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Toilet training a dog

Toilet training is an important part of dog ownership, whether you’re getting a puppy or an adult dog, you need to know how to house train them properly. Puppies need to learn basic control and training is an important bonding experience between you both.


If you’re toilet training an adult dog that hasn’t been trained properly before, the stages will be the same, however it may take longer.


When you begin toilet training you need to give your dog plenty of opportunities to go. The main times are when they wake up, after every meal, before bed and after they’ve been left alone.


There are signs that your dog will show when they need to go toilet:

  • fidgeting,
  • sniffing around,
  • beginning to circle before squatting.


Toilet training steps

When you recognise the signs that your dog is thinking about going toilet:

  • Take them to the correct place so that you can reward them when they go. Try to take them to the same place each time.
  • When they begin to  toilet use a command they can associate with the correct behaviour, eg. ‘be quick’.
  • When they’ve finished reward them immediately with lots of praise, a treat or play.
  • Before going back inside, walk your dog around or play for a bit. This way they don’t learn that going to the toilet ends time outside, which could mean they hold onto the last minute before going.
  • If you notice your dog about to go in the wrong place, interrupt them but in a way that doesn't punish them. Take them calmly towards the correct place and give them lots of praise when they toilet there. Don’t shout otherwise your dog may learn that it’s only safe to go when you’re not around.


What to do if there’s an accident

  • Never punish your dog if you find an accident after the event or as it’s happening. Your dog may become scared and confused as they won’t associate the punishment with the accident.
  • Simply clean the area using a warm solution of biological washing powder and rinse with water. This should remove the smell and reduce the chance of your dog using this area again.
  • There are different reasons for toileting indoors, e.g. anxiety, so if you’re concerned seek advice from your vet.


Continue taking your dog outside and reward them with lots of praise when they go and eventually they’ll ask to go outside to toilet.