Puppies have no understanding of where they should be toileting, but with your help they can learn.
At this age they have very little control of their bladders so when they need to go, they go.
Puppies, on average, can control their bladder 1 hour for each month of age.
They will require plenty of opportunities to relieve themselves throughout the day. Through the night, they will also need to go and, although this may be an inconvenience, putting a routine in place will pay off and you can return to a better, less disturbed, nights sleep.
Toilet training puppies requires a lot of patience and consistency and is not always an easy task.
Here are some tips to help you:
When your puppy wakes up first thing in the morning, always take them straight outside and stand there silent and still until they’ve done both a wee and a poo. While you are outside with them watch for signs (like sniffing the ground, going around in circles and generally a little restless) which indicates they are ready to go.
Immediately, as they begin to go, you can add a cue word(s) you have chosen so they come to associate this word(s) with the action(s). Then, you can immediately reward them once they have finished.
If, after a while of being outside, they do not go then you can go back inside but do not leave them unsupervised as they may wander off and have an accident. After a few minutes take them back outside and try again. Keep repeating this process until they do go.
Approximately every 10-20 minutes after they have eaten, had a drink and been playing take them outside to go. Repeat the same process as before. Always make sure you give them lots of praise every time they go outside! This can be vocal, physical praise, a treat or even a play session. You may need to go through this process approximately 4-6 times a day.
Regular opportunities to go outside will take away the likelihood of them having an accident indoors.
The goal is that every time they go outside, they see this as an opportunity to go to the toilet, and the added bonus is they get a wonderful reward. Your puppy has a choice of going indoors or outside. If you make going outdoors really rewarding, they are more likely to repeat the behaviour.
When they are in the house, always try to watch them and catch any signs that they need to go, and immediately take them out. If you happen to turn and catch them about to have an accident, then try to go over to them and get them outside quickly. If they have already started, then leave them till they have finished.
Usually after a week or so, as long as you are consistent, they should begin to go outside on cue, but this routine must be carried out for several weeks before it becomes a habit for them, and accidents stop altogether.
Before it is their bedtime, take them outside to go the toilet. You will generally fall into a routine of a suitable bedtime for your puppy, which will coincide with their last wee/poo. You may also need to monitor how much they drink just before they settle down for the night.
While asleep their bladders will begin to fill and wake them up. Initially, you may find they just cannot hold it in and have an accident.
Getting up at regular intervals during the night and taking your puppy out to the toilet will minimise the risk of them waking up and needing to go in a hurry.
They may try to let you know they need to go, by crying or barking, it is important you respond by going to them and taking them outside.
As your puppy grows up, their bladder control will strengthen, and they will be able to go for longer periods of time in-between needing to toilet.
Attach their lead - whenever you take your puppy outside to relieve themselves, you may find they become distracted, run around etc and do not go. Attaching their lead/training line can help. This will keep your puppy from going off and doing something else. If they do not go then, leaving their lead, go back inside & take them out again after a few minutes & keep repeating until they do. This will also allow you to monitor their movements, giving them no opportunity to go off, get distracted and then have an accident.
Crate – using a crate can help them learn, puppies are highly unlikely to toilet in their sleeping area.
Accidents - even being diligent you should still expect occasional accidents indoors. You may be a few minutes being late taking them out, you don’t realise they are jumping/running around playing in another room (which can stimulate their bladder) and they can’t hold it in and you unfortunately were not there to see the signs. Accidents will happen, just please avoid getting upset.
Never punish or shout at them if they have an accident as this will just scare them. It can also result in them learning that if they need to go in the house, just to do it in another area, out of your sight to avoid your reaction.
If they do have an accident, be aware of what products you are using. Avoid anything which contains ammonia as this will attract them back to the same place to go again. Use a suitable disinfectant, which is safe to use around puppies. Always allow to dry before your puppy walks there.
For carpets, there are specialised products or, after blotting excess up, pour a solution of white vinegar & water (50/50) or biological washing powder in hot water (test on carpet in case it removes colour!) & scrub. Once dry, you can also sprinkle with a little baking soda then hoover.
It’s important to remove all smells, to deter them from returning to have an accident in the same place.