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Top tips on puppy toilet training

Updated: Apr 21

According to University of California's Davis College of Veterinary Medicine the frequency of elimination breaks should align with your puppy's age. The guidelines are: 6 to 14 weeks/eight to ten times daily, 14 to 20 weeks/six to eight times daily, 20 to 30 weeks/four to six times daily, and 30 weeks and older/three to four times daily. These timescales don’t necessarily alter with breed or size of the dog’s bladder because the volume of water they drink will also vary.


Freedom in the home


It's important to only allow your puppy freedom in the home once they have toileted outside and when you can fully supervise them. You'll need to watch your puppy and pay attention to early warning signs that they need to go to the toilet



Signs


Your puppy will likely give you early warning signs that they need to go to the toilet. This can include circling, sniffing, panting, pacing or having zoomies. Very young puppies can often just squat where they are, but as they mature, you should be able to spot some signs above.


Schedule


Your puppy will need to go out to the toilet roughly every 1 to 2 hours initially, as well as:

  • After waking from a nap

  • After playing

  • After food/water

  • During training sessions


Keep a toileting diary so that you can keep a note of when they toilet. This will help you to establish a predictable routine for your puppy's toileting trips.


Go out with them


Make sure you go outside with your puppy to the garden. You need to praise him every single time he toilets outside, so it's no good sending him outside on his own or encouraging him to use a dog door.


Movement stimulates the bladder, so walk round in small circles and try not to distract your puppy too much with lots of talking.

As soon as you see your puppy squat to pee or poo, add a verbal cue such as 'quick quick' and then praise them verbally and give them a treat.


If your puppy doesn't toilet, then either pop him back into his pen area, or keep him on a lead and with you when you go indoors so that you can keep a close eye on him. Chances are he will wee within the next 5 minutes, so this allows you to whip him back outside.


What to do about accidents


If your puppy toilets in the house, DO NOT punish him. You must never ever punish a puppy for toileting indoors, otherwise you will quickly find that your puppy will associate toileting with bad things from you and will start toileting out of sight instead. A puppy who is afraid to toilet in front of you is a difficult puppy to toilet train!


If you cannot supervise your puppy, you must put him in a secure crate or play pen so that he cannot make mistakes. We typically recommend avoiding the use of puppy pads or indoor toilets, as this teaches your puppy that its ok to toilet inside and it can be hard to undo this later.


Some puppies can be frightened outside for the first couple of weeks, so in this instance, you can continue using any puppy pads whilst your puppy settles in, then try place the pads outside.

It can take around 6 months for your puppy's bladder to mature, so it's important to stick to your routine and frequent toilet breaks, minimising accidents by using crates and pens when unsupervised.


If you find that your puppy is drinking alot and therefore peeing alot, or they seem to poo more than 3 times a day, it's worth looking at their diet and ensuring it's of high quality. Low quality diets can make your puppy thirsty and can impact how they digest their food.


If you're struggling to toilet train your puppy, our puppy residential stays are a great way to establish a routine for your puppy and teach him where to go to the toilet. We understand how hard it can be to establish this routine yourself if you have kids, other pets, or challenging work hours.


Written by Jenny Newland



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