Toilet training your pup or your adult dog is a must, your dog wont figure it out by themselves and nor should they be expected to. The first step is to understand the basic premise of dog training that is that the dog will only work for one of two influences.
To gain reward or to avoid punishment.
This is typical Hedonistic behaviour and this premise can be used to train just about anything. When training your dog though, I find it unfair to use punishment with a dog that does not know what is required of it and the fallout can be hazardous.
Having a “clean” dog starts with the breeder, when we are breeding dogs, I have a rule that the whelping box must be kept spotless at all times.
This sounds like a reasonable thing to do but I can tell you why most breeders don’t do it. It takes constant vigilance. When a litter is born, the female will clean up after the puppies. We don’t expect her to do this all by herself, so we use Vetbed on the floor of the whelping box.
We have several different sheets of Vetbed and these are changed often. They are then washed to be reused again. Every morning we also wipe over the entire whelping box surface with F10, a powerful disinfectant, the only one that will kill the Parvo Virus.
As the pups grow and wean onto solid food, we do not expect nor want our females to eat the pups stools and as she is not with them at all times, we clean up all solids as soon as we see them. We have cameras that watch our whelping room every minute of every day, and as soon as anyone here notices the pups have toileted, it is cleaned.
When the pups move from the whelping box to walking around the whelping room, that room is mopped a few times per day, every day.
They are then transferred to an outdoor run with whelping room access. It is at this stage we rarely have any mess in the whelping room. Pups have become accustomed to being clean and not live around their own waste. It is now unpleasant to be around it and this forms the negative aspect of toilet training mistakes for a puppy.
This is a lot of work but every pup I have ever bred is a clean dog with almost no effort from the puppy buyer.
Pups that I have bred never came into this world walking through their own faeces before they even opened their eyes; this makes a big difference to how the pup and adult dogs view their own waste. We want the pup to be uncomfortable around its own waste, meaning it will prefer to toilet away from where it sleeps and eats.
I have consulted with a number of clients over the years that have had very tough times getting their dog house trained, in all these cases, the dog was not at all concerned about its own waste and was happy to lay in it or sleep with it.
We also have a course that we run for Breeders that help them understand this and many other aspects of breeding great temperament dogs and preparing them for life with their new people.
Now before we move along to the training, I always use some equipment to help me achieve great results fast. I crate train the pup as soon as it gets to my home. This gives me a place to put the pup or adult dog when I cannot supervise all of the time, and if the dog makes a mistake, until I notice and get him out, the “punishment” if you can call it that is that the dog is in close proximity with its own waste. The crate needs to be just big enough for the dog or pup to lie down and relax, it isn’t a play pen.
I also use a my phone as a timer, this allows me to plan toilet breaks for my dog on a schedule and stops time slipping away.
Know this: – Dogs eliminate after they have slept, eaten or exercised, so it becomes predictable when the dog will need to go to the toilet. Remember that when a pup needs to toilet and they do, this is called “relieving themselves”. Relief is a reward so every mistake puts you further behind.
I crate the pup or dog and I use the following time scale to take the dog to the place I want him to toilet.
Pups 8 weeks – 12 weeks
I set my timer during daylight, non standard sleep times for 60 minutes. I take the pup outside every 60 minutes on leash until it toilets. When it does I set the next time for 2 hours.
Pups 12 weeks – 20 weeks
I set my timer to remind me every 2 hours until as above the dog toilets, and then I set the next time for two hours.
Dogs 20 weeks – adult
I set the timer for 2 hours, when the dog toilets, I just reset it for two hours through the daytime.
If I won’t be home through the day, the pup stays outside in the yard or the pen, which ever you have chosen.
We need to have a verbal cue chosen that were going to use when we want to encourage the dog to toilet. You can use outside, toilet, pee pee, whatever takes your fancy.
