Toilet Training



Toilet training is a stage which must be worked through with every new puppy. Some pick the idea up very quickly; others seem to take a while to catch on.  If your pup is one of the slower ones, take heart – they all get there in the end!


Understanding how your puppy’s mind works can help to take some of the hassle out of housetraining for both of you.  Remember, what being clean means to you and what it means to your pup are not necessarily the same thing!  To you, it is important that the puppy will go to a chosen spot in the garden to do his business.To your pup, it is important to relieve himself where and when he needs to!  The puppy’s only major criteria are that he would prefer to perform in a quiet place away from his food and his bed, which is a health and safety rule of nature.  

From the puppy’s point of view, this makes behind the sofa or on your bedroom floor perfectly acceptable places.  It is up to you to show him that this is not what you had in mind, and to guide him to a better spot.

So - Lets get everybody on the same wavelength and make housetraining as easy as possible for both of you. Right from the start, choose a spot in the garden or put newspapers in a corner of a room which you would like the puppy to use as his toilet area. 

Remember that a puppy’s early warning system is not very good in the early weeks so make life as easy as possible for both of you by choosing a spot which is quick and easy to reach from the puppy’s bed, food and play areas.

You should plan ahead to when the puppy will need to be taken out


As a general rule, puppies need to go to the loo at the following times :


  • immediately after waking.
  • after eating or drinking.
  • when excited.
  • after playing and sometimes during a wild game if he did not have a chance to go out before the game started.
  • At least every waking hour!


These are your guidelines – get the pup to his appointed toilet area at these times and you are well on your way to cracking the problem


Watch for the signs

Learn to read your puppy’s body language and you will soon spot tell tale signs that he is about to urinate or potty.  Typical signs to look for are sniffing around in a purposeful manner, circling round on one spot or holding the tail high.  As soon as you spot these signs, pick the pup up and take him straight to his toilet area.

Show him what you expect of him

Don’t expect your puppy to know where he has to go without being shown.  Take him, stay with him, encourage him (start using a chosen word now and in time, he will learn to go on command), and praise him every time he gets it right!

Don’t let it turn into a  game

Housetraining time is not wild game in the garden time.  If the puppy does not perform straight away when taken to his toilet area, don’t keep him out for ages.  Instead, take him back inside but watch him especially carefully.Don’t let him wander off behind a chair or into another room.  Take him out again 10 minutes later.  This kind of attention will quickly bring rewards, so do keep at it.

Do not expect a very young puppy to last all night without needing the toilet or if you have to go out for a few hours, even after he has got the hang of daytime housetraining.  Some puppies are unable to last all night until they are almost a year old.  Provide the puppy with a suitable surface that is easy to clean.  Cover the appointed area with polythene under a layer of newspaper.  The paper is quick and easy to dispose of and the polythene will protect your floor. 


NEVER punish a puppy for having an accident 

She can not wait and it is unfair to expect her to hold on until you are ready to take him out.  Punishment will only confuse her and may in fact teach her to be more secretive about toileting.  You don’t want her to be afraid of going to the toilet where you can see her, but rather to perform quickly in your presence when you take her out!


Mistakes will happen;

It’s all part of bringing up a puppy.  Instead of getting annoyed with the pup or yourself, clean up any accidents which happen as quickly as possible, with the minimum of fuss.  Treat the area with a small amount of washing powder and water or with a cloth soaked in undiluted phenyl (very small amount) you can also use white vinegar mixed with water to clean (1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water. This will completely remove the smell and he will not be attracted to the same place again.


While you are cleaning up, think why the accident happened ?


  • When was the puppy last outside?
  • When did he last eat?
  • Have you changed his diet?
  • Has there been a change in the household routine?
  • Do accidents happen when he gets excited?
  • Have you relaxed your housetraining a little too early?
  • Have you cleaned any accident areas with a deodoriser?
  • Does he understand what is expected of him?


If the puppy is having a lot of accidents, this would suggest that he does not really understand what is expected, so take the time to go right back to the beginning and show him again what you want.  No shouting or smacking, just lots of time and patience!

It is quite common for a puppy to appear to have become housetrained and then to relapse for a while.  Do not despair; consider the possibilities and you will probably be able to pinpoint what has gone wrong.  From there, take a few steps back and retrain.

Finally, some dogs, however well trained still have little accidents when they are greeting visitors or family members.  Every time these dogs become excited, a little puddle appears, and no matter how much you chastise the dog, the problem just seems to get worse!  This is a natural response called submissive urination and is quite separate from normal house training.  

The dog is actually trying to show you how much he respects you and how lowly she (the problem is more common in bitches) thinks she is.  To help your dog break this habit, do not shout at her; instead keep greetings very low key and ideally outside.  Build up the dog’s confidence gradually and greet her gently.  If she has an accident, clean it up and don’t make a fuss.