The secret of border collie puppy toilet training is to take your puppy out whenever he needs to go to the toilet. For an 8-12 week old puppy, this will be:
- after waking
- after eating
- after every play session
- every half an hour while they are awake
- every time they stop doing something suddenly and start sniffing
Be prepared to spend a LOT of time outside
Puppies find it much easier to toilet where they can smell that they have toileted before. Therefore, be prepared to spend a very long time in the garden on the first few days so that your puppy will always be outside when he needs to go. Each time, take him to where he last toileted because he is more likely to “go” there than anywhere else. This will establish toilet areas for him that will be outside as opposed to inside. I read once that dogs need smells to trigger them to go to the toilet. I can’t remember where I read this, so I can’t verify it, but it certainly makes sense from my observations after house training a lot of puppies!
No toys in the toileting area
To make border collie puppy toilet training easier, so that the puppy isn’t distracted while you are waiting for him to toilet, keep toys and anything the puppy finds really interesting out of the toileting area. There is nothing more annoying than standing out in the cold and rain waiting for them to “go” while they run around triumphantly with a toy.
Do something fun AFTER they have toileted
As soon as they have “been”, praise them a lot, then do something fun. This may mean going back inside if it’s cold and they want to go in, or it may be having a bit of a wander round the garden. Whatever you do afterwards, it must be something the puppy enjoys. They very quickly learn patterns, and if they realise that going to the toilet is immediately followed by something boring such as going back in the house, they are less likely to oblige!
Clean up well
If your puppy does have an accident inside, clean it up really well, then cover the area with something (eg a rug or chair) or block it off so that the puppy can’t access it again for a few more days. If they toileted on a rug, remove it temporarily.
Use a puppy pen or divide rooms
Limiting the space the puppy has access to in the house can help. Puppies that have been reared in clean environments generally prefer not to toilet in their bed and eating area. This is especially important when you can’t supervise them, such as overnight. Crates can be ideal, but some puppies panic when shut in a crate, therefore I prefer to have an open crate in a puppy pen area, as in the second photo.
These guidelines work – be patient
By following these guidelines, your puppy will naturally learn that they “go” outside – it is the only place that feels right to them – and going inside will feel wrong to them. Just the same as puppies that are taught to toilet on grass struggle to toilet on concrete.
There is NEVER a need to tell off a puppy for toileting inside. They won’t understand why you are angry and may just start hiding from you while they toilet inside.
Stick to the rules, don’t be tempted to delay taking them out when they need it, and be consistent and they will learn! 🙂