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The Best Way to Toilet Train Your Puppy (And What You Should Never Do) 

toilet train your puppy

In this article we want to share tips from the experts about toilet training your puppy. We all know the joy and excitement of welcoming home a new puppy, but there’s also the downside, getting your pup to pee and poo outside. According to the RSPCA, dogs only have full control over their bladder at 12 months. That’s why it’s essential to toilet train your puppy, but how?   

Some dogs want to do their business outside and get anxious when they mess indoors. Others are happy to relieve themselves anywhere they please. However, dogs are clean animals and don’t like to live near mess. Read our guide for tips on how to toilet train your puppy with the least fuss and mess.  

How to toilet train your puppy during the day  

Dogs can control their bladders for the same number of hours according to their age in months. For example, a 3-month-old puppy can hold it for three hours, a 4-month-old for four hours, etc. However, remember that anything over 6-8 hours is a long time for any dog.   

Watch for the signs your puppy needs to go  

Knowing the signs your puppy makes just before they relieve themselves lets you take action. Dogs will pace around, sniff the floor, and walk in circles before squatting down. Scoop them up and take them outside or guide them into the garden. Spotting these signs and taking them outside reinforces going to the toilet outdoors.   

Give them praise when they go outside  

If you’ve got your dog outside and they relieve themselves in the garden, make a huge over-exaggerated fuss over them, praising them at the same time. Repeating praise reinforces this good behaviour. Something like “Out for a wee! Good job!” and clapping your hands lets the dog know they’ve done well. Make them feel as if they are weeing royalty. Then, as your dog gets older, they’ll associate “Out for a wee!” with time to go outside.   

How to toilet train your puppy at night  

Designate a space indoors  

Puppies of 8 weeks will have accidents. Your puppy cannot hold their bladder during the night and will pee and poop on the floor. We’ve found that crating your puppy at night in a room with washable floors (like a kitchen or utility room) makes it easier to clean up accidents. Place newspaper or training pads all over the floor to begin with. Puppy will pee on paper, returning to the same spot when they need to go again. As your puppy grows, start removing some of the paper or pads they haven’t peed on. You want to end up with one piece of paper or pad. Move the soiled paper nearer the back door. During the day, you can begin training by moving the paper or pads outside to encourage them to use the outdoors.  

Get into a routine  

Dogs love routine and it shouldn’t take long for a puppy to get used to doing things at certain times.   

Every morning: As soon as you get up, make a point of letting your puppy out and saying the magic words “Out for a wee.” Pups will need to relieve themselves first thing and this is a good opportunity to reward them when they go.   

At regular intervals: During the day and at night, repeat the process. Be mindful your dog might not want to go straightaway, so give them a few minutes. Take your puppy out after a nap, playing with toys or chewing a bone.

Every time you go out: Let your dog outdoors.  


Last thing at night: Before you go to bed for the night let your puppy out for a final wee.   

What to do if your puppy has an accident in the house?  

The old way of rubbing your dog’s nose in their mess or punishing them is outdated and counterproductive. Puppies are likely to mess indoors, as they have little control over their bladders. Just clean it up without making a fuss. Make sure you use a cleaning product specifically designed for pet accidents, or you can use a biological washing solution. Dogs have highly sensitive noses and will sniff out where they’ve messed before and go there again. You need a cleaning product that breaks down the enzymes in a dog’s pee and poop.  

Toilet training as your puppy gets older  

By now you will know the signs your puppy needs the toilet, and your puppy will associate going outdoors with praise. It is important to keep up the routine of letting your puppy out in the morning and last thing at night and to keep praising them when they do their toilet outdoors. Eventually, the phrase “Out for a wee” should direct them to go outside.   

Troubleshooting: Toilet training common problems  

Weeing in the same spot  

You haven’t cleaned up the previous accident properly and your dog can still smell the odour. Use a proper pet stain cleaner.   

Weeing all over the house  

Small breeds such as toy dogs wee a lot indoors. Stop this behaviour by placing pee paper or pads in one area, then inch the paper towards the outdoors.   

Messing in their crate  

You may have left your dog for too long in their crate and they had no choice but to relieve themselves. if you regularly leave your dog for long periods, arrange for someone to come in and let your dog out at regular intervals.  

They are messing in the house again  

You haven’t solidified the behaviour enough. Go back to basic house training and reinforce the toilet training steps.   

Remember toilet training takes time and effort and involves a lot of trial and error. Be patient and calm and don’t punish accidents.   


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