How to house train your puppy

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Have you recently brought a puppy home? Or maybe you’re picking up your new puppy soon. Either way,  house training is likely at the top of your training list!

Nobody wants to deal with accidents all over the floor. The sooner you can set up a plan to get your puppy toileting in the correct place, the faster they will be to house train.

In this post we’ll outline easy to follow steps to house training a puppy.
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Where will they go?

The first thing to do is, decide where you’d like your puppy to go to the toilet. Can they eliminate anywhere in the garden, or would you like to encourage them to go in a particular spot? 

If you have a large garden it can be helpful to corner a section off. When your puppy smells where they have been before, it encourages them to go there again.

By limiting the space they have, it can speed up this process. But do give them enough room to have a little mooch around.

If you can’t section an area off, you can still limit their access by taking them out on a lead. This means they keep on task and don’t get distracted. You want to make sure that toilet time doesn’t accidentally turn into play time!

You may even want to make a special doggy toilet area. This would be a good option for a balcony if you live in a flat. It can help if you create a raised bed to make a clearer distinction between the toilet area and the rest of your garden.

When to take them out

Puppies have small bladders. Which means they will need to toilet far more frequently than an adult dog. An easy rule to go by is to take your puppy out every hour, plus after every change in activity.

Times to take your puppy out for a toilet break:
  • As soon as they wake up
  • After a training session 
  • After playing
  • A short time after eating 
  • A short time after drinking, plus more regularly for the rest of the day if it’s warm and they’ve drunk more than usual
  • When they go to the door leading to their toilet area
  • After anything exciting happens, such as a visitor arriving

If they are toileting outside, but still having accidents indoors, you’ll need to take them out more frequently.

When your puppy does go in the correct place, wait for them to finish before calmly rewarding them. Calm verbal praise or gentle strokes are ideal. They need to know that they’ve done the right thing, but we don’t want going outside to the toilet to be super fun. If your reward is too exciting it can distract your puppy from their task, causing them to not empty their bladder fully.  

If you need to take your puppy outside during the night, i.e. after you’ve gone to bed and before your ideal wake up time, give very little fuss or attention. Take them out to relieve themselves, and pop them straight back to bed after. You don’t want your puppy to learn that they can get you up at 3am for a cuddle or play!

Adding in a cue

This is an optional step, but it can be useful to teach your puppy to go to the toilet on cue. 

Say your cue when you take them out to the toilet. This could be anything you want, but common ones are “hurry up”, “wee wees” and “be quick”. Follow this with calm praise when they go.

Preventing accidents

The best way to avoid accidents is 24/7 supervision, but that just isn’t possible for most people! Instead you can employ management strategies to help set your puppy up for success. 

Puppies do not like to toilet where they sleep. By giving them less room when unsupervised, you are limiting the chance that they will move away from their bed, toilet and then go back to bed again. 

Crates are perfect for this as your puppy will have enough room to snooze and turn around, but not so much that they can toilet away from their bed.

Pens can also be useful tools, however with the added space you are increasing the chance of an accident. Some level of supervision is best so you can watch out for any signs that they might be about to toilet.

Strict supervision is needed if your puppy is going to be free to wander around an entire room. This ensures they don’t pop off to a quiet corner to go to the toilet. Remember, this won’t be an act of defiance. It’s simply normal dog behaviour to want to go in a quiet spot away from sleeping and eating areas.

How to deal with accidents

Accidents happen. Don’t get upset with yourself or your puppy. If you catch them in the act, just calmly take them to their toilet area. Otherwise, just clean it up!

When cleaning up accidents, use a cleaner that isn’t ammonia based, and is designed to neutralise smells. Something like this Simple Solution Enzymatic Cleaner would be ideal. 

As mentioned above, if a puppy smells where they went previously, it encourages them to go there again. So you want to be sure that you aren’t encouraging repeat accidents!
As with most things dog related, consistency is key when house training your puppy. Make sure you are taking them out regularly, set an alarm on your phone if you need to. And don’t give them too much freedom to get it wrong.

Every dog will pick this up at different speeds. Try not to compare your puppy to another dog you know, or may have owned in the past. They will get it!
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Are you bringing home a new puppy soon and want to make sure you are fully prepared? Why not arrange a Pre-puppy consultation with Gemma to go over all of your questions. Sessions are held online so it doesn’t matter where you are based. Please click the link below for more information.
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