How to Toilet Train Your Puppy

Are you wondering how to toilet train your puppy? Find out how to successfully train your new puppy to go outside right here with Savvy.   

Written by 
Savvy Editorial Team
Savvy's content writing team are professionals with a wide and diverse range of industry experience and topic knowledge. We write across a broad spectrum of finance-related topics to provide our readers with informative resources to help them learn more about a certain area or enable them to decide on which product is best for their needs with careful comparison. Meet the team behind the operation here. Visit our authors page to meet Savvy's expert writing team, committed to delivering informative and engaging content to help you make informed financial decisions.
Our authors
, updated on September 1st, 2023       

Fact checked

At Savvy, we are committed to providing accurate information. Our content undergoes a rigorous process of fact-checking before it is published. Learn more about our editorial policy.

Puppy with training pad

Toilet training your puppy is a crucial part of their early socialisation and development, and is an important step in learning to live harmoniously with their forever family. Just like human babies, puppies need guidance and consistency to learn where and when to relieve themselves. This training process not only prevents accidents indoors but also strengthens the bond between you and your furry companion.  

In this Savvy guide, we'll help you with information about how to successfully toilet train your puppy, making life easier for both you and your new best friend. 

When should I start to toilet train my puppy, and how do I do it?

Toilet training for your puppy must start the moment you bring them home. It’s essential to set up a routine for your puppies so they get to know where they can go when they need to relieve themselves. Remember that dogs are naturally clean animals, and do not like to soil their bed or sleeping area, so teaching them where they can go is a natural development as they mature. 

How to toilet train your puppy 

  • Understand when they need to go: Remember that puppies can hold their bladders for approximately one hour for each month of age. Therefore, if you bring your puppy home at eight weeks, or two months of age, she will need to wee at least once every two hours, and probably more often. Her bowels will open within 5 – 20 minutes after eating.
  • Choose a designated toilet area: Pick a specific spot outside where you want your dog to do their business. Take them to this spot consistently so they get to know their permitted toilet area.
  • Recognise the signs: All puppies give clues that they need to go. This usually involves putting their nose to the ground, sniffing, circling, or going to an area where they are alone or out of sight. You’ll soon get to recognise when your puppy tells you she needs to go. As soon as you see the sign, take her quickly to her designated toilet area, and praise her if she goes.
  • Establish a routine: Set a consistent routine for feeding, playtime, and bathroom breaks. Puppies typically need to relieve themselves directly after eating, and when waking up from a nap. As soon as your puppy has finished eating, take them to their toilet area and praise them if they go. Consistently use the same words and praise every time they go (such as ‘Good wee!’), so they learn what the words mean, and will associate that word and the designated area with treats, establishing a positive reinforcement routine.
  • Praise and reward consistently: When your puppy successfully goes in the designated area, praise them enthusiastically and offer a treat as a reward. Positive reinforcement is crucial to effective toilet training, so do it every time they go in the right place.
  • Supervise closely: Keep a close eye on your puppy whenever they're indoors. Do not let them be unattended on rugs or carpets for any length of time when they are young. Confine them to a small room at night, and put puppy pads down on the floor away from their bed so they have somewhere to go.
  • Confine them when not supervised: Utilise a training crate, puppy gates or a small confinement area when you can't supervise your puppy. Most puppies won't soil their sleeping area. Make sure you leave puppy pads out so they do have somewhere to go when confined. Give them toilet breaks often.
  • Anticipate their needs: Learn your puppy's cues. If they start showing signs of needing to go, such as sniffing, circling, restlessness or whining, take them outside promptly. Praise and treat them every time they do go in their designated toilet area.
  • Clean accidents thoroughly: If accidents do happen inside, clean the area thoroughly to remove any scent that might attract them back to the same spot. Use a purpose-designed biological cleaner and deodoriser that will eliminate any smell and discourage them from returning to the same spot.
  • Be patient: Understand that accidents are part of the learning process for your puppy. Don't scold your puppy for accidents; it can create fear and anxiety.
  • Gradual independence: As your puppy matures and learns where and when to go, gradually give them more freedom indoors and on precious carpets and rugs.

Remember, toilet training takes time and patience. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and understanding your puppy's cues are the keys to successful toilet training. 

What equipment will I need to toilet train my puppy?

Toilet training your puppy requires a few essential pieces of equipment to help establish a successful routine. Here's what you'll need: 

  • Collar and lead or harness: These are essential for taking your puppy to their designated potty area. If your puppy is very young, a body harness may be kinder and more gentle than a collar that pulls at his neck.
  • Crate or puppy gate: A dog crate or secure puppy pen can help to provide a safe space for your puppy when you can't supervise them. Most puppies won't soil their sleeping area.
  • Reward treats: Use small, tasty treats as rewards for your puppy when they go potty in the right place. Positive reinforcement is the key to training success.
  • Poo bags and pooper-scooper: Be responsible and carry poo bags to clean up after your puppy during outdoor potty breaks. You may wish to have a pooper-scooper on hand to help clean up. 
  • Puppy training pads: You can place these floor pads where you want your puppy to go, away from their bed and sleeping area. Puppy training pads are available at many supermarkets and major variety stores and pet shops.
  • Enzyme cleaner: Accidents happen. Use a biological enzyme cleaner to thoroughly clean up and mask the smell of any indoor accidents to remove lingering odours that might attract your puppy back to the same spot.

