Puppy Toilet Training



Toilet Training (or Potty Training if you are in the US) is one of the most common issues that people have with their puppies.

Here I go through the most popular questions I get asked.



Be patient, your puppy is only a baby and learning.

Keep your emotions in check. Do not show any frustration or anger when they have an accident.

There are 3 common times your puppy will need to go to the toilet

  1. When he wakes up after a sleep
  2. After eating, this could be straight away or he could wait a while
  3. After playing for a while
Please remember, puppies are all individual and physically and mentally grow at different rates.
So some pups will be quicker than others.
Also, your timing and reactions play a massive part.


There are loads of methods. Everything you read or every person you ask, will have a slight variation. You need to find what works for you and your puppy.

Basically, in a nutshell:

You need to catch you puppy eliminating in the right place and then reward it. Plus totally ignore the accidents.

That is it. Simple isn’t it?

Let’s look at that in more detail.

  1. If you are going to reward your puppy with a treat or game, get the food and toy ready, but keep them out of sight.
  2. Take your puppy outside to where you want him to go to the toilet.
  3. Then either sit and wait or wander around. Do not interact, just let your puppy sniff and explore.
  4. Do not watch your puppy intensely, but do surreptitiously keep an eye out.
  5. Just as your puppy is finishing doing his business, put a big smile on your face, and give generous praise. If you intend to teach your dog to go to the toilet on command, here is where you add the word. For example, if your word would be ‘get busy’ you would say, very enthusiastically “get busy, good boy”.
  6. If you are going to reward your puppy, either give him the treat or have a short enthusiastic game with the toy.

So what goes wrong?

  • Your timing could be off.
  • Are you missing the signals your puppy is sending you?
  • Maybe you are leaving it too long?
  • You are not taking the puppy outside at the times he needs
  • Are you just be putting your puppy in the garden and leaving it – how is he going to know that going to the toilet outside is correct?
Watch your puppy.

Learn its habits and signals. There is likely to be a delay between eating and going to the toilet, find out how long your puppy waits. It could be almost straightaway (My Daz is now 5 and he still does this) or 20 minutes later or anything in between. The quicker you identify your puppy’s habits, the quicker you can eliminate some accidents.

What are your puppy’s habits when it wants to go?

Does it suddenly get distracted, maybe he sniffs are walks around in a circle? Does he walk up to the door and hope you notice. If your puppy does this and you miss it, he will eventually stop trying to let you know. Why would he waste his time giving you a signal if you ignore it? Some dogs bark to let you know, but if yours doesn’t consider teaching your puppy to ring a bell first.

Why will my puppy go outside for ages and then come indoors and do a wee?

This is a funny one. Some dogs also go for a walk and then come home and ‘go’ in the garden. I think for some it becomes a habit.

Initially though, I think it is all about timing. If you take your puppy into the garden as soon as he has eaten, and you have not realised that he waits 15 minutes before he goes, then this is going to happen. By the time you have been out there for 10 minutes, you are going to be bored, so you come indoors and a few minutes later, you puppy goes to the toilet. You need to quickly learn your puppy’s habits so you know when to go outside.

Always go outside with your puppy, even if it’s cold and wet. You need to catch the good choices your puppy makes otherwise how will he know that his behaviour is what you want or what you will reward.

My suggestion:

From the beginning, is to take a drink and something to do outside with you and sit and relax (I know, not the easiest in winter) but surreptitiously keep and eye on your puppy as you want to mark the right choice, you do not want to miss it. Let your puppy explore. Do not watch intently as some puppies hate being watched and just won’t go to the toilet.

Remember your puppy is not being naughty but doing what comes naturally. If after a couple if weeks, your puppy is still having accidents, you need to look at what you are doing first.

How quickly can it be done?

Some dogs, especially if the breeder started it for you, will take just a day or so, others can take months.

Popular Myths

Dogs won’t go in their bed. This is not always true as some are not bothered by it. Also if they are confined to a small area and there isn’t enough space, they won’t have any other option.

Rub their nose in any accident. This is an old fashioned, old wives tale and a load of rubbish plus it is extremely cruel.

They know they have done wrong when you come downstairs and see the accident. No, they don’t know it is wrong. They have only done what comes naturally and it was ok in the place they were at before. What they do know is that when you come in the room and you get cross, that is something to be wary of and they are very quick to spot you checking out the situation and the anger appearing.

What do I do when there is an accident?

Just calmly clean it up. Do not sigh, frown, moan, huff or puff. Be as neutral as you can. Act as if it is a non-event.

How do I clean it up?

Do not use bleach or any products containing it as bleach is ammonia which is in wee. Nowadays you can get special products with enzymes that break down any small particles leaf behind. Biological clothes washing liquid will also work. Clear up any solids and mop any liquids and then clean the affected area with a suitable cleaning product.

Other items.

Puppy Pads: I personally do not like these. I agree that they have their place. Brilliant in certain situations, but some puppies like to rip them up and then they ingest some of the chemicals. Once they start ripping them up, I think it turns into a good game.

Newspapers: I would still use these as it is just paper and ink. Easy to obtain (just save up the free papers for a couple of months) and dispose of.

Bringing grass inside: I have never tried this, but it sounds like a good idea. I am not sure about whether it could damage or mark your floor. You could put it in a litter tray to ensure that any wee and soil doesn’t damage your floor.