At approximately 3 weeks of age, once the puppies here at Ravensnite start to become more mobile, their toilet training starts.
When the puppies extend from the whelping box into a larger play pen, I introduce synthetic turf to the pen and toilet training begins for the baby puppies. Neither the puppies' food or water is placed in this area. All food and water is kept on the dry bed area. Dogs will generally not toilet where they eat or drink so it is especially important to bear this in mind when continuing your toilet training.
This area is fully cleaned morning and night and the synthetic grass removed and hosed as required. During the day, any visible feces will be removed. At 3 - 5 weeks old, the mother is still generally as a whole cleaning up after the puppies.
Puppies as a whole, like to keep their dens clean. This means whilst they are younger and contained, it means you/I must also keep this area clean. Any toileting areas should be kept as far as possible away from their beds and frequently cleaned.
Young puppies do not have great control over their bladders. Mistakes will happen. There will be times where the puppy does not even realise that it needs to toilet, until that very moment. This is where it is your job to foresee the need for your puppy to toilet.
The most common times/triggers for puppies to require toilet breaks:
Approximately 10 minutes after the start of a play session. This is also a good opportunity to break play so that your puppy is not getting too excited.
Approximately 15 minutes after each meal.
Straight after waking up. Remembering that puppies can sleep for both long periods of time and like us, are not very aware when we first wake up.
As a general rule of thumb, a puppy should be able to hold it's bladder for it's age in months, plus one hour. This means an 8 week old puppy at absolute maximum, should hold it's bladder for 3 hours. This means, you want to be getting the puppy to the toilet before the 3 hour mark. It isn't a golden rule and is only a rule of thumb. If it's been just over 2 hours since your 8 week old puppy has been to the toilet, then it's a good idea to take them outside for a toilet break.
Common signs your puppy needs to go to the toilet:
Any changes in what they are currently doing. If your puppy is chewing or playing etc and suddenly stops, it is a good indicator that the puppy needs to go to the toilet
The puppy starts to head away from the area they are currently in.
The puppy puts their head towards the ground (as if to sniff)
The puppy starts to move in a circular motion.
If your puppy is near the door, take them outside.
During the period that your puppy is awake, aim to take them outside to the toilet once every hour. Make sure you have what you need (leash, shoes, jumper, hat, etc) readily available at the door so you can reach it in a hurry.
Dogs aim to please and can only learn from what you teach them. By being proactive about toilet training and trying to avoid any mishaps, you have a much better chance of setting your puppy up for life.
Toileting through the night. The first few weeks as a new puppy owner are very tough and very tiring. They're a lot of hard work, but this is where some of the most critical work is done in relation to toilet training.
Feed your puppy three hours before their bed time and unless it's very hot, remove their water bowl one hour before bed time. Make sure you take your puppy to the toilet, before putting them away to bed.
Aim to get up as per your puppy's age, to take them to the toilet. ie: 8 weeks - every 3 hours, 12 weeks, every 4 hours, 16 weeks, every 5 hours.
Make sure your puppy's night pen has an area to toilet. I recommend a piece of synthetic grass. They're very cheap to buy from places like Bunnings and you don't need a big area. Alternatively, you can buy one of the "Indoor Toilet" products on the market that has synthetic grass, remembering, this is what your puppy has been raised on. It is familiar to them as a toileting area.
The other plus side to a piece of synthetic grass is that puppies like to shred newspaper and puppy pee mats. They have a great time. By having the synthetic grass over the top, it acts as a bit of a barrier of protection.
You'll want to have something underneath the synthetic grass to absorb the urine. Newspaper does work but is probably the messiest to clean up (although cheapest). Other options include disposable puppy / incontinence pads or reusable incontinence pads. You can buy reusable incontinence pads in a range of sizes and for relatively cheap. They're machine washable and hold a very large amount of liquid.
Be patient! I simply cannot stress this enough. Toilet training can be easy for some puppies and difficult with others. You have to adapt to suit your puppy.
Always praise your puppy for going to the toilet in the correct area. Train your puppy with a cue word to go to the toilet. My guys are trained to the word "toilet" and some as a by product of me talking to them "quickly".
If your puppy makes a mistake in the house, DO NOT punish them in any way shape or form. Simply put the puppy in their pen and clean the area up. Do not rouse on your puppy, do not change your demeanor. If you want to be angry with someone that the puppy has just soiled in the house, be angry at yourself for not watching your puppy (however honestly, mistakes happen. It's far easier to clean it up and move on!).
Punishing your puppy for going to the toilet can make the puppy feel like going in front of you has negative impacts. This means not only will the puppy hide in the house to toilet, it can also make it very difficult for the puppy to feel comfortable enough again to go to the toilet in front of your whilst outside. This means longer wait times for the puppy to toilet or having to leave them outside where you may actually not know whether they went or not and also causing you to lose the perfect opportunity to praise the puppy.
If you puppy goes inside the house during the day, but on their designated toilet area (ie: the turf) then PRAISE your puppy. It doesn't matter that the puppy went inside rather than letting you know that they needed to go outside, but it does matter that your puppy thought carefully enough to make sure that they went to the toilet where they thought it was appropriate.
In the early stages of toilet training, if you have rugs, it may be worth removing them so that the puppy doesn't soil them, similarly lock off access to carpeted areas where possible.
"My puppy/dog won't pee on the grass when it's wet!" You are not alone. This is very common (more so in boys than the girls. They are just that little bit more precious).
A puppy/dog likes to toilet where it is absorbent. Whilst the grass is normally dry and very absorbent, wet grass isn't, especially when it's been wet for quite some time.
This is hard to get around. It exists across all breeds. It isn't Cocker specific, or puppy specific. You have to make do with what you can. If you have a covered area outside, I would recommend in these times if need be, put a piece of synthetic grass near the edge but where it is dry. That way you can hose off the area, but you can hopefully contain the dog to toileting in the one area.
If you are having difficulties toilet training your Ravensnite puppy, please don't hesitate to ask me for advice. It would be very helpful though however, if you can make note of the activities / environment leading up to the accidents and what you did when you discovered them. These little bits of what seem to be useless information, can in fact be invaluable when trying to determine the trigger for your puppy.