The Complete Puppy Toilet Training Guide


Toilet training a puppy is essential. If you don’t do it, they will go to the bathroom wherever they feel like, even as adults. In this post, we explore how to toilet train a puppy, including how to toilet train a puppy on pads and how to toilet train your puppy indoors. We also discuss why toilet training is important and some products that you can use to support your efforts and some of the benefits of puppy toilet training. By the end of this article, you should feel much more confident in your training abilities and be on the way to toilet training success!


Why is Toilet Training Important for your Puppy? 

Toilet training is important for puppies because it stops them from eliminating at unwanted times. It helps them regulate their bowel movements so that they only go to the toilet when it is appropriate to do so. When properly trained, they are much less likely to go make a mess in your home, the car, or other indoor spaces. 

Toilet training isn't just important for young dogs, though. It is also essential for when they grow up. When properly trained, puppies grow into adult dogs who can travel without accidents. Furthermore, if an older dog does have an accident inside , it can alert owners that there is something wrong with their health. 

Whether you are toilet training your puppy indoors or outdoors (or both) there are 3 common elements;

  1. Having a designated toilet area

  2. Consistency and patience

  3. Positive reinforcement for the right behaviour


Toilet Training Your Puppy Indoors

Even if you live in an apartment or have limited space in your backyard, you can still toilet train your puppy effectively. Here’s how to toilet train a puppy inside:

  1. Establish a feeding schedule for your puppy, providing them with meals at set times throughout the day

  2. Every thirty minutes to one hour, lead your puppy to the indoor toilet area (such as their dog toilet)

  3. Put them on the dog toilet area or give them an instruction to sit on it, such as “go to the toilet”

  4. While on the toilet, do not give your puppy any attention. Do not play with them. Only react if they eliminate

  5. If your puppy pees or poops on the dog toilet, praise them immediately and provide them with a small treat or toy. Be careful not to overfeed them. 

  6. Once you finish praising your dog, remove them from the dog toilet. 

  7. If you notice your dog sniffing around the dog toilet, praise them some more. Do not allow your dog to play with the dog toilet. They must understand that it is not a bed or play area. 

  8. Remove poop from the toilet area

TIP:  Most puppies - will need to go to the toilet within an hour of eating.

 Supplies for Puppy Toilet Training Indoors

When it comes to setting up a dog toilet area, you have a couple of options. How much space you have to set up your dog toileting area may limit your options - but there are tools to help you along the way.

For instance, you can use puppy toilet training pads. These are just hygienically-treated pads that you can use in an apartment to capture urine and feces. Top brands can absorb up to three cups of liquid and come with multiple layers of protection to keep the floor beneath free from soiling. 

Those with some yard access might want to consider toilet replacement grass for dogs. These mats look like regular grass and provide a visual cue your dog can use in the future to determine whether they should go to the toilet or not. Puppy toilet training grass is made of synthetic material that’s easy to wash. The underside is grippy, preventing your dog from moving it easily. 

TIP: Areas you might like to use as the toilet area:  A balcony - if your puppy can access it at all times (through a doggy door), the laundry area or the bathroom area


Toilet Training a Puppy in a Garden or Outdoors 

Gardens are great for training your puppy. It’s easier to clean up mess in outdoor spaces and it creates an association in your dog’s mind between going to the bathroom and being outside.

Here’s the best way to toilet train a puppy outdoors:

  1. Schedule regular feeding times for your puppy

  2. Take them outside every 30 to 60 minutes, and immediately after eating or playing

  3. Take them to the area of the garden you would like them to go to the bathroom

  4. Issue a verbal instruction, such as “go to the toilet”

  5. Do not give your dog any attention unless they go to the bathroom. Puppies must learn that certain areas of the garden are for going to the toilet only -- nothing else. 

  6. If your dog pees or poops, praise them immediately and offer a small treat. 

  7. Once you finish praising them, bring them inside and continue life as normal

This process will need to be repeated many times to establish a pattern of behaviour in your dog. Eventually, your puppy will take themselves outside to go to the bathroom, without any prompting. 

 Supplies for Puppy Toilet Training Outdoors

If your puppy has an accident indoors and you want to prevent a repeat of it, invest in an indoor urine deterrent. These reduce stains and odours but, more importantly, also discourage pets from soiling the same spot twice, making them suitable for toilet training. 

You might also want to invest in a puppy toilet training crates. Puppies have a natural instinct not to spoil their own den, so when you put them in a crate, it encourages them to learn to hold it in. When they are ready, they will tell you, and you can then immediately take them to their toilet area. This can be useful if you are going to be busy for a short period and cannot keep a close eye on your puppy,  Make sure they have been to the toilet area before you put them in the training crate.


Toilet Training Your Puppy at Night

While they are very young, puppies will wake up in the night and need to go to the toilet.  This can create a lot of mess in the early days, 

Most owners keep their puppies in their laundry room, in a dog bed or in their bedroom. However, all these options allow the puppy to roam freely, increasing the chance of toileting in the wrong spot. 

Putting them in a puppy toilet training crate at night can help prevent this. As discussed above, puppies have a natural instinct to avoid fouling their den. As such, they are much less likely to soil themselves if you keep them in a specific area. They will need to be let out of the crate and taken to the toilet area several times during the night.

Try keeping your puppy’s crate next to your bed at night. When they need to go to the bathroom, they will tell you by crying out. 

