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Dogs don’t automatically know where they should and shouldn’t toilet, they need to be shown where the right place is. All puppies can be taught to go outside with patient and consistent house training.

It can be quite normal for a puppy to take many months to be fully house trained.

Consistency is key:

  • Take your puppy to the toilet on the hours every hour
  • Take your puppy out to the toilet after they have finished doing ANYTHING – after finishing sleeping, eating, drinking, playing. Puppies usually urinate within 30 seconds of waking up from a nap and defaecate within a couple of minutes of that.
  • Take your puppy out to the toilet if they sniff, circle around or go to the door.
  • Take your puppy out to the toilet whenever they get excited e.g. when visitors arrive

Always lead the puppy outside (don’t carry them).  Sometimes running them to the door can help prevent accidents on the way.

  • Go outside with your dog – even in the rain, wind or the dark and cold!
  • Stand quietly and wait patently for 3 minutes (be boring). Most puppies will urinate within 2 minutes.
  • If they go > Reward – Give 3 small yummy treats and lots of praise or a game, it should be a party of positivity!
  • If they don’t go > return inside quietly, no fuss. Try again in half an hour but to avoid accidents over this time you need to monitor body language closely for any sniffing, circling etc (or if crate training then return them to the crate).

Accidents happen!!

If your puppy has an accident, then clean it up and move on.  Telling your dog off will only make them anxious and may make them harder to train. Clean the area rally well and with an enzymatic cleaner to get rid of any residual smells that will attract them back to that spot.

Key tips

  • Take them to the same toileting area every time, this could be one spot on the lawn, so that they build up a strong association with the location.
  • Praise them for going to the door to “tell you” they need to go outside
  • Leaving the door open is a common habit that many owners fall into especially in the warmer months, but it can slow down learning.
  • When your puppy is fully vaccinated and going out for walks, take them to their normal toileting area at home first and reward them with a walk after they have toileted. Many owners fall into the trap of walking their dogs until they toilet and then they go home but this only teaches the dog not to toilet on a walk as it means the end of a walk.

Teach a toileting cue

When you are waiting outside for your dog to toilet watch them carefully and as soon as they begin going say the cue word you want to use e.g “toilet”, “do your business”

Reward once they have finished, not while still toileting (3 treats and a party of positivity)

After about 15 repetitions of this you can start to use the cue word as a prompt to encourage them to go.

If your puppy is having lots of accidents, toileting very frequently or drinking lots of water then book an appointment with one of our vets to check for any medical conditions which could be the cause of the accidents.

Information written by Maddie Connolly BVSc

References and credit to:

Dogs Trust UK, Kiddie J (n.d) House training your dog. Retrieved from

Dunbar I. (2001). Before you get your puppy. Retrieved from you get your puppy.pdf

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