TOILET TRAINING PUPPY IN THE CITY - How to train your new puppy to pee and poop in the correct way

Dr Sing Kong Yuen

Case 2/10  

First written: July 4, 2005
Updated:  April 3, 2015

Toilet training your apartment puppy starts immediately using praise and rewards rather than punishment  
Shih Tzu puppy always wag tail


This brief report is based on a survey of Singaporean pet owners who bring their puppies to Toa Payoh Vets for vaccination at various times from 2005 to 2015.
Many first-time puppy owners seldom know how to toilet train their puppies and don't know where to get the information or instructions.

The puppy is immediately free to roam the whole apartment and some family members are unhappy as the puppy urinates and passes stools on the rug and everywhere except on newspapers. Toilet-training sprays bought at the pet shop have been placed on the newspapers by some owners, but the puppy ignores the newspapers.

The reason is that most puppies have had been housed on wire flooring in crates (cages) at the breeders and pet shops and have no association of relieving themselves on newspapers. 

However, a very small percentage of puppies relieve themselves on the newspapers within a week with little training.

Buy a 6-8-week-old chihuahuas are not for inexperienced puppy owners

Many pet shop operators recommend the first-time puppy owner to buy four panels of fences. When these four panels are hooked up, they form a play pen (puppy pen) to confine the puppy. 

The following is one method of toilet training the puppy confined to the play pen or a small area. It is known as PAPER TRAINING.

1. CONFINEMENT FOR 3-4 WEEKS. Keep the puppy confined in the play pen (puppy pen) or small area of around 6 sq ft (e.g. Shih Tzus).  The sizes depends on the breed. The play pen is placed  in the balcony, kitchen, outside the toilet.  If you don't buy the play pen, choose an area in the balcony, spare utility room or kitchen.  Block the area using a baby gate or fence. Keep the puppy confined for most of the time in the first 3 weeks.

2. 100% NEWSPAPER COVER. Cover the whole floor with newspapers.  

3.  ACTION. When the puppy circles, moves forward and backward or sniffs around, it wants to urinate or defaecate.  Say to the puppy "Wee Wee" or any word you like JUST BEFORE it has relieved itself.

5.  LAVISH PRAISE AND/OR REWARDS. After it has relieved itself, give it a small treat and say in a HAPPY voice "Good dog" or any word you like. 

6.  Replace the soiled newspaper as soon as possible if you are at home.  Soon, you will note that it will choose one spot as it wants to keep its sleeping area clean. 

7.  Gradually remove the newspaper (e.g. 5 cm by 5 cm per day) till only the newspaper covers only the area the puppy uses to relieve itself. Give the puppy a towel to sleep on but it may chew it. Give it one good quality chew toy or a chew toy with food.

8.  When the puppy is paper-trained, put newspapers outside the confined area in a bigger area of the apartment so that the puppy can relieve itself on the newspaper. This is because the puppy will not be able to get into the play pen (if it has no door).  It may whine to ask you to put it in the play pen but you may not be free to note that it wants to go to the toilet. 

Some pet shops recommend a second water bottle to be put on the outside of the play pen so that the puppy can still have water to drink after it has been toilet trained. It uses the play pen as its den to sleep and eat.

9.  Position the puppy near to family activities as the puppy is a social creature. Most Singaporeans keep the puppy in the kitchen, balcony or living area.

Buyer referred profuse diarrhoea Doberman Pinscher to pet shop. Asked to see vet promptly.
A crate sold by the pet shop. 3 feet long and 2 feet wide.

  1.  From 8 - 20 weeks old, the puppy relieves itself around 10 times per day.
When it stops growing at around 8 months old (for a small breed), the number goes down to 2-4 times.  When the 8-week-old puppy is taken out to play, it will usually relieve itself after two hours.

2.  The puppy usually relieves itself overnight, early in the morning, after each meal, after a rest period and before sleeping. Stick to the ROUTINE of feeding on time.  It is recommended that 8-12-week-old puppies are fed three times a day and the feed removed after 20 minutes.  For 6-10-week-old Chihuahuas, it may be necessary to provide feed over-night.

3.  HITTING THE PUPPY AND SMELLING SHIT. Some Singaporeans use some objects to beat the puppy when it has passed stools all over the apartment, force the puppy to smell the stools and then bring it to the newspaper to tell it to relieve itself there.  The puppy runs away or growls at the disciplinarian.  It does not know why it is pushed to smell its own stools or yelled at and associate the person with unpleasant feelings. It relieves itself after the person is not around. It eats up the stools to "hide the evidence".

How to paper-train this puppy at home?  Toa Payoh Vets
Some Singapore pet shops recommend the wire crates with a door for new puppy owners. The puppy can see everybody. It tends to play or overturn the water bowl but will not be able to shred the newspapers. The urine falls down to the pee-tray's newspapers, keeping the puppy drier and not soiling the tiles of the apartment. The stools may need to be picked up regularly. The crate is foldable. It costs around S$50.00 for the small breeds and are more expensive than the 4 pieces of fencing for the playpen (puppy pen). The fences may collapse onto the puppy.    

