Welcoming a dog into your family is an exciting occasion, and part and parcel of the fundamental poochy processes is house training. It’s very normal for a puppy to take a few months to be completely house trained without the odd accident, and it’s ok if it seems to be taking a while! With a bit of patience and consistency, your new housemate hound will soon get the hang of it.


It’s also not uncommon for dogs who have previously been toilet trained to slip up or forget, especially during times of change, such as a house move or an adoption. Don’t worry, there’s lots you can do to support your dog or teach your new puppy to help them to get it right.

How to house train your puppy

It’s important to begin with positively reinforcing what you’d like to teach them with reward-based training methods. With house training, decide on an area you would like to teach your puppy to go to the toilet in. This should be somewhere with no distractions, where they feel safe.

Take your puppy out to the toilet area often, and especially after sleeping, eating, drinking, playing, or whenever they get excited, for example when visitors arrive. Puppies have very small bladders so will need to relieve themselves often while they develop.

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At the start, it may feel as though you are taking your dog out all the time and not making progress, but remember, consistency is key. It’s important to give them plenty of opportunities to help them practise toileting in the right area and rewarding them with tasty treats or praise when they do.

Recognising the tell-tale signs that your puppy or dog needs the toilet will help with the training. They might start to sniff the floor, turn in a circle, start to squat, or head towards the door. If you notice these behaviours, calmly encourage them to go outside whenever you spot the signs.

Top dog house training tips

When you’re outside, head to the designated area, stand quietly and be ‘boring’ until your puppy or dog has been to the toilet. Then reward them with a treat, gentle praise, or affection (if they enjoy it).

  • Remember, patience is key. All dogs are individual, and some might take longer to learn than others, but it’s well worth the time and effort!
  • If your puppy or dog has an accident in the house, clean the area with an enzymatic cleaner to remove any smells that could encourage them to go to the toilet in that area again.
  • Avoid telling your dog off if they do have an accident because this is likely to set you back – they’ll be worried about going to the toilet in front of you which will make toilet training harder.
  • If your dog is struggling with house training, going to the toilet very frequently, or drinking a lot, speak to your vet to check if there are any underlying medical conditions that might be affecting their behaviour.

Make sure your dog is well hydrated

It’s important to make sure your puppy or dog has access to fresh water during the day and night. Some owners might worry this will result in their dog needing to go to the toilet during the night, but it’s our legal responsibility as owners to meet our dogs’ welfare needs and withholding water could create medical problems. Puppies’ bladders are small and still strengthening, so they’re likely to need to toilet overnight. Dogs generally don’t like to go to the toilet where they sleep, so commonly they make it clear that they need to go out. This can be a great opportunity to reward them for toileting when you guide them outside.

How long does it take to house train a dog?

Successful toilet training can take a little while, but it is important to remember that all of the effort will pay off once their bladder muscles are stronger and you and your pooch can enjoy a good night’s sleep without any toilet trips!

If you need any help or advice with welcoming a new puppy or dog into your home, you can visit dogstrust.org.uk


For expert advice and practical training to help you and your pooch understand each other better, find your nearest Dog School


Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and normally cares for around 14,000 dogs across its network of 21 rehoming centres in the UK and one in Dublin. Dogs Trust has a non-destruction policy and will never put a healthy dog to sleep. The charity also focuses its efforts on understanding dogs and sharing that knowledge with the wider public to prevent problem behaviours that can result in relinquishment or abandonment. We are working towards the day when all dogs can enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction.