House-training your dog

by Jenna Kiddie

House-training your dog

Our how-to guide and top tips for house training your puppy!

All dogs can be taught to toilet outdoors, but this is not something most will do automatically – they need us to show them that this is the right thing to do, and to get them into good habits! All puppies need patient and consistent house training – it’s very normal for a puppy to take several months to be fully house-trained.



  • Patience is key! All dogs are individuals and some take longer to train.
  • Give plenty of the ‘right’ opportunities for your dog to practise good toileting behaviour.
  • Accidents will happen, clean up and move on! Telling you dog off will make them anxious and may make them harder to train.
  • If your dog is going to the toilet very frequently, drinking a lot, or if housetraining problems are not solved by following this advice then take your dog to the vets to check for medical conditions that may be causing accidents.
  • Leaving the door open is something many owners fall into the habit of especially during the summer months, however doing so can slow down learning.


Investing time in training will save work later on!  The more committed you are, the quicker your dog will learn.

  • Take your dog out to the toilet approximately every hour. Particularly:
    • After a sleep
    • After eating or drinking
    • After play or exercise
    • If they sniff the ground and/or circle
    • Whenever they get excited (e.g. visitors!)

  • Go out with your dog (in the rain, wind, sun or under the stars!). Stand quietly and wait, be boring! If they go to the toilet reward them, if not just return quietly indoors. Don’t be in too much of a rush to get them back in – give them enough time to try!
  • Take them to the same toileting area each time to build a strong association with that location.
  • Your dog will soon start to move towards the door when they need to toilet –watch carefully and be sure to give lots of rewards and praise for ‘telling’ you.
  • If your dog has an ‘accident’ put this down to poor timing on your part! Don’t tell them off, simply clean up when they are in another room with an enzymatic cleaner that does not contain ammonia (e.g. commercial products for removing urine marks).

Toileting on Cue?

Teaching your dog to toilet when asked (on cue) can be useful to help get them to go when and where is most convenient for you.

  • Each time you take your dog out to toilet keep an eye on them, as soon as you are sure they are going quietly say the cue you want to use. “Busy, busy” or “hurry up” are common ones. Be sure to say the cue just as they begin to toilet – so that they can learn to associate the word with the action of toileting.
  • Once they have finished reward, don’t reward while they are still toileting.
  • In time (after at least 15 repetitions of saying the cue as they toilet) you will find you can start to prompt them to toilet using the cue word. Then you can start to use the cue to encourage the behaviour.