4.  FAMILY CO-OPERATION.  Toilet training needs every member of the family to supervise the puppy and give the same commands. If "pooh" is used and another family member say "shit", the puppy gets confused.  

5. BUSY WORKING COUPLES. Evenings and weekends may be needed to toilet train the puppy. They will find that the newspapers have been shredded when they return from home.  Do not be angry.  It will be good if the new owner can take leave for a few days to toilet train the puppy. If not, persist in paper training and most puppies will be toilet trained in 3 weeks.

Do not let the puppy free access to the whole apartment first.
Leash training is another way to toilet train your puppy.

6.  YOUNG CHILDREN.  Unfortunately, young children play with the puppy for long hours and this affect the success of toilet training!  Explain to the children the need for confinement.

7.   RUGS AND CARPETS.  If you can't stand the puppy whining on its first night alone, you can move the cage or play pen in your bedroom or switch on a radio.  If the puppy sleeps on your bed, provide a rug (and several rugs in the apartment) as the puppy loves to relieve itself on soft material.  It does not want to dirty its sleeping area.

8. BUYING TWO PUPPIES. The same toilet training procedures apply, with each puppy being confined separately. Most owners house two puppies together and this is hard for the cleaner puppy to relieve itself on the same spot in the  newspaper when the mate dirties the whole area. 

Owner was unable to enforce complete cage rest at home.
Dual bowls may be harder to be over-turned by the puppy. Aluminum and stainless steel cages are seldom bought by the puppy owner as they are expensive.

9.  PAPER TRAINING is the most common method of toilet training the puppy in Singapore where around 90% of the population live in apartments. Other than newspapers which don't cost money, PUPPY TRAINING PADS with scent of urine are bought by some owners from the pet shops and used for paper training instead of newspapers. These cost more asnewspapers are free but the owner believes that the puppy paws are cleaner when pads are used to absorb the urine effectively.


Crate training of a puppy.
1.  Crate/Carrier training. Confine the 2- or 3-month-old puppy in crate for one hour. Every hour, on the hour, take out the puppy and put it onto the play-pen with newspapers or a pee tray with newspapers to pass urine/stools.

Increase the duration of crate confinement as the puppy grows older.  As a general guide, a 2-month and 3-month-old puppy is crated for 2 and 3 hours respectively. However, the interval of taking out to pee or poo starts from 1 hour first. Supervise and clean the crate or carrier if it is soiled.

This method is effective if the domestic worker or somebody is at home.   

2.  The typical play pen (puppy pen) sold by most pet shops to puppy owners in Singapore. The play pen confines the puppy so that it does not soil the apartment. Newspapers are placed inside the play pen.

The puppy is given 2 meals a day and water from the water bottle. The puppy food is taken away within 15 minutes if the puppy does not finish eating. 

For Chihuahuas and Malteses, extra feeding and supervised feeding is advised. A honey-paste is given to such small breeds to prevent hypoglycaemia.   

.  A pee tray encloses the play pen to prevent the fences collapsing onto the puppy, especially the bigger breeds. The tray prevents the tiled or marble floor from being stained by the puppy's urine or stools.  Costs around $150.00.

The use of water bottles is not sanctioned by the local animal shelter but some puppies just get wet playing with water when given the water bowl.

A room with good ventilation smells nice, without the need to use chemicals or extractor fans.

4.  Various types of cages (crates) are bought by puppy owners. The stainless steel cages cost around $300. Inexpensive ones are made of wires enclosed by plastic. There are plastic/fiberglass crates with ventilation holes and only the front metallic door. Such crates are good for puppies who chew and dig and can be used for travel.    

If you use cages, some puppies can hop in and out of the cages to a confined toilet area where newspapers are placed. For short-legged ones like the Yorkshire Terrier, they are taken out.  

Some owners just place newspapers inside the cage and let the puppy be paper-trained. Shredding of newspapers is the common complaint. 

Stainless steel housing for puppies - costing around $500
.  The holes on the cage floor lets urine pass through and keeps the puppy cleaner. The newspapers below the floor catches the urine. This cage set up is commonly used by Singapore's pet shop operators to house puppies for sale.  However, some pet shops have built-in cages.

You can see that the puppy is not paper-trained at most pet shops since they seldom contact the newspapers directly.

Surprisingly, some puppies immediately use the newspapers as the toilet area when brought home. The use of the house-breaking aid, bought from the pet shop, sprayed onto the newspapers is useful in some cases and ineffective for others.

6 Platform training + crate + play pen 2 puppies
7.  Toilet training mistakes
8.  Six-month-old Maltese keeps peeing on tiled floors

ABANDONED PUPPY/DOG.   A puppy that has not been toilet trained properly may suffer from beatings and then given away, abandoned or sent to the animal shelter As many as  1,000 dogs are handed over to the animal shelters in Singapore in the last few years.

I hope that this article has sufficient basic information to start training your new puppy. It will never be abandoned by you or your family members for being "messy" and smelly if you have the knowledge and time to toilet-train your best friend.

This webpage:
Case 2/10

Original article:
Toilet training puppies