House training a puppy in 5 days… it sounds wonderful: No sorcery, just a few tips, tricks and the slightest bit of patience.
On second thought, make that a large piece of patience.
In this blog, we’ll show you a simple 5-day schedule to help you jump start your puppy’s toilet training. The days of pursing your lips at the sight of a puddle in your living room will soon be over.
Before we start, here’s a list of props that will get you to a wee-free household, before you start house training your puppy:
- A well-defined and suitable puppy toilet area
- Puppy Training Treats – make sure they’re the good ones. Cut them into small pieces, and keep a pot near the toilet area so always have them at hand.
- Your puppy toilet trainer planner
- An enzyme cleaner (Simple Solution, Urine Off, and Wee Away are quite good)
- A confined space your puppy can use as a den. A crate or playpen will do. We don’t recommend The Cupboard Under the Stairs – they often come out as wizards.
- Patience. The day will come when your puppy will understand where to go to the loo. It won’t take forever!
How do I house train my puppy?
To toilet train your puppy, you’ll have to follow the same logic their mother has already taught them.
No not you, their other mother (the one with four legs). Especially when born inside a home-reared environment, puppies’ mothers have already done the first steps of toilet training for you by teaching that the toilet is not the same place they sleep, so they’ll need to move their bums from place to place.
When they arrive at your home, you’ll simply have to start off with the same lesson. Before your puppy gets home, make sure you decide on your puppy’s sleeping area and toilet area and we need to continue with that process as soon as we get them home.
Time needed: 5 days.
The first 5 steps to house training your puppy:
- Decide on a toilet area for your puppy
For puppies, the outdoors is as luxurious as it can get. A small outdoor area with grass or a soft surface close to your house is the ideal toilet area. Take your nightly toilet breaks into account when you’re deciding on it – it’s likely (quite definite) you’ll be getting out of the house in the middle of the night (yes – even when it’s raining cats and dogs) so make sure you don’t need to waddle on too long to get there.
If, like many of us, you do not have an outside area at your disposal, puppy toilet pads are a safe bet. Make sure you place them away from where they sleep so there’s no chance of confusion – puppy pads can be surprisingly soft.
- Introduce them upon arrival on the toilet area.
After a long and perhaps emotionally overloaded journey on their first day with you, it’s likely they’ll need to pop a round to the loo.
As soon as you get home, take them to the toilet and wait until they go. When they do, make sure to give them a reward for a job well done.
If they take a while, don’t take it personally; It doesn’t mean they’re being fussy about your idea of a toilet. There’s just simply too many interesting smells to explore. They’re probably just also busy questioning your taste in wall art too.
- Show them their den area.
After going for a wee, show them their den area. Whether it’s a crate or playpen, make sure it has everything they need to feel snug and cosy: some soft bedding, a water bowl, and some toys.
Remember that treats help make positive associations. Start making their den sound lush by feeding them rewards or even full meals inside of it. If you’re using a crate, don’t shut the door yet – you don’t want them to think you’ve trapped them in there, it wouldn’t be a great start.
- Let them poo after each meal
Everybody knows where the food goes after it’s eaten. After a good meal, take them to their toilet area so there’s no confusion about where they’re meant to go. You might notice them sniffing about for a while, but you’ll just have to be patient and wait until they manage to go (no tricks to work on your patience just yet – just take deep breaths).
When they make it, lavish them with lots of praise and treats to show them your excitement. You know, the kind you wish you got for the many things you do correctly in life.
- Bring them back inside and let them relax.
We can see your cheeky smile. We know you’re chuffed about your new mate, and playing with squeaky toys is probably what you want to do all night. However, it’s better to let them relax and explore their new home at their own pace for the first night. There will be plenty of other days to play!
- Keep a close eye
Avoid smelly accidents by taking them to the toilet after:
– Waking up
– Roughly every half an hour throughout the daytime
In fact, it’s just plain easier to say a toilet visit is due at the end of every activity. Just look at activities as chances for their bodies to do their thing – move the guts here and there – which will end up with them having to go to the loo. For puppies, activities are simply cues for going for a good poo afterwards.
After all of that, it’s off to Bedfordshire.
Tips on how to house train a puppy at night time
- Place their crate next to your bed
Make sure you get the size right – they should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably, but not really walkabout since this can sometimes end up in them going for a poo inside.
… Inconvenient 😬
- Set dinnertime at 6 or 7pm.
Any later, and you’ll find yourself wondering about in the middle of the night – either on promenades to your puppy’s designated toilet area, or to your cleaning supply cabinet to clean up the floor.
Keep water available at all times – yes, we know you know it’s a basic right. But also because usually, puppies who have reduced access to water can end up gulping before bed, so you’ll be facing a larger chance of them needing the toilet overnight.
- Before bed, get them moving.
