Written by 9:46 pm Behavior & Training

How to toilet train your dog?

Whether you use a crate or simply place your puppy on the floor and wait, here are some helpful tip…

When to Begin House Training Puppy – A Complete Guide

As you’ve probably heard, housetraining a puppy is important and should begin as soon as possible. You will want to know when to start house training and be prepared with the necessary supplies and techniques for success.

House Training Puppy – Critical Information To Know

The goal of this guide is to provide you with critical information that you need in order to successfully house train your new puppy. Consider it your “tools for success” kit.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • On average, how long does it take a dog to become fully housetrained?
  • When can I expect my puppy to earn the right to indoor freedom?
  • How do I know when it’s okay to give my dog more freedom? What are the signs that my puppy is ready to be trusted indoors alone?
  • How do I train my puppy to “ask” to go outside?

On average, how long does it take a dog to become fully housetrained?

When puppies are very young (2-10 weeks), they can’t physically control their bladders or sphincters. They also don’t have a developed sense of bladder and bowel control.

A puppy can’t be expected to have a full bladder or bowel control until they are at least 6-8 weeks old, though I tend to see the peak of “accidents” around 8-10 weeks because puppies learn so much from their mothers during this time.

In short: It takes at least 4-6 months for a puppy’s brain and body to fully mature. And yes, if you don’t housetrain your dog in time, he may develop bad habits that will be much harder to break later on!

When can I expect my puppy to earn the right to indoor freedom?

It’s important that your dog earn this privilege by demonstrating good “potty manners” over a period of time. This means no mistakes! No piddles or poops in the house…EVER!

 If your puppy makes a mistake indoors, it will be much harder for him to earn freedom later on because he won’t trust you or believe in your consistency.

How do I know when it’s okay to give my dog more freedom? What are the signs that my puppy is ready to be trusted indoors alone?

Some of the most common signs I see include:

* No accidents in 2-3 weeks    

* Not interested in chewing inappropriate things (for example, shoes or furniture)    

* Following basic obedience cues (for example, heeling on a leash or coming when called)

When your dog displays these behaviours, it’s likely time to give him more freedom. Housetraining your dog is an ongoing process! Use these guidelines as you go along. You may need to adapt them depending on your individual needs and situation. Housetraining schedules are not one size fits all! Remember that consistency is key. If you continue to use careful and positive reinforcement during this stage, you will set your dog and your household up for success.

How do I train my puppy to “ask” to go outside?

If you follow many housetraining schedules, you’ll see that the schedule is often broken into two parts:

1) Elimination Communication (training your pup to “ask” to go out when he needs to potty)

2) Housetraining (waiting until after the pup eliminates before letting him back in the house).   

Pups who learn how to communicate their need to eliminate will eventually earn more freedom inside the home. This training works best if it starts early in a puppy’s life, even before he can physically control his bladder and bowels. With consistent practice, this can be a very useful skill for your pup to learn.   

Elimination Communication – What’s the benefit?

Some benefits of this method include:

  • You can more quickly teach your pup to go on cue (for example, “go potty”)  
  • Your dog is less likely to experience anxiety when he needs to eliminate it because he will have an appropriate place to do so. He will also feel more comfortable asking you instead of trying to hold it or sneaking off behind your back.
  • You won’t need to provide an area for him outside nor spend money on newspaper or training pads indoors.

If you’re interested in learning more about elimination communication, check out these resources:

Housetraining – How long does this take?

Housetraining takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you get started later in life. Please don’t expect your pup to be perfect overnight! As mentioned before, consistency is key for housetraining success. This means finding the right schedule that works best for both you and your dog (and sticking to it).

If you’re using a crate, make sure not to leave him crated for too long at any one time or he will quickly lose control of his bladder and bowels. The general rule of thumb is 1 hour per month of age plus one additional hour. So if your pup is 6 months old, he can generally stay in his crate for approximately 7-8 hours without accidents. Again, this varies from dog to dog. Some dogs can hold it longer and some need more frequent bathroom breaks, so pay attention to your individual pup’s needs.

How do I know if my puppy has an accident?

Note: If you’re working with a young pup who isn’t physically capable of having full bladder or bowel control (such as a very young or premature puppy), take the number of hours per day that he seems interested in eliminating and add one additional hour. So if he seems like he needs to potty every 3 hours, you’d want to count this as four hours for housetraining purposes. You’ll also want to watch him closely when he first wakes up in the morning because that’s often when puppies eliminate their first time of the day.

