tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   27 November, 2009
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits


Dear Puppy Owner,

During busy hours, I may not be able to explain more about toilet training of your  puppy.  So, I ask you to go to my website. The following report is extracted from around 600 case studies done in 2004 - 2008.  It maybe of help to the first-time Singapore puppy owners.

As each puppy and home situation is different, it takes a lot of time for the owner to toilet-train the puppy. When you buy the puppy, know more about his or her feeding, exercise and and housing management from the seller.

All 26 Swamp Dogs relocated successfully to NANAS by Aug 1, 2007. Toa Payoh VetsIn general, the new puppy owner in Singapore is advised by the pet shop operator who sells the puppies.  The new owner is sold either 4 pieces of fences to form a playpen (puppy pen, exercise pen, enclosure), a more expensive crate (cage with door and a pull-out tray), grate with pee pan or a dog house.

The owner is advised to confine the puppy inside the playpen lined with 100% newspapers or newspapers plus puppy bed.  Just confine the puppy in the crate, the owner is advised.

As over 80% of Singaporeans live in apartments, they feel so sorry for the puppy being caged up. The puppy's whining or barking non-stop make them release the puppy from confinement. 

So, they let the puppy out to roam around the apartment. It is like letting a toddler out in a big football field. The puppy does not know where the toilet is and messes up the whole apartment. Some get beaten up, some get shouted at and some get toilet-trained after the owners read up books, surfed the internet or ask friends.

Success depends on spending time with your puppy. Confinement. A routine or time table for feeding and exercise to be followed strictly for the first 2 weeks. Watch for signs of elimination.  Carry him gently to the toilet location. Use the newspaper/commercial urine spray, puppy diapers with urine smell to attract him to the toilet location.  Let him out only for short period but you need to monitor him for signs of elimination.  Take him to the toilet immediately and not after he has had pooped or peed.

Praise and food treat rewards on performance. Persistence and consistence. No interference/distraction from the children, aged parents, friends and neighbours to upset the daily routine for at least 2 weeks. This is easier said than done.

If the puppy does not know when he is getting his sleep or food or time to eliminate esp. passing motion, how can he be paper-trained?

Let the puppy out only after he has pooped. Usually this is within 30 minutes after eating.  If you or your family member want to distract him after eating, don't be surprised that he does not poop at one go. Then you become upset. He gets frightened of you shouting at him. He runs to hide. You think he feels "guilty" or is "taking revenge" for being home alone.

Puppies love clean eating and sleeping areas.

Shih Tzu puppy always wag tailFor those with crates or playpen, positioning of the towel bed and water and feeding area should be nearby, leaving the other area for passing stools.

Many owners are successful because they note the signs of elimination - sniffing, turning, circling before the puppy poops and pees.

They quickly and quietly put the puppy onto  the elimination area (newspapers with urine smell or toilet floor) and praise the puppy (with treats or without) for success.

Some puppies need food treats to be motivated. Not all puppies get paper or toilet trained within 7 days. Much depends on their upbringing before you buy them and the knowledge, time and effort you spend on training them. 

Puppies will whine and bark and this is when the first-timer makes a mistake by paying attention to them.  So more barking especially at night, being a noise nuisance.

In such cases, cover the crate with towels or bring the crate to your bedroom. Ignoring the whining and barking from the first night is also an ignorant habit of the first-timer.

If you hear past-midnight barking at 2 - 4 am, it may be the puppy telling you to change his soiled papers or remove his poop. Some owners get up and spank or shout at the puppy to shut up!

The tone of barking to change soiled papers is different from the barking for attention, according to some puppy owners during my survery.

I must apologise that I may not be able to discuss in detail with some of you as it takes at over 30 minutes just to talk about your puppy toilet training if we have time.

So, I put up a brief report in this website for those of you who want more information. The 3 research blogs with over 600 cases (See References Below) are not edited. They may be overloaded with too much information. I try to get a book out giving Singapore first-time puppy owners the overall picture and success in toilet training puppies as soon as possible. 

If you have any questions, e-mail to me at and I will reply to you as best as I can. Your questions may be included in the book to benefit all puppy owners.