Around an hour before you set off to a good night’s sleep, get them moving! Movement will encourage their bellies to form nice poops which can go BEFORE bed, and not during the night. Apologies for the vivid description, our intention is simply to provide accurate information.
Playing before bed also helps to tire them out, and a sleepy puppy is less likely to wake overnight.
- Get some downtime
Try putting a child to sleep mid-sugar rush. Impossible. Like children, enjoying a full night’s sleep is best accomplished after having some time to unwind and settle down. Read them a bedtime story. Lecture them about the status of Brexit – that should do it.
- One last chance for a toot
Just before bed, go down to the toilet area and give it a good go. Remember that patience is key to a house-trained puppy – keep your pecker up..
When it’s finally time to wave the day goodbye, place them in their crate next to your bed and slide into your own. Don’t forget to use the loo yourself, can’t have the two of you wetting the bed!
- Night-time toilet visits
For the first few nights, (let’s be honest, it can easily turn out to be the first few weeks) your puppy will need to go to the toilet in the middle of the night and in the early morning.
To make these toilet visits decrease in frequency with time, keep night-time toilet visits calm, quiet, and with low fuss. Take them to the toilet, and try your hardest to limit your praise to a gentle “that was ace!” whisper and a small treat. Then, return them to their bed quietly.
Prepare to get up bright and early at first. Like you may have already experienced, going for a wee as soon as you wake up feels rather good. Be ready to wake up early and get your puppy to their toilet area straight away, they will always need to go to the toilet when they wake up. Don’t go spending pennies yourself first – there will be accidents if there are any delays.
Be aware: Mistakes sometimes happen!
As you may have already realised, house training a puppy will be quite an adventure. And like any respectable adventure story, the suspense from the multiple things that can go wrong makes it rather exciting, frankly.
What we’re trying to say, is that at the end of the day, your puppy’s accidents are part of your story together. They’re also opportunities for improvement!
PRO TIP: Keep a record of mistakes on your planner, to be more aware of what needs work.
How to start your puppy’s house training routine
For puppy house training, it takes two to tango. The fastest way to succeed in house training your puppy is to keep both of you on a strict routine based on sleeping, eating, playing, and exercise, and toilet breaks.
Relax, we know it sounds like the army, but it’s not.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind for your routine.
- Feeding times
Toilet training is based on this simple idea: what goes in must go out.
Puppies have small digestive systems, so getting their feeding times on a regular schedule is key for more regular trips to the loo. For you, this might make it a lot easier to plan your day ahead for toilet breaks and playtime.
Give them twenty minutes to eat. If they eat, splendid. If they don’t, then no large snacks until their next meal.
- Supervision is key
It’s not that you don’t trust them yet. Well, maybe it is. But it’s totally fair.
Watching your puppy the entire day to succeed in house training might be a bit much to ask, but in case you need to place your attention elsewhere, make sure your puppy is:
- In a crate with the door closed
- In a confinement area or play pen
- In a bed next to where you are working or sitting
- Attached to you with a lead
Basically, anywhere you can see them from the corner of your eye. That way you can jump into action faster than Bond.
PRO TIP: For everyone’s good (including your shoes and soft carpet floor) don’t let your puppy wander around the house if you’re not watching them. The day will come where you’ll be able to live together in full trust. For now, staying in a crate or playpen is the best idea.
Teach a Cue word
A cue word, sometimes called a command, is a set phrase that reminds your puppy that you want them to go to the toilet
It can be pretty much anything – “Need the privy?”, “Let’s go for a wee”, or “Pee pee time” are quite popular. But feel free to let your creativity run loose, perhaps you can think of a better one.
No matter what your cue is, ensure everyone in your household uses the same phrase so that it’s reliable for your puppy.
How to use cue words for house training:
- Take your puppy to the toilet area
- Say your cue. It may help to show some enthusiasm and encouragement.
- Wait until your puppy goes to the toilet, and shower them with compliments and treats.
PRO TIP: Try saying the cue AS your puppy is about to go, or going into the toilet area. This will clear things up even more.
- If your puppy doesn’t go straight away, wait a minute and repeat their cue. Don’t end up embodying a parrot and repeating it over and over, but you may need to try it a couple of times before they actually go.
You’ll see, it’s only a matter of time until your toilet cue works like a magic word.
5 – Day House Training Schedule
Before we waffle on about everything you need to know about your training schedule, take note of these three points you’ll need to follow to to make it through:
- Follow the end of every activity, nap time and meal (breakfast, brunch, dinner, and supper) with a toilet break.
- After ‘active’ moments of the day (playtime or training time), it’s time for a nap. Puppies become easily tired, and won’t have a problem slumping down for a rest. At this point, they still need lots of them!
- Keep track of your puppy’s toilet activity – not because it’s got any scrapbook potential in particular, but because it will be useful in getting a better idea of any patterns, and could help plan your day better around them.
