Toilet training your dog doesn't have to be that difficult. It's all about getting into a routine. If you follow a routine and stick to the rules then you should start to see results. Try and be patient, your dog isn't going to be 100% toilet trained overnight. Here are some tips to help you toilet train your new dog.
- Dogs are naturally clean animals and do not like to soil in their nesting area. What you need to do is teach them that your whole house is their nest and they should not go to the toilet there.
- Take your dog where you want them to go the toilet on a regular basis. Bring them to the same spot every time if there is a specific place you need them to go. While your dog is toilet training you can use training pads to help if needed.
- Reward them when they go to the toilet in the correct place. This can be with verbal praise or a treat, and sometimes even both. When your dog goes to the toilet outside don't hold back your excitement and give them plenty of verbal praise.
- If your dog does have an accident (they will definitely have a few accidents, so be patient and give them a chance) clean it up as soon as possible and do your best to get rid of the smell. Avoid using ammonia based cleaning products that smell similar to urine as this will only encourage them to go more.
- Don't expect a puppy to tell you when then need to go to the toilet. This is something that can be developed over time as they get older.
- Don't tell them off if they go in the wrong place. Simply take them outside right away and give them the opportunity to go to the toilet. Shouting at them will only stress them out more, it won't stop them from going again in future. It will make them scared to go to the toilet in front of you, which is the opposite of what you want. Sometimes we wrongly blame our dogs when it may have been our fault. Think, could I have taken them out more, did I walk them for long enough?
- Remember not to let your dog out on their own while you are house training. Many owners make the mistake of letting their dog out to go to the toilet unsupervised and assuming they went. Owners then don't realise that their dog didn't go for a wee, they were just sniffing around in the garden. Go out with them so you know whether they went or not.
- Don't give your dog too long to go to the toilet. If you spend 15 minutes walking around trying to get them to go, they will assume they have this long every time. Take them out for a few minutes at a time so that they learn this is the amount of time they have to do their business.
- Don't let your dog out too often as this will only reduce their ability to wait to go to the toilet. Letting them out ten times a day will teach them that this is the amount of chances they have to go to the toilet. However, very young puppies have extremely weak bladders to begin with so when they are very little you will need to let them out more often. They might feel the need to urinate every few hours or so. It's unrealistic to expect your puppy to make it through the night without needing the toilet when they are very young.
- Confine them to a specific area to begin with. Crate training can work quite well when you are trying to house train your dog. It's their safe place where they will be reluctant to go to the toilet. Do not use it as a form of punishment. Once they start to learn that they need to go to the toilet outside you can gradually give them more freedom to roam around your house.
- Some dogs take longer than others to master toilet training. Many will take just a few months, some might even learn in a few weeks and other can take closer to six months to be reliable.
- Make sure they get enough exercise and plenty of walks where they have the opportunity to go to the toilet. Don't leave them on their own for so long that they are forced to urinate or defecate inside. Avoid going out for too long when you are toilet training your dog.
- Take them to go to the toilet regularly but especially after meals, when you get home and after sleeping. Eating stimulates their digestive system, so make sure you give them the opportunity to relieve themselves after eating and drinking.
- Choose a word to mark going to the toilet such as 'toilet' or 'go busy'. When you take them out to go to the toilet start repeating this word, especially when they start sniffing around. As soon as they go give them plenty of praise. Eventually they will begin to association that word with going to the toilet and will ideally go on command.
- Keep a strict routine so your puppy or dog can settle in and start to recognise the times they will be let out to relieve themselves.
- Don't take away your dog's water to prevent them from going to the toilet. It's important they stay hydrated at all times. Puppies especially can dehydrate extremely quickly.
Some dogs that have been completely house trained and reliable for years can suddenly have issues with messing in the home. This can happen for a number of reasons:
- Old age
- Bladder/health problems
- Changes in diet
- Extreme weather changes
- Change of environment
- Behavioural issues
If you are having ongoing housetraining issues speak to a dog trainer or your local veterinarian.