26 Nov

How to Toilet Train your Puppy

With all dogs there is the chance of an accident happening especially if not given the opportunity to relieve themselves often.
Here are some top tips for getting your puppy toilet trained.

4 steps to follow:
  1. Keep your puppy with you at all times during the toilet training stage, when you first bring them home. If you are going to be out, make use of a large enough crate or offer a room as a safe den.
  2. Use motivating rewards. Puppies are highly food motivated so the best reward is often a treat. Keep enough treats on you at all times so you can reward within a few seconds of them doing a wanted behaviour.
  3. Take your puppy out every hour. Repetition and consistency is extremely important. The more occasions you have that your puppy can get the behaviour right and you can reward the appropriate behaviour, the quicker your puppy will ‘get it’.
  4. Be patient, consistent and avoid punishment. Punishing your dog after an accident will not teach him anything, except that you are to be feared. If an accident happens, clean it up, move on and try to take your puppy out more frequently, giving them the chance to get it right and you the chance to reward them.
Puppy Pads

According to Ian Dunbar, it is better to offer your dog a small area indoors like fake grass for them to relieve themselves as this will be the same kind of place you will want them to do their business outside. I think that’s a great idea, pads can be confusing. However, if you do want to use puppy training pads to put on the floor or newspaper to teach your puppy to go in the correct place, that’s fine and once you have them toileting there, you can then move them closer and closer to the door and eventually outside.

It is simpler just to go for the behaviour you want the first time around, rather than teach two separate things. The main advantage of these absorbent pads is that they make clean-ups easier, so while your puppy is being crated, or is in his den, playpen or the laundry you can put a puppy pad down to absorb any mess.

Crate Training

You can’t be with your puppy every second of the day puppies require lots of rest, usually around 16 hours a day. When you and your puppy need a break, send your puppy to his crate and this will reduce any roaming accidents.
For dogs that travel often with you in your car you could also consider a transport crate that can be your dogs ‘den’ whilst in the vehicle. It needs to be safe, cosy and big enough for them to easily turn around in even when fully grown.

How do I know my puppy needs to toilet?

Puppies need to toilet much more frequently than adult dogs. They have small bladders and no instinct to ‘hold on’. Older dogs usually toilet after waking up, 10-20 minutes after eating, drinking and playing and sometimes after being outside.  Don’t assume that your dog will know to toilet while outside unless they have learned to do so.

You may only need to take an adult dog outside very 2 hours, while a puppy needs to be taken outside every hour to avoid mistakes. Some early warning signs of a need to urinate or defecate are circling and sniffing the ground. It is much easier to pick up when your dog needs to toilet if you are watching closely or your dog is on a lead with you at all times.

Extra Tips

Set an alarm clock. During the early stages of training, set a timer on your phone or an alarm to remind you to take your puppy or adult dog out every 1-2 hours. If accidents are happening, step up the frequency. This is the key to training your dog in 3 days.  Repetition is key.

Use a lead or tether. One of the best ways to make sure your dog stays with you so you can keep an eye on him is to attach his lead to your belt or tether him to your chair if you are working at home. If your puppy is roaming freely, chances are you won’t see him show those early warning signs of needing to go outside.

Introduce a cue word. To encourage toileting on command it doesn’t take much extra work to introduce a word while your dog is urinating or defecating. So when your dog starts toileting say ‘wee wee’ or whistle (or introduce a hand signal) so that the behaviour is paired with a command. This means on those cold wintery nights, or during toilet breaks on long road trips you have a way to quickly get your dog to urinate/defecate on command.

Select just one spot in the yard for toileting. Trust me, you will thank me for this when the kids break their promise to faithfully always clean up the poo in the yard. Select an area away from the main play area in the yard that will be the toilet spot. This will stop those brown patches on the lawn and make it much easier for the poo patrol.

Reward! In order to motivate your dog, use valuable rewards. While dogs do respond to praise, for toilet training you want to go all out. Use tasty treats and lavish praise and really go over the top. You want to reward within a few seconds of your pet toileting, so they know what they getting all that attention for. The more motivated your pet is, the more likely they will work harder to get there.

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