In this simple guide to how to teach a puppy to pee, we look at how to take control of when and where your puppy pees.
The puppy days are a time we usually associate with peeing too frequently, and in the wrong places. So what’s the appeal of training them to pee? Well, training a puppy to pee can be time saving, and reduce accidents. If you want your puppy to eventually pee in the same spot every time, we’ll also look at how to achieve that.
In this article we’re going to look at:
- How to train a puppy to pee on cue
- How to train a puppy to pee on a pad
- Training a puppy to pee outside
- How to train your dog where to pee and poop
How to train a puppy to pee on cue
Training a puppy to pee on cue isn’t a quick project. But in the long term, it can be helpful for when you need your dog to empty their bladder promptly. For example before a car journey.
Training a dog to pee on cue is a form of classic conditioning. Which means there are no rewards or punishments involved. You’re just building up a powerful subconscious connection between your cue, and the act of peeing. It’s the same as when you hear a cell phone with the same ringtone as yours, and your hand reflexively reaches for your pocket.
Here are the steps for teaching a puppy to pee on cue:
- Pick your cue. “Go potty”, “hurry up”, and “do your business” are all widely used.
- Say your cue in a calm, business like way whenever your puppy pees. Don’t sound too excited – they might get distracted and forget to finish peeing!
- Repeat, every time they pee.
- Eventually, when you say your cue, they will reflexively feel the urge to pee. Don’t expect it to work like a faucet – you’ll need to wait a few moments for the message to travel from their brain to their bladder!
- Keep saying your cue whenever they pee, to maintain the link in their brain.
A note on using rewards: conditioning this type of response doesn’t need rewards. If you choose to use a small reward for successfully peeing on cue, then they may start responding to the cue a bit quicker than they would have otherwise. But, there is also a risk of them not fully emptying their bladder, because they’re in a rush to get to the treat!
How to train a puppy to pee on a pad
Another situation when a puppy parent might want to encourage their puppy to pee is to set up a habit of peeing on puppy pads. Puppy pads are useful for:
- Toilet training in an apartment, or any home that doesn’t have quick access to a safe outdoor spot for unvaccinated puppies to go on the ground.
- Potty training overnight, if your puppy won’t be crated.
- Toilet training very small breed puppies, who have tiny bladders and are likely to need the toilet very frequently for several months.
Puppies instinctively prefer to pee on absorbent surfaces. So the most effective way to build up a habit of peeing on pads is to keep your puppy contained in a room with hard floors, and place them on a puppy pad regularly. Some people also have success using ‘go here’ sprays, which encourage dogs to pee in the sprayed spot.
To build up a reliable habit of peeing on pads, it’s important to make sure your puppy pees on the pad more often than not. You can take charge of this by:
- Setting up a boundary around the pads, so they can’t get distracted and wander off at toilet times. For example, set up a playpen and line the inside with pads.
- After a successful pee on the pad, let your puppy play away from the pads for 10 minutes. Then, crate or cuddle them for a further 10 minutes. During this time their bladder will be filling up again, but they will naturally resist peeing whilst being held, or in their bed.
- Return them to their pads, and wait until they pee again. Then repeat the previous step.
- Gradually extend how much time they’re allowed to play away from the pads from 10 minutes to 15, then 20 and so on.
How to train a puppy to pee outside
The alternative to training a new puppy on pads is, of course, teaching them to pee outdoors from the very beginning. This is ideal for puppy parents with a secure yard which they can easily access from their house. Since this is the most common potty training strategy, we’ve already got lots of other resources about it elsewhere in the blog. I won’t start repeating them all here – these are all the links you need:
- Puppy Potty Training
- When To Start Potty Training A Puppy
- Do’s and Don’ts of Puppy Potty Training
- How To Potty Train A Puppy While Working Full Time
- Winter Puppy Potty Training
- Puppy Potty Training Regression
How to train your dog where to pee and poop
Having a dog who always returns to the same spot to pee and poop is very appealing. It can restrict the unsightly results – dead spots of grass, and piles of poop – to one out-of-the-way spot that most people don’t usually see. If you have kids, it keeps most of the yard safe for them to play in freely. And it makes tidying up quicker too.
Training a puppy to always use the same spot outside as a toilet is straightforward in principle. Sticking to it is usually the hardest part! Once you’ve picked their toilet spot, treat it as if it is the only place that is truly outdoors. Pretend to yourself that the rest of your yard is actually an extension of indoors. Picture it carpeted!
You’ll need to maximize how many times your puppy pees in the right spot, and minimize how many accidents they have in any other bit of the yard. The easiest way to do this is to set up an outdoor playpen in their toilet spot, so they can’t wander outside it and pee elsewhere. Alternatively, you can take them out on a harness and leash.
Once they’ve toileted, you’ll need to take them back indoors – they will almost certainly pee again in different outdoor spot if you let them explore the rest of the yard before they are fully toilet trained. This is where most puppy parents give up – it takes a lot of resolve not to let a puppy play freely in the yard, and also to make yourself stay indoors for weeks at a time when it’s nice weather outside, and you’ve been cooped up with a puppy for so long.
Teaching a puppy that one outdoor spot is different to another outdoor spot is harder than teaching them that indoors is different to outdoors. So you’ll have to take charge of their toilet training for much longer to make sure they keep returning to the right spot.
Tips for training a puppy to pee in one place
You can also use some of the techniques from our other section to reinforce the habit of always peeing and pooping in the same place. For example:
- Spray the area with a ‘go here’ spray. Bear in mind these are water based, so they need topping up after rain!
- Mark peeing in the right spot with a cue, to build up an association with being in that spot for a particular purpose.
- After a successful visit to the toilet area, let your puppy play for 10 minutes, then cuddle or crate them for 10 minutes before returning to the toilet area.
- Don’t let the area get too dirty. Puppies like to pee where they have peed before, but piles and piles of old poop will put them off in a big way. So, clean up frequently.
How to make a puppy pee – Summary
There’s not a magic trick for making a puppy pee at your convenience. But there are lots of ways you can train them to pee fairly promptly in the right place. With all of them, success relies on patience and consistency. If you’re going to give one of them a go, why not let us know in the comments box? We’d love to hear how you get on!
- 3 Month Old Puppy Potty Training
- Puppy Pad Training Spray
- Why Do Puppies Rip Up Wee Wee Pads?
- Winter Puppy Potty Training
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