How to Train Your Dog to Poop in a Designated Area

Medium
4-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Teaching your dog to poop in one designated area is beneficial for the grass in your yard as well as making clean up easy for you. You can reserve special spaces in your yard specifically for your dog to poop. Giving your dog his own bathroom space will keep the rest of your yard open and free of poop so you will not have to worry about children playing in or stepping in your dog's mess before you can clean it up. Keeping your dog's poop in one area of your yard can save your grass too.

You can train your dog to poop in one area of a grassy space, or you can teach your dog to poop specifically in rocks away from social spaces within your yard. City dwelling dogs or tiny breeds can also be trained to poop in one area of your home or apartment to avoid concrete walks outside or extreme weather conditions. 

Defining Tasks

Giving your dog a designated space to poop takes repetition, treats, and a little bit of time for your dog to get used to new routines. Plan a particular area before you begin to train your dog and avoid changing this particular pooping spot. Especially within your home or your apartment, be sure to designate a special pooping spot for your dog, so he does not have accidents elsewhere where you do not want him to go. If your dog is already house trained, teaching a designated area may require a little bit of extra time because you are retraining and asking your dog to forget old habits. However, if you have a puppy who is house training for the first time, setting your expectations with a place for your puppy to poop all the time instead of having free reign of your yard or home will be much quicker and part of the normal housetraining process.

Getting Started

You will need a leash to direct your dog to the proper location for designated pooping. Also, be sure to have on hand a supply of special treats specifically for training your dog. As mentioned above, have your designated pooping area already planned out and decided upon before you begin this training, so you do not confuse your dog by changing spaces mid-training. If you are training a new puppy, this may take up to six weeks to house train your dog. However, part of the house training process will include using this designated space specifically for going potty.  If you have an older dog used to having free reign of your yard or your home and you are trying to teach him one specific designated area for pooping, you may require a little more time and patience before he understands the new habit and comprehends exactly what you expect each time he needs to poop.

The Desginated Area Method

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Step
1
Potty needs
Choose a space specifically for your dog’s potty needs. This area should be free of any distractions and kept clean. Take him to his specific area and use a verbal cue such as “Go potty.”
Step
2
Stay in area
Keep your dog in that area until he eliminates. Offer your pup a reward in the form of a treat and verbal praise.
Step
3
Reward
If you are trying to train your dog to go in one spot, bear in mind you may only want to offer the reward if he uses that spot.
Step
4
Rest and play
Carry on with your day allowing your dog to play and rest.
Step
5
After meals
After meals, when you return home from being away, and anytime your dog goes outside, take him to his special potty area.
Step
6
Go potty
Using your command words such as “go potty,” leave your dog for a few minutes in this area and wait for him to poop.
Step
7
Using area
The more your dog uses this space for pooping, the more the area will smell like him and remind him that this is his special potty place. However, be sure to keep it clean because if left with more than one pile of poop, your dog may begin to refuse the area and want to go elsewhere.
Step
8
Treat
Reward your dog for good behavior and repeat the steps above. Pay attention to your dog during normal activities and watch his body language. Your puppy may spin around, pace, or wag his behind a little more when he has to eliminate. Knowing these signs will help you to get your dog to his potty place within an appropriate time.
Step
9
Accident
If your puppy has an accident or poops outside of his designated area, clean it up quickly without punishing the dog.
Step
10
Special spot
Take your dog to his special potty place and repeat the steps above, rewarding him if he eliminates again.
Recommend training method?

