Knowing how to toilet train your dog is a vital part of becoming a pet owner. Unless, of course, you don’t mind waking up to find your canine companion has left you a bunch of messages all over your floor!

While learning how to toilet train your dog is fundamental—it also takes fortitude. You must allow yourself (and your furry friend) time and patience.

Ideally, you should start toilet training your puppy as soon as possible, to help your pup establish good habits from the get-go. During the first few months expect to do some cleaning up (rubber gloves are your new necessity!), but be patient with your pooch.

Here are a few hints on how to toilet train your dog.

grey puppy lying in grass

Image source: Mateusz Grabowski on Unsplash

  1. Identify the toilet

The first step is to decide where you want your dog to do its business. If you live in a house, it’ll likely be the back garden. However, if you live in an apartment you might want to lay down a designated mat in a particular area of your home (perhaps the laundry, if you have one?) or on your balcony.

Hint: Check out Potty Plant. Real grass for your dog to do its business on — perfect for pet owners who don’t have a garden.

  1. Recognise the loo cues

In the same way that you learn when a baby needs a nappy change, you will begin to know and recognise the signs that indicate your dog wants to go to the toilet.

Often when a dog needs the loo it will walk around in circles, head to the door or sniff the floor. Be perceptive and it’ll pay off.

tan and white puppy

Image source: Bharathi Kannan on Unsplash

  1. Take your dog to the toilet

Once you know the cues or the times of day your dog needs to go, lead them over to the appropriate area (garden or toilet mat) and wait patiently for them to do their thing.

An alternative here is paper training your pooch. Set a few sheets of newspaper in a specified area and lead them to it to do their business. As time goes on, you gradually move the newspaper close to the door and then into the garden or out onto the balcony.

  1. Praise your pooch

Once your clever canine has done its business in the right place, do a happy disco dance (praise your dog) and then prepare to do it all again. You can also give your dog a treat so that they associate the designated toilet area with a reward.

How to prevent mishaps when you toilet train your dog

Even the most well-behaved and well-trained dog will inevitably have an accident, but that’s okay. There are toilet tips and tricks to keep up your sleeve to help make these few and far between.

Firstly, housetraining your dog is all about routine, so stick to it. If you break from the routine you can’t blame your pooch for having a mishap.

Get into the habit of taking your fur pal outside first thing in the morning, middle of the day or when you arrive home from work and before you go to bed.

Indeed, if you need to leave your dog at home for an extended length of time (we’re talking an hour or two more than usual) you can try leaving them in a designated dog-proof area or room. This might be the kitchen, bathroom or laundry—but generally, a room with an easy-to-clean floor is a good idea! Set it up with all your dog needs (water, food, bed, toys, toilet mat or newspaper). This way, if your furry friend does have an accident it won’t ruin your shagpile carpet!

Happy toilet training!


Find out more on how to house train your new puppy or perhaps you’re wondering how to train an adult dog.

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Leanne Philpott

Leanne is a freelance writer at She works alongside her fur pal Chewie (a border terrier) and is passionate about promoting responsible pet ownership.