The complete guide on how to toilet train a puppy

Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Rachel Rodgers
24th Nov 2023
A golden retriever puppy peeing outside
Summary
Toilet training a puppy takes time and patience. Stick to a routine by taking your puppy outside around the same time every day, after meals, naps, and in the morning and night. Try to get them to do their business in the same spot and reward them with treats and praise when they do. Keep a close watch inside and gently guide them outside if you catch them going in the wrong place. With patience and consistency, your puppy will become the perfect housemate with their new bathroom etiquette.
Embracing the joys of puppyhood also means figuring out how to toilet train your puppy. In this guide, we'll cover different parts of puppy toilet training including why accidents happen and your pup might pee inside, how to handle setbacks and how to get started with toilet training. Say goodbye to indoor surprises as you work towards a potty-savvy pup.

Why do puppies have accidents?

Puppies have accidents because they're still learning how to control their bladder. Just like human babies, puppies can't hold it in for a long time because their bladders are still small. Their bladder muscles that hold everything in aren't very strong either. As they get older, their bladder gets bigger and stronger so they need the toilet less.
Puoor bladder control isn't the only reason puppies have accidents. They're always eager to explore and play, and sometimes, they're so "busy" they just forget they need to use the bathroom. This might lead them to ignore their full bladders until it's too late. That's why it's important for you to have a regular routine and watch for signs hat your pup needs a bathroom break.

Why is my puppy peeing so much?

There are 5 main reasons why your puppy could be peeing so much:
  1.  Bladder size and control.
  2. Drinking a lot.
  3. Excitement and play.
  4. Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  5. Stress or anxiety.

1. Bladder size and control

Puppies have smaller bladders than grown-up dogs, and they are still learning how to control when they need to go. They might pee more often because they're still growing. As they get bigger, their bladder muscles get stronger, and they learn how to control when they go to the bathroom better.

2. Drinking a lot

Keep an eye on how much water your puppy drinks. If they drink a lot, it makes sense that they'll need to pee more. But if they start drinking way more than usual, it might mean something is up with their health. In that case, talk to a vet to figure out what's going on.

3. Excitement and play

Puppies are known for their boundless energy and enthusiasm. When they play or get really excited, they might accidentally pee. This is normal, and will get better with training and as they get older and learn better bladder control.

4. Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Sometimes, peeing a lot can mean a puppy has a urinary tract infection. This is uncomfortable and makes them feel like they really need to pee. If you see other signs like them struggling to pee, blood in their pee, or they're acting differently, take your puppy to the vet for a check up.

5. Stress or anxiety

New things happening around them, like being in different places or being alone, might make puppies pee more.

How to stop a puppy from peeing in the house

To help your puppy learn where to pee, keep a regular routine. Take them outside often, especially after they eat or nap.
Always reward and praise them when they go to the bathroom outside.
If you see your pup peeing inside, wait til they’re done, then use an enzymatic cleaner to thoroughly clean the area. Accidents happen, especially as your pup is learning what behaviour you expect them to do. Remember to be patient and understanding.
Stopping them or picking them up as they’re peeing can make them worried and cause more issues later. Instead, keep an eye on the signs that they might need to pee, like going to the same spot, and learn when to take them outside before they need to go.
By sticking to a routine, using rewards, and being patient, you'll teach your puppy where it's okay to go to the bathroom.

How to stop a puppy peeing in its bed

To stop a puppy from peeing in their bed, watch them closely, keep up a routine, and teach them where it's okay to go.
Firstly, make sure their bed isn't too big, so they're less likely to use a corner as a bathroom. Pups don't like peeing where they sleep!
Take them outside a lot, especially after they wake up and before bedtime. Pups usually want to pee when they wake up, so getting in the habit of taking them outside then teaches them that is where to go. Keeping up a routine and going outside a lot makes it more likely your pup will go to the toilet outside. Give them lots of treats and praise when they do wait to pee outdoors.
If you see them peeing in their bed, wait til they’re finished, then clean their bed thoroughly. Always use an enzymatic cleaner to break down the smell of urine. If the smell isn't broken down, your pp might think that's where they need to toilet.

How to stop puppy pooping at night

To help your puppy stop pooping at night, stick to a regular routine. Feed them at the same time each day, and take them out after eating. Again, going after they eat and keeping a routine makes it way more likely your pup will poop in the right place.
Avoid giving them a big meal close to your bedtime. Puppies will often need the bathroom 4 hours after eating, so work backwards from your bedtime. If you sleep at 10pm, you could give them dinner at 5.45pm and take them outside at 9.45pm for a quick bathroom break.
Take them outside just before your own bedtime and theirs to get a good routine going.
If they do poop inside during the night, stay calm, clean the area well and adjust their feeding times gradually to line up their bathroom breaks.
When they do need to poop, gently guide them outside and reward them for doing their business there. With patience and positive reinforcement, you'll teach your puppy when and where it's okay to poop.

golden retriever puppy squatting on grass
How to start toilet training

Stick to a schedule

Make sure to take your puppy outside regularly. Especially after they wake up, eat, and before bedtime. This makes it more likely they'll poo outside and helps them understand when it's time to go potty.

Choose a special spot outside

Pick a specific place in your garden where you want you pup to toilet, and go there every time you take them out. This helps them learn that this is the right spot to pee.

Give treats and praise

Whenever your puppy pees outside, give them a treat or praise them. This way, they know they did something good, and it encourages them to do it again.

Keep an eye on them indoors

Watch your puppy closely inside, especially in the beginning. Start to learn when they need to pee and when you notice the signs, and take them to their toilet spot when they show them.

Don’t shout or punish them

Don't punish your puppy if they have an accident inside. It doesn't help them learn because they don't understand why they are being punished. It can also cause other behavoural problems like coprophagia (
eating poo
). Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and rewarding them when they do go to the bathroom outside.

Clean up accidents thoroughly

If your puppy has an accident inside, use an enzymatic cleaner to clean the area really well. This helps remove the smell, so they're not tempted to pee or poop in the same spot again. A regular household cleaner won’t do as good a job as it doesn't break down the smell.

Be patient

It takes time for puppies to learn. And it takes time for your puppy's bladder to grow! Be patient, and celebrate when they do go outside. Mistakes happen, but with your encouragement, your puppy will catch on to the idea where the right place is to go.

How to toilet train a puppy in 7 days

Toilet training a puppy takes time and patience. Training a puppy in just seven days may sound good, but it's not realistic. Puppies need time to learn new routines, just like humans. Trying to do it in seven days can be stressful for your pup and you.
Instead, focus on a regular routine, praise your puppy for doing well, and remember that accidents happen. Slow and positive training will help your puppy learn the right way to take potty breaks. After a few months, if you’re still struggling to make progress, get some extra help and support
from a professional
.

How long does it take to toilet train a puppy?

Toilet training a puppy usually takes a few weeks to a couple of months. This is partly because it takes a while for your puppy's bladder to grow big and strong enough to hold pee in for a few hours. The time it takes can be different for each puppy, depending on things like their age, breed, and how they behave. How consistent and patient you are with training also makes a big difference. Being patient and using positive rewards are important for helping your puppy learn to go to the bathroom in the right place.

Conclusion

It’s perfectly normal for puppies to have accidents inside before they’re toilet trained. It can be a frustrating and messy job to clean up, but puppies are still learning lots about the world including when and where they can and can’t pee.
Be patient and calm around your pup. This will help them learn and not develop anxiety around toilet time in the long run. Give them lots of praise and positive reinforcement when they go to the toilet outside. Pretty soon they’ll be a pro at taking toilet breaks.
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