Ok so we have a clean dog, we have a crate and we have a timer, we have put the pup in the crate and we either see a sign the pup needs to toilet or our timer says it is time to go outside. I leash up the pup, this is important so you can stop the pup running around the house and having an accident, it’s also important so you can show the pup or dog where it should toilet.
We walk outside with the dog and go to the spot. We stand still, say nothing, we don’t allow the pup to search the yard for the golden blade of grass, but rather keep it on a loose leash but we don’t move.
I give the pup 10 minutes to go, if it doesn’t we go back to the crate for the times above. If it does here is the important part.
The pups or dogs starts to eliminate, we have a toilet cue in the back of our mind ready to go, it is at this time we verbally praise our dog, such as “good boy, good toilet, good boy”.
Sound impressed, sound “rewarding”. You can use a clicker to mark the right action too if you’re going to clicker train.
Allow pup to finish and run him back inside, by all means give him a treat now when he gets inside and remind him again “good toilet”. Crate or pen pup again.
Now we have developed the following:
We have a dog that is in its crate, not having accidents that it can leave behind for you, make a mistake in the crate, and you have to live with it for a while.
We have a clean dog that doesn’t like its waste so we have a correction or negative stimulus for toileting here.
We have a reward system that teaches the dog that if you go where I say, you will get rewarded.
Your have basically taken advantage of the dogs need to eliminate, added a cue and reward, now you can instigate the action with the cue.
I also like to take advantage of the new cue, if I am walking my dog & he pulls up in an appropriate place and begins to toilet, I let loose with some praise “good boy, good toilet”. I can just as well use the other end, if say he pulls up and attempts to go on a shop front for example. I would be “no toilet” and I would guide him with the leash away and to another area that was fine and give the toilet command there, followed by the rewards etc
Most people will find that in a number of days their dog is becoming more and more reliable on the toilet command, and if they have been vigilant, there have been no accidents.
If you are sleeping the pup inside the crate over night, one way to help the pup have a thorough night’s sleep is to use our Snuggle Puppy. These are a great device we have to help the pup still feel that it is sleeping with the litter, and has not been separated. They help the pup sleep which in turn helps you sleep.
Remember when you put the puppy in the crate to sleep at night, there must be no good reason the puppy should need to come out before morning, this means you have checked this list: –
- The pup has toileted within the last hour, both solid and liquids.
- The pup is tired because you have been playing with the pup and or training it in this last hour.
- The crate is the right size for your pup and does not have any active toys in the crate.
- The pup has been given a drink two hours ago and then the option of drinking removed.
- The crate is not cold or too hot, the pup is comfortable.
If the above criteria has been met the pup should be able to maintain 8 hours over night in no time.
Things you should not do
- I don’t recommend puppy pads or newspaper to teach the pup to toilet on, this just teaches the dog that it is ok to toilet in the house, when it clearly is not.
- I don’t expect the dog to use a dog door until it knows that toileting outside is the right idea.
- Do not punish the dog or rub its nose in its waste, this is just dumb! Punish yourself for not being vigilant.
If you have persisted through the above and still do not have a dog that is reliably house trained in 4 weeks for a puppy, 2 weeks for an adult, some reasons may be.
The dog is an entire male; it is marking rather than urinating. The crate will help with this but also you may need to consider a belly band. These control marking reasonably well whilst your getting a handle on the training.
There is an underlying smell of urine and your dog is covering it. There are a number of products on the market today and you can also make your own, that will cover this smell.
If the dog cannot hold its urine for any length of time, you can see the dog knows to go outside but it either seems to leak or just cannot hold its urine. In this case there may be a medical problem, your dog could have a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) in which it will need to see a Vet or it could have weakness in the bladder area. There is a product that has shown some great result called Propalin, look this up.
In the end, medical problems aside, most dogs can easily hold on 10 – 12 hours in ideal circumstances. If you just cannot get your problem sorted, best to bring this up on the forum.
The end result is that your puppy should begin to toilet and look at you, it is looking at you after starting looking for your approval.
Make a big deal of it, because it IS a big deal.