Toilet training puppy

by Bella

Toilet training a puppy is definitely high up on dog parents’ priority list. That’s expected – your dog relieving himself is something you’ll have to deal with several times a day. And if you don’t get the training right, then your experience with a dog is going to be a miserable one.

That’ll be unfortunate.

The good news is that you can easily instill desirable toileting habits in your pup. And that’s what we’ll be looking at in this article. We’ll explore all that there is to know about getting your canine friend to eliminate at the right place.

Let’s take a look.

When to Begin House Training a Puppies

toilet training a puppy

How long do you want your home to be messy because of an untrained dog? A week? Maybe a day? Chances are that you want your puppy to know what to do about toileting as soon as possible. That’ll in turn keep your house from turning into your dog’s wee-wee and poo dump land.

So definitely you’ll be better off starting to toilet train your puppy as soon as he steps into your house. There is no reason to wait – well unless you’re comfortable with a not-so-hygienic home.

That said, the results of your training will vary with your pup’s age.

Generally,puppies gain sufficient control of their bowel and bladder between 12 and 16 weeks of age. That means a puppy any younger than that will have problems regardless of the training. But still, it doesn’t hurt to begin early.

A good starting point in toilet training your puppy is knowing when he needs to go to the toilet.

Learning to Tell the Signs

toilet training a puppy

It’s natural for puppies to adopt certain behaviors that’ll show they’re want to go to the toilet.

These include:

  • Scratching at the door.
  • Barking.
  • Whining
  • Sniffing
  • Circling

Simply put, your dog becomes generally restless which is enough of a signal for the need to go.. That sniffing and circling could be a way that your puppy is using to find a spot he previously soiled.

Dogs love that and will eliminate in the same areas over and over if given an opportunity. But you can use this to your advantage. A designated part for your dog to poop or pee is one of the things you’ll need to have before you start toilet training your little one.

What You Need

Here are some paraphernalia important for house training your puppy.

A designated area

Having a specific spot for your puppy to poop or pee in is giving him exactly want he wants which lessens the training burden considerably.

To reinforce the idea of a designated toilet area in your dog’s mind, you need to take him there as soon as he shows any signs of needing relief. And if he does his business there, be sure to have a treat to further create that connection between the need to go and the spot.

Puppy Pads

These are ideal toileting spots in the house, mostly when you have to leave your puppy alone for some time like heading to work and such.

A Leash

A leash in this case just for leading your pup to your chosen pooping and peeing spot. And while at it, you can also use the leash to restrain him in that area until he relieves himself. Remember to make sure he doesn’t branch out into other activities such as playing – and that leash is just what you need.


Of course, you’ll need treats. You’re training a pup and what better way to go about it than rewarding him every time he does his business as you wish? Yes, positive reinforcement is just as important here.

As mentioned, be sure to have a treat on you at all times for rewarding your puppy every time he toilets in the right spot. And the rules are the same as any kind of reward-based training – you have to ensure your dog makes the connection between his behavior and the treat. That’s the only reason he’ll keep trying to please you.

That means giving the treat as soon as the dog is done – and in the right spot. It also means ignoring your dog when he eliminates in a spot other than the designated one. This will ensure he doesn’t repeat it in the future.

Thoroughly washing the part will also help.   

Enzymatic cleanser

Your dog is going to slip up down the line – that’s a given. When it does, you want to make sure you minimize the chances of a repeat as much as possible. Thorough cleaning with an enzymatic cleanser or any other non-ammonia based cleaning products.

Ammonia cleansers tend to have a certain smell that is attractive to your puppy when he needs to poop.

Paws for thought: get everything ready before you start toilet training your puppy. A designated elimination spot, a leash, treats, puppy pads, and an enzymatic cleanser are some of the items to have on your list.

Toilet Training Your Puppy –Steps

Take Your Dog Out Often

Ideally, you’ll want your puppy to do his business outside. So that’s where you should strive to spend as much time as possible. But not just that.

You should take care to get your young canine used to his toilet spot by always stopping by every time you head out. Here’s where a schedule can do your training a whole lot of good.

Just as a deserved treat is important, so is a strict toilet routine. It helps enforce the idea of habits which is exactly what you’re trying to establish here.

The schedule is even more important considering that puppies can’t hold it in for long enough. With a routine, the puppy gets a better chance at learning what he’s supposed to do when pressed.

Here are some of the times you should take a walk with your dog:

  • First thing in the morning
  • After eating/drinking.
  • Just before bed
  • When you’re leaving him alone
  • After a nap
  • After playing indoors
  • After time in a crate
  • And, of course, when he starts showing signs that he wants to go

In all of these instances, remember the treats – you have to reward the pup every time he uses his designated pooping area.

