Dogs are by nature clean animals so toilet training is something they catch on to pretty fast and once the correct behaviour is established , it is retained.
Puppy’s rely on their mothers to stimulate them to urinate and defecate during their first few weeks of life. She does this by licking them and as they relieve themselves she eats what they produce. By doing this it allows her to keep the nest area clean and dry. As the puppies develop and become more mobile they start to eliminate without the need of their mother stimulating them. This usually coincides with them beginning to wean. What is amazing when you observe pups at this age they actually wobble off to an area away from where they sleep to relieve themselves! This behaviour appears to be governed by instinct and can be developed by ourselves, as owners to enable us to have a toilet trained dog.
When a pup leaves the litter and is welcomed into her new home one of the first tasks for the owner is to toilet train her. Now this on the surface appears simple but just stop and take time to consider this from the puppies perspective.
Your puppy has entered a totally new environment , with new people and has been taken away from everything and everybody she has known throughout her entire life so far- immense changes which when you think about it are pretty stressful.
Further more when you break down the components your puppy needs to learn to master toilet training you will realise why it is so vitally important to be patient. Its not just a simple case of eliminating outside!
Your puppy needs to learn:
where to go to the toilet.
when she gets the urges to go to control it and hold it.
to communicate to you- a different species, that she needs to relieve herself.
The secret to success is routine, consistency and patience.
How to Teach Your Puppy-Target Training.
The method I have found to undoubtedly be the quickest and most successful is what I call ‘Target Training’. This method mimics the natural behaviour from the litter and teaches them to go outside to relieve them self.
The advantages of target training:
it is very hygienic as your dog uses a set area
as everything is in one area its easy to clean up
as you are present its easy to teach your dog a cue word, this can then transfer to other locations
it also means you are able to praise your dog at exactly the right time which will aid her understanding
With a puppy you need to be vigilant and watch for tell tale signs that she needs to go to the toilet. These indicators can be sniffing, circling and/ general unrest, but all pups are different. Take time to get to know the signs with your individual pup so you can indentify them. Puppies are not physically developed to hold themselves for any length of time so you need to monitor your pup closely. Restrict where your puppy has access to, as this will ensure she can’t disappear into another room away from you, causing you to miss the signals and she makes a mistake.
Key times to take your puppy out are:
when she wakes up
if she hasn’t been for a while
I use this in combination with a crate which i use for over night and for short periods when the puppy is unattended.
I’m often asked how long does it take to toilet train a puppy? The answer is there is no set rule. All puppies are different. I hear of pups who at 8 weeks pick it up immediately but on the flip side I come across pups who can be as old a 20 weeks before the behaviour is reliably established. The most important factor tends to be the owner and how successful they are in reading their pup and establishing a routine.
Once your puppy become proficient you can then start to teach your puppy to signal to you when she needs to go out. You can chose how she does this. My dogs come to me, get my attention by looking at me then head to the door, look at me and return to me. There is a product produced by The Company of Animals which has bells on it. The idea is you hang it on the door and your dog jangles it when she wishes to be let out.
If your puppy squats inside and you are there quickly distract her and take her outside immediately. If you find your puppy has had an accident just clean it up and say nothing to your pup. Remember accidents and mistakes will happen this is normal no matter how vigilant you are. Under no circumstances ever chastise, punish or reprimand your puppy this is the worse thing you could possibly do it will cause the pup to be scared to go to the toilet in your presence and destroy your bond and relationship.