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Bringing home a new puppy is such an exciting moment, and one you’ll never forget! Although there’s a lot to learn, one thing you’ll want to get started with as soon as they step paws into your home is puppy toilet training.
You’ll soon discover that puppies pee a lot – sometimes more than 12 times a day! It’s your job to guide them so they don’t make mistakes, work out when they need to go outside, and teach them what to do once they get there. And of course, reward them every time they get it right.
Keep reading to discover how to toilet train a puppy in 7 days (UK), how long it takes to toilet train a puppy and learn how to notice the warning signs of when nature calls. Remember, consistency is key!
When to toilet train a puppy
You should start toilet training your puppy from the first moment they come home. With puppies that have come from a breeder, this is usually around 8-9 weeks old – although in tiny breeds this might be 12 weeks old.
You want to teach them where the toilet is from the very beginning of your life together to prevent confusion.
If you’re training an older dog, you should also start as soon as they come home. Designate their toilet area before they come home so everyone knows where they are going.
The importance of a toilet area during puppy toilet training
The toilet area should be close to the house and separately fenced from the rest of the garden. You ideally want to separate the ‘play’ part of your puppy-proofed garden and the ‘toilet’ part. makes it look and smell different to the rest of the garden, so your puppy will learn to recognise it and use it in preference to other parts of the garden.
This area should be grass as puppies like to go somewhere natural and soft (and absorbent) rather than concrete or paving.
An important part of toilet training a puppy is to keep their toilet area clean by clearing up every day. While the smell of the toilet area will encourage them to use that space, leftover mess can put them off, and they may look for other areas to do their business. No one likes a dirty toilet!
How long does it take to toilet-train a puppy?
It is almost impossible to predict as every puppy will take a different length of time to become fully toilet trained. With a medium-sized breed to large-sized breed puppy, and a lot of consistency and rewards (and you getting up in the middle of the night), they should be able to sleep through the night within a week or two – but they are still a long way from being toilet trained!
With a small breed puppy, this will take longer as their digestive systems are so tiny and not yet developed.
For most dogs, it will take between four to six months for your puppy to be fully reliable but it will depend on their size, age and ability to learn – and most importantly, on how consistent you are, how much you prevent mistakes and reward successes, and how mindful you are.
Some puppies can learn how to be toilet trained really quickly in only a few weeks, whereas for some dogs it may take longer and could be up to a year. Often smaller breeds take longer as they have tiny digestive systems and can’t hold on for very long, and dogs who have been reared in a kennel environment rather than in the home can also take a bit longer as they don’t yet understand the rhythms of the home or that there are places they are not meant to go to the toilet.