How to Toilet Train Your Dog (Vet’s Advice)

One of the first things you’ll want to teach your new puppy is to toilet outside and not in your house. Puppies are born with the instinct to keep their living area clean so with a little patience and consistency, you will soon have a housetrained puppy and hopefully only a few accidents along the way!

Steps – How to house train your dog

Take your puppy outside to toilet (or to his designated toilet) at the following times:

  • First thing in the morning,
  • As soon as he wakes up after each sleep during the day,
  • Last thing before bedtime,
  • Just after feeding,
  • After playing or any sort of excitement,
  • At least once an hour throughout the day.

Allow your puppy to wander and sniff the ground at his own pace. Be prepared to wait with him outside, even if the weather is bad!

Remember to be patient, the outdoor world is full of distractions so give your puppy time to settle and he will toilet once he has relaxed.

If you see signs that your puppy is about to go, you can say a chosen phrase to him that he can learn to associate with toileting. This will help your puppy to go on command which can be useful.

Once he has finished doing his business, praise him enthusiastically and feed him a treat.

Crate training your puppy – does it help?

Puppies instinctively will want to keep their sleeping area clean, so crate training can help to toilet train your puppy when you are at work, at night, or when you cannot watch them.

This is why it is important to start off with a crate that is only just big enough to fit your puppy’s bed in. This way, he is more likely to wait to toilet until you take him outside, rather than mess in his bed. As your puppy grows, you may need to increase the size of his crate until he reaches adulthood.

What to do if you catch your dog going to the toilet in the house

Shout just loud enough to interrupt your dog mid-flow, but not so loud that he cowers or runs away. Then move quickly to the door, encouraging your dog to follow by calling him enthusiastically. Let him follow you outside then be patient and wait for him to finish toileting. Praise him as you usually would.

How long does it take to house train my dog?

Different puppies will learn at different rates so be patient. Some puppies will learn to toilet outside almost straight away and have hardly any accidents inside. Some may take several months before they are fully housetrained.

All puppies should have learned to be completely clean by about eight months old. Bear in mind that the more time and effort you put into training your puppy, the faster they will learn.

What to do if my toilet trained dog is still having accidents indoors

If your dog is usually housetrained but has started having accidents indoors, then speak to your veterinarian as this could be a sign that something is wrong with your pet. Your veterinarian will be able to help you distinguish whether the problem is a behavioral one or a medical one, and offer treatment if appropriate.

Tips and advice for potty training your dog

  • Bear in mind that puppies need constant supervision in the first few weeks after you bring them home until they have learned to toilet outside.


  • Accept that accidents will happen and that when they do, your puppy is not to blame. Consider it your fault and think about what you could have done or noticed to prevent it from happening.


  • Never punish your dog for going to the toilet in the house as you will only end up with a dog that is frightened of going to the toilet in front of you because he knows it makes you angry. This will make it much more difficult for you to teach him the correct behavior.


  • There is no point in punishing your dog for an accident that has occurred already because he will be unable to relate the punishment to the earlier act of going to the toilet.


  • Try to avoid using incontinence or puppy pads if possible as these might confuse your puppy and make him think that it is ok to toilet indoors.


Now you know how to train your dog to toilet outside, remember that house training a puppy involves a lot of patience and commitment but isn’t actually all that difficult. Be prepared for accidents along the way but keep remembering that all your efforts will pay off and before long, you’ll have a fully housetrained puppy!

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