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  • Jess Barber

From Mess to Success: Navigating the Challenges of Housetraining Your New Pup


There are a number of reasons why your puppy might toilet indoors:

  1. They just can't hold it. Puppies have small bladders that fill up fast! Full bladder control develops with age and may not be present until approximately 5 months of age.

  2. They aren't sure of the BEST place to toilet just yet

  3. Excitement

  4. Submissive urination (nervous wees!)


The message we want to give to your puppy is that toileting outdoors leads to AWESOME rewards, while when they toilet indoors... nothing happens - boring!

We don't need to try to punish puppies for toileting indoors. They don't do it out of spite and they can't help it - any attempts to punish them will likely just confuse them - we just need to make sure we watch them a bit more closely next time!

If you discover your puppy has had an accident, the best course of action is to say nothing to pup and clean it up thoroughly with a good enzymatic cleaner (e.g. Simple Solution) - this ensures all the traces of their accident are totally removed, preventing a scent association with indoors toileting building up.


It's much easier to reinforce your puppy for getting it right, than trying to communicate to them when they've got something wrong. This means we need to try to catch pup whenever they might need to toilet and give them the best chance of doing it in the right place. If they do, wait until they finish and then... PARTY! Reinforce with lots of excited praise and yummy treats for any outdoor toileting.

Puppies are most likely to want to 'go':

  • First thing in the morning

  • Immediately after eating

  • After waking up from a nap

  • After a session of play

  • After any indoor excitement (e.g. a visitor arriving)

  • Just before bedtime

  • Any time you see them circling and/or sniffing the ground, whining, pacing or heading towards the door.

These are the most important times to take your puppy putside and give them the chance to toilet in the right place.

Until they're fully housetrained, it is best to supervise your puppy as much as possible, unless they're in their crate. This lets you spot the signs that they might need to 'go' and take them straight outdoors.

It's likely that many times, you will give puppy the opportunity to toilet outdoors but they don't immediately 'go'. If so, give them a chilled 5 minutes outdoors, take them back inside and try again in 10 minutes. Repeat as necessary until they do toilet outdoors and then... Reward like crazy!


Puppies very quickly fall into a daily routine of toileting, especially if they are fed at roughly the same times each day.

Keeping a note of when your puppy wees and poos throughout the day can make it much easier to spot this pattern. When you see it, you can make sure to take your pup outdoors at times when they often do their business - setting a reminder alarm can help! It sounds like a lot of faff but it'll be worth it in the long run!



Puppies don't tend to want to wee or poo where they sleep, but sometimes they just can't hold it overnight. Commit to getting up early to let your puppy out to go to the toilet to limit the number of accidents. Their ability to 'hold it' develops quickly as they grow, so the early mornings won't last forever!

Greeting wees

Sometimes the excitement of being reunited with a family member or meeting a visitor causes puppies to lose control of their bladder. This should quickly resolves with age as their urinary sphincters get stronger, but in the meantime, initial greetings should be kept as calm as possible and could even be done outdoors to limit indoor wees!

Submissive urination

If puppies are feeling a bit nervous or lacking confidence in a greeting, they may urinate as an appeasement behaviour. Puppies genuinely cannot help this behaviour so avoid any temptation to punish or tell off your puppy - this will likely only make the problem worse. Keep greetings gentle and calm and let your puppy approach you. Submissive urination is not uncommon or reason for undue concern - with age, confidence and maturity, this will usually resolve itself.


Many puppies will be well on their way to being housetrained by 16 weeks old, but some may take longer and some will pick it up faster than average – just like babies! 

When in doubt, go back to the basics – go out often, reward generously, and supervise indoors. Your pup will be peeing outside like a pro before you know it!


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