Toilet training a puppy in an apartment (without a garden)


Oh, city life. Many of us, city dog owners, have to contend with toilet training a puppy without a garden. Don’t panic. It can be done!

Whether you choose to train your puppy to go outside only or you opt for an indoor dog toilet, your puppy can learn to be fully toilet trained without a garden. 

So, let’s look at the options and how to toilet train your city pup.

What are your options for toilet training without a garden?

picture of puppy for toilet training

You have four options to choose from when toilet training your puppy without a garden. 

  1. You aim to have your puppy toileting outside and commit to taking them out at regular intervals day and night
  2. You opt for puppy pads – you can get washable puppy pads too!
  3. You choose an indoor dog toilet and train your puppy to use it
  4. A hybrid of the above – perhaps at night and when you’re out, you’d like your puppy to use pads or an indoor toilet

Toilet training your puppy before their jabs

picture of puppy for toilet training

Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, he/she shouldn’t really be going on the ground outside of your apartment. So for those first few weeks, you will likely want to choose puppy pads or an indoor dog toilet to keep your puppy safe. Position your puppy pad or toilet near the door if you’d like to transition them to ask to go outside when they need to go.

What do you need to toilet train your puppy?

picture of puppy for toilet training

Pet stain and odor remover – accidents will happen, and an enzymatic cleaner will help remove the scent, so your puppy doesn’t keep returning to the scene of the crime for another go! – when your puppy has an accident, this is the best way to soak up any pee from your rugs and carpets before cleaning.

Poo bags – for when you get those outdoor toileting successes. Hurrah!

A leash and collar/harness – for those trips outside waiting for the magic to happen

Some delicious puppy treats – so you can reward your puppy when the magic happens in the right place!

A washable dog bed or spare dog blankets – puppies will usually choose to pee and poo outside of their bed, but it’s good to have some extra blankets on hand in case of an accident while your puppy is learning.

A crate or puppy pen – this can really help with toilet training as well as many other things in puppy life

Toilet training your city pup to go toilet outside

picture of puppy for toilet training

When you first bring your puppy home, you will need to be taking them outside A LOT! Puppies cannot physically hold their toilet in until they are around 16 weeks of age, so they need plenty of opportunities to go in the right place. 

Try to take your puppy outside at least every hour, to begin with, and every time they eat and drink. Play can also stimulate the need to go, so take your puppy out after a play session, and every time they wake up from sleep. 

If you live in an upstairs apartment, then it’s best to carry your puppy downstairs since your puppy will likely not be able to hold it in if they have all paws on the ground. And you don’t want to be mopping up the lobby or elevator floors if you can help it!

Toilet training your puppy to use a dog toilet or puppy pads

Puppy pads typically have a scent on them, which encourages your puppy to toilet there. Place your puppy pads away from your pup’s bed, and somewhere they can access easily.

If you opt for reusable puppy pads, then you can purchase a pee attractor scent to help encourage your puppy to use them when you first start training. 

Indoor toilets are typically made with artificial grass on them, although you can even make your own and choose the filler! Again, place your dog’s toilet away from their bed and within easy access. 

Any time your puppy shows signs they may need to go, such as sniffing around in circles or pacing, take your puppy to their pad or indoor toilet and wait for the happy event! 

When your puppy goes in the right place, REWARD! 

And when your puppy gets it wrong, shrug it off, clean it up and consider reducing the time between visits to their potty area. 

Supervision is the key!

picture of dog for toilet training

If you can’t keep an eye on your puppy, then this is where your crate or puppy pen will come in. When your puppy is left unsupervised, you can be almost certain they will go and have a little accident on your fav rug! 

Training your puppy to feel comfortable and happy in their crate is well worth the effort. You’ll thank me for it, promise!

Learn how to nail your puppy crate training with my helpful tricks of the trade                                                                  

Toilet training an older dog to use an indoor dog toilet or puppy pads

Your living circumstances may have changed, or your dog’s health may mean that they need easier or more regular access to relieve themselves, so you’re thinking about introducing an indoor toilet. 

This is pretty much the same process as toilet training a puppy, only you won’t need to take your dog to the area quite so often. If your dog is used to going to the back yard or to the front door to signal they need out, then near the door is a good place to put your dog toilet or pad. 

And that’s it! With these top tips, your city pup can learn to be fully toilet trained even without a garden. Happy toilet training, and enjoy those lovely puppy snuggles. They grow up so fast!

The next big thing in your puppy’s life is socialization and we have an excellent blog post on the topic!

City Dog Expert

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