In order to house train your pup, you’ll need to be able to distinguish between an “accident” and urinating or defecating in the appropriate place. This is most obvious with paper training, but it can also apply for pups who are using a crate. We recommend taking a minute or two before and after each trip outside to observe your pup’s behaviour so that you know what normal looks like. Accidents happen when your pup eliminates somewhere he isn’t supposed to (like on your floor instead of outside), so any time she successfully goes potty where she should, give her proper credit by praising her or treating her. If you aren’t sure whether your pup went potty where she was supposed to – don’t assume! If you’re going to err, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What if my pup is having accidents?

prague ratter dog being punished for urinate or pee  at home by his owner, isolated on white background

If your pup is making a mistake in the house, clap or say “no” firmly and take him outside as soon as possible. You want to catch him before he eliminates so that you can guide him toward the right spot. At this early age, it’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your pup for 10-15 minutes after eating, sleeping and playing because those are times when he may need to go potty. If there is a pattern with the time of day that your pup needs to eliminate, this is a great opportunity for you to anticipate his needs and take him outside before he makes a mistake.

You may need to do a lot of trial and error in order to figure out what is triggering your dog’s accidents (and how you can avoid them). Common triggers include: being left alone, being bored or not getting enough exercise, having too much energy, drinking too much water or eating something new before going outside.

There are many things that owners unintentionally do that lead their dogs to have accidents at home so it’s important to look for patterns and make changes if necessary. For instance, one common mistake owners make is allowing their pup to sleep in the bedroom at night so when she wakes up and cries they assume she needs to eliminate so they take her outside. However, if the owner then does not get up when she goes potty and actually takes her back inside, the pup quickly learns that crying gets her what she wants. If you’re having trouble identifying your dog’s triggers, enlist the help of a professional pet trainer to help you figure it out!

When should I take my puppy out?

Remember that your goal is for your pup to have full bladder and bowel control, so only go outside with him until he’s “done” doing his business. He needs to be able to establish a habit of going potty where he is supposed to so if you catch him in the act or before he starts, take him outside immediately. You can play with him or give him praise once he has eliminated successfully in the appropriate place while avoiding scolding him for an “oops”.

As soon as your pup wakes up, take him outside so that he knows this is the time of day where he should be eliminating. If you are paper training or using a crate, it’s important to get your pup out of his den frequently enough so that he doesn’t have accidents. If you are trying to get more sleep in the morning by having your pup go potty before getting up, remember that leaving him in his crate too long could lead to disastrous consequences! Likewise, some pups don’t want to play when they need to eliminate but if your dog isn’t going potty after about 15 minutes, plan on taking her outside again.

What kind of schedule do I need?

Puppy housetraining schedules vary depending on age, breed size, mental differences and breed characteristics.

A typical schedule might look like this:

-Week 1: take your pup out every 2 hours and don’t let her linger outside or play for more than 10 minutes. Combine trips if necessary to get in enough potty breaks.

-Week 2: take your pup out every 3 hours and give her 15-minute play sessions until she eliminates. Limit bathroom time outside of these sessions to less than 5 minutes so that she learns that there is a specific reason why you go outside together.

-Months 2+: Go out with your dog whenever she seems restless or starts sniffing around, and combine multiple trips into one if necessary. If you use a crate, be sure to get your pup out at least once an hour while you’re at home.

What should I do while my puppy is going potty?

It’s a good idea to keep your pup on a leash or harness when she first starts to go outside so that you can guide her where you want her to eliminate each time. This will give her a chance to develop a habit of going potty in the same place, which makes it easier for owners who aren’t as comfortable with reading their dog’s signals yet. Try to avoid playing with your dog during elimination time since this will only serve as a distraction and lead your pup to form an association between eliminating and playtime, which might make it more difficult for her to control herself later on! While you don’t need to be mean about keeping your pup from running around the yard, you should avoid playing or petting her so she can focus on going potty.

If your dog is a breed that has a reputation for being difficult to train after about 8-12 months, it’s especially important to pay attention to where they eliminate and make sure that this habit becomes instinctual. For instance, if you have a husky pup who loves to wander off then don’t let her decide when she wants to go potty. Instead, take her out whenever she starts sniffing around the yard and guide her over to an appropriate spot before letting her finish up on her own! If you think your dog might be dreaming of escaping from your backyard as soon as possible, consider using a kennel until he becomes a more reliable citizen.

Do I need to take my dog out first thing in the morning?

Your pup will naturally wake up ready to go outside and eliminate, so make sure you reward this good behaviour by going ahead and taking him out as soon as he’s fully awake. If you have a puppy who isn’t house trained yet, let them nap for about an hour or two before using the bathroom because small dogs can only hold their bladder so long. However, be careful not to give your little pup too many naps during the day since these can lead to accidents later on when she misses her soiling window!

What if my dog is nervous about going potty outside?

If your pup seems nervous about eliminating outside of the house, the best thing to do is reward them immediately with petting, treats, or praise after they finish their business. This will teach your pup to associate going potty outside with something positive instead of being scared of what might happen next!

