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 3/10  
First written: March 4, 2005
Updated:  April 3, 2015


1. Assuming the puppy recognises the newspaper as the toilet location.
2.  Give the puppy free access to the whole apartment.
3.  No time to train the puppy properly.  The owner travels frequently.

Troubleshooting - Case study No. 1

Puppy given freedom of whole apartment - hard to paper-train
The puppy had free access to the whole apartment. Newspapers placed in the living and dining rooms were ignored.

"We put newspapers on the floor in the living and dining rooms, but the puppy does will not poo and pee on the papers !" the 16-year-old younger sister said as I gave him the second vaccination and enquired about its toilet training. "We had the puppy for over 4 weeks. It peed as often as ten times in one hour when it was younger but now, less frequently."

1.  This puppy does not associate the newspapers as the toilet area.  There are cases where the newly purchased puppy just go to the newspapers to do its business without any training. 

2.  In this case, the puppy was free to roam the whole apartment. 

3.  It was 6 weeks old when purchased and was too young to be able to control its bladder and bowel compared to being older.

Solutions for the busy owners 

1.  The puppy must be confined in the play pen again. Line the whole floor with newspapers.    The puppy may tear up the papers and the owner may give up.  It will take time to paper train the puppy.  After some time, one area of the papers will contain its poo and pee as the puppy does not like to sleep in a dirty area.

2.  Over a period of time, remove the papers so that only the toilet area is covered by newspapers.

3.  When you take the puppy out, observe the signs of passing urine.  Take it to the newspapers, say "pee here."  Reward with a treat and praise the puppy with a treat if it pees on the papers.

4. When the puppy is taken out to the bigger area but not the whole apartment, place the newspaper with the puppy urine (2nd sheet of newspaper) or with urine training solution on the floor. 

5.  Thoroughly remove all smells of urine and poo from the tiled floors in the living and dining rooms using a cleaning solution.

1. Indoors (balcony, spare bathroom, kitchen, living area, bedroom or whole apartment).

2. Outdoors (grass area).

3. Indoors and Outdoors - Many pet owners confuse the young puppy as it is immature and does not know what the owner wants. Also, the time to go out to the grass area is not regular.  Toilet training success is not good.

1. Newspapers* in a confined area like the play pen, laundry room, bathroom,  balcony or kitchen area.

2. Free access to whole apartment.

3. Crate (cage) with door. The floor level of the cage may be too high for the small breeds. May need to lift the puppy into the cage. Confined the puppy inside the cage for the first 7 days. Let it out under supervision. Catch it for signs of wanting to go to the toilet. Put it inside the cage. Praise it for success. Clean the flooring of the cage regularly but leave a bit of the smell in the location where the puppy usually pees and poos. 

4. Crate. Very few owners are aware of the usefulness of crate training. 

If the puppy is 6 - 12 weeks old, every hour, take the puppy out to let it pee and poo.  If the puppy is around 12 weeks old, every 2 hours, take it out to pee on newspapers in a confined area. 


1.  Full-time training. Takes less than 7 days in some cases.  Some owners sleep with the puppy for the first 7 days. When it whines or wants to go to the toilet, take it to the toilet area.  Working owners may need to apply for leave to focus on this toilet training.

2.  Part-time training.  Evenings and weekends for home-alone puppies.

3.  No training.  Free access to whole apartment.


1.  Beating the puppy's backside with newspaper or hand.  Slapping the puppy's face for not going to the toilet in time.  The puppy runs away and is frightened of the owner. Two puppies with eye injuries were treated by me.

2.  Put nose in shit and tell puppy to go to right location.  The puppy runs away and is frightened of the owner.

3. Hit the floor with a roll of newspapers when the puppy does not go to the toilet area. The puppy runs away and is frightened of the owner.

3.  Reward the puppy with treats and praises when the puppy pees and poos on the newspapers.   The puppy is happy and looks forward to the rewards.


1. Play pen (no door). Most commonly sold by pet shops. It is the cheapest and some owners feel that the play pen will be of use only for a month or two. Hence they do not wish to spend so much money. Newspapers cover floor of the play pen.

2. Play pen + pee tray. (no door). Newspapers placed onto the pee tray.

3. Play pen + pee tray with wire flooring put inside the play pen.  Newspapers placed onto the pee tray.

4. Play pen (wooden frames) + door. Towel on one half of the floor. Newspapers on the other half.
5. Pee tray with wire flooring above.  Newspapers placed onto the pee tray.

