The Ultimate Puppy Toilet Training Guide
So you've got a new member of the family, congratulations! What's that... they're peeing on everything and wrecking your house?
Ah puppies, so sweet yet so destructive. One of the first things our little tornados need to learn is how to hold their pee until they're outside (or in their designated indoor area). This can be a long process but if you get going with some good habits it can lead to a lifelong trusting bond between you and your new furry friend.
Where to start toilet training your puppy?
Firstly, you'll want to decide if you're paper-training or house-training... or both!
New to paper training? Keep reading our guide to find out more.
Once decided, you can begin implementing a schedule.
Having a schedule is vitally important to build trust with your new puppy. Imagine for a second that you're out hiking but have no idea when you're next going to have access to a toilet, and you're bursting. You would just quickly go in the bushes, right? Versus, if you knew there was a public toilet just a mile down the road, you would probably manage to hold it! This is how it is for your puppy when you have a strict schedule, versus when you don't. Keeping to a schedule allows your new puppy to trust that they will be able to go for a pee at selected times of the day, so encourages them to begin holding it!
First, let's create a schedule.
Puppy Toilet Training Schedule
Puppies have small bladders. So small in fact that they need to pee every 2-3 hours, and that includes throughout the night! Keeping a schedule is massively beneficial as it reduces the risk of accidents in the house.
Puppies respond well to timekeeping and over the coming weeks will learn when it's potty time, playtime, and sleep time. Puppies need to go in the 15 minutes following waking up, eating, or playing. So make sure your schedule reflects that.
Puppy Potty Training Schedule (TEMPLATE)
4 am - Take puppy out for a pee
8 am - Rise and give breakfast, then let the puppy out for a pee
11 am - Five / ten-minute walk, or until they have done a poo
1 pm - Give lunch then out for a pee
3 pm - Indoor playtime then out for a pee
5 pm - Five / ten-minute walk, or until they have done a poo
7 pm - Give dinner, then out for a pee
9 pm - Out for a pee
11 pm - Out for a pee then bedtime
2 am - Out for a pee ...and repeat!
When your puppy gets a bit older, they will be able to hold their bladder for longer. By 16 - 18 weeks old, you should be able to cut out overnight wake-ups. You can then slowly reduce the number of times you need to let them out during the day, but take it slowly and notice if accidents are becoming more frequent again and adjust your schedule accordingly.
My schedule is sorted, now what? Now that you've decided on a schedule, you can create a cue word, or phrase, to help your puppy potty training. We'll just say that this step is a game-changer!
Creating a Cue Word to Aid Puppy Toilet Training
Having urination as a learned command, like asking your puppy to sit or lie down, is extremely useful.
For instance, if you take your puppy to a new park and they have to do their business on gravel instead of grass (lord forbid!), it helps to be able to let them know they are ok to go ahead and pee there. Creating a cue word is very easy to do and fits seamlessly alongside regular house training.
Wait for your puppy to begin urinating in an appropriate location, say your chosen cue word and follow it with verbal praise. Continue saying your cue word, then praise until they have finished urinating. Cue words or phrases could be: "Go pee", "Do a wee-wee", "Toilet" etc.
Repeat Step 1 every time you're toilet training your puppy! Soon your puppy will learn that your cue word means it's time to pee and you'll be able to ask your puppy to urinate on command. If you ask your puppy to urinate after a week or so of this training, and they don't respond, go back to repeating the cue word with praise whilst they are urinating. Then after another week of doing that, try again!
How long does it take to toilet train a puppy?
Ah, the burning question! How long does it take to toilet train a puppy? Similar to children, all dogs are different so there is no one good answer!
As a rule of thumb, a puppy should be able to hold their pee overnight by the time they are 16 - 18 weeks old. And should hope to be fully potty trained by the time they are 4 - 6 months old.
During this time expect to have lots of accidents so make sure you've always got your waterproof PeapodMat to hand! Some puppies will take up to a year to become fully toilet trained, and some will go through periods of regression where you thought you had it cracked until you suddenly didn't anymore!
All dogs will get there in their own time, and potty training is a great opportunity to begin building trust with your new companion, so try to enjoy the process (as much as you can!).
Having a PeapodMat on hand is going to help you so much through the first year of your puppy's life. Knowing that your carpets and sofas are completely protected will massively reduce stress in times of accidents, so you can quickly get back to your training!