Let’s give it a welly then.
5:00 -6:00 am: Wake up
Yep, it’ll be an early one.
- Immediately after opening your beautiful, but tired eyes, carry your puppy to their toilet area, grabbing that pot of treats on the way.
- Say your cue word and wait for them to go.
- Follow their success with a treat and the top quality praise you’re already brilliant at.
- Come back inside and write down whether your puppy’s choice for a morning toilet trip was a pee or a poo in your house training planner.
PRO TIP: Jotting down your puppy’s toilet habits is a good way to work out when they’ll need the toilet next. With time, planning your daily routine will become an easier task.
6:00-7:00 am: Breakfast time
Feed your puppy their breakfast out of an activity feeder. These are great for puppies to:
- Slow eating down to avoid bloating – and to give yourself some time to enjoy your morning Earl Grey.
- Develop problem-solving skills (no need to become the best Einstein, but always good to work on these skills)
Take them to their toilet area and go through the toilet training process:
After breakfast and toilet break, spend some quality time together by playing or working on a few training exercises. Five to ten minutes should do just fine, no need to have the Full Monty.
Chasing toys on the floor, practicing handling or grooming exercises or working on crate training exercises are good examples of activities you can do during these times throughout the day.
Toilet Break, again.
We weren’t joking. Remember:
Cue word – wait – success – reward!
After you’ve brilliantly fed, entertained and toilet trained your puppy, a nap sounds about right. Not for you silly goose, for your puppy, of course.
Place their crate or bed next to you, and let them doze off.
Toilet Break, once more.
You know how it goes:
Cue word – wait – success – reward!
PRO TIP: If your puppy doesn’t look like they fancy the toilet after 10 minutes of waiting, have a round of play to get their insides moving. Starting to sound a little like a poop factory by now. As soon as they go, you know what to do: Cue word – wait – success – reward!
11:00 am: Brunch
Time for their second meal of the day
And yes. Repeat the cycle you’d just done a few hours before:
Toilet break, play time, toilet break, nap time, toilet break.
3:00 pm: Dinner time
Dinner is usually the best time to give them their largest meals of the day because they’re more likely to go for a poo before bedtime – and not during.
Nope, you’re not done. Go ahead, and repeat the house training cycle.
7:00 pm (latest): Supper
To reduce the chance of middle-of-the night toilet visits from happening, schedule supper at 7:00 pm the latest. In between supper and bedtime, they’ll have enough time to go through the last round of their house training routine before zonking down for the night.
This time, as we get closer to bedtime, it will be much better to skip playing games, and instead, relax and start winding down to get into the right mood for a deep sleep. Follow that up with a final toilet visit, and Bob’s your uncle.
All that’s left is bedtime.
5:00 -6:00 am: Wake up
Did they sleep through the night? Marvellous.
If not, there’s nothing to worry about. Is there a puddle of wee somewhere that isn’t the toilet? Try your hardest not to get the hump. There will be plenty of opportunities to improve!
What we can advise you for future successes, is to carry them to the toilet as soon as you hear some shuffling around at any point during the night. It’s highly likely that they’ll struggle to hold it in until they reach the toilet, so avoid any delays by giving them a ride on the toilet-training express.
After all that’s done, well, let us say good morning. Welcome to Day 2.
Now, just carry on the same routine as Day 1. Good luck!
Here’s one more thing. Don’t worry, it’s not more than you can chew.
Just make sure to take them to their toilet area every half an hour when they’re awake, as well as the key times we mentioned earlier:
- After eating or drinking
- When they wake up
- After playing or training
Follow the routine in the same order as Day 2, and you may perhaps start noticing how you and puppy are seeing more eye to eye about your daily routine.
On your part, you’ll be getting more used to the nightly and early morning wake ups. Your puppy will be more accustomed to the midnight potty express ride when feeling like going to the loo.
PRO TIP: In your midnight visits to the loo, make sure that interactions are kept to the minimum. No fun allowed (til morning, of course).
Inside a more colorful ‘remainder box, maybe?) Have you been checking your planner? Can you start to see patterns? Not inside the poo as if you’re telling the future, but in terms of when (and what) they’re going)? Is it immediately after eating or does it need more time to brew?
Asking yourself these questions is important to become more strategic in your toilet training game plan.
On Day 4, you’ll want to keep doing the same as Day 3. By now, you may notice your puppy getting more engaged at playtime or training, as he becomes more comfortable with their surroundings.
Hurray! You’re succeeding in making your puppy feel truly at home. Adorable.
As this happens, keep practicing crate or confinement training exercises. We agree someone should work on their design to look less like prisons but until the day that comes, working hard to associate them with positive emotions is just what we’ll have to do.
