Inappropriate toileting in puppies is very common but can also be difficult to overcome.
Having a well thought out strategy and getting everyone on the same wave length is very
important in order to achieve success.
Typically we advise not using puppy pads. This is simply because if you are using them for a
number of weeks your puppy is being reinforced for toileting on the mat and therefore for
toileting inside. This means that weaning them off of the mat in the future can prove to be
So what should I do?
The best way to teach your pup where is and isn't appropriate to toilet is to simply get them
out more often than you think you need too. If you are giving your puppy plenty of
opportunities to succeed and less chance of toileting inside then they will quickly learn the
Think of it as each time they toilet indoors you are taking a step back, whereas each time
they toilet outside you are taking a step forwards. With the end goal being learning where to
toilet, obviously we would like more steps forward. More opportunities = more success!
We can speed this process up by using treats to make going outside extra positive. If we
reward them each time they go outside then they will begin to realise it is much more worth
their while if they do it outside rather than in.
But what about overnight?
Overnight can be tricky as many puppies simply can't hold it in for such a long duration. If
your puppy struggles at this time we need to build them up gradually. As much as it's a pain,
set your alarm for around 3am. If you have gone to your puppy and they have toileted then
the next night you need to get up a little earlier. If you have gone to them and they are clean,
then let them out, once they have toileted outside put them back to bed. The next night get
up a little later.
Won't they just get better with age?
They may well get better as they develop better self control and a stronger bladder. However
if we continue to let them practice the behaviour over night, this can turn into a bad habit
which may be harder to conquer if it has been reinforced a lot with age. It's best to grit your
teeth now and get up, every puppy develops at different rates, some may require more
practice than others.
George Rooke - Head Behaviour Counsellor