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Everyone has been there, you’re out on a walk with your canine pal and he decides to go about his business in a built up residential area. You reach into your pocket and realize you’ve forgotten poo bags. Now this was a pure accident and it happens to everyone, so you sheepishly head off with your hood up. But he then continues to offload a number of other stools throughout the walk, as some dogs do to try and mark their territory. Never mind-- you certainly don’t forget your poo bags again after that!
If he insists on only defecating on walks, there is no quick and easy taking him to the field over the road in the evenings. You may not have time to give him another long walk in the evenings, so training him to poop in a designated area will alleviate these concerns.
Training your dog not to poop on a walk will involve training him to poop in a specific place instead. That will involve teaching him some obedience commands, but mostly it will entail establishing a consistent routine and taking steps to discourage him from going about his business mid-walk.
If he is just a puppy he should respond quickly to training as his brain is still young and malleable. If your dog is older you may need several weeks to successfully drill this training into him, as you’ll need to break a habit he has developed over many years.
Getting this training right is important if you want to be able to quickly nip over the road in the evenings to deal with his business. If you could just let him into the yard in the evening then life may be even easier again!
Before you do battle with his bowel movements you will need a few things. You will first need to identify a designated space where you do want your dog to do his business. Once you have found that, you will need treats or his favorite food to incentivize and reward him.
A leash will also be required for training and you’ll need to find 10-15 minutes each day for the next few weeks. After you’ve sorted the above, you’re ready to tackle all of these toilet training methods.
The New Toilet Method
Find the right spot
Find an appropriate new toilet spot for him. You probably want somewhere close and accessible and perhaps not in your yard, as some dogs won’t defecate on their own territory.
Create a consistent meal and toilet schedule. If you feed him at the same time every day, you will be able to predict when he will need the toilet. His bowels will usually be stimulated 20 minutes after his meal. So a consistent routine is essential for getting control over his toilet habits.
After his meals or when you’ve decided it’s toilet time, put him on a leash and head to his new toilet area. If he isn’t going he may not feel comfortable in his new spot, so take some of yesterday's excrement on a piece of newspaper and put it in the new designated area. The smell of previous excrement will help him feel more at ease and associate that location with going to the toilet.
As soon as he does go for a number 2 in his new location, quickly give him a treat and praise him. It’s important you give your dog the treat as soon as he has finished his business so he associates the reward with the action. Continue to praise and reward him every time he successfully goes for a number 2 in the right location for the first couple of weeks.
Cut out treats
As he stops going on walks and increasingly goes in the designated location, slowly reduce the frequency of treats. The goal is that he will develop a habit of going in his new location and won’t need the promise of food to incentivize him anymore. Be patient with the training, it may take several weeks before he is fully into his new toilet routine, but he will get there eventually.
The Appealing Toilet Method
Section off a small piece of the yard for him to use as a toilet. Many dogs don’t like going in the yard because they don’t want to defecate in their own territory, so it’s important to make a closed-off area that feels and looks separate to the rest of the yard. You can use mesh fencing or anything that will make the area appear distinct from the rest of his outside territory.
If you walk him within an hour of his meal then there is a good chance he will do a number 2 on the walk. Instead, take him before meals when his bowel movements are unlikely to yield anything.
Help him along
If he won’t go in the yard, wipe some of his previous excrement in his new sectioned off toilet. If he can smell a previous stool he will associate that area with a toilet location and be much more likely to go.
Reward him when you do see him go to the toilet in his new outdoor area. It is important you praise him quickly so he associates the action with the reward. Positive reinforcement is the quickest way to train him, so you can’t overdo the praise! As he goes where you want him to more frequently you can reduce the frequency of treats.
Never punish him
Don’t shout at or punish him when he does go for a poop on a walk. Dogs never respond well to fear, so simply ignore the behavior and quickly pull him away. Punishing him will only confuse him and make him scared to defecate, which is obviously a bodily reaction he can’t help. Instead, focus on making the outside toilet area comfortable, appealing and a place where he get lots of treats and attention.
The On Command Method
Take some treats and head to an area you do want him to poop in. You are going to train him to defecate on command, that way he won't go poop on a walk unless you instruct him to. Teaching him obedience commands will also make training him other commands easier too.
Wait patiently for him to offload his business and then say "go potty" in a happy, jolly voice. It is important you give the command as soon as he finishes. This will be the cue you are going to drill into him in the coming weeks. You must ensure your tone of voice is upbeat and praising!
Give him a treat as soon as you’ve given the command. You are going to reinforce the action and the cue with a treat. You can also pet him and shower him with praise.
Bring forward the cue
After a week, give the ‘go toilet’ command just before you think he is going to go for a poop. Then praise him when he’s finished and give him a treat. Now repeat this process every time he goes to the toilet in the designated area for a couple of weeks. Soon he will naturally want to go to the toilet when he hears the command and the promise of food afterwards will sweeten the deal.
Lose the treats
Wait until he is well into the habit of pooping on command before you cut down the treats, but then continue to do so until just the command is needed to have the desired effect. This training will take weeks so be patient and persistent and before you know it he will be pooping only when you instruct him to, meaning no more pooping on walks!
By James Barra
Published: 11/06/2017, edited: 01/08/2021