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Toilet training your dog

Toilet training is an important part of caring responsibly for your dog, whether you're getting a puppy or an adult dog, you need to know how to house train them properly. Puppies need to learn important life skills, and training is an important bonding experience between you both.

Dogs don't have full bladder capacity until they are approximately 12 months of age.

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 and you'll be more successful if you actively supervise your dog. Give your dog plenty of opportunities to go to the toilet in an appropriate place.

Take them out when they wake up, after every meal, after playtime, before bed, before you leave them and when you come back, and then every 45 minutes.

Signs your dog needs to toilet

These include:

  • Fidgeting,
  • Sniffing around,
  • Beginning to circle before squatting.  

Toilet training steps

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

  • 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 verbal cue they can associate with the correct behaviour eg. 'toilet'.
  • When they've finished, reward them immediately, every time, with lots of praise, treats and 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 that 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, e.g. calling their name. 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. health or lack of training so if you're concerned, always 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.

For more information read Toilet training your dog.

My dog is toilet trained but wees and poos when left alone

If your dog is going for a wee or poo indoors when separated from you they could be finding it difficult to cope when left alone.

This type of separation-related behaviour is very common and we've put together some tips to help you work out what your dog is feeling when they're left alone and what to do about it.

Find out more