Puppies: Toilet Training!
Toilet training – how to master this:
Above all else, patience is key! Puppies don’t have full control of their bladder until they are at least 6 months of age. Please don’t expect a young puppy to hold its bladder for too long and always remember to make frequent visits outside with your puppy to keep your puppy’s bladder as empty as possible.
You may have days or weeks on end without any accidents and then feel deflated when your puppy has one, but this is perfectly normal so worry and obviously don’t scold your puppy. So long as your puppy is toiling outdoors more often than they are indoors then you’re on the right track.
Toilet training is a development area which you and your puppy need to work at as a partnership; if your puppy has an accident indoors then this could have been prevented by you taking them outside 5 minutes before, so remember this next time and make that extra trip outside with them, praise them when they urinate and then bring them back indoors. Some owners like to write down the times when their puppy goes to the toilet so they can start to realise a pattern and are more in tune with when their puppy will next need to go to the toilet.
With toilet training, we want to:
- Show your puppy where we would like them to go to the toilet – this means regularly taking them outside and staying outside with them until they have gone to the toilet
- Reward them for going to the toilet in the right place – this motivates them to want to go in the right place the next time they need to go to the toilet
You’ll soon be in sync with your puppies toileting and will know when they last urinated, how much they’ve drunk since and when they should be ready to go outside again… don’t presume that they will always tell you when they need to go out as it takes persistent training and time for a puppy to learn to always ‘ask’ to go outside… so just give them a little helping hand to succeed!
Key times during the day when your puppy is most likely to need to go to the toilet:
There are several key times during the day when puppies are most likely to need to go to the toilet. Taking note of these will increase your chances of helping them to be successful by ensuring that you take them outside at these times:
- As soon as they wake up (this includes daytime naps as well as overnight)
- As soon you’ve finished playing a game with them
- As soon as they’ve finished eating their meals
If you wish to fast-track your puppy’s toilet training, then remember the take them outside regularly throughout the day. Remember when it was that your puppy last went to the toilet as this will help you to predict when they might need to go again. Praise them when they go to the toilet in the right place – I always advise rewarding with a treat as this makes the moment more memorable for your puppy… and increases the likelihood of them wanting to go to the toilet outside then next time!
Does your puppy wee each time you come home, each time greet him or her in the morning, each time you make their breakfast/lunch/dinner or each time visitors come to visit? Well, welcome to the club!
Puppies generally under the age of six months don’t yet have complete control over their bladders and although you may be making good progress with house-training your pup, they may not be able to control their bladders when they are excited or nervous. Don’t worry, this is something they will grow out of… with a little help from us!
Recommendations if you have an excitement urination issue:
- Don’t greet your puppy in an excitable way! By doing so, you may inadvertently reinforce the problem. Instead, stay calm – this means no squealing ‘OMG I missed you too!’, no picking up cuddling or petting your puppy if they are excitable and definitely no high-pitched baby talk! Step away from the cute puppy!
- Ignore your puppy until he or she is calm
- Take your puppy outside immediately to limit the chances they will excitement wee indoors
- Once they toilet outside praise them and then make a fuss over them… they did a good thing!
- If visitors come to your home, ensure your puppy has emptied its bladder very soon before the visitor’s arrival (take them for a short walk to encourage them to do so). Ask your visitors to ignore your puppy when they first arrive and then take the puppy outside where visitors can greet him or her (to avoid any accidents indoors)
A little less common is when puppies perform submission urination if they are nervous.
You’ll notice the difference between this and excitement urination; submission urination can occur when a visitor enters their home whom they do not know, when they meet an unfamiliar dog or in any situation which they feel nervous about. So in many ways, this is the opposite of excitement urination and so it is usually very easy to spot the difference.
Recommendations if you have a submissive urination problem:
- Ignore your puppy if they have an accident indoors. Telling them in a soothing voice that it is ok will only reinforce their feelings of nervousness
- Never scold a puppy who suffers from submission urination as you’ll end up making the puppy more nervous. Just ignore the mess and clean it up when your puppy isn’t watching
- Make a note of what situations make your puppy submissively urinate and then try to avoid putting your puppy in these situations. For example, if visitors coming to your home results in your puppy submissively urinate then arrange to greet visitors outside your door with your puppy before entering your home all together.
- Reward your puppy for urinating outside and constantly give them praise to build their confidence.