Puppy night time toilet training lets your puppy develop the ability to hold in their waste. If they do have an accident in their crate, then it is much easier to clean up. Most crates come with non-porous floors. You can also put down a puppy pad to absorb any moisture until morning. 

If you lead a busy life and have limited time to train your puppy, you can drop them off at a qualified doggy daycare provider or dog walker in the morning. Dog trainers can help with the potty training process, instilling the idea that your pet should always go to the bathroom outside or in a specific area.  Make sure you follow the same process when  your dog is at home with you. 


How Long Will It Take To Toilet Train a Puppy

So how long does it take to toilet train a puppy? Effective toilet training takes between four and six months. However, for some dogs, it may take up to a year. 

Size is a predictor of how long it can take to toilet train. Smaller breeds need to go to the toilet more often because they have smaller bladders, increasing the number of training opportunities in any given day. 

Length of training also depends on the puppy’s former living conditions. If a previous owner began the training process, it will take less time to complete if you take over. 

You should begin toilet training  as soon as you get your puppy but you will have the best results when the puppy is between twelve and sixteen weeks old. At this stage, they begin to develop conscious control over their bladder and bowels. So be very patient with your puppy under twelve weeks of age - they are still learning to be away from their mum.  Ignore articles promising to show you how to toilet train a puppy in 7 days. It generally takes longer than this.

Once you have lived with your new puppy for a few days you will notice there are particular things that he does just before going to the toilet such as restlessness, sniffing around and circling.  Look out for these things and take them as a cue to offer a toilet break.


The Different Types Of Toilet Training Products:

Owners don’t have to go it alone when it comes to puppy toilet training. Today, there are many products on the market designed to make the task easier. We discuss each of them below. 


As mentioned above, crates are more than just a place for your dog to feel safe and cosy at night. They’re also very handy for toilet training. 

Over time, dogs will come to think of their crates as home. As such, they will instinctively avoid going to the toilet in them. 

Crates are easy to clean and offer rounded corners to protect your pet. They also come in a range of sizes, depending on the breed of dog you buy. Most have rubber feet on the bottom to protect your floors from damage. 

Puppy Training Pads

Puppy training pads  are perhaps the number one tool for toilet training puppies in apartments or accommodation that don't have access to a garden. They work both as a standalone product or as a crate liner. 

High-quality puppy training pads comprise multiple layers. Brands will usually tell you how much liquid they can safely absorb before it will spill out onto the floor -- for example, three cups. 

Puppy Grass Training

Puppy grass toilet training is another puppy toilet training option and is particularly useful when your pet must stay inside. These mats are naturally antimicrobial, so they won’t accumulate unpleasant odours over time. 

If mats are too large for your home, you can cut them down to size. To clean, just rinse with warm, soapy water. 

Toilet Training Spray

Puppy  toilet training spray is a special product that discourages indoor loileting and can help to prevent accidents from repeating in the future. Products contain essential oils that discourage dogs from using the same area to toilet again.It can also be used to deter dogs from urine marking certain areas.

Formulations are safe to use on practically any part of the home, including furniture, metal, concrete, outdoor surfaces, and plants. Sprays leave an aroma that’s pleasant for humans, but not to dogs. 

If setting up a toilet area outside, remember puppies like to go to the toilet on natural surfaces such as grass and bark - this might help you select an area outside that suits both you and your puppy. 


Puppy Toilet Training Tips

Getting puppy toilet training right can sometimes feel a little hit and miss. In this section, we offer some extra tips related to puppy toilet training that should help to make the process a little easier. 

Be Consistent

Puppies will sometimes regress while toilet training, leading you to exclaim, “my puppy toilet training has gone backwards.” Experts believe that regression occurs because their brains are still developing and forging new connections. 

For this reason, be as consistent as possible in your toilet training. Even if it seems like you’re not getting anywhere, keep going and follow the same patterns. Remember, toilet training can take a long time -- up to a year for some dogs. 

Tailor Your Toilet Training To Your Puppy’s Age

Before 12 weeks, most puppies aren’t ready for toilet training. However, after this point, you should begin a protocol. 

Training older puppies or adult dogs is more challenging. That’s because they have had more time to develop bad habits. Learning to potty train a 6 month old puppy may require undoing bad habits.

If you have an older dog, take them outside to potty train once every hour. Always act bored so that you don’t distract the dog from pottying. As soon as they go to the toilet in a manner you find acceptable, offer a treat.

After potty training, have an extended playtime. This way, your dog realises that they can have fun, just by going to the bathroom in the right place. 

Try Crate Training If Your Puppy Is Stubborn

If your puppy won't toilet train, be patient -- it can take a long time. If you’re still having difficulties after a couple of months, start crate training. Putting your puppy in a confined area encourages them to develop the ability to hold in their waste. Then, when they are ready to go, they will call you and you can take them outside and reward them. 

Remember not to punish accidents, even if you feel frustrated. If you punish, your puppy will fear you -- something that can slow down the training process. 


Wrap Up

In summary, puppy toilet training follows a consistent formula. All you need to do is provide your dog with regular potty training breaks throughout the day and then reward them when they go to the bathroom in the right place. 

Toilet training products can assist you a great deal. Crates, sprays, mats, and pads all offer unique benefits that can help speed up the process. 

Don’t worry: even if it feels like you’ve been toilet training your puppy for an eternity, you will eventually get there. All dogs eventually learn to go to the toilet in the right place.