Jump to section
Do you have the worst lawn on the block, dotted with dog poop like an obstacle course? Not only is it unsightly to have your lawn used as your dog's bathroom, but kids or adults playing on, or walking across, the lawn can end up with dog poop on the bottom of their shoes, and then even worse, track it into your house! In addition, dog poop is hard to clean up off grass, even with your best efforts, residual poop sticks to the blades of grass. If you frequently walk your dog and do not want your dog to poop on other people's lawns, which makes you unpopular with your neighbors, you will need to train your dog to use an alternative bathroom surface at home and when out in public.
Most dogs are initially trained to poop outside, but may not be picky about where--most will choose to poop on grassy areas. You can designate that grass is not an appropriate spot right from the beginning, or take some time to designate an area and train your dog to poop there afterwards, to preserve a pristine lawn. Providing your dog with a designated bathroom area, that is not grass covered, and training your dog to relieve himself at the designated spot, not on your lawn, is the most useful way to teach your dog not to poop on the grass. If you want to train your dog not to poop on any grass, anywhere, you can use your dog's experience at home to shape his behavior when out, and about, in the neighborhood. Training your dog to poop on command can be helpful in teaching your dog where not to poop, but will require a knowledge of your dog's schedule, control of feeding times, and your availability to ensure you can provide the command in a timely fashion when needed.
Create a designated bathroom space in your yard or home that is not grass covered. You can kill existing grass with a non-toxic grass killer and cover it in mulch or cement blocks, or designate a corner of a cement patio. Fencing the area off with rope, portable exercise pen fencing, or garden edging may create a more visual barrier helping to designate the area. Inside your home, you can use puppy pads or an area covered with newspapers. During training, you will want to use a leash to direct your dog to his designated area and control the dog in the area if necessary. Create a feeding schedule that will help you to be able to determine at what time your dog will need to poop. A regular routine will help the training process, by making you available when needed so you can direct your dog to poop where you want. You should have treats on hand for rewards, or better yet, some time available to play with and provide affection for your dog after they have done their business.
The Poop on Command Method
Choose a command for your dog to poop.
Establish a routine of feeding, to help you determine when your dog will need to relieve himself. Activities such a exercise can encourage your dog to need to poop. Work on establishing a predictable schedule so you can be available to direct the behavior.
Predict need to poop
When you predict your dog needs to go poop, take him outside on a leash, to an area without grass. A designated potty area is useful.
Associate verbal command
Provide the 'go poop' command and wait for him to go poop. This may take quite a while at first; ignore your dog while you wait. When your dog starts to poop, repeat the verbal command to reinforce the association, especially if a significant time period has lapsed since the original command. When your dog has finished, say “yes”, and give him a treat.
Practice and establish command
Repeat the process daily for several days, the time between giving the initial command and your dog pooping should decrease. Eventually you can use this command to ensure that your dog poops when you command him to, when not on grass, either in your own yard, or out and about in the neighborhood. When on walks, you can give the command on the sidewalk or in an alleyway to prevent your dog from pooping on lawns. Do not go back inside immediately after your dog poops, as this is a negative consequence for your dog. Instead, stay outside and play with your dog, let him explore for a few minutes at least.
The Designated Area Method
Create a designated bathroom area for your dog with no grass. Concrete or mulch are common surfaces to use. You can use a barrier of some sort, such as garden fence, plant pots, or portable fencing to create a barrier that helps designate the spot to help your dog distinguish it. If your dog already tends to use an area of your yard and it is convenient to make that spot your designated bathroom area, this will help encourage bathroom behavior there.
Establish a schedule to help you predict when your dog will need to go poop to help you succeed at training. When you feel your dog needs to poop, take him on a leash to the designated bathroom area.
Wait in the area with your dog on-leash to keep him in the designated spot. If off-leash, be sure to call him back if he leaves the area before going poop.
When your dog poops in his area, rewards him with attention and a treat. Then, take him to a grassy area to play. If your dog looks like he is going to relieve himself again in the grass, immediately take him back to his bathroom area.
Gradually give your dog more space and off-leash training in his bathroom area. Continue to supervise and redirect him as necessary. Be sure to keep the area clean so your dog does not avoid the area.
If your dog has an “accident” and poops on the grass instead of his spot, simply end playtime and go inside. Do not punish him any other way; he will learn that pooping on the grass does not lead to the reward of playtime.
Some people may choose to set up a designated area inside their home, the same principles and steps above apply.
The Concrete Surface Method
Create concrete bathroom
Create a designated bathroom area with concrete blocks or a patio. This will be used to teach your dog to poop on concrete only.
Poop on command
Teach your dog to poop on command - see the 'Poop on Command' method
Use designated area
Teach your dog to use his concrete bathroom area, just as in the 'Designated Area' method.
Use command on walks
Start taking your dog out on a leash in the neighborhood. Give the command to poop only when on concrete surfaces. If your dog uses a grass surface instead, immediately end the walk.
Eventually, your dog will learn to associate pooping with concrete. Make sure your dog has regular access to an area that is appropriate for him to poop, though. If he needs to go and you do not provide him with a non-grassy area this can result in him breaking training.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 11/14/2017, edited: 01/08/2021