The Poop Spot Method

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Step
1
Pick a spot
Once you have picked your designated poop spot for your dog, place a scoop of your dog's poop in that spot and leave it in the area. Be sure other areas of your yard or the space where your dog will frequent for play are clean of urine and poop.
Step
2
Go potty
Take your dog to the spot where you have left the poop and use it command such as “go potty.” If your dog begins to sniff around, reward him with praise, repeating the command “go potty.”
Step
3
No play
Avoid letting your dog play in this area and avoid letting your dog into other areas to play until he has pooped.
Step
4
Scent
With the scent of the poop you have left in the area, your dog should begin to sniff around with interest and potentially poop there as well.
Step
5
Poop
If your dog can poop when you show him his designated spot, give him verbal praise as well as a treat.
Step
6
Redirecting
Avoid punishing your dog if he poops elsewhere. Offer verbal praise and a treat when your dog poops in his designated spot.
Step
7
One pile
While your dog is learning that this is his special place to poop, keep at least one pile of poop in the area. However, keep the area clean otherwise because too much poop will deter your dog from wanting to go there.
Step
8
Accidents
If your dog has an accident elsewhere, clean it up quickly so he does not sniff and relate the space as a spot to use. Give your dog zero attention, praise, or treats. Be sure you are consistently taking your dog to the right area every time he needs to go potty.
Step
9
After meals
Watch your dog after meals after waking and after playtime and be sure to visit the designated pooping spot with your dog during training, so he begins to understand that is his spot for pooping specifically.
Recommend training method?

The Leash Training Method

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Step
1
Leash walk
With your dog on a leash, walk him to the designated poop spot and let him sniff around.
Step
2
One place
Every time you take your dog outside, use the leash and walk him to the designated spot. Avoid letting your dog play in this area and use the leash to keep him confined to the specific space you have designated as his pooping spot until he has pooped.
Step
3
Meals and naps
Be sure to take him to the designated spot on his leash after mealtime, playtime, and waking from sleep.
Step
4
Habit
Over time, your dog will get used to going to that specific spot every time he needs to poop. As your dog begins to walk himself to your designated pooping spot you may begin to let him go off his leash.
Step
5
Off-leash
The first few times your dog is off his leash be sure to walk with him, encouraging him to use his designated poop spot. After several days of escorting him to the poop area off leash, begin to let him go on his own.
Step
6
Playing
If your dog begins to play in that area, encourage him to go elsewhere to play, and if your dog has an accident in a zone that is not the designated poop spot, clean it up and take him to your designated area.
Step
7
Accidents
If your dog has accidents elsewhere, clean up and ignore the behavior.
Step
8
Reward
Reward your dog's positive behavior with praise and treats every time he poops in your designated spot.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Koleon
pit bull terrier
7 Months
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Question
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Koleon
pit bull terrier
7 Months

My dog is already potty trained but I don’t have a fence so he wants me to take him all around the neighborhood to poop instead of pooping in my yard. I want to start taking him to one spot in my backyard but I’m not sure how to get him to go where I want him to go. How can I train him to go in my backyard instead of trying to go all over the neighborhood?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nydia, First of all, purchase a spray designed to encourage a dog to use the bathroom. It is usually called 'Hurry Spray', 'Puppy Training Spray', 'Go Here', or something similar. Spray that on the area where you would like for him to go right before you take him there. When you get to that area, tell him to 'Go Potty' and let him sniff where you sprayed. If he does not go there after a five minutes, then walk him up and down in a ten foot line in that area. This is to get his bowels moving. After you have done that, lead him back to the spot you sprayed, tell him to 'Go Potty', and let him sniff that area again. Repeat this every five minutes three or four times. If he does not go, then take him inside, place him into a crate, and try again in thirty or forty minutes. Be sure that when you try this it is at a time when he usually has to poop too. Start this process when you have a couple of days where you will be at home, like the weekend. When he finally poops, give him three or four of his favorite treats, one at a time. Make sure that you do not give in and take him for a walk to get him to poop. He can go for one as a reward after he poops but not before. If you give in, then he will simply continue to hold it until he gets to go for a walk. You want to break that cycle by teaching him that pooping in your yard gets him rewards and not going equals heading back inside rather than going on a walk. By telling him to 'Go Potty' when you take him everytime, he will eventually learn that when you say that, he should poop if he needs to go. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tyson
French Bulldog
5 Months
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Question
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Tyson
French Bulldog
5 Months

hello,
I would like to know what can I do for my pup to defecate in the grass, he is well trained to pee on the same spot of grass every time we take him but he cant just seem to be able to poop, he always poop when we are not present or during the night, we have never mistreated him or yelled at him, and we always rewarded him when he did something good.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello Claudia, Follow the "Crate Training" method from the article that I have linked below. When you follow that method, also use a potty encouraging spray, like the article mentions. Using a crate on a strict schedule, a potty encouraging spray, and rewards all together should force her to poop outside, and overtime teach her to want to poop outside. Once she is consistently pooping outside when you take her, then you can go back to a less strict potty training method if you prefer, as long as she does not begin having accidents inside when you do so. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Holly
Labrador Retriever
11 Years
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Holly
Labrador Retriever
11 Years

