How to Train Your Older Dog to Poop in One Place

Medium
1-2 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Maybe you have rescued or adopted an older dog, and you need to train him to use one spot in your yard to poop and only that one spot. Or maybe after years of living in a different home, you have moved into a new home and have decided you want all the dog poop in your yard to be in one place. Picking up poop in one small area and saving the rest of your yard for poop-free running and playing is a great goal to have. You might be retraining a dog you've been picking up after for years, or you may be training a rescue dog who is getting used to his new home anyway. Either way, If you have an older dog, you're going to have to train him to recognize the area where you would like him to poop every time he needs to go. Training older dogs is not difficult but will require some commitment from you both and lots of repetition and love.

Defining Tasks

Training your older dog to poop in one place will require you to first decide where you would like his special spot to be and introduce him to that spot and only that spot during potty time. This might also mean making your older dog hold it for a little while so when he has to go, he goes rather quickly instead of searching for the perfect spot across your yard. Consider the first several times taking your older dog to his spot on a leash to better control where he goes throughout your yard. As he gets used to the special spot, he can eventually go without the leash. You will need to do things like keep the area clean, especially if this is a smaller area than your dog may be used to, but consider keeping one pile around for a physical reminder and sense for your dog to remember where his special spot is.

Getting Started

To start training your older dog to poop in one spot, you will need a leash and an area reserved in your yard for your dog's poop. And lots of treats. Be prepared the first several times to walk with your dog to his special place, reminding him of the new rules and where to go. Every time you go out with your older dog to teach him or remind him of his special pooping spot, take some extra treats with you so you can reward him for remembering on his own or just for pooping in the right place once he's successful.

The Repetitive Scent Method

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Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Clean yard
Clean all areas of your yard and give your grass a good soaking it with a hose before you take your dog out to introduce him to his new designated pooping spot.
Step
2
Special place
Choose a special spot for your dog to poop all the time. Be sure this spot is one you are happy with time and time again and avoid changing the spot and causing confusion for your older dog.
Step
3
Walk to It
Take your dog on a walk to his special spot. You can choose to do this on a leash or off leash. If your older dog is eager and energetic and wants to walk away from you, consider putting him on a leash. If your older dog stays with you, walk around his designated spot and talk about going potty. If he knows key phrases such as "go potty", begin to use those here.
Step
4
Practice and redirect
Stay outside with your dog and encourage him to go potty in that spot. If your dog begins to walk away from you to explore other areas, redirect him and call him back. Continue to use keywords to get him to connect those commands with the action of using the potty in his designated area.
Step
5
Pooping
When your older dog does poop in his designated spot, give him a treat immediately and celebrate with excitement.
Step
6
Scent
Keep his first pile of poop in this designated area and keep the rest of the yard clean. When your dog needs to go potty or after meals or upon waking , walk with him to this special area and let him sniff around until he finds his previous scent and has the urge to poop again.
Step
7
Keep it clean
Other than the potential of keeping one pile of poop there to mark the scent of the space, be sure to keep this area clean. Your older dog is not going to want to step in poop in his special area before going. If the area is not kept fairly clean he will choose to go somewhere else.
Step
8
Practice
Keep practicing taking your dog to the special spot over and over until he gets, with repetition, this is his spot to go potty. Once he is going on a consistent basis on his own you can keep the area clean and remove the one pile of poop you have been keeping in place to mark the spot.
Step
9
Rewards
Be sure to reward your older dog every single time he uses his designated pooping spot. This will remind him if he needs to go there and there only. Do not reward if he needs to be redirected.
Recommend training method?

