Toilet training a puppy

Housebreaking |How to toilet train your new puppy

The day has arrived, after waiting for what felt like forever you’ve finally brought your puppy to his new home. It should be no surprise to you that this adorable pup’s completely dependant on you for all types of things. You have gained many new responsibilities, one of which is to teach your puppy the rules of the house. You may be wondering, how do I toilet train my pup? How do I  teach them where to go when they need to “go”….


How to housebreak your puppy

If you’ve never raised a puppy before and aren’t sure where to start we are here to help. As you read you’ll see that this is an achievable task which many puppy owners before you have gone through. Follow these tips and you will housebreak your puppy!

Things we are going to cover:


  1. Crate Training
  2. Puppy Pads
  3. The Importance Of Routine
  4. Consistency
  5. Warning Signs
  6. Positive Reinforcement

It’s important to know that toilet training isn’t something that will happen overnight. There will be times where your pup will pee, pee again and pee some more all over your furniture. This process requires a lot of patience, a good sense of humour aswell as plenty of cleaning utensils.

Common advice says that toilet training usually takes about 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained. However, as we found out with our pup Nala, it can take longer even up to a year in some cases. The general rule is that the smaller the dog, the longer it takes before they are able to go accident-free. It’s important to understand that it isn’t in a dogs nature to be dirty. The tips below will help you get started with toilet training your puppy.

Crate training

As we mentioned in our post Puppy Training List What Should You Buy? A good crate was one of the essentials when it came to house breaking. Dogs are den animals by nature, they like to be in small spaces as it makes them feel safe. A crate helps with this as it gives them a space of their own where they can go to get away. After some training, dogs may prefer to be in their crate at times, this is a good sign. A crate is a great tool to aid in housebreaking as dogs don’t like “going” where they eat and sleep. This means that your pup will usually do their best to hold their bladder which is helpful for you! Providing you let them out frequently they will in time learn to do their business outside of the “den”. Before long they will learn that your entire home is their “den” rather than just the crate and start doing their business outside.

Crate training

German Shepard dog happy in his crate

The Crate itself as we mentioned in our previous post should be large enough for your pup to stand up, turn around and stretch in. It shouldn’t be too large that your pup can sleep on one end and do their business on the other. We recommend a crate like This, as its made of steel so there is no risk of your pup getting out. Also, notice that the floor is plastic which makes it’s easy to clean and will hold little odor, we’ll come onto this later.

Puppy Pads

Some people will agree with the use of puppy pads while others disagree. Those that disagree believe they are teaching your dog that it’s okay to go to the bathroom in the house. This is the total opposite of what you are trying to teach them. The way we’ve used puppy pads is to have them in the Puppy Pen while the pup is in there. For some reason, our pup preferred going on the pads which was handy as it saved us cleaning up when she had an accident. We didn’t focus our training efforts on the puppy pads instead continuing our focus on encouraging her to go outside.

The Importance Of Routine

We recommend feeding your pup at set times each day being sure to remove the food once your pooch has finished eating. It’s also worth getting into the habit of taking your puppy outside to the bathroom as soon as they are done eating or drinking. This helps you and your puppy get into a bathroom routine and prevents accidents to. Equally important is taking your puppy out before and after any sleep (an accident will usually happen if you aren’t fast enough once your pooch wakes up).

Tired puppy


Once you have established a good routine it is important to stick with it as best you can. This goes for meal timings, walks and the time your waking up in the night (yes that will need to happen, at least for the first few weeks). When you do get up in the night, you shouldn’t pay too much attention to your pup. Take them outside, let them do their business, praise them then back to bed. If your puppy decides not to go then don’t pay them any attention and put them back to bed. The reason for this is your pooch will learn that they can wake you up when they want and bed time equals play time. You do not want this!

Generally you will need to take your puppy for a bathroom break every 30-60 minutes while they’re young as they don’t have control of their bladders until the age of 16 weeks. As time goes on, you will get to know how often you need to take pooch outside.

Housebreaking a puppy

Learn to watch for the signs

Watch for typical signs that your puppy needs to go to the toilet. These may include;

  • Sniffing the floor
  • Circling
  • Looking restless
  • Whining
  • Pacing

Your pup may show some or all of these signs when they need to go out. It may take a little while before you can regularly spot the signs and no doubt you will miss them sometimes. If you do notice any of the signs, take your puppy out immediately and wait for them to go about their business.

Accidents: If you find an accident on your floor which does happen, simply clean it up and try keeping a closer eye on him. Don’t get angry or rub your dog’s nose in it, this is because dogs live in the moment. They aren’t capable of connecting your anger with something that happened earlier on. Going about something this way achieves nothing and is cruel!

As for the accident itself, make sure you clean the area thoroughly. Never use bleach as it contains ammonia which will make your dog go in the same spot! You want to use something which will break down the enzymes, we have found that Bio washing powder works great if you’re on a budget.

Positive reinforcement

The key to this is understanding that your dog wants to make you happy, it’s your job to show him how to do that. If he does something good and gets a good reaction from you then he is likely to repeat this behaviour. The best way to achieve this is by having plenty of treats, praise and toys to hand.

Positive dog

Dog and owner with a positive relationship

Dogs live in the moment (as we already mentioned), if you praise him for something he did 30 seconds ago he may get the wrong message. The trick is timing, you want to praise and reward a good behaviour immediately. One of the best methods is by utilising a Clicker and paying attention to your pup so that you can praise as soon as he’s gone to the bathroom where you want him to.

You never want your dog to mistakenly think “doing their business” is a negative thing. If you happen to catch your dog in in the middle of something, don’t scold him. You don’t want your pooch to fear you or you may end up finding “presents” around the house from where your pooch is hiding from you while doing the act.

Finally, never use the crate as punishment. You want to make the crate the best place in the world for your dog, punishing them by sending them to it is counter productive.

Final points

We hope that this will help you toilet train your pooch. Our final point is that you need a sense of humour during this potentially stressful time. Accidents without a doubt, will happen. If you’re able to see the funny side then this whole toilet training hurdle becomes much easier for you.

Remember every dog is different. Whether your three months in to this or more, you will get there soon and we promise it will be worth it.

If you have questions, leave a comment below and we will do our best to advise.

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Thanks for reading,

Akoca pets

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