House Training Your Puppy

Such innocent eyes

There is nothing cuter than a puppy.  All young and innocent, full of energy and cuddles with so much care and attention needed and love to give.  Just like a child, your puppy will need lots and lots of attention and time from you and of course for you to teach them the necessary life skills to lead a happy life.  One of the most important is teaching your puppy to do their business outside.

Now you may be spending a few weeks whilst training your puppy on high alert and cleaning up a few accidents but the good news is with some simple step as in no time at all you will have a toilet trained puppy.  An adult dog’s ability to “hold it” for several hours is what can make the process easier than it is for a puppy.  With some basic, consistent and simple steps, in no time, your dog will understand and learn where they can go to be clean.

A Few Basics

Your Puppy’s Bladder

A puppy has a tiny bladder compared to an adult dog’s so will not be able to  “hold it” for several hours and will need taking to the place you want them to relieve themselves frequently.  You will need to give them the opportunity to go to the toilet every 1-2 hours, even at night!

Puppy Proof Your Home

Puppies and dogs naturally keep their living area clean, they don’t want to relieve themselves in the same space they live in.  However, an untrained puppy will not know what is right or wrong and won’t know where to be clean.  A good idea when welcoming a puppy to your home is creating an area in your home that is puppy proof.  This can be a crate or if a crate is not for you then a puppy pen.  The idea is to keep your puppy safe and contained in one area where their natural instinct can be developed with of course a helping hand from you.


When welcoming a puppy to your home it is important to establish a routine for your dog.  Puppies are much more likely than adult dogs to toilet after a walk, feed or long play session, so you will need to be extra vigilant during these times and be ready to take your puppy out to the toilet at a moment’s notice.

Watch your Puppy

Don’t give your puppy an opportunity to soil in the house.  From the moment you welcome your puppy into your home you should watch them at all times whilst they are indoors.  Remember you need to get to know your puppy and they need to get to know you.

Watch for signs that you dog need to be clean:

  • Sniffing around or circling.
  • Pacing
  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Scratching
  • Trying to leave their crate, play pen or room
Puppy Toilet Training on A Lead

Set Your Clock

When your puppy is inside with you, set a timer or clock for every hour. When the timer goes off, put your puppy on a lead and take them out to the designated toilet area.

Don’t play with your puppy otherwise they might get toilet time confused with play time. During this time, simply wander around and wait for them to go to the toilet.

If this doesn’t occur within five minutes, head back inside, but you must keep an eye on your puppy. Every five minutes, take them out to the designated toilet area and wait a couple of minutes for it to go to the toilet. Repeat this process until your puppy does go to the toilet. When it does, be sure to give them lots and lots of  praise, a treat and perhaps some play time with you. Put your puppy back in its confined play area and set the timer again.

Choose a Cue Word

If you take the time to toilet train your dog as a puppy, it will make things so much easier for you and your dog throughout it’s entire life.

Adding a cue to the behaviour of your puppy relieving itself is a handy tool. Think of those cold winter nights and trying to get your puppy to go to the toilet before bed. Wouldn’t it be nice if they would just ‘go’ on command rather than waiting around for ages? What about those quick toilet stops on a long car ride?

While your puppy is relieving themselves, repeat a cue of your choice that will communicate to your dog that it is toilet time..  Cues such as ‘be clean”, “wee time” or “toilet time” can be used.   Give your dog lots of praise when they do go to the toilet outside. Initially, you should say the command once your puppy has started going to the toilet. As the puppy gets better, you should say it just before they relieve themselves. Later on you should only need to say it when you let the puppy outside. Always remember to reward your puppy with treats and praise for doing the right thing.

Be Consistent

It sounds obvious but this simple step is often overlooked.

Puppies and dogs sometimes need a little time to sniff around, exercise, and to just explore before relieving themselves.The more chances your puppy has to do their business outside, the faster they will learn what’s expected of them.

Take your puppy out at the same times every day. For example, first thing in the morning when they wake up, immediately after meal times, when you arrive home from work, and before you go to bed.

Do not distract your puppy by trying to play with them or talk to them.  They may end up forgetting what they are supposed to be doing and this will prolong any training.

Cuddle time

Meal Times

Feeding your puppy on a set schedule, twice or three times a day, will help regulate their need for “toilet time”.  The more regularly your puppy is fed, the more regularly they will poo. Feed your puppy the amount and type of food recommended for their age and weight at regular intervals throughout the day. Most experts recommend feeding puppies dogs three times per day.

Do not leave food around during the day for your puppy to graze on.  You need to reduce the possibility of your puppy needing to ‘do their business’ at varied times throughout the day.

Sleeping Beauties

Accidents Happen

No matter how attentive you are in training your puppy, accidents will happen.  Never ever punish your puppy for any accidents, do not rub their nose in the mess, scold, shout or hit.  You will scare your puppy and they will not understand why you are telling them off for something that has happened in the past.  They may also become afraid to relieve themselves in front of you and will sneak off to do it somewhere else.

If you do catch your puppy in the act, pick them up and take them outside immediately. Do this cheerfully and give your puppy a treat and plenty of praise if they go to the toilet outside.

Clean any areas of your home that have been soiled. It is important to thoroughly remove any odours from previous accidents to break the association your puppy may have between that area and using it to relieve themselves.


  • Your puppy is reliably house-trained when they have not gone to the toilet for four consecutive weeks inside. Until then you must always supervise them.
  • Teach your puppy to be happy and entertained in a small area when you can’t supervise them.
  • Go outside with your puppy and give them treats immediately after they go to the toilet.
  • Initiate toilet time by taking your puppy outside – don’t just wait for them to ask.
  • Learn to read your puppy’s behavioural patterns. Pay attention to any signals that might mean they needs to relieve themselves.
  • Clean up accidents immediately.
  • Gradually expand your puppy’s freedom in the house.
  • Feed on a regular schedule.
  • Be patient.
  • Never lose your temper with your puppy for any accidents.

For tips on how to house train an older dog click here