If you have a meaningful story that you would like to share, you may help many people with new puppies. Please e-mail your important insights or meaningful stories.  Remember the basics:  confinement, watch for signs of elimination if you take the puppy out to play, give firm commands like "Pee Here", praise and give food treats for good performance, persevere, no distraction for the first 2-4 weeks, change soiled papers frequently.

Nipping is a big problem for first-timers. Discourage nipping and biting by holding the puppy's muzzle with your fingers curled around the muzzle and say "No biting" very firmly when the puppy starts mouthing.  Children tend to scream and run, exciting the puppy.  Ask the children (and first-time puppy-owning adults) not to behave like a prey as the puppy's instinct is to chase and nip.

Best wishes
Dr Sing Kong Yuen

Playpen or exercise pen confines a puppy not supervised. Toa Payoh Vets  
Most new puppy owners will be sold the play pen. Least expensive. Around $40. Fences collapse onto the puppy when the owner is at work depending on the quality.
PLAY PEN WITH 6 PANELS. For big breeds like Golden Retrievers. A playpen is also known as an exercise pen. Some puppies know how to climb out or shift the playpen, soiling the floor. Use bricks or anchor the playpen to a window grille to prevent shifting or collapse of the panels.      
Do not over-exercise the 7-month-old Chihuahua puppy for more than 2 hours.  Toa Payoh Vets  
A playpen with an aluminum pee pan preventing the collapse of the fences onto the active puppy. 
2. CRATE + PEE PAN.  Crate + pee pan is the 2nd most common equipment sold by Singapore pet shops, after the Playpen to confine the new puppy.  
Active training, rubber mat as toilet location. 10 days successful. Toa Payoh Vets How to paper-train this puppy at home?  Toa Payoh Vets Wire crate and pee pan for Singapore puppies. Toa Payoh Vets.
Success story: Rubber-mat trained in 10 days. Wire crate + Pee Pan is used to confine the puppy at night only.  For Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas, a ramp is needed as this crate has a higher floor level. Pee Pan may rust.
Buyer referred profuse diarrhoea Doberman Pinscher to pet shop. Asked to see vet promptly. Healthy Golden Retriever pups after first vaccination. A loner pup wants peace and quiet. Toa Payoh Vets  
A luxury stainless steel cage of 3 feet x 2 feet with a pull-out pee tray. Note the paper shredding which is a common complaint of puppy owners. Each pup is different in temperament. The school Principal had an anti-social Golden Retriever.  The pup was born nearly dead. He was revived and bottled fed by the Principal. So he related to the Principal as his "mother" rather than the other canine members.  That is why he did not bother to socialise with his pack when I first went to vaccinate him in his home. Later on, he was happy to be with his canine family.  
Toa Payoh Vets Singapore toilet training case studies. Pee pan with Wire Flooring. Toa Payoh Vets Singapore toilet training case studies. Pee pan with Wire Flooring. Apartment dog. Eliminates on the grate+pee pan even as an adult. Toa Payoh Vets
WILL RUST. Place the puppy on this wire flooring when it needs to eliminate.  Put newspapers on the pee pan and spray urine drops or commercial toilet training aid on the newspapers. You still need to train the puppy and confine it to a room or small space to succeed.  It takes about 2 weeks or less if you do full-time training using the positive reinforcement method.

Pet shop puppies are more receptive to this method.  You can see that the Pee Pan is a bit too small for this big breed! 
This Schnauzer uses the Grate + Pee Pan to pee even as an adult.  He poops on the balcony floor.  Probably he did not have much space on the grating.  Very much loved by the whole family.  The family was advised to buy a new grating as the old one had rusted. It was great to see him grown up.
Crate training of a puppy. A method of toilet-training.  The puppy is kept inside the crate with sufficient space to stand and move around.

Initially, every hour on the hour, increasing to longer periods of time, bring him out to pee and then put inside the crate. Use the N-1 formula where N=number of months. However, this is NOT a scientific fool-proof formula.

As a guide, a 3 month-old puppy can be crated for 2 hours. Start with 1 or 2 hours first.  Puppies should not be confined in a small crate for over 4 - 6 hours. 
This method is very successful if you have a full-time homemaker or maid to do it properly. 

