House training a puppy or new dog

House training a puppy or new dog

Education & Training

When you first buy and bring home a puppy or if you get a juvenile or adult dog that has never been house trained, the first thing that you will need to do is undertake the process of teaching them about the appropriate time and place to go to the toilet. Generally, when you buy or adopt an adult dog this will already have been taken care of by the previous owners, although if the dog’s history is uncertain or if the dog was untrained or insufficiently trained, you may find yourself at stage one, in the same way that you would be with a new puppy.

Fortunately, house training a puppy or new dog doesn’t have to be difficult, and it is very rare to find a dog that will not take to house training within a relatively short period of time. Dogs work hard to please their owners and avoid doing anything that will make us unhappy, and once they understand what is required of them (and as long as they are physically able to comply with your requirements) they will usually go out of their way to do your bidding.

Read on to learn about the basics and simple steps that you should follow to house train your dog or puppy, plus some top tips to help you out with the whole process.

Understand your dog or puppy’s needs

The first and most important point to remember when toilet training a dog of any age is that you must make adequate provision for their need to go to the toilet. This may seem obvious, but remember that puppies and younger dogs will need to go to the toilet more often than older dogs, and small dogs may need to make more frequent trips outside than larger dogs with larger bladders too.

Allocate a space to your dog where toileting accidents don’t matter

Select an area of the home such as a corner of the kitchen, a utility room, large crate or other safe space with hard flooring that can be assigned to your dog as their territory, and that you can leave them in at times when you are not able to be with them.

Discourage your dog from going to the toilet there by keeping his bedding, food and water within his zone, and make sure that his area is not shut off from the rest of the family or household so that your dog or puppy doesn’t feel left out.

Taking your dog out to the toilet

When you get up in the morning, the first thing you should do before you go about your day is to take your dog outside to go to the toilet, and give him plenty of time to do his business before taking him back indoors. Ensure that you give your dog enough space and do not rush him over this, and once he has done it, offer praise and a treat. When you return to the house, let your dog have free range of the rooms that he is allowed into while you are around, returning him to his safe area if you need to leave him or go out.

During the early stages of training, take your dog outside every hour to have the opportunity to go to the toilet, so that you can get used to your dog’s routine and roughly what times of the day he will need to “go.” Once you start to establish this pattern, you can reduce the frequency of his trips outside to match the times when he usually needs to visit the outdoors. Make letting your dog out to go to the toilet the last thing you do at night too, whether your dog usually goes at this time or not.

Always praise and give your dog a treat once they have been to the toilet, and within a week or two you will generally have been able to suss out the times when he needs to go and reduce the frequency of your trips outside. Remember that if you change your dog’s feeding routine, the times that they will need to use the toilet may alter as well!

House training tips

  • Do not punish your dog for accidents when housetraining, or they may learn to try to hide where they go to the toilet as they understand that they have displeased you.
  • If your dog “asks” to go out in between your usual trips, always, without exception, allow them to do this. You will of course want to encourage your dog to ask when they need to go out, and ignoring their requests, even once, may not only lead to an immediate accident, but teach your dog that asking is fruitless and not worth doing another time.
  • Never leave your dog unsupervised for more than four hours at a time; less for puppies and young dogs. This is inappropriate for many reasons, housetraining and toileting issues being just one of them.
  • If your dog or puppy does have an accident within the home, do not make a big fuss about this or draw attention to it. Never shout at your dog, rub their nose in it, or otherwise make them feel bad about accidents; the chances are, you contributed to the problem by failing to adequately predict or provide for your dog’s needs.
  • Clear up any accidents within the home quietly and with your dog out of sight. Then, carry on as if nothing has happened, while noting the time that they went to the toilet in case you need to work an additional trip outside into your future routine.
  • Ensure that you thoroughly clean up any toileting messes, to remove stains and smells. This is not only to make the household hygienic and pleasant, but to avoid causing your dog to associate the place where they went to the toilet as somewhere that they should use again in the future.
  • An enzymatic cleaner such as biological washing powder or a specific pet cleaning product designed to clean up biological mess should be used for clean ups, to thoroughly remove all traces of bacteria and any associated smells.
  • Always wear rubber gloves when disposing of or cleaning up dog faeces or urine, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards!


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