Labrador

Toilet training puppies

Toilet training your puppy can be a frustrating – and messy – experience. Here are some tips to help make life easier and keep your home a little cleaner.

What age should I begin toilet training my puppy?

For everyone’s benefit, as early as possible. However, like babies, young puppies are conveyer belts – in one end out the other - so don't expect magic results until your puppy is at least 6 months old.

In these early growth and development days puppies eat more food, burn up more energy and constantly need to...well...you get the picture! They also haven’t developed bowel and bladder control, so they can't 'hold it' as long as grownups.

Be patient and allow for some mistakes, but always keep in mind, your puppy does want to be toilet trained. He or she wishes for nothing more than to please you, because when you’re happy, they’re happy too!

Steps to toilet training your puppy

Step One - designate an area where you want your puppy to go to the toilet. If you have an outside area, make it the garden. If you live in an apartment, use a dog loo or wee mat on the balcony or in an allocated room.

Step Two - take your puppy to this area when you think they need to go. Wait until the job is done.

Step Three - praise them and offer a treat. By associating the designated toilet area with a reward, they are more likely to continue using it.

How do I know when puppy needs to go?

Puppies almost always need to go after a meal, after a snooze and when they’re excited. A common sign to look for is sniffing around and around to the point of circling as they look for a suitable place to squat or take weight off one leg for a while.

When you see this behaviour, take them to the toilet area, wait until they’ve gone and reward them for a job well done.

How should I react to accidents?

If pup forgets to toilet in the right place, don’t get angry – they won’t understand what they’ve done wrong. Instead, soak up urine or pick up the doo in a paper towel and, along with puppy, take it to the designated area.

Let your puppy sniff the paper towel while you are in the toilet area and tell them they’ve been good. This helps them associate being in the toilet area with urine, faeces and getting a reward.

What about when puppy’s home alone?

Of course, you’re not going to be able to watch your puppy all day and take him or her to the toilet area. And in the early days, it’s also unlikely puppy will have access to the designated toilet area when they’re home alone.

Puppy-proof a room

The best thing to do is “puppy proof” a room that has non-porous flooring, such as the bathroom, laundry, garage or kitchen.

In this area, set puppy up a little home with a sleeping area, feeding and watering area and a toileting area. Put the food and water area and the toilet area as far apart as possible.

Add some cushion for pushin’

Because puppies prefer to go to the toilet on nice soft porous surfaces, use newspaper or puppy trainer pads on the floor in the toilet area. This helps to encourage them to toilet there. But don’t be surprised if your puppy doesn’t always go on the paper/pads. Sometimes it just seems like more fun to chew it and drag it around the room.

Change the papers when you get home and as often as required. As with the paper towel for accidents you miss, you can use the paper or pads to encourage the puppy to toilet where you want them to be eventually toileting.

When it comes to toilet training your puppy, remember - patience, persistence and consistency!