How to Toilet Train Your Dog; A Complete Guide for All Breeds and Ages
As any new dog owner knows, bringing a new pet into your home is one of the best feelings in the world.
Welcoming a dog into your family is a time filled with cuddles, treats, and fun new experiences.
There are however a few obstacles as both you and your pet settle into your new life together.
For most new dog parents, one of the biggest obstacles is how to potty train your dog or puppy.
Toilet training a dog or young puppy can be a source of frustration for new dog owners. But, don’t worry, we are here to help!
We have put together an easy to follow guide on how to toilet train your dog. By following these simple steps, your new pooch is bound to be housebroken in no time!
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What to Know Before You Start Potty Training Your Dog
First things first, as with humans each dog is unique and will respond to training differently. As a new dog parent, you must first get to know your dog and learn which training methods work best for them.
Your dog’s background will also play a role in how it responds to training. This is particularly true when toilet training a new dog.
Your dog’s previous living conditions will affect how it responds to potty training. You may first need to work on breaking old habits before you can introduce new ones.
The Fundamentals of Dog Training
The most important thing to remember when introducing any type of training to your dog is to focus on fostering a loving bond with your dog through training.
This means that your dog will respond best to positive reinforcement. Some lovely treats and a good old’ “good dog” are excellent motivators!
Since dog training requires repetitive behaviour, your dog will be consuming quite a few treats daily, something your new furry best friend definitely won’t be complaining about.
However, as a responsible dog parent, you need to ensure that the treats you are using are healthy and wholesome. We have an excellent range of natural dog treats that have been the trusted choice of pet parents for over 100 years, that are perfect for training your new pet.
Always ensure that you are kind, reassuring, positive, and patient with your pup as it adjusts to its new routine.
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Consistency is Key
As the saying goes, consistency is key. This is especially true for dog training. Dogs need time to learn new habitats and tricks and adjust to new routines.
Dogs learn through established patterns. This means that if you are consistent in using cues and maintaining daily rituals, your dog will learn new behaviours much faster.
You also need to ensure that everyone in your dog’s life is enforcing the same behaviours. It can be very confusing for your pet if it is disciplined for behaviours by one family member that it is usually rewarded for by another family member.
Make clear rules and set routines, and stick to these.
Also, be consistent in the cues you use. Word choice is an important part of teaching your dog new routines. Using hand-gestures or signals also work well.
Remember to keep it simple. For example, every time you take your dog outside for a bathroom break, be sure to use the same word or phrase like ‘potty’ or ‘go make a wee’. This way, over time your dog will start associating this word with going to the bathroom.
Pro-tip, as you start to introduce these words be sure to use them as your dog is using the bathroom. For example, the moment your dog goes outside and urinates, be sure to say the word or phrase you have chosen and praise them.
How Long Does It Take to Toilet Train Your Dog?
Potty training a new dog can be a concern for many pet owners, especially ones who have busy schedules.
For young puppies, it can generally take up to 4 months for them to be fully housebroken.
However, each dog is different, and in some cases, your pup might learn this a lot faster or might need a bit more time to adjust to the new routine.
In adult dogs, potty training can take anywhere between 2-4 weeks. If you have adopted an older dog, there are several reasons your dog may be going to the bathroom in the house rather than going outside. We’ll get into those in a minute.
How long it takes to potty train your dog is also dependent on how well you are enforcing your training.
While this process may be stressful for you and your pet, it important to remain patient and consistent. We promise that your efforts will be rewarded!
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Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?
It’s the age-old question and the simple answer is, YES! You can definitely teach an older dog new behaviours and habits. In fact, in some cases, potty training your adult dog may even be easier than potty training your puppy.
Adult dogs have larger bladders and bowels, which means they are able to use the bathroom less frequently.
One thing to keep in mind though is that going to the bathroom inside may be a symptom of something larger than your adult dog just not being house-broken or ‘breaking the rules’.
This can sometimes be a sign of stress or anxiety. In some cases, adult dogs may have a trigger that causes them to defecate or urinate in the house, such as a smell or noise.
Be sure to keep track of your dog’s toilet habits in the first few weeks and make a note of any changes like a change in diet or environment that could cause upset.
It is always a good idea to reach out to your vet if your dog shows signs of pain or discomfort while using the bathroom.
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When to Start Potty Training a Puppy
Vets recommend that you can start potty training your puppy from around 12 weeks old. At this stage of their development, your puppy would have sufficient control over their bladder and bowels. This means that they are able to wait longer between bathroom breaks.
With older dogs, potty training should begin as soon as they arrive in their new home. Again, this will require patience and practice, especially for dogs who have been trained to do things differently.
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Potty Training Your Dog in Six Easy Steps
1) Establish a confined space for your dog or puppy.
This step is especially important for young puppies. Dogs do not generalize, which means that they need set spaces in which they can learn and associate new behaviours.
Some dog parents may choose to use a crate and practice potty training with a crate. This is a great idea for young puppies as it creates a dedicated space for them to stay in between toilet breaks.
Another option is to have a dedicated ‘bedroom’ for your dog, such as a spare room or the bathroom.
This is only temporary until your dog starts to fall into his new routine and begins to understand where to go to the bathroom.
If you can watch your puppy or dog around the clock this step won’t be necessary.
2) Create an ‘In Case of Emergency’ Spot
Many dog trainers and dog parents have recommended having a spot where your dog or puppy can use the bathroom in the house. This is essentially a trouble-free zone.
This is a great way to utilise puppy pee pads for toilet training. Try to lay out the puppy pads in a set area, preferably within your pets ‘confined space’. This way if you are not home or if your dog needs to go badly, they have a space to do so.
Many dog owners also wonder how to potty train a dog in an apartment. Having an ‘In Case of Emergency’ spot is an excellent solution to this problem, especially if you cannot take your dog out on regular walks.
3) Accidents happen
Accidents are a part of the process, especially in the beginning. Remember this is all new to your pet and they are trying their best.
Be patient and be sure to clean up the mess quickly and thoroughly. We recommend using an enzymatic cleaner spray to clean up any accidents. If messes are left for too long they can leave a lasting odour, which may attract your dog to that spot.
4) Stay regular
Maintaining a regular schedule with your dog is critical to their potty training process.
This includes their feeding time. Sticking to a regular feeding schedule will make potty training easier as you will learn how quickly your pet needs to eliminate after each meal.
For puppies, it may be best to remove their food between mealtimes. Extra munching can lead to extra mess.
Maintain regular intervals between bathroom breaks. For example, in the first few weeks, it is recommended that puppies go outside every 30 minutes. With older dogs, bathroom breaks every 2-3 hours in the first week should do the trick.
Try to take your puppy or dog to the same spot outside on each bathroom break. This will encourage them to go to the bathroom as they can recognise their scent.
5) Bright and early
In the first few weeks, it is recommended that you take your puppy or adult dog out first thing in the morning, before breakfast.
It is also important to try to take your puppy out right before bed if possible.
6) Keep an eye on your dog
Initially, it will be important that you accompany your pet on their bathroom breaks.
It is also important to spend time with your new puppy or dog as they settle into their new home to observe their behaviour.
This will help you pick up signs that your dog is giving off that they need to go outside.
Body language is one of your dog’s main forms of communication. So, be sure you are paying attention to their movements. Some dogs may for example pace up and down when they need the bathrooms, whereas others may walk in circles or try to get your attention.
7) Positive praise
This is possibly the most important step in your dog’s potty-training journey.
Whenever your dog goes to the bathroom outside, praise them or reward them with a yummy treat.
This way your dog will start to associate eliminating outside with treats or affection. This will encourage your dog to maintain this behaviour.
While it may be frustrating, avoid disciplining your dog when they have accidents. This will cause fear and can derail your dog’s training.
Instead, if you catch your dog in the middle of having an accident, rather try clapping loudly. This may cause them to stop and you give you enough time to get them outside or to their designated ‘in case of emergency’ spot.
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Pro tip: if walks are a part of your dog’s daily potty training routine, be sure to keep some poo bags with you at all times.
Biodegradable bags are best as they are eco-friendly. Using poo bags, like our biodegradeable poo bags, are recommended as they have handles, making pick-up effortless. They are also scented, which is definitely an added bonus!
Toilet training your new furry family member does not need to be a source of stress.
Your first few months with your new dog will be a lovely and memorable time.
By following these simple steps on how to potty train your dog, your pet’s transition into their new home will be as seamless and accident-free as possible.
Meaning that potty-training will be one less thing you have to worry about, and you will be free to enjoy all the love and belly-rubs with your new pooch!
Once your puppy has aced its potty-training, check out a few other tricks and training you can teach your dog.
Remember, stay positive and patient, and focus on building your bond with your new puppy!
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