The On Leash Method

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Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Choose
Choose the perfect pooping spot for your dog. You may want to pick a special spot with some physical markings such as a tree for your dog to easily remember this area. Also, this spot should also be different from the comfortable shady places where your dog likes to nap in the afternoon. Be sure to consider how you use your yard and its space and pick a spot you don't use often.
Step
2
After meals
Wait about 10 minutes after your older dog has eaten a meal. He is more likely to need to go potty during this time. If he heads to the door or shows you he needs to go outside before the 10 minutes is up, certainly head out before then, but don't head out too soon because he might think he's outside to play or sniff around
Step
3
Leash
Attach a leash to your older dog and walk him directly to his special pooping spot.
Step
4
Control
Be sure to utilize the leash to control where your dog goes. Keep the leash tight enough that he can't leave your designated spot to sneak off somewhere else to poop.
Step
5
Key phrases
Stand very still with a tight leash while your dog explores his boundaries. While you are waiting for your dog, use some key phrases he might be used to such as "you need to go potty" or "let's go potty."
Step
6
Poop
Once your older dog poops in this spot, make a big deal out of it. Be his cheerleader and congratulate him with lots of enthusiasm, excitement and verbal praise. Walk away from this designated area and give him a treat. This will remind him that he's done a good job by staying in his special spot.
Step
7
Repeat
Repeat this several times with your older dog, taking him out on the leash to the same spot over and over again and rewarding him for pooping and one spot every time he is successful.
Step
8
Practice
Eventually, your dog should head in that direction when he needs to, even though he's leashed. Continue to escort him until you can trust he's going to go to his designated pooping spot on his own.
Step
9
Redirect
Keep a close eye on your older dog as he is training to poop in his designated area, especially as he begins to go to his spot unescorted. If you watch him leave this area to go poop in another area, get his attention by clapping your hands or say his name to redirect him back to the spot where you would like him to go. This might mean going back to practice more before he's able to go on his own.
Recommend training method?

The Fence it Off Method

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Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Boundary
Create a temporary boundary with a doorway so your dog can easily get in and out of this area but there is a visual separation from the rest of the space – the space you do not want your dog to poop in.
Step
2
Potty time
Wait until a time when your dog usually poops to introduce the area. This could be about ten minutes after a meal or upon waking for the day. Take him across the area you’d like to keep free of poop and into the fenced off area.
Step
3
Poop
Leave your dog alone for a bit but do not let him out of the fenced off area. If he’s left alone during a time he has to poop, he should begin to sniff and poop. This will work especially well if this area is a natural area for him to poop, such as the yard where he’s always pooped, but one special spot.
Step
4
Treat
Once he poops, give him a treat.
Step
5
Clean
Keep the area every time he poops so he’ll keep coming back. If you leave poop in the fenced off area, he’ll likely go elsewhere.
Step
6
Repeat
Keep practicing using this spot for pooping. At some point, you should be able to let your dog out on his own to go. Once he’s going into the area on his own to poop often, you can remove the temporary fence. He may need your reminders to use that area by walking with him once the fence is down, but he should be conditioned to use that spot each time.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 01/10/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Sammy
Groodle
4 Years
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Question
0 found helpful
Sammy
Groodle
4 Years

We have been running with Sammy for a while now and meet up at the end and have a coffee with everyone. He has started barking whilst we sit and chat. I pat him and he still does the odd bark. So I now put him in the car with the windows down so I can enjoy my coffee in piece. He runs with other dogs and they all lay down and relax but Sammy just can’t. He’s a very relaxed dog at home.
Thanks
Rachael

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rachael, First, know that when you pat pup you are actually rewarding the barking and encouraging it to continue (your not the only one its a common response to try to reassure). Stop the patting when it happens to begin with. Second, I would teach pup the Quiet command. Quiet method from the article below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Third, when pup barks, I would tell pup "Ah Ah...Quiet" in a calm but firm voice. If pup gets quiet and stays quiet for at least a minute, or pup is quiet while at coffee for five minutes without barking at all, give pup a small treat or piece of kibble from your pocket. Keep these treats hidden and choose a treat pup likes but something they don't obsess over they love so much. As pup improves, you will give treats less and less often, until pup just gets one treat at the end of the coffee get together. Fourth if pup doesn't stop barking or stops but starts again soon, I would correct pup with a brief puff of air at pup's side with a pet convincer to interrupt the barking. Don't spray the air in the face and only use unscented air and not citronella. The goal should be to make communication clearer, barking a bit unpleasant (barking itself is rewarding so you often have to make the barking unpleasant instead), and to make quietness rewarding instead so pup can offer that and get attention for quietness instead. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Jaxx and Mitzi
Pit bull
2 Years
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Question
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Jaxx and Mitzi
Pit bull
2 Years

