Friday, January 13, 2012

820. E-mail case study. Basic principles in toilet training a puppy in Singapore


Hi Dr Sing Kong Yuen,

I really need help toilet training my new puppy. We have tried different things from fencing to open roaming and back to fencing.

She is a Female Tibetan terrier

Presently (3.5-4)months old

Born 20/09/2012 In Brisbane
where had lots of space to play and was fenced up with siblings
Came to Singapore from breeder in Australia when 2.5-3 months old
Flew with brother to new home in Singapore

When she flew over, she was confined to a small cage with brother

for over 10 hours so had to pee/ poo there while travelling

We stay in a 2 story house with a garden.

We have 2 young kids who adore her and who keep going into her fenced area to play with her or taking her out to run.
Kids laughing just seems to excite her and so confuses her when being told off by me bur kids giggling.
We have an 8 year old male Tibetan terrier who is an angel ( very passive) and is toilet trained to pee outside in garden twice a day when we take him out.

Fencing and toilet- training:

We brought her home and fenced her with collapsible fence(1.8 by 1.8)m.

During the day, she stayed in the fenced area downstairs.

One side had sleeping box & toys & water bottle and food served on other side. Newspaper with pee smell on side wall of fence (for soilage)as in photo. At same time,also, tried taking her to shower cubicle to pee/poo with pee tray or newspaper. Failed miserably. Would sleep there or whine. We would wait and cajole for over (15-20) min but she would not do her business and then soon after that she would come out and she wiuld pee on toilet floor or room floor/mat.

At night, Slept upstairs in bedroom in smaller fenced area (0.6 by 0.6)m with sleeping box and water bottle. When we suspected she needed to pee/poo, she was taken to a different upstairs shower cubicle but same result of sleeping / whining in there and peeing later outside.


Being Fed 3x/day since she came.


For first week, Food was left in pen till finished and sometimes hand fed as figured puppy was getting used to new environment and separation anxiety.

About 2 weeks later, once started eating fairly well, we picked up food after one hour whether eaten or not. Tried a bit of cajoling if not eaten much but figured will learn to eat faster when realises food not there all the time.

Also, had to get water bottle as she had tendency to jump into water bowl and splash and play with water and bowl.

We would let her run around for a while on & off around the house and with kids and other dog and then re- fence her but she would soil anytime & anywhere.

2-3 weeks into her arrival, we changed strategies. We made mistake of letting her loose in house all day and only putting newspaper on outside balcony near garden. We thought we had confused her earlier with where to pee/ poo (too many options for locations to pee/poo including upstairs bathroom cubicle and paper in fence and downstairs bathroom cubicle, so we changed it to one location near balcony with paper and put a (0.6 by 0.6)m fence around. So when saw her sniffing we would put her there. But she would go to sleep in there and pee/ poo once out.

A while later,we changed to not confining/ fencing peeing area as we thought she was confused with fence also being used to punish her. But without fence she kept running off the newspaper and then of course she peed/ pooed in wrong place. As a punishment, we would make her see/ smell the pee/ poo and at same time say 'no no' and then place her in fenced area (0.6 by 0.6)m Would say' bad girl'or 'no, no' after pointing to the wrong location for soiling.

A month after she arrived, we have started smacking her bum for:

biting/ barking/ nipping people/ nipping other dogs/eating wrong things(ie: poo/ shoes) /running out of gate/ eating leaves in garden.

We also tried the loud noise ( old empty drink can with coins) to teach her it's wrong but seems to scare her quite a bit.

Is this correct? What's your opinion on this?

We are frustrated as now:

•She pees/ poos whenever she eats & everywhere and house smelling

•She refuses to pee when take her to newspaper with pee trainer smell and instead will sleep on the paper and whine softly but no pee/poo there and soon after being 'released' she will pee/ poo somewhere else ( no fixed place). No matter how long you wait.

•She might then eat/ play with her poo

•She whines/barks when confined / alone in punishment fence

Plays with her poo/ Tries to eat poo

Seems confused about toilet place

Sleeps in toilet confined area/ in toilet cubicle/ on newspaper with pee- trainer smell

When realize she wants to poo/pee so take her to open area with newspaper to pee/ poo she runs away or sleeps on newspaper and soon after does it somewhere else on floor/ carpet

. Sometimes chews newspaper

As of today, after reading some of your cases, we have decided to refence her (1.8 by 1.8)m with toys on one side and newspaper at other side and food placed near toys at meal time. Also decided to feed her earlier 7am/ 12.30 & 5pm so that has time to empty bladder before sleeping.

For example today,

She ate at 5pm and at 7.30pm still just sleeping on the paper. Not peed/ pooed.

So at 7.30pm i decided i will get her out to exercise and run and instead she ran to kitchen and peed there. We brought her back to the newspaper in fence and she went to sleep on it.

At 8pm kids went into fence to play for 20min. Then she peed just next to paper on wooden floor.

At 8.30pm, not pooed yet.

At 10pm plan to take her to sleep in fenced area in bedroom. ( does not like to sleep alone and once upstairs she goes to bed).

What do I do if she keeps peeing in fenced area but not on newspaper?

Do dogs poo after every meal? How long do I wait for her to pee/poo before allowing her to go to bedroom?

Also, aiming to slowly move to 2 meals a day by 6 months. Is that ok?

Please please help and advice me about toilet training her.

About to pull my hair out.

This is becoming a battle of wills.

I'm also worried she might be stubborn enough to not pee/ poo in fenced area on paper and may end up with kidney/ urine infections.

How long do I just let her not pee/poo in the fenced area? Basically, how long do I wait?

What if she does not do it on newspaper and does it in other parts of fenced area? What do I do?

Do I need to cover entire fenced area with newspaper?

Every time she pees on floor in fence, I spray the smell repellant and disinfectant and wipe it off. Is that correct?

Should elimination area be in/ out of playpen?
At night, can she sleep in fenced area in bedroom?

At what age can we take puppy for walk on leash?

Eventually want him to pee outside the house once toilet -trained like my older dog.

Does paper-training confuse or hamper that?

I was hoping to take her for walks with older dog in hope that would copy older dog when peeing/pooing but she tries to bite leash and lies on floor & refuses to walk and hates collar so unable to do that.

Will send you photos of the fenced area and her sleeping fence too.

Really waiting eagerly for your wise words as really quite lost & frustrated!!!

Yours sincerely,

Name of Owner


Thank you for your email and details. My reply focuses on toilet training as you will need to read up or get a dog trainer to answer the other questions. Books are available at the National Library and the info is in the internet.

In this reply, I can only provide you the concept and principles of toilet training a puppy in Singapore based on success achieved by other Singaporeans in my survey of over 600 puppies.

1. It takes 2-8 weeks of confinement of a puppy to achieve success. Much depends on the intelligence of the puppy, the hard work and time spent by the owner, the distractions of family members and friends. For example, a couple living alone with the puppy will have a higher rate of success within 2-4 weeks than a big family with so many interferences and distractions affecting toilet training.

2. Patience and perseverance and research of the owner. Many owners are sabotaged by their family members giving various instructions and treats affecting the success in toilet training.

3. Focus on one method of confinement e.g playpen fencing confinement.

4. My case studies would have given you some ideas of the successes of various types of housing plans for puppies. Basically, strict confinement 2-8 weeks is the main part of toilet training. Positive or negative reinforcement training and others are needed.

It is not possible for me to advise you in detail in your case as each puppy has different management.

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