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How to toilet train your puppy

Updated: May 4, 2020

So you just brought your new adorable puppy home but now you are finding toileting accidents around the house? In this blog post we‘re going to run through the steps to successful puppy toilet training.

How to toilet train a puppy

Management and opportunities

The more opportunities you give your puppy to toilet outside the quicker your puppy will learn that going out side is the correct place to go. A puppy’s bladder is tiny and doesn't hold much liquid so your puppy will need to out roughly every hour to every 90 minutes. That means YOU need to be taking your puppy outside at least 12 times a day!

The most likely times will be after:

  • Sleeping

  • Playing

  • Training

  • Drinking

  • Meals

Puppy pens and Crates

Don’t give your puppy access to the whole house until he/she is house trained. By using a puppy pen or puppy crate you’ll help set your puppy up for success. If introduced correctly puppy pens and crates can be a great way to help with toilet training. They limit access to the rest of the house and if your puppy does have a accident then it’s in a puppy safe place rather than in your bedroom! Have a dedicated toilet area in your pen. I’d avoid using puppy pads and instead use something more natural to your puppy like a slab of grass, sand or pebbles in a puppy litter box. That way your puppy will be practicing weeing and pooing on an outdoor surface while in the pen at times you can't take them outside. By using puppy pads you are having to toilet train your puppy twice! Once to do it on a puppy pad and then to do it outside on the grass.

Every dog, every owner and every home is different. So I can help and advise on the best set up for you, your puppy and your home. Take a look at our training Puppy Packages or Contact us right away to see how we can help set you up for success

Reinforce the good stuff!

If you reward your puppy with a tasty treat each time they go to toilet outside your puppy will quickly start to make the connection that toileting outside = yummy treats.

Training tip: make sure that your timing the food reward with the desired behaviour. For example as soon as your puppy toilets outside reward them before they step away from their toileting area.

Don't stop training and rewarding your puppy too soon otherwise your pup could easily regress.

Never punish your puppy

If your puppy has an accident in the house NEVER punish your puppy! Telling your puppy off for doing something as natural and essential as toileting will be very stressful for your puppy. The “guilty look” that your puppy gives you when you punish them doesn’t mean they know it’s wrong its a sign that they are VERY stressed.

Instead just clean it up and make a note of the time that it happened so that you can take them outside in a short while. If you don’t take your puppy outside regularly then it’s not your puppy‘s fault if they have an accident in the house. It’s all on YOU to set your puppy up for success by taking them out regularly, spotting the signals that your puppy might need to go and setting up the environment to make it easier not to fail.

Why doesn’t punishment work?

Your puppy won’t make the connection that if they toilet in the wrong place they will get in trouble and to avoid the punishment they should go outside. Instead what your puppy is learning from the punishment is that going to the toilet in front of you is scary and he/she will start to hide away each time they need to wee or poo. This will make it a lot harder for you to reward your puppy for going in the correct place as they will refuse to go in front of you and instead when they need to relieve themselves they will do it in secret places. You will start to find accidents in corners of the room or behind sofas, under the bed etc.

Use the correct cleaning products

If your puppy has an accident in the house make sure you clean it up using the correct cleaning products. Dogs have a great sense of smell. If they can still smell their wee in the carpet then they are likely to go toilet in that spot of the house again. Use an enzymatic and pro-bacteria cleaning product which will remove the odour and stain.

Pets at Home Antibacterial Stain and Odour Remover

Simple Solution Urine Destroyer


If your sticking to the protocol above and your puppy is 16 weeks or older and he/she is still having a lot of accidents in the house then please take your puppy to the vets as they might have a urine infection.


I hope this blog post has helped you. At Cambridge Dog Services we offer puppy training packages for new puppy owners to help them settle their puppy into the family and help tackle many common puppy behaviour problems such as biting, recall, jumping up etc. To find out more about our training packages head over to:

Toilet Training Bells

Once your puppy is reliably going outside at least 95% of the time. You can train your puppy to ring a bell to be let outside. The advantage of bell ringing is so that if you are in another room and your puppy goes to the back door but does not get let out immediately they might have an accident in the house because you did not hear them scratch the back door or whine to be let out. Below is a YouTube video on how to train bell ringing or for a written step by step guide please click here.

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