Potty Training Your Puppy

Potty training your puppy is probably on your list of priorities right now, especially if your Cocker Spaniel isn't yet fully house-trained. Our ultimate guide to toilet training your pet will help you to have your little boy dry in no time at all! 

House Training Puppies

Talk about butter wouldn't melt...this gorgeous little puppy is adorable isn't he?

But who would have thought that something so cute (and so tiny) could produce so much waste? 

They're little poop and pee machines at this age!

Black and brown cocker spaniel puppy with adorable pale blue eyes, looking upwards!Potty training your puppy the easy way!

And that's why potty training your puppy will be your number one priority right now!

At this young age, your puppy won't know any different, so it will be up to you to teach him your house rules.

Set up a simple puppy toilet training regime and stick to it - it will be much easier for you both if you do!

Potty Training Your Puppy

No-one ever said that house training a dog or a puppy was going to be a walk in the park, but if you follow the steps set out below your Cocker Spaniel puppy will be dry in no time at all!

Timing Is Everything!

"How will I know when my puppy wants to pee?"  The simple answer is, you won't!

But with house training, timing is everything. Your puppy's toilet needs are predictable. Understanding them will allow you to build a routine around those needs, as follows. 

  • As a bare minimum, your puppy will need to be taken outside every hour or so.
  • Take him outside as soon as he wakes up, no matter how long he's slept for.
  • Ten minutes after he's had a drink, take him outside and encourage him to pee.
  • Between 15 to 20 minutes after eating your puppy may need to poop. Keep a close eye on him and 15 minutes after his last meal take him outside. 
  • Take him outdoors after any playing, exercising, or training sessions.
  • Let your pup into the garden after any stress or excitement. For example, when visitors call, other dogs visit, or following a bit of playtime.
  • If your puppy gets a fright or shock (a loud unexpected bang, for example), he may need to pee. Once again, take him outside - if it's not already too late!

Tell-Tale Signs!

When potty training your puppy, it's important to watch him closely when he's out of his crate.

Don't give him the opportunity to pee or poop in the house. You could be setting him up to fail and it may cause a set-back in any progress you've made so far.

Golden cocker spaniel puppy, lying quietly on a white tiled floor.This cocker spaniel puppy is fully housetrained!

I admit potty training your puppy isn't always going to be easy, but if you watch him closely you'll soon notice tell-tale signals that he's about to pee or poop!

These little nuggets of behaviour to watch out for are:

  • intense sniffing of the floor,
  • circling (turning in small tight circles),
  • squatting,
  • holding the tail high,
  • crying or whimpering,
  • going to the door, or scratching at the door.

The minute you see any of these signs, scoop him up and take him straight outside to his toilet area.

When potty training your puppy try not to leave him alone for any longer than a couple of minutes.

You can almost guarantee that if you leave him for any longer, he'll have an 'accident' while you're gone. You will return to find a little puddle (or parcel!) has suddenly appeared on your best rug!

Don't set your little boy up to fail.

As his internal 'plumbing' develops he'll be able to hold himself for longer. This will allow you to increase the time between his daily activities and taking him outside to pee.

Potty Training and Feeding

When potty training your puppy it's important to feed him at regular times each day.

Gorgeous black and tan puppy sitting in a meadow of white wildflowers, wearing a purple ribbon around his neck.Oops, I just piddled! Just as well I'm outside.

Regular input equals regular output, if you see what I mean.

Don't feed him between meals, except for occasional small training treats. 

If you overfeed your Cocker he may need to poop more often.

His timing will be unpredictable too, making house-training your puppy much more difficult. 

More to the point, overfeeding produces overweight dogs!

Follow this advice and your Cocker pup will soon begin to do his toilet to a regular pattern.

Puppy Potty Training

Choose His 'Potty Spot'

When potty training your puppy it's best to teach him to do his toilet in the same place in your yard or garden each time. This makes for much easier cleaning and pick up.

