top of page

House Training your puppy

Training a puppy to toilet outside can seem tiresome, frustrating and never ending. Often our expectations of what a puppy should and shouldn't be able to do are mismatched. This type of training is not a single learning event, just like with children, puppies need to learn gradual control and their physical development (along with our expectations)

also plays a role.

  • Did you know puppies bladder control function is sometimes not completely grown until the puppy is roughly 5 or 6 months old? Whilst many pups get it right most of the time at this stage, others need more consistent help.

  • We need to train our puppies right from the start where it is good to go to the toilet.

  • I like to see every mistake my pup makes when house training as my mistake. Read on to find out why!

Jo’s Top Tips for how to house train a puppy:

1.      Put your puppy on a house training schedule (creating a habit). Do not rely on puppy to tell you when they need to go. Take puppy outside every hour (or even every 45 minutes when they first arrive home) to give them the opportunity to go to the toilet in the right place. Ignore them if they want to play, let them sniff (sniffing starts the process) and stay outside for 6-7 minutes to give them a good chance to go. I like to walk around the garden in a figure of eight, minding my own business and crossing my fingers for success!!

2.     In addition to taking them out every hour, take them out every time they wake up, after every session of play, after they’ve eaten or drunk water, when they sniff the floor or shows signs of going. You get the idea!

3.     When they go to the toilet outside – give them a yummy treat and praise them well (we want them to know they’ve done something great). They will want to repeat this once they realise they get good stuff for going in the right place.

4.     WATCH, WATCH and WATCH some more. If you have taken them outside and they haven’t gone to the toilet, bring them in and watch them like a hawk (ideally they would be confined to a small area so you can prevent any mistakes). Then take them out 10 minutes later. If they don’t go then, repeat this until they do. You now have time to rest until your next visit to the garden. Phew!

5.     Don’t forget, when they are first let outside you mean business.  It’s toilet time, before play time. The play should always come after they have been to the toilet so they get into the habit of this being the first thing they do when they go outside. 

6. It is really important they don’t get told off for going inside – they will only learn that they should not go when you are present and will sneak off and go elsewhere. If you catch them mid act just pick them up and take them outside without a word. Do not get cross, it is not personal.

7.     Add a cue word to them going. When they start to go toilet (in the right place) say ‘get busy’ or ‘go toilet’ (you decide what you’d prefer to use). This puts going to the toilet on cue and they will eventually go when you ask them to go. Very useful for when you are travelling or visiting some one’s house.

8.     Clean everywhere they have been toilet inside with an enzyme cleaner specially designed for this purpose – diluted biological washing powder may work too – this gets rid of the smells which they associate with going to the toilet and helps prevent repeated marking. Disinfectant and bleach accentuate the smell of urine and so increase the likelihood of puppy repeating the toilet in that area. If you have a rug or doormat your pup is particularly partial to it can work well to remove it for a while, at least until you have a stronger toilet training habit.

9.     Keep a log of when they have been toilet and you should start to see a routine emerging – especially if you are feeding them at the same times each day (feeding at set times should help this routine).

10.     Do not leave the door open for them to go in and out – they will not learn to give you a signal that they need to go outside (this is often a problem with summer puppies). Also, if you have more than one exit to the garden, use the same door each time so they learn which door to go to eventually.

Important information:

  • A puppy should always have access to water, even over night and in a crate. Removing water can cause binge drinking (they drink more as they aren’t sure if the water will be there the next time they are thirsty), which will work against your house training and potentially increase the risk of UTI (urinary tract infection).

  • Many young puppies do not toilet outside on walks until they have grown in confidence. This means if you have been out for a walk, or to socialise your puppy (well done you!), then they will need a visit to the garden as soon as you get home – they will likely be bursting to go!

  • Rubbing a pups nose in their own mess damages the relationship between you and your pup, scares them and is unhygienic (and certainly won’t help with your house training – likely it will have the opposite affect!). This is an outdated method and has no place in modern dog training.


If you need assistance implementing this advice, or you have a rescue dog or adult dog that needs house training then I recommend working with an experienced, qualified, positive reinforcement dog trainer.

Happy training and waggy tails,



20 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page