How to toilet train a puppy

Posted by Argos, 28 April 2022, last updated 15 May 2023.

Toilet training a puppy is one of the most important parts of caring for your new family member. It’s crucial to start training your puppy almost immediately after they arrive at their new home, so that any new habits are ingrained into their daily life straight away.

Toilet training can also be a great bonding experience for you and your pup. They will soon learn the dos and don’ts of their daily routine and adapt their habits to fit into your routine too.

What do I need to toilet train a puppy?

Before you get started, there are a few things that you need to make toilet training your pup easier:

  • A crate
  • A pen
  • Plenty of puppy pads
  • Puppy friendly treats
  • Create verbal cues

Even if you plan on letting your dog sleep wherever they please when they’re older, it’s best to start their training in a crate. This way at night they are confined to one area, they learn to be left alone but they also know to go to toilet in a certain area. That’s why using a pen or indoor-friendly fencing is a good idea to use at night, creating a puppy friendly zone for you to lay out puppy pads. It’s natural for your puppy to not want to go to toilet where they sleep, but of course there may be accidents.

Create verbal cues and use puppy friendly treats to help encourage your puppy to go to toilet and be consistent with it too.

How to train a puppy to pee on a puppy pad

It is worth spending a lot of time with your puppy when you first bring them home so that you can watch their behaviours before they go to toilet. As you won’t be able to take them out for walks until they have had both of their vaccinations, you may be inside for up to 6 weeks. That’s why using puppy pads is essential at the beginning stages of house training.

Before dogs go to toilet, they usually sniff around on the floor or turn around in circles, which is what they would do in the wild. A great way to get your dog used to puppy pads is placing them in areas that they seem to be attracted to. This might be by the back door or on a hard or tiled floor. If you catch your dog in the act, quickly place a puppy pad underneath them and they will start to get used to the feeling of the pads as they go to toilet.

If you can’t reach your dog fast enough, place your dog on top of the pads straight after they have been. Again, the feeling of the puppy pad underneath them will help remind them to go next time.

After your dog successfully goes on the training pad, give them a treat and praise them. They will soon learn that it’s the best thing in the world peeing in the right place.

How to train a puppy to wee outside

If you have a secure and safe garden, you can start to train your puppy to go to toilet outside. Using a similar method to training pads, you will notice your dog’s toilet behaviours before they decide to go. Whenever they do this, pop them outside and see if they will go in the garden.

If you start with puppy pads, gradually reduce the number of pads you’re using around the house and move them closer and closer to the door to your garden. That way, when they run to the pad, you will know to let them outside and eventually they may start asking if they can go outside to do their business.

Once you’ve trained your puppy to walk on a lead, they will likely naturally learn to go for number ones and twos out on a walk. Witnessing other dog’s behaviours and smelling scents on the ground should encourage them to go and your dog will likely start doing this on their own. Make sure to give them a treat or praise them when they do, and it will become part of their routine.

How to toilet train a puppy in a flat or house without a garden

If you live in an apartment, or in a house without a garden, it isn’t impossible to toilet train your puppy. There may just be more of an emphasis on puppy pads at the beginning stages of their house training. Once a puppy gets older, they don’t need to go to toilet as often, meaning they may be able to save their toilet duties for their walks.

Once your puppy has been vaccinated and you can take them out, try to be as reactive as possible with little and often walks every time you notice they need to go to toilet. This will help them understand that walkies time is toilet time.

How long does it take to toilet train a puppy?

If you’re wondering at what age your puppy should be trained by, it’s maybe not as soon as you think. It typically takes up to 6 months for your new four-legged friend to be fully house trained, and for some puppies it could take up to a year.

This usually depends on the size of your dog. For example, if you have a Chihuahua puppy, they will need to go to toilet more often than a Golden Retriever, because they have smaller bladders and much higher metabolisms.

Before you get your puppy, you should consider these factors, as it’s an important part of training a puppy and takes a lot of commitment, no matter the breed.

How to toilet train a puppy at night

As mentioned above, toilet training your dog at night can be done by making sure they have a crate or designated space to go to toilet freely in the night. Try to encourage your dog to go to toilet before you put them to bed, but as they should have access to water in the night, they will likely still need to go for a wee.

Using a pen, put puppy pads on the floor where they can easily access. If you have a big enough crate, you could put a pad inside, but some dogs don’t like to go to toilet where they sleep and may cause a bit of a mess.

Toileting training a puppy can certainly come with its complications, but at Argos Pet Insurance we understand just how important it is to make your puppy’s first few months in their new home as safe and comfortable as possible. Check out our other articles at the We Talk Pet blog for more help and advice on how to care for your puppy.

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