When a bitch has a litter of puppies, she will always clean-up the toilet mess left behind by her puppies.
After about 5 weeks the bitch will stop this cleaning 'duty' and now it becomes the daily responsibility of the breeder to clean up after the puppies. So, by the time you collect your new puppy at approximately 8 weeks of age, the pup has had no formal toilet training whatsoever.
The pup has no idea there is a 'right' and 'wrong' place to toilet.
It's up to you to patiently and consistently show your puppy what toilet behaviour you require. You have to take charge of this training because the pup will not train itself.
I always have my pup on a lead when it's in the house. The pup quickly learns to ignore the lead attached to its collar and this means that I can easily control the pup's movements. As a result, there are very few accidents because I can easily step on the lead, pick it up and walk the pup outside to toilet.
In addition, I never allow my pup to have full run of the house until toilet training is under control. I confine the pup to the 'hard-surfaced' areas in the house (easy to clean surfaces).
There are 4 circumstances where I always recommend taking your pup outside to the area where you want them to learn to toilet:
- Whenever the pup wakes up
- Immediately after any play or excitable activity in the house
- After a meal or any reasonable amount of food consumption
- After any reasonable volume of water being consumed.
The real toilet training starts once the pup is outside.
Make sure the pup is on a lead and that you have some food treats in your pocket. Walk to the grass or sand location where you want your pup to learn to associate with toilet behaviour. The more urine and faecal odour that can be impregnated into this area the better. This odour will be a strong trigger for the pup to perform his toilet actions next time you come to this area.
Once you arrive at the toilet area, stand perfectly still and say nothing to your pup.
By speaking and moving around you create distractions and the pup won't concentrate on the task at hand. The odour on the ground will eventually stimulate the pup to perform and as this happens I quietly say "toilet" two or three times as the pup gets the satisfaction of relieving itself. Once finished, I calmly stroke the pup, calmly voice-praise the pup and then offer food rewards as an extra treat. But for the pup, the ultimate reward is that I take him back inside the house to be with his pack members.
By creating huge rewards outside and preventing toilet mistakes inside, I have found that after about 7 to 10 days the pup is house-trained and quite reliable.
Toilet training rarely works if you simply put your puppy outside and close the door (with you still inside)! You need to walk with the pup to the area where you want him/her to perform and silently wait. Then follow the 'reward' instructions explained above.
Lastly, if your dog 'toilets' in the house NEVER, NEVER, NEVER rub his nose in the mess. It only teaches your pup not to trust you. It teaches him nothing about the right and wrong place to relieve himself.