Tri-colour Cocker spaniel puppy lying in a carved wooden bowl and sack cloth. He looks comfy!This potty training lark is easy - I've got it nailed!

Choose an area that you're happy for your Cocker Spaniel to use.

It should be far enough from the house so that there aren't any smells, but near enough for him to reach in time.

Before you begin puppy toilet training put him on a lead and take him into the garden and lead him to his special area.

Stay With Him

Don't leave him alone outside. You must stay with him otherwise he'll begin to play or explore and won't concentrate on the task in hand.

Don't be tempted to play with him or fuss over him either. If you do, he'll become more interested in you and/or playing than in doing the business.

Help him to concentrate on the job in hand!

Choose Your 'Words of Encouragement'

You need to choose a word or phrase to encourage your puppy to perform. For example, "do toilet", "get busy" or "do wee wee/do pee pee", or whatever works for you.

I'm sure you'll be using these words in public from time to time so I recommend you choose something you won't be too embarrassed to say out loud!

As your puppy begins to pee, say your chosen words of 'encouragement'. This will help him to associate these words with his actions. When he's finished, praise him and give him a small treat as a reward. 

If he doesn't do anything within 10 minutes, take him back inside. But keep a watchful eye on him as he may try to pee indoors - probably on your favourite shoes!

Better still, crate him and take him back outside again in 15 minutes.

Accidents Will Happen When Potty Training Your Puppy!

Despite your best intentions (and your puppy's) he will have a few little 'accidents' along the way. 

Don't Punish Him

Whatever you do, please don't scold your puppy for little mishaps in your home.

It's not your puppy's fault if he soils indoors. Especially if you weren't watching him closely enough or you weren't there to let him out.

Patient red and white cocker spaniel sitting at the looking out of the window. He's waiting to go potty.I need to pee Mom!

Many years ago when we dog owners weren't as enlightened as we now are, it was considered acceptable, almost encouraged, to rub your puppy's nose in his own mess if he soiled indoors!

It was meant to 'teach him a lesson' but I can assure you, that school of thought never helped with the development of potty training your puppy.

Thank goodness toilet training has moved on since then!

We now know that for our 'disapproval' to be effective, the puppy must be be caught 'red-handed'.

Unless we do this, he won't understand why we're unhappy with his behaviour. 

Instead, he's more likely to become afraid of pooping in front of us, which may lead him to be secretive about it and he may sneak off to do it under the kitchen table or behind the sofa!

Try To Catch Him In The Act

If you catch your puppy in the act, or he's showing signs that he's about to pee or poop in your home, say 'No' using a firm, loud tone. Don't display any emotion, you don't want him to become frightened of you.

Hopefully, your puppy will be so 'shocked' he will stop peeing in mid-flow.

Pick him up (you won't have time to put him on his lead) and take him straight into the garden to his 'special place'. When he begins again you can praise him and reward him with a treat.

If you do this every single time, he'll soon catch on to where you want him to pee and poop.

As with most dog and puppy training, consistency is the key!

Potty Training Your Puppy: Clearing Away Little 'Accidents'

You should expect little accidents while you're potty training your puppy. Don't worry or fuss about it, just clear it away as soon as possible.

Golden Cocker Spaniel puppy lying on a patio, chewing on a sweetie wrapper.Does this puppy look guilty to you?

Even though your floor may smell and look clean to you, your puppy will still be able to smell the ammonia in his pee.

Any lingering smell of urine will only attract your puppy and encourage him to pee in the same place again.

Use a biological odour eliminator spray, or a mixture of biological washing powder and vinegar. Both are effective at removing any smell.

Never use ammonia-based cleaning products as the smell could encourage your puppy to pee.

Puppy Potty Training During The Night

Potty training your puppy doesn't stop just because it's night-time!

If you take him outside just before you go to bed, you've a better chance of your puppy staying dry overnight. But don't expect too much from him at this stage. He's still too young and won't have full control over his bladder or bowels.