Your puppy should be well on its way to having the ultimate good manners and polite toilet etiquette.
You’ve probably surpassed the Queen’s Corgis’ at this point.
FAQs on House Training a puppy
We understand the feeling you can get when mistakes happen – everything is way too quiet, you turn around slowly, and surprise! Your living room smells funny now.
To know when your puppy needs the toilet, look out for the following signs:
– Sniffing the floor
– Looking agitated
– Mouthing or nibbling your hands
– Suddenly sneaking off – like Bilbo Baggings, they’re probably on an adventure…to find the toilet.
As soon as you spot any of them in your puppy go back to the routine you already know far too well: Cue word – wait – success – reward
Let’s take it from our own childhood, did we actually learn our lesson not to argue with our siblings? Still happens to this day. Our arguments now are mostly about whether Downton Abbey or Sherlock is better.
Anyway. Rather than learning something good, punishing puppies can most often result in:
– Associating going to the toilet with stress.
– Hiding away for a wee somewhere you can’t see (walking through puppy pee in socks is not ideal.)
– They stop signaling when they need the toilet
– Slowing down the training process, as going to the toilet in your presence won’t be something they feel comfortable with. It’s truly a compliment if they do – same as with people…right?
To be frank, mistakes mostly happen because of something we’ve done or not done like:
– Leaving them inside the crate or playpen for too long, and they had no choice but to go on the spot.
– Letting them run wild and free around your house, and have found your laundry to be a way more fitting toilet when you weren’t watching.
– Wake up times not being early enough – sorry!
– Mastering puppy toilet signals is still work in progress.
– Not sticking to the routine.
But really, can dogs do anything wrong in the first place? Probably not.
As soon as your puppy arrives at his new house, so probably around 8 weeks old.
Since clarity and consistency are so important to a young puppy, house training your puppy is one of the first things you should train. If you don’t start straight away, you’ll need to spend more time unlearning him his current wee spot and getting the urine smell out of there.
Common Mistakes in Puppy House Training
- Giving your puppy too much freedom in the house
Puppies have tiny bladders that fill rather quickly. If they’re given too much freedom to go explore the house without you, they’ll probably go wherever looks appropriate.
Having you close by gives you the chance to act quickly and take them to the toilet (and reward them!) as soon as you see some sniffing happening.
- Punishing Mistakes
It’s actually quite sad, but puppies have no clue what they did wrong; they just know you’re unhappy with them.
Perhaps look at it as a worse version of human ghosting. Doesn’t feel so good.
Never punish mistakes!
Never punish mistakes! Instead clean it up, work out why it happened and try better for next time. Come to think of it It’s kind of like sliding it under the carpet… except you’re not literally doing that. Please clean it up.
- Doing a bad job at cleaning
It’s no joke when people say dogs can smell fear. They can smell pretty much anything to be fair, their noses are between 10,000 and 100,000 times better than ours.
Pee contains ammonia – whose scent becomes stronger the longer it’s left unattended. A botch cleaning job (at an incorrect toilet location) means the smell will linger past your conscience, but will become attractive for the puppy to go wee on it again.
To avoid your floor collapsing from the accumulation of highly acidic wee accidents, make sure you scrub the floor down well.
Your floor won’t actually collapse by the way.
How to clean up puppy pee using commercial products
- Blot as much of the wee up as possible using paper towels. The more it soaks into the fabric, the harder it is to get rid of the ammonia smell.
- Use an Enzyme cleaner such as Simple Solution, Wee Away or Urine off.
For a more natural cleaner:
- Blot away as much pee as you can with paper towels (the sooner, the better).
- Use a solution of equal parts of water to parts of white vinegar, and spray liberally on the fabric.
- Once the area has started to dry, cover completely in bicarbonate of soda and let it dry.
- After it’s completely dry, vacuum up the powder.
Disclaimer: Always check which chemicals are appropriate to be used on your furniture – otherwise you might be a bit miffed.
- Getting a puppy from a dodgy breeder
Puppies from good, reputable breeders (preferably home-based) are almost pre-programmed for toilet training. Their mothers do a great job at getting them started.
Puppies from pet shops or Internet ads are (sadly) often bred in undesirable conditions and had a terrible start to their early learning: making house training much more difficult.
So here we are.
At the end of this terribly long (but marvellous) house training guide.
The question you probably asked yourself – can your puppy be toilet trained in 5 days? – is technically for you to answer based on how well the training goes.
Ooh didn’t see that one coming, did you.
Just kidding. The amount of days, until it gets done right, doesn’t really matter in the end. All we can say is that by sticking to our advice, tips, and guidance, you’ll be well on your way to a house-trained puppy.
We know you can feel defeated, challenged and tired, but you’ll be surprised how quickly your puppy learns. Someday, it will all make sense.
Until then, you know what they say – every dog has its day.