The one thing you have to avoid is getting playful with your dog in the designated area. Any sort of play is going to send mixed signals to your puppy. And that’s certainly not the best way to enforce a habit.

You want your dog to understand explicitly that that particular area is for his business only.

Keep walking

Don’t rush indoors immediately once your puppy is done with his business. Play with him some more – of course, away from the spot you’ve set aside. You don’t want him associating going out solely with toileting.

A walk helps him get excited to go out, which is helpful to your course. If anything, it’ll seem like a reward. And any type of reward is welcome when teaching your dog a habit.

Commands Go a Long Way

Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, title of video: How to Potty Train your Puppy EASILY! Everything you need to know!, date video posted: Feb 22, 2016

Commands always work great in encouraging positive behavior. They’re just as part of training as are treats. Establish certain commands that you can say to your dog as he gets down. With time, he’ll come to associate those words with the correct way of pooping or peeing.

And there are no specifics here, really. Any good enough word would do – “now”, “quick” etc. Just a heads up: don’t yell.

Of course, this will take time so it’s all about being patient. Just be sure to never use those commands outside of toileting. You’ll only end up confusing your puppy.

Bow to Me, Puny Hooman!

You can repeatedly take your dog out and issue commands but without showing what’s in it for him, it’s going to be a tall order for the habit to catch on. This is where praise comes in.

Turns dogs love an ego boost just as the next guy. Reward your dog every time he poops or pees in the spot you’ve designated. Pet him. Make him feel special and that toileting the right way is the highest achievement in the world.

Also, don’t forget that well-timed “good boy!” or “good girl!” followed by a pat or kiss.

Consider Using A Crate

If you’re like most dog parents, the idea of using a crate on your dog seems horrible. But the truth is far from it.

Crates play on your dog’s instincts to keep his surroundings free from his waste. Just like you, your pup doesn’t fancy the idea of getting all soaked up in a rug with his own piss so he’ll hold for as long as he’s in the crate.

But be sure to watch out for any signs of toileting so that you let him out. You don’t want him thinking it’s a new toileting spot. Also, the crate’s size should be ideal –

allowing your puppy enough space to lie, stand, and turn he needs.

A too-large crate will encourage your puppy to use one corner for elimination.

Leaving Your Pup Alone

It’s important to stick around your puppy during the initial stages of the training. You want to keep up a routine that speeds up the process and makes it even more efficient.

But being that close is not always possible. Despite that, it doesn’t also mean you let your canine buddy run back to his old toileting habits.

First off, make sure he’s had some exercise. Also, take him to the designated spot and let him eliminate if possible. In this case of leaving your puppy alone, puppy pads are ideal for keeping up with the training – and reducing any would-be mess.

Place a pad away from the bed area for when your pup needs to go. Of course, this should only be for a short time. The ultimate training goal should be to get your dog to eliminate outside the house.

That aside, toilet training your puppy isn’t going to be a smooth journey devoid. For instance, accidents on your dog’s part are only natural. How you handle them matters.

Paws for thought: create and stick to a schedule for taking out your puppy often. And while at it, follow up the elimination with a walk and praise. Incorporating commands can also work out great. Inside the house, you can either use a crate or puppy pads depending on whether you’ll be around or not.

Dealing with Accidents When Toilet Training a Puppy

It can be quite a frustration to find a house trained pup going to the toilet where he shouldn’t after weeks of training. Again, it’s a puppy so he hasn’t quite mastered his faculties.

The immediate reaction is to want to yell. Some pet parents even as far as sticking their dog’s nose into the mess.

That, of course, is the worst you could do. Your dog can’t make the connection between his mess and your yelling/punishment anyway.

If you find your puppy in the act of eliminating at the wrong place, interrupt and immediately carry him to the designated toileting spot. If you find the mess when your dog is done, be sure to thoroughly clean the spot using an enzymatic cleaner.

Cheerful and friendly training is the only way to make strides in getting your dog inline. Also, staying outside can help cut down on toilet training accidents considerably.

The situation should improve with time. But if it doesn’t, it could be a sign of an underlying problem. You should consider checking with your vet to see if that’s the case and how to resolve it.


How long on average does it take to toilet train a puppy?
This will vary considerably because no two puppies are the same. There are a lot of factors at play including age and how consistent you are with your training among others. But with patience, any puppy can be toilet trained.
Can an 8-week old puppy be potty trained?
As you’ve seen above, most puppies are toilet trainable from 12 to 16 weeks. This is the age when they’ve finally mastered bladder control (and bowel). An 8-week old puppy will have problems with elimination regardless of the toilet training process.
Paws for thought: create and stick to a schedule for taking out your puppy often. And while at it, follow up the elimination with a walk and praise. Incorporating commands can also work out great. Inside the house, you can either use a crate or puppy pads depending on whether you’ll be around or not.

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