Hi! My dog is an 11 year old female lab who is extremely well housebroken. She uses the bathroom on command with the term "park." She recently hurt her back and we are instructed to limit movement during recovery phase. We have built a real-grass grass area on our balcony and are trying to train her to go on her grass. She wants to please, but does not understand. She will sit on her grass but will not eliminate there in any form.

We have tried:
1) Taking her out on the balcony on her leash as we would when going outside
2) Giving treats while she sniffs the grass
3) Spraying the grass with a potty training attractant spray
4) Collecting her urine and placing some on the grass
5) Encouraging her with positive reinforcement

We have had no success or any progress in 3 days and don't know how to proceed.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lauren, In your situation you are doing all the right things. Keep doing what you are doing but you also likely need to gate the area off so that she has to stay on the grass, take her out there into the gated grass area and tell her "Park", and then simply close the gate so that she cannot get out. Since standing is probably hard for her, let her lay down on the grass if she chooses to and make sure that she has water and possibly a fan blowing into the area if it is hot (Don't let her get too hot), and then simply wait. Since she might lay down, purchase potty encouraging spray rather than using her own urine to prevent her from laying on her urine. Eventually she will have to go there. While she is in the enclosed potty area, sit somewhere where you can see if she goes, but where she does not feel like you are hovering and she may get in trouble. When she does go, immediately praise her right when she finishes and give her five of her favorite treats, one at a time, then let her out of the area. Do this for potty trips until she will immediately go in the area when you take her and say "Park", like she does outside. To minimize the amount of time that she is on the porch for and to keep her cool, the best time to do this is first thing in the morning, after she has held her bladder all night and really has to go, so will give in sooner. She will feel like she is having an accident the first two times probably, but your response and rewards will show her that when she goes potty there that it is alright, and she should become comfortable going there with practice. If it seems to be too much strain on her and harder on her than outside potty trips, then only practice this first thing in the morning for a couple of days, until she learns to go potty there sooner and does not have to stay outside for as long. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Fozzy
Shih Tzu
6 Years
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Question
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Fozzy
Shih Tzu
6 Years

My Shih Tzu has a very big backyard and I have been taking him around the block to go to the bathroom now I need him to use the bathroom in the backyard he’s so stubborn he’ll refuse to use the bathroom and less I go take him for a walk I’ve tried to walk him around the backyard but he’ll lay down when I tell him to go potty and if I ask him if he needs to go poop he’ll wag his tail park and head for that street how do I encourage him to use the restroom I followed all the steps but all he does is lay down try to get in our chairs or wine to be able to be walked on the street

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lee, It's time to be strict with Fozzy. When you have at least two days where you will be gone for no longer than four hours at a time use the crate to get him to go potty in your yard. When he wakes up in the morning take him outside to go potty in the backyard. When you take him tell him "Go Potty", if he poops, then give him three treats, one at a time. AFTER he poops and eats the treats, then take him for a short walk down the street and back. He has to earn his walk by using the bathroom beforehand. Do not resort to walking him down the street if he does not go. If he does not go, then take him inside and place him into a crate for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, quickly walk him back outside into your yard again, spray a spray on the grass that is designed to encourage peeing and pooping, such as "Hurry Spray", "Go Here", or "Puppy Training Spray", and tell him to "Go Potty" while he sniffs that area. Give him ten minutes to sniff around. If he goes, then praise him and give him the treats, take him for a short walk, and let him be free again inside like he usually is until the next time to go potty. If he does not go, then take him inside and put him back into the crate for another thirty minutes. Repeat taking him into the backyard and putting him back in the crate every thirty minutes until he goes potty outside. Expect him to be stubborn at first. He can go outside, he simply is choosing to hold it so that he will get to go for a walk. Every time you take him for a walk to get him to go instead of after he goes you are rewarding his stubborn behavior so be firm with him and start this when you can follow through with the training and keep taking him out every thirty minutes. A walk is always a reward for peeing in the yard beforehand. If he views the walk as a reward he will be motivated to pee quickly so that he can get to the walk part. If he needs even more help physically getting his bowels moving, then encourage him to chase you around the backyard so that he will be moving. Also feed him ten to fifteen minutes before taking him, or play active, moving games with him in the backyard. After running around with him, pause the game, let him calm down, and tell him to go potty and spray the encouraging spray for him to sniff. When he finally does go, also give him treats so that he want to go again even without the play next time. If that still does not work, then take him back inside and put him into the crate and go back to the thirty minute potty breaks and crate time. When you go on a walk with him do not let him stop to mark while you are working on all of this. He gets one chance before the walk, then he needs to keep moving with you during the walk. Only take him for a walk after he goes potty and poops for the day while working on this training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Hello Caitlyn it’s me Lee again it’s day two of fuzzy holding his poop I now have to carry him to the designated potty area because he refuses to go he’s even gone so far as to feign peeing Because he knows we want him to go potty but he refuses to poop in the area

