How Can I Successfully Toilet Train My Puppy?

The puppy stage is a wonderful time to bond with your pet and set up good behaviours that last a lifetime. There are few behaviours that are more critical to get right than toilet training. Some pups are faster learners than others, but don’t worry, with enough time and perseverance you can toilet train any dog. Here are some tips to get them there as quickly as possible.

Positive Rewards

The main principle to follow with toilet training is to give your pet the opportunity to urinate/defecate in the correct area. Then, immediately provide positive reward in the form of praise and treats. Over time, they develop a strong positive automatic association with voiding in the correct area. To do this, every hour or so take your puppy outside to the desired spot. Taking them out immediately after eating and drinking is also important, as these are high-risk times to urinate and defecate. As soon as they are going, cheerfully praise them. Once they’re finished, produce a small treat reward from your pocket and offer it.  

At Night

When your puppy sleeps indoors at night, take them out for one final ‘pee visit’ just before bed. ‘Crate training’ sleeping them in a crate can discourage soiling at night. This is because pups instinctively prefer not to soil where they sleep. Ideally the crate should be just large enough for them to stand up and turn around in, and is lined with cleanable bedding. They may cry at night to be let out to urinate. Provided they are crying to urinate (and not just for attention), take them outside to do their business. Over time, their muscles to control their bladder strengthen. Eventually they can go for longer periods of time without toileting.

During the Day

During the day, make sure it’s easy for them to go outside to their desired spot. This may mean installing doggy doors and keeping them open, or cracking the door open. They need every opportunity to express the behaviour that you’re encouraging.  

You could also try using a command such as “go pee” when your puppy urinates. Over time, your pup develops an association between these words and urinating. This can be used later to help encourage them to go.  

Occasionally, having another dog come and visit your yard to mark the desired area can help to stimulate your pup to urinate over this spot.  

Consistency is Key

Most pups will take up to a couple of months before they are properly toilet trained, though this time can vary considerably. Factors such as stairs, distance to the outdoors, intelligence, and response to reward, can all affect how quickly you can toilet train your pup. Usually you can expect to see a trend of fewer and fewer accidents, starting within a week or two of training. If you’re not seeing this sort of improvement, check through the list above. Also consider looking at ways to improve your consistency of training. With enough time and consistency, most pups can be reliably toilet trained.  

You can more advice articles on the Cairns Veterinary Clinic website