Puppies will want to go every hour in the early days, usually after a walk or play, eating/drinking, and just after a sleep.
Select an area in your garden that you don’t mind the puppy toileting in. Place some of the puppy’s faeces in that area to establish the scent. Once using the area, remove the faeces as they don’t like going on top of old faeces. The scent of their faeces and urine will encourage the puppy to go to that area as dogs generally like going in the same place.
When taking your puppy out to the toilet, place them on a lead, this will keep them focused on the job ahead. Try not to say much or play with the puppy as this could cause a loss of focus. You can teach your puppy a command to toilet just as we give a command to ‘sit’, you could say ‘go toilet’ or a common one ‘busy busy’. To establish this command, start by saying it as they are doing it. Always have a treat handy and reward the puppy as soon as they are finished.
If you catch your puppy in the act of toileting inside, don’t yell at them, say ‘NO’ in a stern voice, pick puppy up and place them in the allocated place outside. Stay with them until they finish, then reward. If the puppy does not finish going when outside, praise them out there anyway so they learn this is a positive place to go. NEVER RUB THEIR NOSE IN IT! The puppy won’t understand why this is happening and will only teach them to be afraid and mistrust you.
Be patient, it won’t happen overnight and even then they may not want to go out in bad weather: this is where reinforcing the good behaviour is important and being outside with them, not shutting them out in the rain!
The majority of puppies should be able to hold on overnight at 3 months of age.
Feeding your puppy to a schedule (such as 6 o’clock each morning and night) will help establish regular toileting times. You could keep a diary of your puppy’s eating and toileting habits to predict when it will need to relieve itself.