Puppies have small bladders and generally have no instinct or ability to “hold on” and delay going to the toilet. They will need to go to the toilet frequently and they need to be taught where and when is appropriate. This takes training! Here are some tips to help you through the puppy toilet training stage.
- Know how often they should go. An estimate for calculating how often your puppy needs to go to the toilet is their age in months is how many hours they can go between toileting (ie. an 8 week old puppy needs to go every 2 hours). They also will typically need to do a poo about 20 minutes after eating and will want to urinate after napping, resting, playing or when coming out of confinement.
- Know the signs that they need to go to the toilet such as whining, circling and sniffing the ground are good indicators that they may need to go to the toilet.
- Keeping your puppy in eye sight at all times, either on a lead or confined in a crate or playpen. This will avoid hidden accidents but also allows you to see the signs that it is time to go outside.
- Take them outside to the toilet area (hourly is often required) as often as you can to help avoid accidents.
- Designate one area in the yard as the toilet spot, take them to this place to do their business. This just helps you in the clean up process and prevents the brown urine patches that are occasionally seen from all over the lawn.
- Use commands such as “toilet”, “go now”, “wee wee”, whatever works for you to have them associate a word or command with going to the toilet.
- Use treats or rewards and raise them after going to the toilet and give them a treat for doing the right thing, this will motivate them to continue doing it.
- If you do not have easy access to outside areas for toileting use a designated area, covered with puppy pads or newspaper as the toileting area. Follow all the same steps but instead of going outside take them to the designated area.
- Never reprimand or punish the puppy for accidents and never rub their nose in it. Just clean it up and move on. If you catch them in the act say NO sternly and then take them to their designated toileting spot.
- Be prepared for accidents. As a puppy (and even an adult) there are sure to be a few accidents or surprises left for you to clean up so ensure you have what you need on hand. Clean up accidents with a good enzymatic stain and odour remover, these products are necessary as if the dog can still smell urine in a place they will seek it out to go toilet there again.
Toilet training your puppy may be frustrating and time consuming but they will soon get the hang of it and it will ultimately make life a lot easier for you.
If you ever notice that your puppy is having difficulty passing urine or faces, seems to be in pain while toileting or is going more often than expected please contact your veterinarian for advice to rule out any medical issues.