I suddenly realised, thanks to a lovely client, I don’t have any articles relating to toilet training! How I missed that I do not know! I cover toilet training and effective techniques to establish this quickly in my 1-2-1’s, however I do feel it warrants an article considering it is a common question and common puppy complaint! I won’t detail the ins and outs of how to toilet train effectively too much, if you need advice and guidance just get in touch. However I’m going to look at some common pitfalls, how to view toilet training to set your pup up for success and some things to bear in mind when bringing home your new bundle of fluff.
Like any other behaviour we teach our pups, toilet training is achieved via consistent and repeated reinforcement for doing the right thing. We can of course set our pups up to succeed by ensuring we give them regular opportunities to DO the right thing, enabling them to offer the behaviour we want 90% of the time! We can then, gradually, work that up to 100%.
So, how do we ensure we give our pups regular and consistent opportunities to do the right thing? We supervise them! The importance of keeping one eye on your puppy is not to be underestimated, being able to monitor your pups movements will not only keep him out of trouble, it will help in toilet training too. Often you will find a pup will take himself off into a corner, or a hallway, or another area separate to the usual ‘living space’ to toilet. We can eliminate this possibility if we are keeping one eye on him or confining him to a crate/pen/gated area. If your pup gets regular opportunities to wander off and toilet in other rooms or hallways etc, it will be a longer process trying to toilet train and cause more confusion for your pup. So supervise and watch your pup!
How long a puppy can hold their ‘weewee’ is debatable. One line of thought is to work it out by their age in months, plus 1. So, for example, a 3 month old pup will ‘hold it’ it for, 3 (months) +1 = 4, so, 4 hours. This is VERY very generalised, do not follow this rule religiously as there are varying contributory factors to consider. For example breed, lifestyle, time of day, food/water consumption, sleep/play pattern, and more. A puppy sleeping at night may well be able to hold on that little bit longer, a puppy running around the living room mid afternoon may not be able to hold it quite so well. So be mindful of how often your pup will need to be given the opportunity to pop outside with you according somewhat to time of day and/or activity.
Be prepared for accidents, but don’t presume they will happen. Toilet training does take some time and is not an over night process. The time to success precisely varies hugely based on a multitude of factors, breed being one of them. Some breeds are more likely to ‘hold it’ much longer than others! In my experience and the feedback I have gained from owners, the smaller dogs ie. Dachshunds, Chihuahuas or small Terriers etc find it more of a challenge, or rather the owners do. This is something we can work with however, if your pup needs more toilet trips outside, simply provide them. Smaller dogs are perfectly capable of being toilet trained just as big dogs are, we may simply need to offer a few more opportunities.
Try and remember if your breeder has told you your puppy is house trained, essentially what this means is the puppy is housetrained in their house, in their environment, with their schedule. Get as much information as you can regarding toileting! What toilet schedule is the pup currently on? Does the pup have free access to the garden/outside currently, or is it being let out periodically? What surface is the pup going on? ie. concrete/grass/soil etc. What cue word has the breeder been using, if at all? Has the breeder been using puppy pads? If so, where in the property? Remember, a puppy will feel confused and a little unsure of his new surroundings when you bring him home. He is bound to have some anxiety about this strange new world he is in, and this in itself will disrupt his usual routine and toilet schedule. However, if you can gain as much information as you can from your breeder, the chances are you can (within reason) carry that schedule on and alter it slightly, bit by bit, to suit your lifestyle and requirements.
Keep those key times in mind: after eating/drinking, after play, after sleep, after an outing/walk, after excitement (ie. visitor arrival), and every 1-1.5 hours throughout the day.
Remember, consistency and patience will pay off.
There are various things you can do and rules to follow to assist in toilet training, if you need more information about how to effectively implement these, this is something I do cover in my 1-2-1’s so just get in touch!