Toilet training is something that every puppy parent has to do. It might not be all plain sailing, and your pup will probably have a few accidents along the way, but it’s something that it’s important to persevere with – it’ll make your life a lot easier in the long run, even if you need to buy lots of the best dog treats along the way to reward when your pooch gets the hang of it.
And to help you along your way, award-winning trainer Lisa Burton of Listen Dog Training has laid out five key steps that’ll get your puppy toilet trained in no time! While it’s focused on puppies, you can use some of her advice if you’re wondering how to potty train an older dog too.
And remember, even if it does take longer for your pup to get the hang of it than you might hope, stick with it and trust the process.
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1. Night-time crate routine: As Burton says, “Trying to toilet train a puppy during the day and then simply leaving them to their own devices at night is going to dramatically prolong the process!”
Rather than leaving your pup to it and covering the floor in newspaper, it’s a good idea to have them in a crate by your bed and schedule regular potty breaks throughout the night.
Gradually, you’ll be able to reduce the frequency of trips as your pup gets better at holding its bladder, and you’ll be able to speed up the process by keeping the training going at night, too. Sure, getting up throughout the night might not be fun, but you’ll thank yourself later – especially if you want to know how to stop a dog from pooping in the crate.
2. Keep a daily diary: Grab a notepad or diary, and leave it by the back door. This way, everyone in the house can log every time your pup goes to the toilet, whether they go outside in time or have a little accident.
Burton explains, “This is a game-changer as it enables you to spot your puppy’s patterns so that you can pre-empt them, for an almost 100% success rate, really early on.
3. Set up success: Your puppy doesn’t know that they’re meant to go to the toilet outside, so you need to organize everything so that it becomes the most likely outcome.
And with your diary, you can work out when your pup is most likely to need the toilet, so you can encourage them outside before any accidents happen.
4. Make it pay: Your puppy isn’t bothered where they go to the toilet, so is there anything in it for them? Burton says, “Make every outdoor success super rewarding with lots of praise, a treat, or whatever your pup loves!”
5. Nominate a watcher: Make sure there’s always a member of the household keeping an eye on your puppy so you can detect the cues and signs that they might need to head outside.
Among the signs to watch out for include disengagement with an activity to go and sniff, moving around in circles and sudden restlessness.
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.