Quakers Hill Veterinary Hospital

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Toilet Training

The emphasis in toilet training, as with every other type of training, is on the positive reinforcement. This means that the puppy is rewarded for doing the correct thing, rather than punished for doing the wrong . Success will depend on the commitment and consistency of the owner. The more time you are able to spend with your puppy concentrating on toilet training, the sooner they will get the idea. Puppies that sleep inside should not be expected to last the whole night. You will need to get up to let the puppy out, as allowing them to go inside, even on newspapers, is not ideal. Every accident they have will set the training back.

Key Points:

  • select a place in the garden or see if the puppy has a preferred place to urinate or defaecate that agrees with your plans  (maybe leave a dropping in an agreeable area)
  • take them outside frequently at least every hour, eg after a game, after waking from sleep, after drinking or 20 minutes after eating.
  • guide your puppy towards the exit door with a food treat, you can treat at the door if your wish to and then another when he/she goes outside to the toilet. This will help him/her make the link that going towards the door is a good thing.
  • try and use the same exit door while the training is in its infancy. 
  • look for the signs that tell you your puppy is thinking about going to the toilet such as circling and sniffing the ground. 
  • be prepared to go outside with your puppy (yes even on a freezing cold night in Winter), don't just stand at the door and expect that the puppy will want to go out by hmself/herself. Allow puppies three minutes to empty. 
  • once your puppy has been to the toilet praise profusely and offer a delectable treat
  • supervise your puppy at all times while he/she is inside. If you cannot, please invest in a crate.
  • make sure your puppy has the chance to go to the toilet before being put to bed.

Once your puppy seems to have the idea, continue rewarding then for at least a month to avoid any setbacks. Most puppies will be toilet trained by about 12-14 weeks of age, but there are individual differences so it is not abnormal if your puppy takes a bit longer than this. Remember that puppies have little bladders so don't expect them to hold on for long periods of time.

Sometimes female puppies can develop infections that make it hard for them to control their bladder, and therefore they urinate frequently and in small amounts. If your feel as though your puppy is going to the toilet too frequently, please make an appointment to see your vet. Take a sample of your puppy's urine with you to the consultation.

What if my puppy has an accident inside?

If you catch your puppy in the act, distract him/her (a hand clap or "no") to stop the flow and encourage him/her towards the door. Try not to scare it by pouncing towards the puppy. Praise him/her as soon as she/he comes towards the door and encourage it outside to finish. Praise and reward him/her for finishing outside. Remember this was your mistake not the puppy's. Never punish a puppy for an accident in the house. You will only make him/her nervous about going to the toilet and he/she may start trying to hide from you when he/she wants to go.

When cleaning up a mess, do not use an ammonia based product such as dishwashing liquid. Use an enzyme based product such as Biozet clothes detergent. Ammonia based products smell similar to urine so the effect of cleaning up your puppy's urine will be more like spreading the urine smell around!

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