To fozzy’s owner. Cheez. I am having exactly to same problem. I adopted a six year old dog. He has no problem peeing. He will pee anywhere on the property. But won’t poop. We have been taking him either for a short walk or to a doggy Park here in our senior complex. And that being the problem: neither husband nor I walk too well as we are up in our years and we must get our dog Dillon to poop in yard. But he will simply hold it. You can tell he is miserable. I am fearful he will get impacted as another dog of mine had done in the past. Honestly I think before we got him his owners scolded him and he is afraid to go and when he does he tries to eat it maybe to hide what he did. All we can do is keep trying. Fortunately my neighbor lets the dog go on her grass. But he won’t go on ours. Crazy.

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Question
Tallulah
Labrador Retriever
18 Months
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Question
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Tallulah
Labrador Retriever
18 Months

Trying to train her to go in specific area. She isn’t weeing or pooping and seems to be holding it in. Give commands and on the couple of times she has done it lots of praise and treats. If I shut her in area she barks like mad. Any tips or is it a matter of time. Area is clean, sectioned off etc. Any help much appreciated. Thank you Jacqueline

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jacqueline, Give Tallulah more time to practice it. The fact that she has done it a few times already is a good start, as long as she is not having accidents inside your home. To speed up the process I suggest using the crate training method and putting her in a crate for four hours, taking her outside to the designated spot on a leash after four hours, spraying a potty encouraging spray on that spot to encourage peeing, while telling her to "Go Potty". If she does not go potty, then bring her back inside, put her into the crate and take her back outside to try again in an hour. Repeat this every hour until she goes potty. When she goes potty, then give her two hours of free time, then put her back into the crate for two more hours until it is time to go potty again, four hours since she last went potty. After it has been four hours since she last peed take her outside again, tell her to "Go Potty", and then reward her and give her freedom if she goes, and crate her for an hour if she does not. Repeat this until she will consistently go in that spot whenever you take her potty and you know her bladder is full. Giving her treats when she goes potty there should also speed up the process. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Blake
Maltipoo
8 Weeks
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Question
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Blake
Maltipoo
8 Weeks

