Potty Training Made Easy – Part 1
Potty Training Made Easy – Part 2
Potty Training Made Easy – Part 3
Potty Training Made Easy – Part 4
Listen to the Audio Version of Toilet Training Puppies And Dogs:
(Click the Play button – this may take a moment or two to get going, so please be patient)
Some young puppies can learn to toilet in the place that you chose from a very young age but some will take much longer. As with everything, all dogs will learn at different rates but what you do can really help and make a big difference in speeding up the process. Usually after 2 weeks of consistent toilet training a pattern will start to become established however it can take longer, the secret is to stay calm and consistent. This can happen at 8 weeks old or if you are inconsistent and mistakes continue then it can take much longer.
Basic toilet training for puppies
Toilet training is a relatively simple process, but first let us put it into perspective. A new-born baby takes years to start to control its bowls. You simply can’t expect every puppy to become a clockwork machine after a few weeks. If you understand the first point then the second thing follows on by default – you really can’t blame the puppy if it makes a mistake.
Your pup is not doing it to annoy you or wind you up. It simply is trying to understand how life works and this is a part of it….where to go to the toilet, and how to get there in time!
This is where you come in. You see you really play as big a part if not bigger in the success of your puppy’s toilet training than your puppy! After all, you control access to the outside! So here is the procedure. Obviously this is not possible for everyone so simply work to it as best as you can.
- First YOU must anticipate when your puppy needs to go.
- YOU must take your puppy outside or to the area you wish to use as the toilet.
- YOU then make sure that you have a treat in your pocket.
- YOU then say in a calm, gentle voice the command to go toilet. “Go toilets, go toilets.”
- YOU need to stay really calm and relaxed for as long as it takes, to help your puppy relax outside and enjoy the experience, walking around to get the bowels moving but at the same time keeping your puppy in the right area.
- Immediately after your puppy relieves itself YOU say “Good girl. Good toilets” and give your puppy the treat, and I suggest you make it one of the top-shelf treats!
- If after, say 15 minutes you are seeing no sign of a toilet happening then bring you puppy back inside and be aware that it will probably need to go in the near future. So either restrict it’s space and movement with the use of a crate, pen or tiled area and then wait a further 15 minutes approximately. Crates are very useful in this process as puppies do not like to toilet in their beds so when placed in a small area they will learn to hold on until taken outside again.
- Take your puppy outside again and repeat.
- Many puppies are still making the occasional mistake at 5 – 6 months old. Many on the other hand get it by 3 months old.
If your puppy makes a mistake and you see it doing it then without scaring your puppy clearly say, “No” then pick your puppy up and take it outside.
If you tell your puppy off then it is very likely that next time your puppy will think I must go toilet out of the sight of my owner or I will get told off if they see me! Now you have a puppy who goes and hides and then toilets! If you tell your puppy off for toileting on the carpet then you still haven’t shown her where to go. Next time she will simply try somewhere else like behind the couch. If she could speak she would say “Ok, ok, just show me where I CAN go!” Think of it like this, every time she goes outside in the garden and is rewarded, give her a treat and she will think “Ah yes, this is a fine place use as a toilet!”
Older dog toileting inside
If you have an older dog then there are a number of things to consider
- Is your dog reaching old age and losing bowl control. If so it is worth a visit to the Vet. The older your dog the more likely this is.
- Has your older dog been toilet trained in the past? If so then ask yourself first the obvious question: does you dog have ample time to go? Could it hold on or was it a case of the dog was left inside for too long?
- If your dog is older, has been toilet trained and had the opportunity to go then the question is this: were you in the house or were you away? If the answer was you were away then it is most likely that this is a behavioral issue more than a toilet training issue. Let me explain…
Toileting inside as a behavioral problem
If your dog thinks that she is the pack leader then one of her jobs is to look after you. When you leave the house (in her eyes you are probably lost), then often she will try to help you return, using scent to follow. In the wild the main way that a dog will find the den especially if it is hidden in thick undergrowth is through scent, the dogs do not have maps, road signs or satellite navigation to guide them! To them it only makes sense to help you find your way home and toileting on the carpet is one way they will do this. The solution is simply become the pack leader through the 5 Golden Rules and show the dog that you are the pack leader and they do not have to worry about you when you are not around. Practice lots of mini separations where you leave for short periods of time and then re-unite correctly on return. With time all toileting inside shall stop.
Many dogs are also too nervous to toilet outside and feel vulnerable. To help them overcome this again you must practice all 5 Golden Rules especially No.5 The Walk in the back garden area, or the area they need to relax in. Stay calm and take your time.
In severe cases you may look to cut down the feeding if it is an adult dog to 1 full feed a day, especially if it is toileting overnight.
Important points for any toilet training
- If you only ever give your dog or puppy a piece of chicken when it goes to the toilet outside it will not take long for your dog to think “Hey, if I go toilet outside, I get chicken!” This is simply positive reinforcement, and yet we so often forget to do it. Only ever give your dogs their favorite treats for doing the behaviour you really want them to complete
- Keep a supply of your most amazing treats in the garden where you can grab them if you forget to carry them out with you! (out of the reach of the cats and dogs!)
- The more relaxed you can make your puppy the more likely she is to go toilet outside when you ask
- If you need to then keep your dog on a leash or a longer line when you take it out so that she doesn’t wander off but make sure that it is a loose leash and not tight
- To start with close down the space that you give your puppy to roam around in. Never let a puppy simply wander throughout the house or they will wander to the far end and toilet. The far end of your house will seem like a million miles away from their bed! Use a baby gate and close doors to limit their space
- Leave the area that you want the dog to toilet in smelling like a toilet. In other words do not go overboard and wash it down with detergent every morning! If it smells like the toilet to a puppy then she will think “Oh yes, this is the toilet!”
- At a later date you can narrow down the area using the same method but give it time first, set your dog up to succeed. Remember one step at a time
- To make it clear where the toilet starts and finishes you can lay down a simple piece of wood for your puppy to step over. Dogs and puppies recognize changes in surfaces and clearly defined areas
- Food should never ever be left down as per Golden Rule No.1 and it also helps to keep the toileting regular
- Make sure that any mistakes indoors are cleaned up very well with an enzymatic cleaner, this breaks down the urine and fecal matter not just the scent. Similarly a really good clean out of the cage, blankets and bedding can often help to break a toileting in the crate cycle by removing any scent
Toilet training using a crate:
The main principles for toilet training using crate are the same as without, the big difference is this…
After taking your puppy out of the crate to go to the toilet and he doesn’t go, return your puppy to the crate where he will be less likely to go because it is his sleeping area. Then after 10 minutes or so try again. The theory is good however it still requires the same care and planning that basic toilet training requires. There is no magic wand.
Toilet training indoors:
Sometimes it is necessary to train a puppy to toilet indoors. If you live in a high-rise apartment, are disabled, or are going to be out for a lot of the day and there is no indoor outdoor access or dog door then this is an option for you.
Here are the steps to getting your puppy to toilet in one area of a room:
- Select a room that you are going to use. It should be small and have easy to clean flooring.
- Cover it in newspaper several layers thick, you can leave your puppy’s bed, toys and water bowl in the room.
- To show your puppy where to go in future, place a previously soaked piece of urine marked newspaper in the corner of the room furthest from his bed.
- In future when cleaning up make sure that this corner always smells like the toilet a little by leaving down a sheet that is marked.
- Slowly remove the newspaper from around your puppies bed.
- Over weeks, slowly make the target area, smaller and smaller but DO NOT RUSH THIS STAGE ! Or you will go backwards.
- If your puppy misses the target then make the target bigger….yep you rushed it!
- If you want to get your puppy to then toilet outside you will probably need to place newspaper down on the ground outside until your puppy has got used to toileting on the grass.
Additional tips information and techniques
If your puppy has been toileting on newspaper inside then a few sheets of newspaper on the grass outside will help trigger the puppy into action
Train your dog or puppy that as soon as it goes toilet then you take it for a walk
Build a pee post for your dog
Remember the power of focusing on the perfect outcome, staying calm, and being consistent when working with your dog
Q & A
Q. What should I do if I catch my dog toileting on the carpet?
A. The best response if you catch them in the act is to say a firm but calm “No” and then take them outside and place them on the correct area. Be careful not to scare them though, probably a lot quieter than you think will give them the desired message. It is through positive rewards that we are going to change their behavior not fear If you scare them then there is every chance that they will start to do it out of sight such as behind the couch as they know you disapprove but have not worked out where to go yet or how to tell you.
Q. If I find my dog has toileted but I did not see them do it – what should I do?
A. Do not punish, shout or scold your puppy, it is much like a baby going in a nappy, your puppy is still just that, treat him with love and care. There is nothing to do at this stage, anything you do say will be completely lost in translation and you will have damaged your relationship with your puppy if you punish him. Clean up the mess with an enzymatic and deodorizing cleaner to ensure that no smell remains, then assess what went wrong and tighten up your schedule to make sure you get him outside for his next one. Make sure this was a one-off mistake on your part!
Q. My puppy refuses to go outside, what shall I do and why is this?
A. I am not trying to be funny but every puppy will go eventually outside. There are a number of reasons that he may refuse or not want to such as he may be fearful of the outdoors, he may think his toilet is indoors, he may simply not like the feel of the grass on his behind, there are lots of possibilities. However we need to focus on the solution, and that is the same. Try taking him on a walk and see if he goes then. This may be a good bridge between going indoors and going in the garden on command.
Q.After we come home how do we ignore our puppy but also get her outside to go to the toilet to avoid any accidents?
A. You should give you puppy the minimum amount of attention that still actually gets her to follow you outside. Usually you will only have to make a tiny encouraging noise and walk outside for your puppy to follow, then you follow the usual procedure to get her to go toilet. Once she has been and you have praised her with a little reward then you must put in place Golden Rule no.3 and make sure that she is completely calm before any further attention.