How To Toilet Train Your Dog: Helpful Tips To Housebreak Your Canine Friend

How To Toilet Train Your Dog: Helpful Tips To Housebreak Your Canine Friend

So you made the decision to adopt a furry friend! A dog is a wonderful addition to any family. However, just like children, they require a lot of time, effort and patience.

Much like a young child, they also need to be toilet trained. This might seem like an overbearing process, but with a little patience and understanding on your end, it can be a very rewarding experience for both you and your new pooch!

In this article, we shall discuss tips for housebreaking your new puppy (or adult dog if you make the loving design to rehome or adopt an older dog). Keep in mind that your new dog is going to take some time to get acclimated to both your family and their new surroundings so an occasional accident or two is to be expected.

Every dog is unique and some dogs may catch on quicker than others. Don’t assume that just because your last pooch was housebroken in a few weeks that your newly adopted pup will catch on just as quickly.

When To Start Toilet Training A Puppy

According to animal experts, you should start house training a puppy around 12-15 weeks of age. By that time, they should have adequate control of both their bladder and bowels. It takes an average of 4-6 months to completely housebreak a puppy. However, different sizes and breeds may require additional time.

It is important to keep in mind that even if you adopt a dog that was housebroken in the shelter or rescue, your dog may still have an occasional accident until it is used to its new schedule and surroundings.

When you first bring your new puppy or dog home, you should leave him/her in a confined space until it is acclimated to his/her surroundings. This could be an appropriately sized crate or a confined room in your home. Then slowly, over time, let them explore other rooms of your home. Never leave your new pet unattended in a room for any period of time. A crate or playpen is best recommended if you are going to be away from your dog for an extended time period.

Here are some of our recommended dog crates and playpens:

Pictured from left to right: Dogit Two Door Wire Home CrateDogit Outdoor Playpen and Petcomer Dog Playpen.

Get On A Set Schedule – And Stick To It!

You should establish a routine with your furry friend.. These are the recommended times to take your dog outside to do his/her business:

  • As soon as they wake up in the morning
  • After meals
  • After being confined to a crate
  • After waking up from a nap
  • After playtime
  • Right before going to sleep at night

With a puppy, you should take them out every 30 minutes to prevent any accidents. As they get older and start to become housebroken, you can reduce this time to once every hour and so forth until you are certain that he/she has established a potty routine.

Crate Training

It is recommended by many professionals that you use a crate when toilet training a puppy. The aim is to help teach them to hold it in until you have released them from the crate and taken them outside. Here are some tips for crate training:

  • Be sure to purchase a crate that is large enough for your puppy to be able to stand up to its full height, turn completely around and lie down comfortably. However, you don’t want a crate that is too big as it will tempt them to use the corner as their potty.
  • If you are going to be confining your dog to a crate for an extended period of time, make sure that you leave water in the crate so he or she will be properly hydrated.
  • If your dog is repeatedly going potty in the crate, do not continue to crate train. You might have to find an alternative method to start potty training your dog. 

Pictured from left to right:

Do note that sometimes, a rescued dog may have had no choice but to eliminate in their crate in their previous environment so you will have to break them of this habit.

Pee Pad Training

In some cases you might wish to use pee pads to toilet train your dog. Pee pads are especially useful for those who have puppies/dogs that are elderly or have a disability that prevents them from pottying outdoors. Following are some helpful tips on how to train your puppy to use a pee pad:

  • Place the pee pad in an area that is accessible for your dog. Leave it in the same area so they will get used to that spot.
  • Take your dog to the pee pad every 2-3 hours and wait for about 5 minutes. If s/he has not used the pee pad, return your dog to their crate and try again in 15 minutes.
  • Keep repeating until your puppy/dog relieves himself or herself on the pee pad.
  • DO NOT immediately return dog/puppy to the crate. Instead play with him/her a while and only return him or her to the crate after playing for a certain period of time.
  • Repeat the action of bringing your dog to the pee pad for a few more days until he or she gets used to it.
  • If you wish to move from the pee pad to pottying outside, gradually move the pee pad to the location where you wish them to potty, moving the pad over a small distance every day until it is in the desired spot outdoors.
  • After they have successfully used the pee pad several times outside, discontinue use.

Pictured from left to right: Honey Care Pee Pads, Spotty Training PlaceNugi-Plus Pee Tray With Pee Pad

Reward For Positive Behaviour and Do Not Scold For Accidents

It cannot be stressed enough that accidents will happen. If you scold your dog, it will only teach them to fear you. Shouting at your dog will only diminish their self-esteem and cause emotional and/or behavioural issues in the future. Here are some tips to help you when accidents occur:

  • Gently, but firmly interrupt them if you catch them in the act and immediately take them outside. If they finish the job outside, give them a reward as this will reinforce the positive behavior.
  • Make sure to thoroughly clean the soiled spot. Puppies/dogs will continue to empty their bladder/bowels in the same spot unless the odor is removed. You can purchase enzymatic cleaners at your local pet store or online.
  • Reward and praise your dog when they have successfully relieved themselves in their designated area outside. As general rule, dogs will return to the same spot where they recognize their scent from previous markings.
  • Do not immediately crate your puppy after they got potty as they will see this as a punishment. Allow them a few minutes of playtime and affection before confining them once more.

Additional Tips For Toilet Training Your New Puppy

  • Never leave your dog unattended outside. Stay with them until they have finished their business.
  • If you have spent 10 minutes or longer outside and your puppy has not yet gone potty, put them back in their crate/confined area and try again in fifteen minutes.
  • If your puppy is whining or crying in the middle of the night, s/he may be telling you that it’s time to go outside to potty. Do not hesitate to take them out. As they get older, they will learn to hold it for longer periods of time and will not require as many overnight bathroom breaks.
  • Have someone assist you with taking your puppy outside if you are not going to be available. Make sure that they stick to your set routine. Also, make sure that it is someone you can trust your precious pet with.
  • Some puppies/dogs will let you know when it’s time to potty by crying, whining or scratching the door. Once they have established a routine, they may run to the door and bark or cry when it’s time to go out. If you see them sniffing an area, you might want to take them outside as this is also a sign that that need to empty their bowels/bladder.
  • You may leave out water in a bowl for your dog, but it is recommended that you feed them on a set schedule and remove any remaining food. Dogs tend to need to eliminate within fifteen minutes after feeding, so constant eating might be a cause for more chances for accidents to occur.

Alternative Methods

There are many readily available toilet training aids for puppies and dogs. If your puppy or dog has trouble identifying where they are supposed to relieve themselves, you might want to consider using toilet training sprays.

Pictured from left to right: Nature’s Miracle House Breaking Puppy Training Dog Spray 8oz, Simple Solution Puppy Training Aid 16ozNaturVet Potty Here Training Aid Spray 8oz

Just spray it onto the designated pee pad. That’s all! The attractants in the spray will encourage your dog to pee or go potty at the marked area.

If you follow our tips you should have no problems toilet training your new puppy or dog. If you have an issue, do not hesitate to consult your friendly local vet for advice!