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Secrets to Successful Toilet Training


The 10 Secrets of Successful Toilet training

Toilet training is one of those things that every new puppy owner dreads and they want to be over with and sorted as fast as possible. There is so much conflicting advice out there, but how do you know what will work and what should you REALLY listen to?

At Happy Hounds for Life we help hundreds of puppy owners every year just like you to Settle in their Puppies with ultimate success and when you know how . . . toilet training can literally be a breeze so stay tuned and check out ALL our best kept secrets below. 

How Early can my puppy be Toilet Trained?

Toilet training begins the moment you bring your puppy home at 8 weeks old. If you action all of these tips your puppy will get the hang of it in the first few days.

  • by the end of the first week, 95% of toileting will happen outside.
  • most accidents can be avoided altogether.

How do you stop a puppy toileting in the house?

Puppies do not deliberately go to the toilet in the house to make you angry. We have to teach them where we would like them to go through:

  • positive training and communication.
  • reward for the right choices.
  • recognising cues and triggers.
  • setting up the home correctly for to help the puppy succeed.
  • responding in the right way if the puppy gets it wrong.
Get all the tips in this handy print out!

The Best Secrets for Success

There is so much to cover in this topic but you can enroll on our Successful Toileting Mini Course if you are keen to learn everything there is to know about toilet training. The important things are to set up your home correctly for best results, know what the cues and triggers are, how to respond if your puppy has an accident and take them out at regular intervals. Let’s get started with TIP Number One!

1. Correct Use of the Crate

Correct use of the crate is absolutely fundamental in speeding up successful toilet training. You can have success without it but if you want results fast, then positive crate training is the key.

  • the puppy needs to see the crate as an AMAZING place to be.
  • the bed MUST cover the whole base of the crate so it is only seen as a bed and not a toilet area.
  • DO NOT put puppy pads in the crate as these will only encourage the puppy to soil there.
  • to learn how to introduce the crate positively so your puppy will LOVE it, check out our FREE Settle your Puppy in 24 Hours Lesson.

2. Toileting Triggers

Being aware when your puppy might need to go to the toilet is really important as then you can be one step ahead and take them out before they have an accident. These times are:

  • after any sleep, nap or time in the crate.
  • after eating or drinking.
  • after greeting people.
  • after excitement, playing or running around.

3. Toileting Cues

The toileting cues are the things that your puppy will do as a sign that they need to go. To begin with, these will be very subtle, so subtle that you will probably miss them as thye will do them and then instantly toilet on the floor which is why we need to have all the other things covered to prevent the accidents in the house. Over a few days, your puppy will start to become more obvious in giving you cues that can include:

  • circling or sniffing the floor.
  • whining or looking unsettled.
  • standing near the door or looking at the door.
  • frantically searching around for somewhere to go especially for a poo.

4. Say NO to Puppy Pads

The biggest contradiction to teaching your puppy to go outside to the toilet is to put puppy pads everywhere. They say to your puppy that it is OK to toilet in the house. For fastest results do away with them completely and teach your puppy that the ONLY place toileting happens is outside.

5. Low Interaction Outside

It is really important that when you take them outside you do not interact with them until they have been, otherwise they will get distracted, not go and then remember when they get back inside. Instead:

  • Stand quietly and ignore them, no eye contact.
  • Wait for them to go and give them a chance for a wee and a poo.
  • When they have been give a treat and then play with them give lots of reward.
  • If not been after 5 minutes pop them back in the crate with a kong and wait for 15-20 minutes before trying again.

Play only happens after toileting outside!

6. Dealing with Accidents

You puppy will have an occasional accident over the first few days with you but how you respond dictates how smoothly the entire training process will go. The biggest thing if you remember nothing else from this whole post is to NOT GET CROSS OR SHOUT AT THEM or CERTAINLY NOT rub their nose in it! If you do . . . you will cause a HUGE level of anxiety, bring in negative associations to you and toileting and have situations where they are confused and will choose to hide and toilet away from you, often behind something like the sofa.

if you catch them in the act

Try and stop them with a clap or AH noise and encourage them to follow you outside to finish off and give lots of reward if they do.

if you Miss it and see an accident on the floor

DO NOTHING!! It is really hard but do not react, get cross, shout, look disapprovingly just clean it up and try again next time. This reduces the chance of inducing fear behaviours and your puppy at this stage would not understand what you are cross about.

7. Use a Low ammonia Cleaning Spray

The product you use to clean a soiled area can affect whether or not your puppy will take to soiling repeatedly over the cleaned area due to the scent remaining. The best way to clean it is with a low ammonia cleaner such as G9 that can normally only be purchased from your veterinary practice.

8. Do not carry them

A small but useful tip is to encourage your puppy to follow you outside from day one and not to carry them out to the toilet area. This just helps them to learn that they have to use their legs to get there and not rely on you to take them. Use a treat to encourage them to follow you if you need to or make it into a fun, lively game of catch me if you can as soon as it is time to go outside.

9. Supervision

As already mentioned, the crate plays a huge role in speeding up the process of toilet training. If the crate is set up correctly as 100% bed, they will not want to soil in there. Therefore, anytime your puppy is unsupervised, get them used to being in the crate with a food dispensing toy such as a kong to prevent them toileting when you are out of the room or you missing the cues. Unsupervised means:

  • anytime you leave the room
  • anytime you leave the house
  • anytime you are busy and not able to keep your full eye on them i.e. when cooking dinner
  • if you need to answer the door or take a phone call
Use the crate to your advantage and build up timings in there gradually. For more information on positive crate training see here.

10. Limit Exploration Space

If you give your puppy full run of the house from day one, it is going to be impossible to keep an eye on them for toileting cues and guidance. It can be really helpful to use baby gates or simply close doors to keep them in one area whilst they get the hang of it and become more reliable. Also consider keeping them downstairs to begin with so it is closer to the door to get outside and you will be able to keep an eye on them more easily thus preventing accidents when your back is turned.

I Waited Outside for half an hour and then my puppy came inside to toilet.

Only wait with them for 5 minutes, if they haven’t been and you know they need to, pop them back in the crate where they will not go and try again 15 minutes later. Repeat this until they have been then lots of play and interaction as reward.

Does my Puppy need to go to the Toilet During the Night?

Your puppy will need to learn to hold their bladder over night so will need you to wake them up once or twice for the first 2 or 3 nights for a toilet break. With correct positive crate training they should be able to hold on and sleep through the night 7/8 hours after 3/4 nights training. 



Toilet training can be made simpler and easier when you know precisely what action to take. Remember, no two puppies are the same so some take longer than others. Also if you have had your puppy a little while and toileting has not been straight forward, put these tips into practice right away – it might take a little longer to establish good toileting habits but these tools will certainly help you today!

You can learn lots more about this on our Successful Toilet Training Mini Course which is available at 60% off today! Check it out in this short video! 

 Please like and share this article with any one you know has a puppy.

Also remember to download your FREE Secrets to Successful Toileting Reminder sheet!



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