6. Pee tray.  Newspapers placed onto the pee tray.

7. Leash on restricted floor area. Put newspaper and bedding.

8. Grass outside (ground-floor apartments or bring the puppy downstairs).

9.  Cage.  Stainless steel ones are the most expensive.

10.  Crate.  This may be a puppy carrier or cage with 3 sides and front door.


1. Urine training liquid available from pet shops and sprayed onto newspapers.

2. 2nd sheet of newspapers stained with the puppy's urine.

3. No water after 8 p.m.

4.  Two feeds a day. If the puppy does not eat within 15 minutes, take away the food**.

Most dog books recommend 3 to 4 feeds a day for puppies less than 20 weeks old but Singapore pet shop operators recommend twice a day.

5.  The water bottle attached to the play pen or fencing is usually recommended by the pet shop operator for new puppies.

6.  Dual-nozzle water bottle or two water bottles (one inside and one outside) may be need to ensure that the puppy drinks water.

7.  Water bowls spill water onto the floor as the puppy plays with the bowl. Heavy bowls may not be available at the pet shop but the puppy may play with the water. 

8. Cleaning liquids to neutralise the smell of pee and poo on tiled floors.
7-week-old Chihuahua ready for new home. Extrovert.
1. Role model of older puppy. May work or may not work.

2. No role model for 2 siblings. One may want to be clean but the other simply poos and pees anywhere in the play pen or confined area.

3.  Toilet train as for sole puppy by separating them in confined areas. This may not be practical.

* Newspapers mentioned in this report include

1.  Puppy Training Pads (cost around US$0.70 per piece. More absorbent and may be used for 2 days)  Some puppy training pads have scent to attract the puppies to pee on it. Some pads require additional urine training liquid to attract the puppy.

2.  Pieces of old rugs/carpet. The puppy loves the feel of soft areas for doing its business.

** For Chihuahuas and mini-Maltese, you will need to be careful not to remove the food if it does not eat within 15 minutes. Make sure it eats the food.  Some of the smaller breeds are prone to fainting if it does not eat.

Puppy-proofing the toilet area.  If the puppy is confined to the laundry room, make sure that the electrical switches and wires are not available for the puppy to chew.  A case of a washing machine malfunction was due to the wires being chewed off by the puppy.  Detergents, plastic bags and other things to be placed away from the puppy.  


Paper- Training.  A play-pen made of 4 panels of fences confines the puppy. The dual-nozzle water bottle permits the puppy to drink water when it is outside the play pen.  Newspapers cover 100% of the inside of the play-pen.
Paper-training.  A pee-tray encloses the playpen to contain the puppy's urine and stools so that the floor tiles will not be stained.  It prevents the fences collapsing on the energetic puppy.
Stainless steel housing for puppies - costing around $500
Grate Training.  A stainless steel crate (cage) + pee pan costs around $400 in 2015, eight times more than the play pen. It has a pee tray and comfortable flooring with small round holes. The cheaper version (image below) is more popular but it will rust within a few weeks.
How to paper-train this puppy at home?  Toa Payoh Vets
Grate Training.  A cheaper crate (cage). The newspapers are placed on the pee tray, not on the grated floor.
Crate training of a puppy.
Crate training. Confine in crate for 1-2 hours. Put in play-pen to pass urine/stools. Confine to crate again. In this picture, the carrier is the crate. 

The crate is just small enough for the puppy so that it keeps the inside clean. The owner must let it out every hour or two, depending on its age.  An hour for a 2-month-old puppy and 2 hours for a 3-month-old puppy, for example.  The puppy is taken out to a play-pen or confined room like the bathroom to pee and poo.
Grate training. This method is good if the puppy is confined properly and if it has experience of being housed in the wire grated floor.

Most Singapore pet shops selling puppies house them on grated flooring in a crate with a pee pan below. In this case, the puppy prefers to poop on the newspapers and pees on the grate. The grate must be washed after peeing but this is not practical as the owner is seldom free to do it. So this puppy poops outside the urine-soiled grate.

Grate training. The grate is used by this puppy confined in the playpen.  The clean area is the sleeping and feeding area which will be kept clean. Still, the owner has to diligently wash the grate and clear the poo after the puppy has soiled it and not leave it soiled the whole day, to be successful.

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