Hello,

I have an 8 week old puppy who just got his vaccines. since he can't go outside yet we're having trouble potty training him inside the house. We use training pads but have trouble making him go in his designated spot. He just releases wherever he pleases. Help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello Chloe, First of all, if you live in a house with your own private backyard, then with your vet's permission you should still be able to take him outside to start potty training. Most of the dangerous diseases that puppies can contract like Parvo and Distemper are spread by the feces of other dogs or animals. If your backyard is fenced, keeping other animals out, then you should be alright. Other dogs are your main concern. Even if your yard is not fenced, your risk is small as long as you are not taking him where other dogs frequent, like your neighborhood sidewalk or the park. Check with your Vet to find out if it is alright. If you decide to go directly to training him to pee outside with your Vet's permission, then check out the article that I have linked below. I recommend following the "Crate Training" method to make the process to faster and to minimize the number of accidents. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you still want to teach him to potty somewhere inside, then check out article that I have linked below. Follow either the "Exercise Pen" method or the "Crate Training" method. Don't skip any steps or it may not be as effective. Also, since you wish to train him to go potty outside later, then I highly recommend not using pee pads. Many puppies will have accidents on carpet, rugs, and other fabric type material once pee pads are removed, and since you want to remove them eventually, you will want to avoid that. The article below mentions using a litter box. You can use that, or I highly recommend using disposable living grass pads. These are pads with real grass grown on them. Each one is advertised to last two weeks. Using real grass should help Blake transition to peeing outside more easily. I also recommend keeping the grass pad inside of an "Exercise Pen", even if you are using the "Crate Training" method, so that he associates the pad with a designated toilet area, the exercise pen, and not being allowed to pee in the middle of a room on something. If you are using the "Crate Training" method, or he is ready for more freedom using the "Exercise Pen method, then you can simply leave the door to the exercise pen open, for him to be able to go to it as needed. The "Exercise Pen" method mentions phasing out the pen, but in your case you will keep it and then transition him to going potty outside. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Here is an example of a real grass pad you can purchase: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00761ZXQW/ref=psdc_3024225011_t2_B005G7S6UI Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Laura
Yorkshire Terrier
4 Years
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Question
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Laura
Yorkshire Terrier
4 Years

Laura is 4 years old. She just arrived at her new home with us 2 days ago. She comes from another owner where his home offered her a big yard for playing and potty time.
Now, she is with us and we live in a small apartment with a balcony.
We also live in OHIO where now it’s time for winter, harsh weather.
She only wants to poop on the grass. But 1. I would like for her to poop on the pee pads outside on my balcony so when is snowing we don’t have to go out elsewhere.
2. Is that possible? Even though she was under the same routine for 4 years?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello Bruna, I suggest using a real grass pad to train her to pee on your balcony. These pads are made from real grass, are disposable, and are advertised to last for a couple of weeks each. They are more expensive than pee pads but each one lasts a lot longer. Using real grass you should be able to train her to pee on the balcony. As first, you might need to make a larger grass area out of four pads so that it will resemble a yard, but once she gets used to peeing in that location, then you can remove the extra pads and use just one. Using this type of material should maintain her potty training in the house. If you switch to pee pads, because they are made of fabric, you run the risk of her learning to also pee on carpets and rugs inside. Since you will be taking her to your balcony and not doing the training inside, you chance of that happening is decreased, but using a real grass pad should ensure that you do not run into that problem at all. Below is a link to a real grass pad. Some of them come pre-scented with a spray that encourages elimination there. If you buy one that does not have that, then you can also purchase a potty encouraging spray to spray on the pad to further encourage her to go potty there. https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI To train her to pee on it, first take her potty outside like usual, but whenever she goes start telling her to "Go Potty" and giving her a treat when she does. When she begins to understand what "Go Potty" means, then set up your grass pad area on the balcony. Take her there on leash like you would outside, tell her to "Go Potty", give her time to sniff the area, and when she goes reward her with several treats, one treat at a time. Do not skip the treats because that will help her learn that the balcony is now an acceptable place to go potty. If she will not go potty there even after several attempts, then crate her for five hours, put a leash on her, and quickly rush her to the grass pad area on the balcony. Tell her to "Go Potty" and reward her if she goes on the grass pad. If she does not go, then take her back inside after ten minutes of encouraging her to sniff the pad, place her back into the crate for an hour, and try again after an hour. Repeat this every hours until her bladder gets full enough that she will go when you take her. When you know her bladder is very full, then hurry her from the crate to the balcony so that she does not have an accident on the way. You can even open the door to the balcony beforehand to make the trip faster. The grass pads will by far be the easiest transition for her, but another good option is to litter box train her and place a litter box on the balcony. Simply keep the lid on the box if the balcony is uncovered, to protect against rain. Take the lid off whenever you take her to go potty, since dogs typically need litter boxes to be unenclosed, with the lids off, to pee in them. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Training Success Stories

Success
masterdongerino
blackpoordoodle
26 Months

i trained my self to poop on the street

6 months, 2 weeks ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd