puppy playing with toilet paper

How to toilet train your puppy

Bringing home a puppy is exciting and a little bit scary. You’ve probably researched the best dog for your family, researched the best dog food, and puppy proofed your home. You’re all set.

But there’s always that little problem that no one can prepare you for: toilet training a puppy.

There are lots of things to consider and many things to know about your puppy, and getting the right guidance is key when successfully toilet training the newest addition to the family.  


Bladder Size

One very important piece of information to know, is that puppies have a small bladder capacity. At 8 weeks old, your puppy will need to wee around every 2 hours.

This means that someone will need to be ready to take your puppy outside very regularly, even at early times in the morning.  There are also specific moments you should keep an eye on them, as after eating or sleeping it’s more likely they will need to go to the toilet.

When they get older the frequency will go down, and they will even be able to sleep all night through.  


Creatures of Habit

Dogs enjoy routine. It’s best to keep some consistency and, apart from taking your puppy out regularly, it’s important to take him to the same spot every time. 

Your puppy will start to learn the routine quicker if you keep it as consistent as possible. For example, be sure to choose which door you use to let your puppy outside, and stick to it. This way he will learn that every two hours you are going to take him outside, and will know where to go.  


Positive Reinforcement

When reading up on puppy training, a phrase you’ll often hear is ‘positive reinforcement’. It helps them understand when and where they’re doing the right thing. Whether it be sitting, laying down, or in this case, toilet training, make sure you praise your pup when they get it right.

Responding negatively when training your dog is frustrating and stressful for them. Letting your puppy know you are very happy with him when he goes outside to wee, is the pivotal point to a puppy’s success during the training sessions. Ensure every family member is congratulating the puppy when he goes to the toilet outside. If you like, you can even give him a treat, as it will help speed up the training.


Happy sat down labrador
Positive reinforcement is the base of dog training



Crates or Training Pads

If you want to speed the training process up and make it more effective, crate training can be a good solution. Dogs will not usually go to the toilet where they sleep, so they will try and let you know that they need the toilet, rather than weeing inside.

When choosing your crate, you want to find one small enough so your puppy doesn’t have enough room to wee in the corner of the crate without being affected while they sleep, but big enough that they’re not confined or uncomfortable. A crate that your puppy can sit up in and turn around is a good guide. Depending on the breed, you can expect to buy at least two or three crates in their lifetime.

Until your dog is old enough that they can hold their wee for longer, you may need training pads to allow your dog to relieve inside. A training pad can be newspapers, wee pads, litter box or even a turf box.

We don’t want to force your puppy to have an accident, so we’ll give him an indoor option he can use while, for instance, you are at work. You will need to choose a spot to place the training pad, and let your puppy know that you want him to wee on the pad. It won’t take long to him to understand this. You will have surprises at the beginning, but make sure you praise him when he does it right. The kitchen floor can be a good option to place the training pad, as it’s easier to clean in case there are any surprises!  


Knowing the Signs

Now that you know a little more about toilet training, how do you know when your puppy needs the toilet? A sign your dog needs the toilet is when they start circling the same area more than twice. If you see your puppy doing this, take him outside straight away, it’s about to go!

While puppies are in a crate, they will mimic this same behaviour. Once they’ve decided they don’t want to go inside their sleeping area, they will often cry to let the house know they need the toilet. So, make sure you look and listen for the signs they’re giving you.  


Using the Word “Toilet”

Another important part of successful toilet training is teaching word association. For example, saying the word “toilet” while prepping to let them out, while they are sniffing the ground, while they are going to the toilet, and when the puppy is finished. Your puppy will learn when you say “toilet”, it’s time to go outside. Eventually, you can say the word and the dog will learn to wait while you’re getting ready to let them out, or take them for a walk.

Once again, this is where positive reinforcement is key. After your puppy has finished, it’s important to praise them. A “good boy!” or a “well done girl!”, may seem silly to some, but when you’re excited, your dog is excited too. This level of constant positive reinforcement is an excellent way to ensure your puppy is toilet trained quickly and effectively.

Good training could result in a toilet trained puppy in less than two weeks. Of course, puppies will always have accidents. They do happen, but you can minimise this with the appropriate steps we’ve talked about. If your puppy isn’t trained in this time, don’t fret. Stay calm and be patient. Some puppies learn quicker than others. Above all, remember to remain consistent and stay positive!