When we first think about getting a puppy, we think about the cuddles and all the fun stuff. However after a couple of days in our home we start scratching our heads and wonder how can such a small thing wee and poo so much. Where does it all come from? Then getting that little terror toilet trained becomes our new first priority.
Some dogs will be clean within a couple of weeks; some will take months to get it completely right, so don’t despair and please don’t compare your puppy to your neighbours’ dog.
Now, I hardly ever point fingers, however we (the humans) are often the ones sending wrong or mixed messages to our new furry friends. So here are a few tips to help you get it right from the word go:
Do not tell your dog off, or punish him for weeing or pooing in the wrong place
Dogs don’t understand wrong vs. right (they understand Safe vs. Dangerous) so telling your dog off for doing something as natural and essential as toileting would be very stressful for him. Make no mistake, that look of “guilt” you might see on your dog’s face is not guilt, but signs of stress. He’s experiencing danger, not understanding the fact that he might be wrong. Dogs (like people) don’t learn well when stressed and scared.
It doesn’t matter if you catch your dog in the act, or later, do not tell him off.
Telling your dog off for toileting inside could have an undesired effect; he might assume/learn that you just don’t want him to go to the toilet in front of you. Then you’ll find yourself going on a two-hour walk hoping for a poo from your dog to no avail. However he’ll go and hide in a corner as soon as you get home to relieve himself.
A crate and/or a playpen, used correctly can be wonderful tools to help your puppy get toilet trained super fast. However it must be introduced positively. Your puppy’s crate should be just big enough to allow him to stand up, turn around, and lie down, but no extra room. That extra room could be considered as far enough from his sleeping quarter to be used as a toilet. So your crate size matters. Some come with dividers to allow for a change in size of the space as your pup grows.
Also, a playpen covered with puppy pads for him to relax in when you cannot watch over him will allow him to be set up for success, as he’ll never be allowed to toilet somewhere he is not allowed to in the future (like on your lovely rug).
If accidents do happen (which they will) its always great to use a specialist spray such as Simple Solution Stain and Odour Remover that has Pro-Bacteria and enzymes to completely remove stains and odours so as to discourage repeat marking.
Every dog, every owner and every home is different. So I can help and advise on the best set up for you, your dog and your home. Take a look at our Puppy Packs or Contact us right away to see how we can help set you up for success.
You must monitor your puppy at all times, especially when your puppy is outside, and especially if not using a crate/playpen set up. By monitoring your dog, you can successfully and consistently reward him as soon as he does it in the right space (playpen, puppy pad, garden, grass, etc.) You will start to notice a pattern too and be able to pre-empt their need to go (sometimes there is a little dance) and therefore prevent unnecessary accidents. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
Remember your puppy is more likely to wee after sleeping, playing or training, and after meals.
If he’s done it in the right place, please make sure you reward him immediately. You must also reward consistently (to start with), and using a food reward as well as verbal cue. Failure to do so will only make the training longer and even more fastidious.
Also no need to reinforce later as the dog will make no connection between the wee and the treat.
Don’t interrupt your dog mid-way through his wee or poo, instead roll up a newspaper and hit…. YOURSELF with it, while saying out loud: “I should have kept an eye on my puppy and set him up for success. I should have kept an eye on my puppy and set him up for success. ”
Don’t stop training and reinforcing too soon, otherwise your dog could easily regress.
I also like to put a cue on “It”. So find a cue you like (we use “do one” with our dog Bernard), and quietly keep saying it over the first few months when your puppy or dog is doing his business. With time, it will become a great cue to make it clear to him you want him to “do it” (genius) before entering the pub, your friends’ house, or before a long car or train journey.
Finally don’t let your dog make mistakes at the beginning, as this will become the new normal for him and it will be hard to correct this behaviour. Don’t allow your dog in areas where you don’t want him to get bad habits.
However, if your puppy is still not managing a full clean night passed 15 weeks, or if you feel you are going nowhere, call your vet to make sure everything is OK health wise.
Monitoring your puppy is really the key to successful toilet training. Different dog and home set-up’s ask for different techniques but they should all remain positive experiences for the puppy to learn quickly.
Lastly, sorry to say I could have probably found some really informative graphics/pictures to go with this blog but instead I've found myself filling it with pictures of my own dog as he was soooo cute at that stage, I'm sure you will agree... you WILL agree!
Contact me should you need help with setting up your puppy for success, with toilet training as well as all the other essentials such as Recall, Lead Walking, etc.