One issue that always comes up with new puppy owners is toilet training. Firstly you have to keep in mind that a puppy won’t have full control over its bladder or bowels until it’s approx 4-6 months old, and of course this can be shorter or longer, each pup is an individual.
- As soon as he/she wakes in the morning
- After each meal
- As soon as puppy wakes from a nap
- After any inside play or training sessions
- Whenever you see puppy circling and sniffing the ground with an odd look in his/her eye.
When puppy toilets in the correct place, give lots of praise and a food treat. Use a word or phrase like “go toilet” or ‘empty” and give this command as soon as you see puppy squat, so he/she will start associating that word with the act of toileting. As soon as he/she’s finished give lots of praise for a job well done. Using this positive reinforcement, it won’t take too long for the puppy to make the connection in its mind between toileting and the outside.
Be prepared for accidents – they will happen. Never punish your puppy, this will just confuse him/her. Simply clean up the mess calmly and quietly with no interaction with your pup whilst doing so. This may mean putting puppy gently outside or into its crate (if you have one) whilst you attend to the accident. By giving no attention to the puppy when he has a toileting accident, you can be sure he/she is not doing it just for attention. Also, if a puppy is punished for toileting inside, they just learn not to go in front of you inside, and may then start sneaking off to another place inside where you can’t see it happening.
Never rub your puppies nose in its urine – this ‘old wives tale’ is inhumane and will only frighten and confuse the pup.
When you have to leave the puppy alone at home, leave him/her in a small confined area with bedding in one corner and newspaper or absorbent pads (for toileting on) as far away from the bedding as you can as canines don’t like to toilet where they sleep. Again, clean this up calmly and quietly with no interaction with the puppy whilst doing so.
Remember – owning a dog should be a mutually rewarding experience. Forming a trusting bond with your puppy and giving him the correct information so he elects you as his leader will ensure this will happen.
“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.” – Edward Hoagland