Claire Hargrave - BSc(Hons), MSc, PGCE, C Sci, C Chem, MRSC, DAS(CABC), CCAB

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Top tips for toilet training

Claire Hargrave - BSc(Hons), MSc, PGCE, C Sci, C Chem, MRSC, DAS(CABC), CCAB
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Toilet training is one of the first things your puppy needs to learn as they settle into their new surroundings. It can be tiring with late nights and early starts but it’s worth taking the trouble to get into a good routine and pro-actively teaching and rewarding your puppy so they get the hang of what you want them to do!


Regularly take your puppy to the outside area that you want them to use as a toilet. Do this whenever they wake up, finish eating or are excited.

Puppy pens

For short periods of time, when you can’t supervise them, get your puppy used to staying in an indoor kennel, puppy pen, or small, chew-proof area where they are less likely to go to the toilet.


Take your puppy to the toilet area at least every two hours when he or she is awake. Also learn the clear signs that tell you your puppy needs to go, which include restlessness, sniffing the floor, circling or squatting.


Until your puppy develops an ability to hold on, they won’t be able to make it through a whole night, so plan to go to bed later and get up earlier. You might also need to get up during the night.

Using newspaper or training pads

Putting down newspaper or training pads can be useful for keeping the floor clean, but your puppy may develop a preference for going to the toilet on these surfaces. Transfer the association by putting down pads or paper in the toilet area.

Don’t tell your puppy off for accidents

They won’t understand, and the stress may make toilet-training worse.

Be patient

Consistent house training can take several weeks – some accidents will happen. It usually takes three to four months to fully house train a puppy.

Positive reinforcement

Reward your puppy when they use the toilet area to reinforce the correct behaviour and encourage them to do it again.

Claire Hargrave - BSc(Hons), MSc, PGCE, C Sci, C Chem, MRSC, DAS(CABC), CCAB

Claire Hargrave is the only Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist accredited by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) working in Wales. She is also a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors. As the animal behaviour profession is as yet unregulated, and to ensure that a behaviourist has an adequate level of practical and theoretical experience, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Dogs Trust and the R.S.P.C.A. advise veterinary surgeons and members of the public to ensure that they only seek advice from behaviourists accredited by ASAB or who hold APBC membership.

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1 Comment

  1. Mia Mia on 11 December 2019 at 19:40

    Helpful article, thank you – we have had Mia for 4 weeks now(she is now 12 weeks old) and she has not had an ‘accident’ in the house for over 2 weeks now. I take her outside after every meal and she is now learning to let me know with a little whine when she needs to go out to wee. We have always had a special Poo Patch in the garden for my other dogs – which is either sand or sawdust and is always cleaned up as soon as used. At night she is in her crate from about 11 pm until about 6 am and again has not had any accidents since her first couple of nights in the crate.


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