Dogs can reach adulthood without ever being properly house trained, through no fault of their own. If pets are properly toilet trained as puppies, it's better for everyone – you don’t have to worry about your dog going to the toilet somewhere they shouldn’t, and your dog doesn’t have the confusion or worry of not knowing where it should go.
You can attend puppy training classes, but with time and patience it’s also possible to train your pet yourself. On average, it takes between four and six months to fully house train a puppy, but for some dogs it might take up to a year.
Take your puppy outside to the chosen place in your garden as soon as you get up, last thing at night, and regularly throughout the day.
Let your puppy walk around and sniff, as this will help to prompt them going to the toilet. Avoid playing with them, though, as this will distract them.
If your puppy hasn’t been to the toilet after five minutes, bring them back inside, but repeat this process after 10 minutes. Make sure you are aware of what your puppy is doing when you’re inside.
Don’t leave your puppy outside, as they probably won’t want to be left alone and will focus on getting back to you rather than learning to go to the toilet. You will also have no idea if they have been to the toilet or not.
When you come back inside, if your puppy seems restless, starts sniffing the floor or circling, take them out into the garden to go to the toilet.
When your puppy does go to the toilet, give them some praise.
Patience and persistence are the most important things when toilet training a puppy. Keep at it and eventually they will learn.
Expect your puppy to have several accidents when they are learning. Like young children, they're easily distracted and excited, and this combined with a tiny bladder means accidents are bound to happen. Don’t punish them – just clean it up quietly and continue the process.
If you have an adult dog that isn’t fully house trained, you may need to break their current toilet habit before making a new one.
This is done by thoroughly cleaning the areas where your dog has ever been to the toilet, as they use their sense of smell to judge where they should go. If they smell that they have been to the toilet somewhere, they'll go there again.
Since dogs have such a sensitive sense of smell, they'll be able to smell that they've been somewhere even if you can’t smell it.
If there are any areas in your house where your dog has been to the toilet in the past, clean them thoroughly with biological washing powder dissolved in some warm water. This will remove the smell, so your dog is less likely to think of that as a place to go.
Take your dog outside as soon as you get up, last thing at night, and regularly throughout the day. Let your dog walk around and sniff, but don’t distract them by playing.
If your dog hasn’t been to the toilet after five minutes, come back inside, but repeat this process after 20 minutes. Make sure you keep one eye on what your dog is doing when you’re both inside.
If your dog seems restless, starts sniffing the floor or circling, take them back outside to go to the toilet.
Give your dog plenty of praise when it does go to the toilet.
The sooner you get into a routine with your puppy or dog, the sooner they'll learn what to do when it comes to going to the toilet. Be patient and persevere, and you'll get there with time!