Blog | Toilet Training Your Puppy
07 Oct
October 07, 2019 | Categories: Puppy Care and Training


5 common mistakes pet owners make when housetraining their puppies

Toilet training a pup is a relatively easy process. Yet, most puppy owners struggle to get their pup to toilet in the correct place. Simple mistakes can complicate the process and prolong the process. Here are a few errors puppy owners make when housetraining their pups.

Mistake 1 – No established routine

This is where most puppy owners get it wrong. Puppies have a strong urge to eliminate after sleeping, playing, feeding and drinking. If you are very careful about taking the pup to the chosen toilet spot, or outside (depending on whether the pup has completed its inoculations) to relieve itself after every meal, every time that it wakes up (after even the shortest nap), and just as it starts playing, then the house-training phase of a dog’s development is usually complete in a matter of a few weeks.

At first the visits to the toileting spot will be made at random intervals, dictated mainly by the sleeping/eating/drinking patterns of the pup. But if the pup is fed and exercised at fixed times, then its body clock will be regulated to perform its natural functions at specific times, thus making it easier for you to take the pup to its toileting area at those times.
Problems usually arise if the owner does not spend enough time with the puppy during the first weeks in its new home, allowing ‘accidents’ to occur and consequently bad habits to form.

Mistake 2 – No fixed toileting place

Rather than allow your pup to soil anywhere, it makes it easier for her and you, if she has a particular toilet spot. Choose an area to which your pup can have free access at any time of the day (the bathroom or a balcony make convenient spots). For most puppies it is not the area that is important when toileting, but the surface they toilet upon. When they are with their mother she teaches them to avoid toileting in places where they eat and sleep. It is important to ask the breeder what surface the pups slept on and what was their preferred toileting surface. For example, if your pup sleeps on paper, it is unlikely to toilet on the same surface, and may prefer to toilet on a coir mat or a piece of cloth, instead. So make sure the area you choose is well away from your dog’s bowl and bed and is of a different texture than its bed.

The next time your pup makes a puddle, place a couple of sheets of newspaper down to absorb it and place these on your chosen spot. The smell will give the pup the message that this area is the toilet.

Mistake 3 – Wrong diet and feeding times

A dog that is snacking through the day is likely to toilet frequently, thus making it difficult for you to take her to your chosen spot. When house training a pup it is imperative to feed it at fixed times to help set a routine. The dog’s diet also plays a major role in toilet training. For instance, feeding your dog a premium, easily digestible diet will reduce the frequency and size of bowel movements, thus making it easier for you to toilet train your dog. Whether you feed your dog a home cooked meal or commercial dog food, make sure the diet is a balanced one and agrees with her constitution. If your dog is toileting very frequently, consult your vet to check if the animal is sick or needs a change in diet. Remember, any changes should be done gradually to avoid upsetting the pup’s tummy.

Mistake 4 – Praise, don’t punish

Puppies are like babies. They make mistakes until they are completely housetrained. This is normal and you should not be upset with your pup if this happens during the first several weeks of housetraining. If your pup has an accident in the house while you are there, you can only reprimand her if you catch her in the act. It is then usually sufficient to scold her verbally. Then clean it up and continue with the program. Forget hitting or yelling at the pup and never rub the pup’s nose in its mistakes. While that may make you feel better, it has no training value at all.

A dog does not have the ability to relate punishment after the act with the act, so a pup that makes a mess and comes wiggling up to you, then gets her nose rubbed in the mess, cannot figure out why she was punished for wiggling up and greeting you. Your dog needs to know that you are going to teach her where to go and that you are not going to punish her for making mistakes.

Mistake 5 – Not being consistent

Housetraining a pup can be challenging, frustrating and requires plenty of patience and consistency. Toileting can be achieved within one week if the owner is conscientious about the process. But if you follow the rules for a few days then go lax for a week, the process will take ages to show results.
The key to avoiding accidents is to supervise your puppy as much as possible during the housetraining process. Watch for signs that she needs to go out, such as squatting, sniffing around or circling. If you see these signs, immediately take her to her potty spot.

If you have been making a few mistakes in your toilet training, the points above should put you back on the right track. Follow the rules consistently and the results will show within a fortnight.