Night-time Options

For night-time, you have a couple of options. 

Option 1:

You can set the alarm and get up at 3:00 in the morning to take him outside.

Option 2:

You could section off part of the room where he's sleeping and lay polythene by the door (or in one corner of the room) with newspaper laid on top.

(I know which option I'd choose!)

If you decide on option 2, place a tissue soaked with your puppy's pee in the middle of the newspaper. This will help to encourage him to pee exactly where you want him to!

You could also use puppy training pads, laid over the newspaper, but they can be expensive if you're on a budget. 

There are some owners who believe using newspaper or training pads isn't the way to train puppies. They believe it teaches them that it's okay to pee indoors as well as in the garden. It's thought that this can confuse them and undermines the puppy house training routine.

I believe it's simply a matter of personal choice, so do whatever works for you.

Restrict His Water Intake

When I was potty training my puppy, I found that by removing his water an hour or two before bedtime, there were many mornings when I found the newspaper dry!

Just remember to take him outside as soon as he wakes otherwise he won't stay dry for long!

Potty Training Your Puppy: On A Leash

Some puppies won't do their toilet when out on a walk, on leash. Instead, they wait until they get back to their own garden to do it. Or they wait until the minute they're indoors! 

Black and white cocker spaniel puppy with unusual zebra-striped legs.Do you like my zebra-stripped legs?

Is this what happens to you?  Frustrating, isn't it?

One solution would be to set your alarm clock and get up early in the morning to take your Cocker out for a brisk walk. 

You probably won't have long to wait as it's early morning.  He's more likely to pee whilst he's on his leash if he's desperate.

If he's not yet leash trained, you can learn how here.

When he pees 'on leash', praise your puppy and reward him with extra treats and he'll soon get the message!

If your puppy fails to do anything during his walk, take him straight to his 'toilet zone' when you return home. If you don't, you can almost guarantee that he'll relieve himself as soon as you step over the threshold!

If he still doesn't pee, take him inside, but keep a watchful eye on him. 

Take him outside every 15 minutes until he performs!

Continue getting up early and taking him out on his leash. He'll eventually crack, I promise you!

Potty Training Your Puppy: Summary

I hope this article has helped and that you're well on your way to success!

Remember when toilet training your puppy:

  • Set up and stick to a regular routine of taking him outside.
  • Encourage him to pee and praise and reward your puppy each time he 'performs' in the right place.
  • Watch for signs that he's going to pee indoors and never punish your puppy for any little accidents.
  • Potty training your puppy shouldn't take too long. He should be fully house-trained between 4 and 6 months old. Don't worry if it takes a little longer as no two puppies will develop at the same rate.

Stick to this routine and you'll find your Cocker Spaniel is fully house trained in no time at all!

More Relevent Articles

No-one said toilet training dogs was going to be a walk in the park!

But did you know that crate training your puppy can help with toilet training? 


Crating offers so many benefits. It can also help with potty training because pups instinctively try not to pee or poop in their den. 

(This instinct stems from when their mother would lick her puppies dry and 'clean up' to remove any scent that may have attracted predators. Although this no longer applies in their domestic world, the mother will still clean up her babies).

While your puppy is in his crate, he'll try to hold himself longer than he normally would. But there are no guarantees and there will always be the occasional 'little accident'. On the other hand, if he's not crated he'll do his toilet whenever and wherever he can.

Photo Credits for Potty Training Puppy Your Puppy:
1. Jstaley401 at https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-cocker-spaniel-puppy-image20754247
2. Poutnik at https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-english-cocker-spaniel-baby-dog-image8840862
3. Cynoclub at https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-puppy-cocker-spaniel-image22758527
4. Liliya Kulianionak at https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-english-cocker-spaniels-puppies-image23082786
5. Faith Goble at Flickr.com at https://www.flickr.com/photos/grafixer/4906972374
6. Copyright of About Cocker Spaniels.com
7. Bigdog3c at Flick.com at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigdog3c/2169972701