There are 2 key steps to effectively toilet training your dog. Firstly, recognising when to take them outside and secondly, rewarding them for weeing outside.
The most effective toilet training method is reward-based positive reinforcement training and the key to the success of reward-based positive reinforcement training is timing. The reward must happen immediately after the right behaviour. This is really important when your dog is learning to go to the toilet in the right place.
Settle into a routine of taking your dog out first thing in the morning and last thing at night as well as providing plenty of opportunities to go outside during the day. Supervise your dog as much as possible in these early days so you can look out for the signs that your dog is wanting to go to the toilet. Most dogs will signal when they want to go. Quite often they’ll sniff around, circle and pause in the spot they’re considering … and that’s the time to call them outside.
Find your ‘toilet’ word eg. ‘Lily wee’, ‘Lily toilet’, ‘Lily go’. As soon as they go to the toilet in the right spot, immediately reward the behaviour ‘good dog’ with an energetic, happy voice and, give them a treat and lots of pats. They’ll soon learn to associate the right behaviour with a reward.
Mistakes are natural though. It took Lily a while to master this one. Patience is the key. Young puppies don’t have full control until they’re a bit older – it’s all part of the development process. Positive reinforcement means not making a big deal if your dog goes to the toilet in the wrong place. Don’t be tempted to punish your dog as this may delay the learning process. Ignore it altogether – just clean the area thoroughly with a non-ammonia based cleaning product to take away the scent and reduce the likelihood of your dog using the same spot again. It helps to keep them in an area that is easy to clean. If possible, keep them off carpet areas and remove rugs for those first few puppy months. Work out the approximate time your pup can hold on. Set a timer and take them outside to wee. If successful – reward. If not, take them back inside and repeat in 10-15 minutes. You many need to confine them in a crate when back inside.