How to House Train a Puppy

The journey of house-training puppies can be a nervous time for pet owners, but it’s imperative that you do it right to ensure you’re nurturing a well-behaved pet.

If you’ve never done this before, it can quickly feel overwhelming, especially if you’re house-training a puppy when you work. Fortunately, if you have an early understanding of the average time it takes to house-train a puppy, as well as some tried and tested methods, you can make the process much more manageable.

To help you help your pet with their new bathroom routines, we have compiled a complete guide on the various aspects of puppy house training, including common strategies, cues to use, and the ages to get started

Puppy toilet training
Puppy toilet training
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Understanding your dog: Insights from Kimberley Nicolle, Qualified Force-Free Dog Trainer

Useful tips on how to help your new puppy with toilet training.

What are the Best Methods to Help with House Training Puppies?

A good owner is always looking for the best ways to look after their puppy. When house-training, there are some gentle, effective methods to try, including:

  • Puppy Training Pads
    Pet training pads, sometimes described as puppy pads or ‘pee pads’, offer a temporary solution while you are puppy toilet training. These pads allow your puppy to relieve themselves in a spot approved by you.


  • Puppy Toilet Training Schedule
    To help young pups as they learn puppy toilet training skills, you can create a puppy toilet schedule. This schedule can involve establishing habits, including taking your puppy out first thing in the morning, last thing at night, upon waking from a nap and after eating or drinking.


  • Puppy Feeding Schedule
    Establishing a puppy food schedule can help with learning important puppy toilet training skills. Rather than offering large meals to puppies, it is recommended that you offer several smaller meals as part of a regular eating schedule. Following consistent puppy feeding times will help you pre-empt their toileting needs and can also be a helpful way to track their digestive health. Keep in mind that these small and more frequent meals are a great opportunity to add regular enrichment to your puppy’s life. Using creative ways to deliver these meals will help ensure your puppy is mentally stimulated.


  • Dog Cues for Toilet Training
    Creating associations are a key part of helping form puppy toilet training habits. You can even start pairing a verbal cue with your puppy’s toileting. Using cues such as ‘go toilet’ will help your puppy associate these words or sounds with going to the toilet. Every time you take your puppy to relieve themselves, use the same verbal cue so that they develop an association with it and understand that this is the time to go to the toilet.


  • Positive Reinforcement
    Using positive reinforcement is the most effective and successful way of toilet training puppies. Your pup will quickly realise that going to the toilet in the assigned spot is rewarded. This positive reinforcement could present itself in the form of whatever your puppy finds most rewarding. Individual puppies may have different preferences. For food-motivated puppies, tasty puppy treats work well. Other puppies may be motivated by tactile interaction and play, where the reward could be to play with and pet your puppy (e.g., tummy rubs).


Would you like to read more about dog training?

Click here for our dog training guide, filled with helpful suggestions to get you started.

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  • What is the quickest way to house train a puppy?

    When it comes time to house training puppies, each dog will be different. In fact, the average time to house-train a puppy can be from a few weeks to between four and six months. If you’re looking for the best and quickest way to house-train a puppy, you must set them up for success. As your puppy normally relieves themselves when the need strikes, take them outside every two hours until they have finished their business and associate the act with a specific spot. Introduce your cues during the process and progressively create a schedule for when they wake up, after meals, and before bed. If you are house-training a puppy when you work, you can use the puppy training pads until you get home.

  • How to house train a puppy in 5 days?

    It's a tall order to fully house-train puppies in just five days, but you can establish solid groundwork by tapping into their instincts, particularly to do their business in a location far away from where they sleep. Consistency is key here, so if you can, attempt this over a weekend and take some time away from work or other responsibilities. You can then follow these steps:

    1.    Preparation: Dedicate 5 days for continuous supervision, equipping yourself with treats, puppy pads, a leash and anything else you might need.
    2.    Reinforcement: Applaud outdoor bathroom use with praise and treats. If accidents happen indoors, swiftly relocate the puppy outdoors without admonishing them.
    3.    Confinement: Use their crate or bed for sleeping and absence periods (surrounded by puppy pads), but immediately post-wake or return, escort the puppy outside.
    4.    Scheduling: Employ reminders and verbal cues to ensure regular outdoor visits, especially early morning and before bed.
    5.    Monitoring: Observe closely for telltale signs like floor-sniffing, signalling an immediate need for an outdoor trip. Limit feeding and drinking a couple of hours before bedtime to aid in overnight control.

    While challenging, this approach fosters quick bonding and efficient puppy house training. Remember, whenever you are trying to train your dog, patience and understanding is vital to achieve lasting results.

  • At what age should a puppy be house trained?

    Puppy house training can start as soon as you bring them home – add it to your new puppy checklist! 
    Remember that this process demands time and patience, so it is important not to rush your puppy as they adjust to their new environment. Don’t expect overnight results; instead, give them the routine, tools and care they need to feel comfortable in their new home and progress at their own pace.

    If you are having trouble finding the best way to house-train your puppy, despite a positive and consistent approach, it is best to speak to your vet to rule out underlying medical issues.


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