So we are trying to spot train but the dogs will not pee or poop in the area. It has been 2 days since beginning and they neither one have used the restroom despite eating and drinking. They are taken out to the spot and they just sit down and don't move. I am beginning to be concerned about constipation or bladder infection from them holding it so long. What can I do to help this along. We have two other dogs that are both spot trained and we have even tried taking one of the out with them to show them what to do

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, make sure you are taking them on leash. Spray the area with a potty encouraging spray right before taking them to the spot each time. With pup on leash, slowly walk pup around the spot area - the movement is really important for stimulating the need to go potty. Tell pup to "Go Potty" and give a treat if pup goes potty there. The area needs to be a minimum of four times pup's size while standing - too small and many dogs will refuse to soil the area. It's best to start larger then scale down if you need the spot scaled down. What type of surface is in the spot area? Is it the same type of surface as what pup is already used to - like grass if pup is used to grass, or mulch is pup is used to mulch? If it's not, try putting some grass shavings or a piece of sod or mulch or whatever pup is currently used to on the area you want pup to go potty, at least temporarily. Take pup to that area the same surface, rewarding and teaching Go Potty for a month, then you can slowly remove the mulch or grass just a little bit at a time over the following month until pup is used to going potty in that location, on the new surface. After two days of pup not going potty you will need to give in and take pup somewhere were they will go. You may even choose a location away from your home if you don't want pup associating the rest of your yard with going potty. After pups go potty, set up your spot the way I described above, and restart the process. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Harry
Tibetan Spaniel
10 Years
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Question
0 found helpful
Harry
Tibetan Spaniel
10 Years

Harry is 10, was housetrained fine for 9.5, rarely a problem. weve moved house several times in the last few years, and there wasnt a problem until this house. Moved in in april and since then he has bee incorrigible. Usually only pooping, sometimes peeing as well. All times of the day or night, in a specific room, when were home or out, seemingly without any schedule. Vet says theres no medical reason for this behaviour. My efforts to fix this have included walking after breakfast (was fine with almost no walks for many years) and also before bed. Comes out during the day with me as i work. Poops less but still poops. I hate dooing the bedtime walk as its dark and im tired, and often he doesnt go. Vey frustrated, pls help ??

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tess, Is pup crate trained? If pup is physically able to hold it in a crate, I would crate pup at night and when you leash and keep pup tethered to you with a hands free leash for the next couple of weeks to help pup learn where the doors outside are, get into a habit of holding it in the new home, and prevent pup from sneaking off to go. Check out the crate training and tethering methods from the article I have linked below. Since your dog isn't a puppy, you can adjust those times to take pup potty about every three hours while home, and pup should be able to hold it in the crate for longer while you are away, exactly how long will depend on their own bladder capacity at this age. Eight hours is the maximum for a young adult dog but that number often decreases as a dog gets older. Crate Training method and Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If pup has accidents in the crate too, I would consider seeking a second vet opinion. Mental decline, declining eye sight, weak muscles, pain, or GI issues can all contribute to older dogs having accidents. It's not always a direct correlation. Something like pup not wanting to walk to the door or strain to poop due to pain can cause pup to avoid going out. Declining eye sight or declining mental health can make it harder for pup to alert you and find the door, especially in a new home, but I am not a vet. If you determine pup can't physically hold it, then I would set up an exercise pen with a disposable real grass pad and when pup hasn't get pooped or peed during that portion of the day, have pup stay in the pen close to the grass pad until they do, letting them out after they go potty on the grass. This pen can be used at night and while you are away also, having pup stay there. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
biko
Golden Retriever
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
biko
Golden Retriever
4 Months

my dog only poop on the carpet. I cant train him to poop and pee on the pad. And is sleeping a lot too.According to its age Biko should be playing a lot

