Hopefully you are reading this article before your puppy has arrived because toilet training needs to start from day one!
You are probably wondering how long this process takes, well the good news is some puppies will be fully toilet trained by the breeder and already have a preference for pooping and peeing outside (usually grass) when they get to their new home. Others will need teaching from scratch and may have been toileting inside at the breeder’s for several weeks.
However long it takes, it is important to try to avoid getting angry with the puppy if they do toilet inside. This risks damaging your relationship and the puppy may start to simply hide where they toilet (e.g. behind the sofa) or eating their poo (nobody wants that habit to start!).
Top Tips On Toilet Training:
Toilet training can take a while if a puppy has toileting inside before coming to live with you
Puppies will learn fastest if they are not given the opportunity to go to the toilet inside your house at all.
This means active supervision, frequently taking the puppy to the appropriate area (normally a garden or area covered in grass) and rewarding them for toileting there.
Punishing a puppy for going to the toilet inside can lead to further problems so is not recommended.
Restrict space inside when full supervision is not possible.
Why is my puppy toileting in the house?
There are several reasons why puppies might toilet in an undesirable location:
They have not been given the opportunity to get to the preferred location in time. Puppies have small bladders and are not physically able to ‘hold on’ when they need to go.
They have learnt that inside is an appropriate place to toilet – this is usually made worse by the use of puppy pads.
Often the puppy feels safer toileting inside than outside. Neighbourhood activity and noises might deter a puppy from eliminating in the garden or on walks.
Toileting inside is more pleasant than outside – carpet is comfier under-foot and it is warm and dry inside!
Repeated opportunity to toilet indoors leads this being the preference – the action of elimination is internally reinforcing, so every time the puppy rehearses toileting in the wrong place, it becomes more engrained.
They are upset or scared – puppies and dogs will lose control of their bowels when they are fearful. If toileting inside is reliably happening when the puppy is segregated or left alone, it may be a separation issue rather than a toileting issue.
They are feeling unwell – medical problems such as urinary tract infections and tummy upsets will lead to increased need to toilet.
How do I stop my puppy from toileting in the house?
There is a two-pronged approach to toilet training:
Prevent any opportunity for toileting in the house.
Provide frequent opportunities to toilet outside which can be reinforced.
Effectively this means taking the puppy to the chosen toileting area every 45 minutes PLUS after eating, drinking, playing and sleeping. Quietly praise them as they start to eliminate and reward with a treat or produce a toy as soon as they have finished. Ensure they feel safe to toilet outside and the area is free from distractions.
In general, avoid using puppy pads because the puppy simply learns to go to the toilet in the house. If required, fake grass indoor toileting areas would be preferred because they teach the puppy the grass is the appropriate place to go to the toilet. Restrict puppy’s space inside unless active supervision is possible, and then observe early warning signs that the puppy is needing to go to the toiled such as restlessness, circling or sniffing the floor. When the puppy shows these behaviours get the puppy to the garden/toileting area as quickly as possible.