How To House Train Your Dog

Learning something new can take time, and the same thing applies to a dog  who has never been toilet trained. Luckily, the team at Willy & Dilly have loads of experience when it comes to training dogs both indoors and outdoors. With patience, consistency and commitment, you too can house train your dog by following these tips. 

Create a Training Routine

In order for a dog to understand that they are being house trained, you need to establish a routine.. They need to adapt to when their feeding and bedtimes are, but most importantly - they  should also learn when it’s time to go to the toilet and where.  

Roughly, a puppy will be able to control their bladder for an hour to its month-old age. For example, if a puppy is 3 months old, it could hold its bladder for 2-3 hours. But it is best not to let your puppy go no longer than this time or you can almost guarantee that an accident will happen.

Here’s some top tips on how to establish your house training routine:

Take your puppy outside to the garden, often.

Or to the area where you wish them to get used to going to the toilet. Key times for this can include, in the morning, before bed and before and after feeding.

Help them choose a spot to ‘go’. 

If being outside is all too exciting or overwhelming, for your puppy - try taking them out on their lead into your garden and walk them over to a suitable spot. When they are giving it a go, you can try to use a word or phrase that you wish to add to your training so your dog can start to relate the word with going to the toilet. 

Immediately use positive praise when your puppy successfully ‘goes’ outdoors. 

It’s important to make sure you give the praise or treat straight away after the success, this will teach your dog that going outdoors to the toilet is how they are rewarded. Giving praise when your dog returns inside might cause confusion or the puppy could get distracted.

Consistently take your dog to the same spot outdoors.

Your dog will begin to recognise that this is where they need to go when they ‘need to go’. Again, reward with praise, or even a treat!

Regularly feed your puppy.

If you feed your puppy regularly, you can predict the times when they need to go. The ability to anticipate when your puppy needs to go will help make training easier on everyone involved.

Consider less water before bed.

If your puppy is having accidents during the night when you’re sleeping, consider decreasing the amount of water they get an hour before bed and offering toilet-time to them before going to bed for the night. Be sure that your dog is receiving enough water during the day as this is vital to your dog’s health. 

Signs Your Dog Needs the Toilet

To avoid accidents, you can learn your dog’s behaviour and anticipate when they need to go to the toilet. Signs that your dog might need to be taken to their toilet spot can include: pacing, circling, sniffing the ground with intent, whining, barking, going to the access door or squatting. They will appear fidgety and ready-to-go. (Especially after sleep and meal times!)

What to do if your dog has an indoor accident 

If your dog is unable to make it outside for one reason or another, try not to punish them. This can have several adverse effects including your dog being scared of you, scared to release and they can learn to hide from you when they need to go. Try the following instead...

If you see your dog about to try going to the toilet inside, try to call their name and interrupt them in an exciting way e.g. with a treat or Willy & Dilly toy, then try to get them into the garden or dedicated toilet-space. Praise your dog for successful completion. 

If you notice that your dog has gone to the toilet indoors but you weren’t there to catch your dog in the act, then you should clean it up and not make it too much of a fuss. There is no value in trying to punish your dog for a previous accident unless you were there to see them do it. This is because they won’t remember going to the toilet there and it will only cause them to distrust you over time.

If you have tried to establish a good training routine for your dog and they are still struggling to go anywhere but inside, your dog may have an underlying issue that can require the advice of a veterinarian. A dog can have issues related to stress or dietary problems which can cause them difficulty with house training. A puppy can be trained from early days whereas a rescue or more mature dog may require extra training and trust to be established.

Related blog: Tips For Training Your Dog