Toilet Training

Different Breeds

Some breeds are more ready to toilet train than others. In general German Shepherd Puppies can’t wait to move outside to toilet from a young age, whereas Jack Russell Terriers just nick behind a chair before you even realise.

In fact most of the working breeds are fairly straightforward whereas the Terriers seem a little reluctant to work to your schedule. Big breeds have big wee, little breeds have little wee, little breeds can wee without you even realising thus making it harder to train.

Ask for some History

Ask the breeder or pet shop what they have done to prepare puppy for toilet training. Was pup kept on concrete, grass, litter? Where could the pup toilet? How large an area was the puppy raised? Unfortunately pet shops and puppy farms keep pups in a small area and have to go to the toilet where they play and sleep. Breeders will often make an effort to prepare pup for their new home but some breeders house pups in separate kennel blocks, therefore puppies are not inside the house to learn how to find the outside grass area.

Knowing some of the history may help but generally you will find once puppy is in a new environment they are just ready to pee where they happen to be.

LIMIT INTERNAL AREA – Initially when you bring pup home you need to limit where in the house pup will be allowed to wander on his own. Erect barriers to prevent pup moving off to different rooms. Perhaps pup is allowed in the family room and kitchen area. Ideally the indoor area would have a hard surface (slate, tile, timber). Decide on an area in this space (near the back door is ideal) and set up a Toilet Tray.

WHAT IS A TOILET TRAY? – Simple put this is a tray that you train pup to use for his toilet. The tray is mobile which allows you to relocate at your convenience. (Once he has understood the concept of the tray). Ideally you should use different textured surface for the toilet tray than the room flooring. If you have hard surfaces perhaps Tennis Court Mat, for carpeted rooms you could use kitty litter.

Body Signs Pending Toilet

Your puppy will display distinct body language of being ready to go to the toilet. If you have spent the time observing your pup you have seen and can recognise these signs. Should your dog have an accident inside then try to think about what signs he gave before he actually went into the toilet posture. This will give you a guide to help you prevent further accidents. Generally most dogs have a basic body position but of course there are always some individual variations.

Pups pee often during the day so it is easy to have accidents. Pup is usually lying down and then gets up and walks off a little way from where he was dozing. You then see how he steps his back feet wider apart, his backdrops straight down and often raises his head slightly. “Ahhhhh” says pup as he relieves himself, “that feels better”. (a male puppy doesn’t lift his leg until he is at least 7 months or even much later with larger breeds.)

The pup will generally only poo four or five times a day. After you feed your pup, you will notice they become fairly active, take him for a wander around the garden off lead and within about 5 minutes of activity he is likely to need a poo. Again you will see a pattern of body language. Pup will usually push their head forward and perhaps slightly downward and then arch the back. The tail will look stiff and perhaps vibrate slightly. Often pup will be moving their feet, just little short steps, prior to actually performing the job. Fairly easy warning signs.
To teach them about the indoor toilet tray then watch for when they position for a poo, then pick pup up and place them on the toilet tray. Use your hands to lightly block pup moving off the tray. Avoid picking pup up once they are placed on the toilet tray.

Work Quietly

If you use your voice in these early stages you run the risk of distracting pup from what they are doing. Just let the pup operate and physically move them quietly. Once pup gets to the stage of moving to the toilet area on their own accord, they have started to understand. Now you can praise pup (Quietly- ONCE THEY HAVE FINISHED). You can even give pup a treat and they will start to see that going to toilet on the toilet tray was a really good idea.


If your pup is going to the toilet inside then it is likely he/she would go to a particular spot in the house. Usually pup will choose a spot that is a bit out of the way. Place the Toilet Tray in that spot. When pup looks like they want to go to the toilet, then place the pup on the tray. Once pup is using the Tray consistently you can then move the Tray (but only short distances at a time.) Persevere quietly and before long you can have the Tray positioned near the back door. The next step is to take the tray outside and then you are likely to have puppy going to the door and waiting so they can go outside.

Think of toilet training from the pup’s perspective.

Scenario 1 – Puppy sleeps, wakes up gets out of bed and within a few minutes needs to wee. Just like us humans really. Occasionally they are distracted and forget what they were doing but within another couple of minutes pup will squat and pee.

Scenario 2 – Puppy is exploring the yard and might be due to have another pee but has become distracted, running and playing, you bring pup inside and suddenly remembers the need to pee, whoops! Pup doesn’t have time to go outside again, so just squats and pees.

Scenario 3 – Puppy has been inside, perhaps lying in their bed snacking on a treat ball. You call pup out for dinner. YeeHaw Food! thinks puppy, Pup scoffs dinner down and even licks the bowl. Now the tummy is really full, pup walks around for about five minutes and then wanders over to a spot where he can have a nice quiet poo.

These scenarios show you that there are three main times your pup is likely to need the toilet.

  1. A few minutes after waking up.
  2. A few minutes after strong playing.
  3. Perhaps five minutes after a meal.

When Things Don’t Go To Plan

Every time your puppy has an accident it will delay your toilet training program. But don’t worry it is only a delay. Just think about what happened, what signs you missed and continue on with your program. Persevere, you will teach pup to toilet where you want.

Set-backs with older pups. Sometimes pup’s training has been going beautifully but then perhaps when the pup gets to around 6 months old you start getting accidents again. Don’t worry too much just keep an eye on the dog and look for the warning signs and start the same schedule.

Contact Alfoxton Dog Centre to find ouT more

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