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use potty pads. Choose Your Spot Pick a space in your house where you want your dog to go. Obviously, you’ll want this spot to be a low-traffic area. Make sure this spot is easily accessible to your dog, and make sure the floor surface is linoleum or tile, as opposed to carpet. If your dog “misses,” it will be easier to clean up. If the only spot you can put the pee pad is a carpet, you might consider getting a small tarp to put underneath the puppy pee pad to guard against spillage. Choose a spot that is outside of your “smell zone.” An important tip to remember is to make sure not to let your dog decide the spot he likes. Not only might he pick an area you won’t like, but he’ll learn that he is in charge – not you – which can cause a host of problems down the line. Monitor Your Dog When you are potty training your dog, full-time monitoring is an absolute necessity. It’s impossible to correct bad behaviors if you don’t see them happen. Dogs have very short memories. It is important to catch your dog in the act. If your dog goes on the floor, and you try to correct him hours after the fact, he will be confused and upset, not knowing what he did wrong. This can hinder training and your relationship with your dog. Puppies, in particular, must be watched constantly. They have less control over their bowels and will go when they have to go. If you miss these moments, you lose precious training opportunities. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be with your dog 24 hours a day, but try to spend more time at home during the weeks you are potty training – it will pay off in the long run. Learn Your Dog’s Schedule Dogs, for the most part, are predictable. They will go to the bathroom at predictable times. You should be able to learn when your dog has to go based on timing as much as on his signals. Take some time to study your dog’s bathroom habits. You’ll learn the amount of time after he eats or drinks that he has to go, and you’ll get in rhythm with his daily bathroom schedule. This will help you reduce accidents and speed up the potty training process. Studying your dog’s habits can also help you identify his bathroom “triggers” – like having to go after a certain amount of playtime. Once you learn your dog’s schedule, use it to your advantage in potty training. Bring him to the pee pad a few minutes before he normally goes, and encourage him. This will help him get used to going in the right spot, and help you establish repetition in your training. Choose a Command Word Dogs have keen senses – they respond to sight, smell, and sound. When you begin pee pad training, choose a command word and use it every time you take your dog to the pad. Just about any word will work. The tone of your voice is more important than the actual word. Try phrases like “go on” or “go potty” in a slightly elevated, encouraging tone. Make sure to repeat this same command, in the same tone, every time you take your dog to the pee pad. Avoid Punishment When your dog has an accident, it’s just that – an accident. When you punish your dog during potty training, he will become confused and scared. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, and can’t understand why the person he loves most is mad at him. Most importantly, it will not help his potty training. Positive Reinforcement Both human and dog behavior is largely based on incentives. Dogs’ incentives are very simple – they want to eat when they are hungry, play when they are excited, and sleep when they are tired. But the most important thing your dog wants in life is to please you. Use this to your advantage. Whenever your dog goes on his potty training pad, shower him with lots of praise. If he sees that he gets praise for doing his business on the pad, he will be incentivized to keep going on the pad – and he’ll be excited to do it! Potty training – whether it’s a pee pad or going outside – will take time, but if you do it right, can take less time. Many dogs are potty trained in less than two weeks. Just remember that you and your dog are partners. Do everything you can to help him learn the proper etiquette, and you will enjoy a long, quality relationship together. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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Question
Cookie
Sinhala Hound
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Cookie
Sinhala Hound
3 Months

i keep trying to train her to poop outdoors but its a bit hard because her previous owners have trained her to do it on tiled floors inside and it is very hard to train her

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nicole, I recommend the crate training method from the article I have linked below, so that pup is only free while their bladder is empty, to break the cycle of accidents inside, so pup can start having success with outside potty training. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Once pup is doing well with potty training with the crate training method, the tethering method found in the same article can be used also, if you want pup to be with you more. I recommend starting with just the crate training method though until things improve. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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