How to Toilet Train Your Puppy

Hello friends!

A few weeks ago I wrote a post regarding Bosun's first birthday. Yes I know, he's gorgeous and he's grown so big...and he's still growing. I wrote about our first year together, including all the ups and downs and I said that I would write a blog post on toilet training and how that went.
So here goes...

When we brought Bosun home last October, he was 11 weeks old. He'd been brought up outside in kennels so he hadn't started toilet training yet. This is how most people bring their puppies home...and so we started from the beginning.

When we first arrived with him at our house, we put him on the ground in the garden and let him have a sniff around and a wee  after a long 3 hour journey. That's when toilet training started, right then and there. We gave Bo a big fuss and made a big deal out of the fact that he's gone for a wee outside. You have to treat it as though it's the most amazing thing in the world. And that is what happened every single time he went for a wee or poo outside. Every single time is a big celebration and song and dance.

The next step is learning to anticipate when your puppy is going to need a wee, and they need to wee a lot when they're little. So he'll need to wee after he eats, after he drinks, when he wakes up after a snooze, first thing in the morning, last thing at night, after he's been playing and many other times in between. Generally we learnt to take Bosun outside once every hour and this proved really effective. For the first few months, you will need to physically go out into the garden with him. After a while, you'll be able to stand at the back door while he goes for a wee outside, and then eventually you'll be able to open the back door and just let him go.

So now you're taking your puppy outside to wee and giving him a fuss, and that's great. But for now he's just learning that weeing is a good thing, he won't learn to wee outside just from this alone. He will have a few accidents inside. This is inevitable. I will give you some very good advice on this matter right now. Do not shout at your puppy, smack him, tell him off or generally punish him for toileting inside. It will not do any good at all. Puppies wee when they're scared or nervous in a situation and shouting at a 10 week old pup for weeing indoors will just make him wee more. The way you stop him from weeing indoors is through distraction. If he starts to go for a wee indoors, clap your hands really loudly and make a loud noise to distract him and then run towards the back door,  (or pick him up and run with him to the back door if you have to) and get him to follow you outside where you allow him to continue weeing and praise him as normal.

If your puppy has a wee that you didn't manage to catch in time and you just come across a mess on the floor, there is no point in trying to do anything about it at this point. Literally no point whatsoever, they have a very short attention span and won't have the foggiest idea what you're telling them off for. Much better just to ignore it and carry on with the rest of the training as normal.

If your puppy does have an accident on the carpet, give it a bloody good scrub with some vanish carpet cleaner (or similar). If he can smell urine on the carpet, he'll associate it with going to the toilet and think it's okay to do it on that spot again and again.

Night time is a big obstacle to over come. You can't expect an 11 week old pup to go 8 hours overnight without a wee. It just won't happen. So we did it in stages. The first few weeks we went to bed late, say, 11pm. We'd then get up around 2am, 4am and 6am to let him out for wees and this was also really effective. We slowly phased out the 4am toilet break, and then the other ones in between over a few months. By 6 months we could go from 11pm to 7am with out middle of the night toilet breaks,

The thing that helped us the most with toilet training I think was his crate. Whenever we weren't in the house and also overnight, Bo was in his crate. I will write a blog post about crate training at a later date because there are so many other benefits to crate training aside from toilet training. But in general, one of the instincts that your puppy will already have is not to go to the toilet in his bed. So you make the crate cosy with a bowl of water, a safe bed and a few hard toys (not soft ones because he'll chew them up and choke on them) and he will come to think of it as his own place, and he won't want to toilet in it. Remember when he's young not to leave him so long in his crate that he's forced to toilet in there, otherwise you will undo all of that natural instinct that is very very helpful at this stage.

So I will summarise all of these points for you in an easy list...

  • Going to the toilet outside is the most amazing thing in the world, praise your puppy every time he gets it right and make a big deal!
  • If you catch him having an accident inside, make a loud noise to distract him, make him go outside and praise him for going for a wee outside! Big deal!
  • Don't shout at your puppy, tell him off or smack him for weeing inside. It doesn't do you or your puppy any favours.
  • Take your puppy outside regularly for toileting including after he's eaten, after he's had a drink, after he's woken up and in generally once every hour.
  • Get up a few times in the night to take your puppy out for a wee and slowly reduce the amount of times you get up.
  • Give him a crate which is his own space, and put him in there over night. He won't want to toilet in his own space.
  • If he does have an accident inside, be sure to give the carpet a good scrub to get rid of the smell so that he doesn't associate that spot with toileting.

Over all, I can quite honestly say that Bosun had a total of 6 accidents inside the house. We are so proud of him for that...and I think toilet training is really the only thing that's gone 100% well!
Don't be disheartened if your puppy doesn't pick it up straight away. Bosun is a really smart dog and picked it up very quickly, but every dog is different. Although I considered Bo to be fully toilet trained by 6 months, some aren't until about a year. Just keep persevering and it will all be good in the end!

Do you have any stories or questions regarding puppy toilet training?

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