Puppy Toilet Training at Night
Your puppy is likely 8 weeks old when you bring them home. They won't be able to hold their pee overnight until they are 16-18 weeks old. This is partly because their bladder is tiny, and fills up really fast, but also because they have to learn to trust that if they hold the sensation of needing to pee, you will definitely let them outside, and this takes time.
For the first 2-3 months with your puppy, expect lots of accidents, and to wake up at least twice through the night to let them out for a pee.
When letting your puppy outside overnight, keep everything boring so they understand there is no fun to be had on a nighttime toilet trip!
Keep your voice quiet and low energy, give verbal praise when they pee but definitely don't offer treats, toys, or water. If you do, your puppy will learn waking up in the night means tasty treats and fun toys, so it encourages them to do so.
If they fall asleep outside before they have done a pee, gently lift them to a standing position and give them their cue word, gently encouraging them to do their business.
Once the pee is finished, it's straight back to bed in a slow and boring manner. Ignore any signs they wish to play or stay awake! In time, your puppy will understand that peeing overnight isn't exciting and once they have a larger bladder and more control over it, they should choose to cut out the overnight toilet trips, and save their energy for daytime where toys and fun are everywhere!
How to Paper-Train Your Puppy (toilet train a puppy on pads)
Paper training is not always the best place to start, as you still have to house train your puppy separately, thus doubling your workload! However, if you're in a situation where you would like your dog to be able to eliminate indoors (due to lack of a garden or a busy work schedule) it could be something for you to consider.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED TO START
Paper training teaches your dog that it's ok to eliminate in the house, but only in a specific area. Many people opt to use newspaper or single-use puppy pads to protect their flooring. Both of these options have serious drawbacks.
Have you ever tried to pick up wet newspapers? Need we say more! As for single-use plastic puppy pads, these are detrimental to the environment and your wallet. They may seem cheap and easy but if you are thinking of using the paper training technique for a long period of time you will end up spending a shed load of money on them.
Use an eco-friendly alternative that's reusable, highly absorbent, and leakproof, like PeapodMats. PeapodMats get washed like a towel and can be used again and again for 500+ washes, without losing their leak-proofing!
If you decide to move on from paper training, your PeapodMat is the perfect thing to protect your car against muddy paws and hairy bums! With your sensible PeapodMats in hand, the only other thing you need to start indoor toilet training your puppy is a whole lot of patience!
Puppy Toilet Training Regression
It's completely normal for your puppy to go through stages of forgetting their training. This is due to the complex nature of brain development. But what should you do in this difficult situation? STAY CALM!
Anything that a puppy has previously learned, can be easily re-learned! If you notice your puppy is going through a toilet training regression, simply take it back to basics.
If you managed to toilet train your puppy once, you can do it again! Use the method that worked for you the first time, and reintroduce it to your puppy as if it was the first time you were training them.
Offer them the same patience and support you did the first time around and within a few weeks, they should be back on track to being house trained!
Remember to keep your PeapodMat near the back door, or in the location, your puppy tends to have accidents, so any pee will be absorbed, and clean up will be quick and stress-free.
Puppy Toilet Training Tips
House training your puppy can be a long and hectic undertaking! Here are our Top Puppy Toilet Training Tips to help you on your journey.
- GET A PEAPODMAT
Using a reusable, completely waterproof mat is the most important thing you can do in your training. Stress undoubtedly leads to anger, which impedes your training massively. You can rely on PeapodMats to fully protect your flooring, sofas, and bedding from your very accident-prone little bundle of joy. When your puppy accidentally pees in their bed overnight, there's no stress as you just pull the PeapodMat out and toss it in the wash, knowing it's absorbed the whole pee. Pop a fresh mat into their bed and you can return to what you were doing, without any stress.
- PATIENCE IS KEY
Toilet training a puppy could take up to a year. This may seem overwhelming at first, but with lots of patience and careful planning, this time will breeze by and you'll look back with fond memories of building a trusting relationship with your puppy.
- KEEP TO A SCHEDULE
Consistency is the goal of any type of training. Creating a realistic schedule that you can commit to, day in day out is the best thing you can do to help potty train your puppy.
- ADOPT THE 15 MINUTE RULE
Puppies need to pee most in the 15 minutes following waking up, eating, or playing. Remember this and always ensure to let your puppy outside within 15 minutes of him completing any of these activities!
Our most important tip? Remember that you can do this! Toilet training is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep at it and you will get there.