Toilet training your Cockapoo
The key to successful toilet training is plenty of patience, commitment, consistency and repetition. You may get disheartened at times as it can sometimes feel like one step forward and two steps back, but persevere and with consistent training you will get there. Do not expect a puppy to learn overnight and they will all learn at different rates, so expect "accidents" to happen, whilst they are learning and developing.
Puppies need frequent toilet breaks as they are not able to hold themselves for long periods of time until their sphincter muscles mature at around approximately 6-7 months old. Be prepared for a night time toilet break, as while puppies can hold themselves longer when asleep, young puppies often need a break, and you may hear them whimpering in the night, letting you know they need to go to toilet. As puppies grow and develop, they will begin to be able to hold to hold themselves longer.
Puppies generally, if healthy, will avoid going to toilet in areas where they sleep, eat or drink, and crate training can be useful whilst toilet training. Puppies can be put in their crate when they have been to toilet and you are unable to supervise them, or if puppy needs a rest, and with training they will learn to hold themselves for a few hours in the crate. Make sure you take them out for a toilet break as soon as you let them out of crate.
Some people use puppy pads, which are a personal preference, but this can make training longer as when you start removing the pads, you may have to re-train your puppy to go to toilet outside. You may wish to place newspaper down when your puppy goes to toilet, and then re-using this outside in an area where you want to teach your puppy to go to toilet. The smell on the paper will help the puppy recognise and remember where they have been to toilet before, and can easily be disposed of (unlike plastic puppy pads).
Ideally start your routine by taking them out ever half hour to hourly, into the garden or area you wish them to go toilet in. Toilet breaks should be factored in after waking up in the morning, eating or drinking, after a play session, and before going to bed. Regular intervals throughout the day are also key to successful training. Don't play with them during this time, or interrupt them, as this is not playtime but toilet time.
Try and avoid letting the puppy into the garden to go to the toilet without you, and never leave the door open for him to come and go as they please until toilet training has been established.
Use a special word to indicate you want them to go, something like "Go toilet", and when your puppy does go to toilet, give them lots of praise and even a small treat. Gradually decrease giving out treats but continue to praise them after they have been to toilet. The puppy will soon learn their cue to go to toilet. After your puppy has been to the toilet you can have some playtime, so that way they can distinguish between the two. Your puppy will soon learn what they need to do as the routine is repeated, and they will understand going toilet means a reward.
During times when you may not be able to closely supervise your puppy, make sure they are in an area where you don't mind "accidents" happening. If you use a crate then you could use a pen to allow for some additional space for the puppy move around in. Some people also use ‘training bells’, these are bells on a length of material that are placed next to door, or on a pen gate, and you can train your puppy to ring them when they need to go to toilet.
If your puppy does have an accident, it is important that your do not punish them, but instead clear up the "accident" quickly. You can use a pet disinfectant cleaning product to clean and neutralise the area, that should help deter your puppy from reusing the same spot. Telling a puppy off after it has already had an accident will only create anxiety and this is to be avoided, so clear up the accident without any fuss and continue on with your supervision and training.
What are the signs to look out for that puppy needs to go to toilet?
Common signs that suggest the puppy needs to go toilet are the puppy starts circling or sniffing the ground, getting agitated, whimpering and for those who are further into their training routines, may go to the door. Some puppies may not show signs and just squat and go, so watch closely for any indication as it can happen quickly, and you will soon get to know your puppy and when it might need to go to toilet. If you see these signs ensure you get puppy swiftly out to their toilet area, ensuring praise and reward when they have been to toilet.