Puppies are essentially clean animals and prefer not soiling in the same place they sleep, play and eat, this is why we are able to toilet train them so effectively. However, they do not come to you understanding exactly where they should eliminate, someone needs to teach them. The following advice applies for adult dogs who need toilet training too.
The best way to toilet train your puppy is with vigilance, there is just no getting around the fact that they need to be supervised intensively until they are taking themselves to the designated toilet spot. Your dog will need to toilet after sleep, play and eating, you should also take him to his spot when you notice intense sniffing. Giving your puppy many opportunities to toilet in the right place ensures mistakes are kept to a minimum. The less mistakes he makes the quicker he will be toilet trained.
You cannot watch your puppy all the time but you can use confinement spaces to great effect to assist with toilet training. Choose a very small area (or purchase a crate) with a baby gate to leave your puppy when you cannot supervise him. If the area is small enough your dog will ‘hold on’ and wait to be let out before toileting, he may even cry to let you know he needs to ‘go’.
Accompany your puppy to the right spot, on lead if necessary, and as they are emptying themselves say a word like ‘toilet’, ‘do your jobs’ or ‘quick, quick.’ Reward your dog when they toilet in the correct area. Over time your dog will associate these words with toileting and you can have this behaviour performed on cue. Be warned, some puppies will toilet multiple times so it is best to wait a little longer outside just in case there is more to come.
If you notice an ‘accident’ inside or see your puppy in the process of toileting inside do not punish him. Remember, toileting is a natural behaviour, and when mistakes happen lack of supervision is usually the problem. If you punish your puppy for toileting inside it will only make them scared of toileting in front of you resulting in a dog who will not ‘go’ on cue or becomes more careful about where he toilets inside.
If you are adopting your puppy from a reputable breeder expect toilet training to have already started, puppies from good breeders are usually easy to toilet train. Puppies from pet shops are notoriously difficult to toilet train as they have already become used to toileting in the same space they eat, sleep and play, often making confinement for toilet training useless. Do not purchase a puppy from a pet store.
So, get the shoes and umbrella by the back door and go out with your puppy to ensure they do the job. If you make a serious effort to toilet train for a few months you should reap some great results in a short space of time.