he has an accident.

Remember

  • Your pup doesn’t toilet inside to “get back at you”, or to be naughty. It takes a while for them to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and understand that when they need to toilet, they’re supposed to take themselves outside.
  • And often they forget where they are and just ‘do it’ because they can’t hold on!
  • This is only a short phase in your puppy’s life – be patient, consistent, and reward him when he does the right thing.
  • House training your puppy will ensure he can become a welcome member of your family who can happily be indoors with you.
  • Be vigilant and NEVER USE PUNISHMENT- A very famous English trainer by the name of Dr Ian Dunbar said it best: “ If your puppy has a toilet accident inside, roll up a newspaper, hold out your hand and give yourself a smack so YOU remember to be more vigilant next time.”
  • Hang in there, and to quote another famous person: “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”!