Toilet Training for puppies
This can be one of the most frustrating things to teach a young pup for many people, but done correctly, it can be one of the easiest.
The first thing is to understand that a young pup CANNOT go all night without going to the toilet. He’s bladder just can’t cope.
When most people bring home a pup, they put it in the laundry with lots of newspaper spread around and this is where pup spends his nights and alone time. All this does is teach pup that it is okay to go to the toilet inside so long as it is on something, like a newspaper or a dropped towel and there is nothing worse than sitting down on a Sunday morning reading the paper then placing it on the floor while you fetch a coffee only to find it wet when you return.
When you bring home your pup, you should have a crate or suitable box ready, as this will become the pup’s bed. This is where he is placed to sleep. (The reason for the box or crate is so that pup can’t escape when he wakes up and toilet in the house if you are otherwise preoccupied.) At night the crate/box should be placed beside your bed. Then if he wakes during the night he will whine and scratch to get out of the box/crate and you can get up and take him out to the toilet, reward him, then place him back into bed. This is not a time for play. This way he learns that it is never acceptable to toilet in the house. Having the crate/box next to your bed also gives him some comfort in a new environment as he can hear your breathing/ snoring and you are able to comfort him during the night with a pat if he becomes distressed.
During the day when you are at home and your pup is inside, make sure that he can’t go anywhere in the house that you can’t see him. So close doors, block of hallways and make sure you have quick access to outside. As soon as your puppy wakes, finishes eating, drinking, playing, take him outside (try to get him to walk out so that he learns to go to the door to be let out). Walk around slowly with him for about 5-10 mins making sure that you do not play with him or talk to him. If he goes to the toilet, give the command ‘toilet’ or whatever you prefer and reward him as soon as he is finished. Then bring him inside again. It is very important to be vigilant and watch for any sniffing of the floor or signs of distress, which may mean he needs to go to the toilet. If he doesn’t go while you are outside with him then bring him back inside and repeat the process every 10 mins until he does go.
Giving a command every time your pup goes to the toilet will help associate the word with him going to the toilet. You will eventually get to the stage where you will give the toileting command and your dog will oblige. Very handy on cold winter nights and long car trips.
During the day if you are leaving pup for no longer than an hour or two, make sure that you toilet him before you leave and then place him in his crate/box while you are away. This will help to teach him to relax and sleep while you are out, helping to reduce any anxiety.
If you are going to be gone for extended periods of time e.g. going to work, you need to make sure you have made proper allowances for your pup outside. He should have a good, draft free kennel with a comfortable bed inside with plenty of fresh water near by. The kennel should be placed in a safe area where the pup can come to no harm and cannot escape the yard. Leaving him with a chew rope that has been soaked in some chicken stock or a Kong with some Vegemite smeared on the inside will help your dog settle into being outside when you are away.
As your dog matures you will be able to leave him unattended inside for longer periods of time while you are away, but remember if you do come home to an accident, just clean it up. Yelling at your dog upon arrival home and finding a mess is one of the biggest contributors to separation anxiety.
While leaving the pup in the laundry may seem like the kinder thing to do, you are really doing your pup no favours. He is quite capable of surviving outside providing that you have catered for his needs.
It cannot be stressed enough that smacking your puppy when he has an accident inside, rubbing his nose in it or even yelling at him will do more harm than good. By stressing your pup in this fashion all you will do is teach him to be frightened to go to the toilet when you are around, resulting in him not wanting to toilet outside when you are around and going off behind furniture inside to do his business.
When cleaning up urine around the house, and make no mistake, if you are not watching your pup there will be accidents, make sure you use something that contains no bleach. Dish washing detergent is one of the best things to use. Anything that contains bleach smells similar to the pup’s urine and he will be inclined to keep returning to the same place to toilet.