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Toilet Training

Your new dog will come to your home from any one of many circumstances and it is wise to remember that for your dog, everything is extremely new. Some of our rescue dogs may never have experienced a home environment before.

Everything that we take for granted in daily life could be something quite stressful to your new dog; a telephone ringing, washing machine spinning, computer games bleeping, music playing etc. Meeting members of your family and friends, to perhaps meeting household pets already living with you. Suddenly, from being in a kennel on their own, your new dog is now faced with many new and exciting challenges.


From the very beginning, your new dog will be looking to you for guidelines as to what is required of him/her.

If you have an enclosed garden where you expect your dog to toilet, it is best to decide upon a command that you will always use when you require your dog to ‘be busy’ outside. Try to always ensure that you are able to get eye contact with your dog when saying your chosen command.

It is wise to ensure that your dog is taken outside after his/her meal times; some dogs need to go out immediately after they have eaten. This would be a wise course of action to start with, but you will get to know your dog very quickly and ascertain what is best.

Take your dog to the area you wish him/her to use, but be prepared to stand waiting and wandering around with him/her for a good 15+ minutes, some dogs may take longer. Gently repeat your command to encourage your dog to ‘be busy’.

It is quite likely that at first your dog will be very unsure of his/her surroundings and it is likely he/she may not perform immediately. If this is the case, please do not scold your dog, he/she is starting to learn the routine and needs loving encouragement all the way.

When your dog performs, make a fuss of him/her and reward him/her with a treat.

If your dog did not perform, repeat the routine once again after approximately 30 minutes. It is a case of continually repeating the ‘be busy’ procedure until your dog is familiar with his/her routine.

As time progresses, you will get to know how your dog reacts when the ‘be busy’ time calls. Some dogs start sniffing around backwards and forwards, others tend to go around and around in a circle, others may scratch or bark/whimper at the floor or door, there are many ways that dogs start to indicate their need. With close attention to watching their ways, you may be able to pick up their signals that a ‘be busy’ break is required.

If you have to leave your dog for an hour or so, it is a good idea to ensure that they visit the garden prior to you leaving the house. Upon your return, immediately let them go into the garden once again.

It is important to help build up the confidence of your dog by praising them when they have performed but never to scold if they have an accident. Reprimanding a dog after an event has occurred will mean nothing to the dog. The dog is more likely to become anxious, wondering why you have spoken harshly.

If you should see your dog starting to ‘be busy’ in the house a firm no and then take them to where they should go outside will suffice. Days of rubbing dogs noses in such accidents does NOT work and would only cause the dog much stressful anxiety and suffering, as well as causing upset to you.

It is best to clean the spot with a biological washing powder to clear any traces of odour. Once the odour has been thoroughly cleaned away the dog should not detect the spot and return. There are many products on the market to clean up with or sprays to eliminate any odours.

Throughout the day, keep the routine of ‘be busy’ habits up, eventually your dog will get to know what is expected of him/her.

At night before bed, again pop your dog out to the garden. Most dogs are able to go through the night, unless they have eaten something to cause an upset tummy or have a chill or an illness causing a problem. If an upset tummy prevails for more than 24 hours, a call to your vet will be the best course of action.

Some dogs, whilst learning the routine, may get to the garden stage but may still come indoors and then mark a spot in the house. Again, scolding is not going to achieve the ultimate solution. A firm no and take them back to the garden area, so that they understand it is not acceptable to mark a spot in the home. This could go on for quite a while, it depends on the dog and how confident about their surroundings they are. Some dogs may go out on a walk and then once back home, in their own garden ‘perform’.


With time your dog’s confidence will grow and he/she will be happy to ‘be busy’ outside of his/her garden environment. All you need to do is have a pocket full of rewards and a bag for disposal.


Getting your dog to ‘be busy’ onto newspaper is a start to house training. Use a command that your dog will get to know. Reward and praise your dog when he/she has performed, it's the best way to build up confidence in your dog. Gradually over a period of time move the newspaper closer to the door used for the garden, this will help the dog understand where he/she should needs to go when ‘be busy’ time arrives.

Again, training is all about routine; when your puppy shows he/she knows where the paper is placed, ie. by the back door, it is then time to start introducing him/her to being busy outside. Place a piece of paper outside in the chosen area and take your dog to the paper. Repeat your command and stay with your dog until ‘be busy’ has been done. Reward with a treat and plenty of praise as usual. By this time invariably a dog will not be bothering with the paper and will be far more interested the garden.


For puppies and young dogs, a crate can be a useful way of ensuring your dog does not wander off around the house whilst everyone is sleeping. Normally, a dog will not ‘be busy’ in the place where they sleep. It helps the dog learn to wait until they are on their paper or in the garden before ‘busying’. During the day, your dog should have their own bed that they can retreat to, somewhere that children will learn not to touch or disturb your dog as it his/her very own private space. Bear in mind though that all dogs need to be "crate trained" to get them used to using one. If you need any advice on this please contact us.

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