Toilet training is all about creating good habits. Young pups have very small bladders and very little bladder control so they need to be in the right place when nature calls. To toilet train successfully in as short a time as possible you must take your puppy or rescue dog to the garden :
- When they wake
- After eating
- After taking a drink
- Before, during and after a period of activity
- When you come in
- Before you go out
- Before bedtime
- During the adverts
- And every twenty to thirty minutes in between unless they are asleep. During periods of activity change that to every ten to twenty minutes.
Stay outside with your dog. Do not nag or distract him just mooch about and he will do the same and eventually eliminate. Quiet praise is sufficient. Once dog has eliminated you can either stay out and play or go back indoors. If you stay out for a game then he will often need to go again before you go back indoors so stop the game and stay out for a while longer to give him a chance to go again. If you have to take him back in and he hasn’t eliminated outside then either confine him to his crate (if trained), sit him on your lap or tuck him under your arm (small breeds only) as you go about your chores and try again in five minutes. It is imperative that you do this, especially if you have started off with newspaper down or puppy pads because your dog may prefer to pee indoors and he could simply be waiting to be taken back in. Give him zero opportunity to go wrong. If your dog toilets in the house it is because you haven’t toilet trained him yet and didn’t take him outside when he needed to go.
Common mistakes during toilet training.
- Using newspaper or puppy training pads. Whilst it may aid the clearing up process it can be very confusing for the pup/dog that is taught or permitted to toilet in the house to make the transition to going outside and will often result in a dog that when playing in the garden will simply hold on until they are back indoors because that is where the toilet is.
- Leaving the door open. This does nothing to teach the pup/dog to toilet outside only.
- Reprimands for toileting in the house will result in a dog that believes you disapprove of what he did not where he did it and is damaging to your relationship with your pup / dog.
- Giving treats for toileting in the garden, again the dog is being rewarded for what he did not where he did it. Whilst this is not going to be as big a problem as the reprimand, the clever dog will learn to do lots of little wees and never fully empty their bladder. The insecure dog may wee indoors to appease you if you get cross about something else because they know that this is something that pleases you and gets rewarded. NB using both reprimands and rewards is very confusing for your pup / dog.
- Expecting your pup / dog to tell you when he needs to go out. Once a dog understands that outside is where the toilet is then he may start to let you know he needs out. However if you are not there to ask or you fail to notice him asking then the housetraining will break down. Far better to have a dog go out to the toilet on your schedule once they are house trained.
- Giving your pup / dog an ensuite in his crate. Do not encourage your pup / dog to toilet in his crate by putting puppy pads in there. If you have to leave puppy for a while and he is going to need to go then best to have the crate inside a larger pen or blocked off area and leave the crate door open so that he can get away from his bed to toilet.
N.B. Areas indoors where pup / dogs has had an accident are best cleaned with a dilute of biological washing powder. Avoid using disinfectant as this contains ammonia and can encourage dog to pee there again.
Young pups / dogs will need to go to the toilet once or twice in the night for anything from a few days to a few weeks.
If your pup / dog is sleeping in a crate in the bedroom with you then they will wake and should let you know they need to go out. Take dog to the garden to eliminate and then straight back to bed again. A few nights of this and it will take you longer to find your slippers because of sleep deprivation and consequently pup / dog is learning to hold on and will soon be sleeping all night. If you choose to leave puppy / dog in the kitchen or utility room to sleep then do not shut them in a crate and simply clean up in the morning without comment.
Why punishment does not work for house training.
A typical morning in the life of an 8 week old pup.
7:00am Puppy pees in the garden – Owner present. Gets praised
7.30am Puppy pees in the kitchen – Owner present. Gets a reprimand
8:15am Puppy pees in the lounge – Owner not present. Nothing happens except relief
9:00am Puppy pees in the lounge – Owner present. Gets a reprimand
9:30 am Puppy pees in the kitchen – Owner not present. Nothing, just relief
11:00am Puppy pees in the garden – Owner doesn’t notice Just relief again
11:30am Puppy pees under the dining room table – Owner not present. Nothing happens
12:15pm Puppy pees in the garden – Owner present – gets praise
What we think we are teaching puppy is that it is good to pee in the garden and wrong to pee in the house but what the pup is actually learning is that sometimes it is rewarding to pee when the owner is present and sometimes it is dangerous. However it is always safe to go when the owner is not present and that so far the safest place is under the dining room table.
ADMIN NOTE. – Never deny your dog water in the mistaken belief that this will aid toilet training. It won’t. It will make the urine stronger, it may impact on your dog’s health, i.e. cause kidney problems or urinary tract infections if the dog drinks greedily and excessively when it is available knowing it will be taken away. Dogs must have clean fresh water available all of the time.
For more training advice we recommend : The Dog Training and Advice Group