If you have a pup who seems especially shy about using an outdoor bathroom, try taking him out for short periods throughout the day so that he gets used to spending time in his desired elimination area. Remember, even if your dog isn’t perfect at this stage then you’re still doing much better than the typical puppy parent so congratulate yourself on getting this far and keep working toward the goal of having a well-trained dog by next year!

What should I do my dog eliminates indoors?

If your pup unexpectedly eliminates indoors then you should first give him lots of praise and maybe even a treat because this is still great progress compared to how things started out! Then, put your dog on a leash or place them in a crate and take them outside again to finish up. While you’re there, make a big deal about the fact that your puppy knew they were doing something wrong so try to avoid being too harsh with your corrections. If it’s clear that your dog didn’t have any accidents for several days leading up to this one, consider going back through our training steps from the beginning since he might have been distracted by something as simple as his favourite toy which caused the accident.

The worst thing that can happen when potty training a puppy is to give up too early and lose hope, so keep in mind how much progress you’ve already made and consider giving your dog just a little bit more time to develop into a well-trained pup! You might be surprised by how quickly things turn around when you’re willing to stick it out for the long haul.

How to Potty Train an Adult Dog

Tips for Potty Training an Older Dog

Potty training an older dog can be difficult, but the key is being patient and providing lots of positive reinforcement when your dog does go in the right spot. These are some helpful tips for potty training an older dog…

  • Take your dog outside on a leash and do not let him wander off at first. Doing this will help reinforce the behaviour of eliminating outdoors since he can’t wander off and go potty if you’re holding onto his leash. If your dog tries to wander away from you, pull on the leash gently and guide him back into place before continuing on with the training process. After some time has passed and he’s gotten used to this routine, allow your dog some leeway so that he understands the boundaries within which he can explore without having an accident indoors as long as you keep a watchful eye over him as he does so..
  • Keep a close watch on your dog when you first bring her into the house after being outdoors for a long period of time. She may have been outdoors for too long or she may have had to wait so long to be brought back inside that she’s bursting at the seams to go inside. In either case, it is important not to let her out of your sight so that you can prevent accidents from happening by catching the behavior immediately. If necessary, put her in her enclosure and give her something fun like a chew toy until this desire passes.
  • Take your dog outside often even if he doesn’t seem like he has anything to do. This will help reinforce the behaviour of going outdoors and it will prevent your dog from having accidents inside.
  • Keep a close eye on your dog when she first wakes up, after naps, before mealtime, and after drinking water. These are times when she may need to eliminate and preventing this from happening by taking her outside becomes especially crucial.
  • If you catch your dog engaging in an activity related to elimination indoors such as sniffing the floor or circling, immediately take him outside while calling his name firmly but kindly. When he does go potty in the designated area, shower him with praise and affection so that he understands what he did was good and acceptable. By doing this, you will help reinforce this behaviour even further since it will make it clear to him that going potty indoors is not an option.

A helpful technique that many people use is crate training.

Crate training

Crate training involves placing the puppy in a small enclosure similar to a den where he cannot hurt himself, providing him with adequate space to stand up on his hind legs without hitting his head on the ceiling. After some time passes, the puppy is allowed to exit his enclosure. In this way, the dog learns that the crate is a safe place and will refrain from doing his business in it.

In order for adult dogs to learn a new behaviour, they must have a stimulus of some kind – i.e., a reward or encouragement after performing the desired action. With puppies, it’s easier because you can use food as a reward. However, with an adult dog, food may not be rewarding enough and he might lose interest after just a few repetitions. Instead of using food as a tool for reinforcement, try playing with your dog instead so that he associates obeying commands with fun!

If you are working on potty training an older dog, take him outside every few hours to the designated area you have chosen for him, even if he isn’t performing any bodily functions. Just being outside with his human companions reinforces that this is where they should do their business. If your dog makes a mistake inside, quickly correct him by saying “No” or “Outside.”

If an older dog has accidents inside, first take him outside of the home to see if he will eliminate there. If not, bring him back in and place him in his enclosure for 15-20 minutes before taking him back out again. Wait another ten minutes after bringing him back into the house then take him out yet again. If necessary, repeat this process several more times until he goes potty outdoors without having an accident indoors first.

If your dog seems to not know what the designated area is for his bodily functions, place him in his enclosure and take him outside of your home on a leash before letting him do his business. If he does eliminate, praise him immediately afterward with words of encouragement like “good boy” or by giving him a treat.

As with puppies, it’s important to be careful about leaving any object that might resemble food unattended around an adult dog since they may attempt to eat them.

If you are consistent with taking your dog out every few hours after waking up, before napping, after eating, and after drinking water, chances are this behaviour will become second nature to him. This will help make potty training an older dog much easier.

I hope that you found this blog post helpful in your quest to toilet train your dog. If not, please don’t hesitate to reach out and we’ll try our best to help!

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