How long does it take to toilet train a puppy?

The time it takes to toilet train a puppy can vary depending on several factors, including the puppy's age, breed, temperament, and your consistency in training. On average, most puppies can be toilet trained in about 4 to 6 months, but this can extend to a year for some individuals. 

The amount of time you’re able to spend with your puppy when they are young will determine how quickly you can train them to go toilet outside. If you have to work and the puppy is alone all day, training may take longer. However, if there is someone to train and supervise the puppy all day, toilet training can be achieved in two to three months. 

Consistency is the key to success. Stick to a regular schedule, supervise your puppy closely, and use positive reinforcement for good behaviour. 

More of your frequently asked questions about puppy toilet training

How do I tell my puppy it's time to go outside?

Use clear verbal cues like ‘outside’ or ‘go wee’ or ‘toilet’ when you take your puppy out. Lead them to the same designated spot each time. Consistency is the key. Your puppy will eventually associate these cues and the location with potty breaks. Be patient and keep reinforcing this routine. 

Is crate training effective for toilet training?

Yes, crate training is an effective method for toilet training puppies. Dogs have a natural instinct not to soil their sleeping area. Using an appropriately sized crate, your puppy will learn to hold it in until you take them outside. It's essential to crate train properly, ensuring the crate is a comfortable and positive space for your puppy. Never leave a puppy in a crate for more than two hours without a toilet break when they are young. 

Should I rub my dog’s nose in it if they have an accident inside?

No! Never rub a dog’s nose in it if they have an accident. This is a cruel punishment that will not assist toilet training and can break the trust your puppy has in you. If accidents happen indoors, clean the affected area immediately with a biological enzyme-based cleaner to remove odours completely. Focus on reinforcing positive behaviour by praising and rewarding outdoor potty success. 

Is it worth getting pet insurance for my new puppy?

Pet insurance is highly recommended for all pet owners. It can provide financial protection in case of unexpected vet bills. Premiums vary according to the type of policy that you choose but generally fall between $20 to $60 per month. Comprehensive pet insurance can also cover routine care for your new puppy, such as deworming and flea treatments.  

Compare pet insurance

Looking into pet insurance for your beloved furry friend? Whether you have a playful pup or a curious cat, you can compare pet insurance options from a range of providers and find the perfect coverage that suits your pet's unique needs and your budget. 

site-logos Fetch Care Plan

Annual benefits limit

Excess

% Benefits reimbursement rate

Covers illness?

Covers accidental injuries?

$30,000 $100 80%, 90% or 100% pros-item-petins pros-item-petins

Pet insurance we think you’ll love. 24/7 vet support + dental, physio and behaviour cover added (see PDS) all in one app.

More details
site-logos Petsy Most Popular 80% Cover $150 Excess

Annual benefits limit

Excess

% Benefits reimbursement rate

Covers illness?

Covers accidental injuries?

$25,000 $150 80% pros-item-petins pros-item-petins

Protect your furry friend with Petsy's pet insurance policy. Get a free quote.

More details
site-logos Fetch Premium Plan

Annual benefits limit

Excess

% Benefits reimbursement rate

Covers illness?

Covers accidental injuries?

$30,000 $0 80% or 90% pros-item-petins pros-item-petins

Pet insurance we think you’ll love. 24/7 vet support + dental, physio and behaviour cover added (see PDS) all in one app.

More details
site-logos Knose Pet Insurance

Annual benefits limit

Excess

% Benefits reimbursement rate

Covers illness?

Covers accidental injuries?

$7,500, $12,500 or $25,000 $0 / $100 / $200 70%, 80% or 90% pros-item-petins pros-item-petins

Multi-award winning pet insurance designed with the help of vets.

More details
site-logos Petsy Value Cover 80% Cover $500 Excess

Annual benefits limit

Excess

% Benefits reimbursement rate

Covers illness?

Covers accidental injuries?

$10,000 $500 80% pros-item-petins pros-item-petins

Protect your furry friend with Petsy's pet insurance policy. Get a free quote.

More details
site-logos Petsy Top Cover

Annual benefits limit

Excess

% Benefits reimbursement rate

Covers illness?

Covers accidental injuries?

$25,000 $0 / $150 / $500 90% pros-item-petins pros-item-petins

Protect your furry friend with Petsy's pet insurance policy. Get a free quote.

More details

Disclaimer: Savvy is not advising or recommending any particular product to you. We provide general information on products for the purposes of comparison, but your personal situation or goals are not considered here. Although we try to make our comparisons as thorough as possible, we do not have information on all products on the market on our site.

Savvy earns a commission each time a customer buys a pet insurance policy through our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased from these brands directly, as all purchases are conducted via the individual pet insurance companies.

You should always consult a given offer's PDS or further documentation in the process of deciding on which loan to choose, as well as seeking independent, professional advice. If you decide to apply with one of the lenders listed above via our website, you will not be dealing with Savvy; any applications or enquiries will be conducted directly with the lender offering that product.