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Housetraining advice



You may feel housetraining a newly adopted puppy or dog can appear difficult and be frustrating. At times through no fault of the dog, they reach adult hood without being fully housetrained. But it is possible to establish new habits and teach your dog to be clean in the house.

Although it can be easy to housetrain a puppy, things can go wrong if the process is not carried out correctly. With some dogs, housetraining may have not been attempted by previous owners if for example, they were kenneled outside. Consequently, some dogs can reach adult hood and not be housetrained.

Fortunately, in most cases, housetraining can be achieved but with some time and patience.

How long the process takes depends on:


  • How consistent the owner is with the routine
  • How quickly your dog learns
  • Age of your dog
  • Past experiences your dog may have had


There can be other reasons as to why your dog may not be fully housetrained, if there is stress and tension in the house and anxiety when being left alone (separation anxiety).


The key to successful housetraining is to give your puppy or dog as many opportunities as possible to get it right. The more times your dog is rewarded for toileting in the right place, the quicker your dog will learn.

However, it is very important that you never punish any mistakes that are more than likely to happening during the training. If you punish your dog for mistakes, you will only confuse and worry your dog and the training will take much longer.

Always remember, PRAISE the good and IGNORE the accidents.




Initially, have somewhere that you can confine your dog where you don’t mind ‘accidents’ happening, but this area should only be for brief times when you are not able to supervise them during this training period.

This area could be an indoor kennel or a penned off area in your kitchen. The area ideally needs to be relatively small as this will discourage toileting in that area. Place your dog’s bedding and water in this area and also use this space to feed them, as this will also mean they will be less likely to relieve themselves in this area.




  • The first thing you should do in the morning is take your puppy/dog outside and wait for them to go to the toilet. When they ‘go’ give them lots of praise as they finish toileting. Always praise at the end so not to interrupt what they are doing. Your puppy/dog should need a wee and a poo, so wait for them to do both.
  • When your puppy/dog has been to the toilet allow them to return inside, there you can have a play or a fuss. Sometimes if you fuss your puppy/dog when you first see them in the morning they may toilet because they are very excited to see you.
  • Take your puppy/dog out regularly, ideally every hour from morning until last thing at night. Puppies especially will toilet after play, sleep or after eating so ensure you take them out immediately after any of these.
  • Between trips to the garden, supervise your puppy/dog continually when in the house. This means keeping them in view at all times and being aware of what they are doing. When unable to supervise them, ensure you confine them to the place you have chosen. But do not leave them there for long periods of time.
  • If you see your puppy/dog about to go to the toilet in the house, take them immediately outside. Wait until your dog has gone and praise well.
  • Some dogs learn faster than others but as a general rule follow the above routine for about two weeks, during this period your puppy/dog will have learnt about receiving praise for toileting outside and since there is no opportunity to toilet inside, the habit of toileting outside develops. Throughout the two weeks and a while after afterwards, it is important you continue to go outside with your puppy/dog in order to be able to praise them until the training is firmly established in their mind.
  • After the two weeks of training, gradually decrease the time between visits to your garden. Eventually your puppy/dog will want to toilet at a time other than the time you have chosen. Watch for any changes in their body language and take them out quickly. Then, as you gradually learn to recognise their signals which mean your puppy/dog wants to go outside to toilet, you can relax your supervision.











DO NOT punish your puppy/dog for any accidents, you will only cause worry and for them to be afraid to toilet anywhere near you. They may even learn to toilet inside but out of sight to avoid the telling off that usually follows, instead they will learn that it is wrong to toilet in the house in front of their owners so they will sneak away into another room when they want to relieve themselves. Consequently all they have learnt is that it is wrong to toilet in the presence of people.

This can make it harder to praise for toileting outside because they will not want to toilet in front of you anymore.

The same rule applies for accidents discovered too late. This may be down to the owner not supervising closely enough. If you are telling your dog off for a behavior they may have performed a good while ago your puppy/dog will not make the association, all you will be doing is damaging the relationship you have established with your puppy/dog.

Their submissive behaviour, a posture that looks guilty to us will occur due to the change in your body language if you are telling them off, or because they have been used to being told off following toileting in the house, unfortunately the dog’s submission can be mistook as the dog knowing that they have done something wrong.

Puppies are often put out in the garden and left there. Once outside, a puppy may find it very lonely and uncomfortable and will concentrate on getting back inside with their owner, rather than learning to go to the toilet. This is why it is very important that you stay with your puppy and even your adult dog to teach them that going outside is the acceptable behaviour.




The first few nights can be tricky as your new puppy/dog may cry when leaving them overnight in another room because they want to be with you. It is important to ignore this behaviour if you want your puppy/dog to learn that it is ok to be on their own. It is therefore important then that you stick to this rule and ignore them.

Ensure at night your puppy/dog is in a room where you have a floor that can be easily cleaned in the case of accidents overnight. Ideally your kitchen or utility room. If you are using an indoor kennel as their bed, do not shut them in overnight, if they do need to toilet they may feel forced to as it is a long period of time, then if they do begin to mess in their indoor kennel your puppy/dog may develop a habit of doing this and you have lost the chance of teaching your puppy/dog to be clean.

Lay newspaper in a small area or alternatively use training pads to encourage your puppy/dog to use that area. In the morning ensure you ignore any ‘accidents’ and take your puppy/dog immediately outside to toilet, stay with and praise when they have gone.

If there have been any accidents overnight, clean with suitable products. It is important that you remove any smells left by accidents by cleaning the area with a solution of one part non-biological washing powder with four parts water, or a purpose made cleaner for pet accidents. These will remove any smells or stains. Ensure you do not use cleaning products that contain ammonia as this ingredient smells like urine to dogs and will encourage them to use the same area repeatedly.