The puppy is leashed around 6 feet to a chair or person  so that it can't wander everywhere to soil the apartment. A balcony may be the confined area.  This tether method is quite successful in paper-training as the owner has no time to supervise the puppy. For Siberian Huskies, the leash may need to be chew-proof. Such leashes are available at some pet shops. 
Usually the balcony or bathroom is used to confine the puppy. Newspapers, pee pan, crates, grate + pee pan are placed inside the room for 2-4 weeks. The baby-gate at the door permits the puppy to see the owners but not come out.  
Case Studies:  One Puppy
Toilet-training & other routine are needed if rehoming is to succeed. Toa Payoh Vets Beautiful Shetland, China-imported, left Singapore quarantine 2 days ago, apartment living. ToaPayohVets Big breed in apartments need bigger toilet area or go outdoors to eliminate. Toa Payoh Vets
To successfully re-home a submissive urination-Chihuahua requires knowledge and a routine for him for first 2-4 weeks. But children and other family members distract and upset the routine! Confine inside kitchen/maid's bathroom area. Big breeds may need to be toilet-trained inside the bathroom or balcony as they pee and poop in larger amounts. Outdoor elimination will be preferred. 
Pom disliked newspapers but was successfully "diaper" trained. Toa Payoh Vets Lemon-white "miniature" Beagle suits apartment living. Less than 13 inch high when adult.  Toa Payoh Vets lst 7 days monitor husky like a hawk. Now, it is paper-trained in the playpen. Buy playpen with a door.
One owner shared with me her house-breaking training. I  followed up with her after one year during the annual vaccination.  The surprise was that the Pom preferred the "puppy training pads" or "diapers" rather than newspapers.   Follow up 1 year later. The Pom was successfully "diaper" trained. If you let the puppy out to play for an hour during the first 2-4 weeks of toilet training, watch for signs of elimination. Sniffing and turning may be signs that the puppy is going to pee or poop. Quickly and quietly carry the puppy to the newspapers or toilet area and say: "Pee here". You need to be observant as some Singapore owners complain that the puppy is too fast for them! Have you been "out-gunned" by your puppy? MOST PLAYPENS SOLD IN SINGAPORE'S PET SHOPS HAVE NO DOORS. 3-month-old Siberian Husky at 3rd vaccination.Successfully paper trained in a playpen with door in an apartment.  This puppy goes to the playpen (newspapers on cardboard) in the living area next to the kitchen to eliminate and is free to wander around the apartment.
WB(water bowl) & FB(feedbowl)  should be nearer to towe  bed (bottom figure). Toa Payoh Vets 14th storey high skylight at entrance of National Library fascinates kindergarteners. Toa Payoh Vets Bishan Community Library, Singapore. Toa Payoh Vets
Many Singapore puppy owners position the feed bowl in the front and the towel bed at the back of the crate. The poor puppy has to step on its stools and urine just to go to its bed or water bowl/bottle.
Kindergarteners & 3-month-old puppies - what is the common connection?
Start toilet training on day 1 of purchase/arrival. Start them young.
Go to the library to tap its treasures of knowledge
Case Studies:  2 or >2 Puppies/Dogs
Separate toilet locations may be needed by siblings that want clean toilet areas. Toa Payoh Vets    
The sibling will not share a soiled grate with the brother. Coprophagia How a home breeder successfully paper-train 4 pups by 10 weeks old  
Case Studies:  One Adult Dog
Paper training a recently purchased adult Westie Can you teach old dogs new tricks? How to successfully paper-train an apartment-living Golden Retriever in Singapore.
Spend time toilet-training your new puppy.

If anything happens to you and you are forced to give up your dog, a well trained dog is easier to get adopted.

Many small breed and pedigree puppies cannot adapt to  community living at NANAS which is mainly a non-kill animal shelter and they may not be accepted. In animal shelters all over the world, most puppies are put to sleep after 3 days as there is insufficient kennel space for them. Therefore, toilet-train your new puppy well and if things in life do not turn up well for us, our dogs should be able to get a new home as they are so clean and pose no problems to the new owners. 
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