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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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.
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The Fence it Off Method

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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.
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The On Leash Method

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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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Drama
Miniature Schnauzer
6 Years
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Question
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Drama
Miniature Schnauzer
6 Years

My yard is visited by deer, rabbits, and fox, so there are a lot of smells in my yard. Can that deter him from pooping in one area in the yard. He knows to go to the spot to potty but he will pee there.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
394 Dog owners recommended

Hello Warner, Smells can distract him from going potty. It is likely not deterring him, but dogs tend to pee more easily than they poop because they want to mark their areas. Pooping requires more concentration. Drama probably needs for you to go with him to go potty and remind him to "Go Potty" whenever he starts to get distracted by the smells. He might need to be on a leash to keep him from following the smells also. When he goes, give him three or four small treats right after to encourage him to "Go Potty" again next time. This will help him to learn what "Go Potty" means and motivate him to stay on task better in the future. Another option is to take him to go potty in a less distracting location. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Sadie
Labrador Retriever
10 Years
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Sadie
Labrador Retriever
10 Years

We just moved out of our house and our old dog will not poop at our new apartment. When we take her off the leash she runs back upstairs and refuses to poop. How can we train her. We are so desperate.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
394 Dog owners recommended

Hello Joseph, Until she develops a habit of pooping in the new location, you need to walk to the location where you want her to go, tell her to "Go Potty", and keep her on task by directing her back to sniffing the ground whenever she gets distracted. When she goes, then praise her enthusiastically and give her five treats, one at a time. You might also need to purchase a potty encouraging spray, that will encourage her to pee and poop when she sniffs it. They are usually called "Puppy Training Spray", "Hurry Spray", "Go Here", or something similar. Right before you want her to go, spray the spray on the area that you are going to take her to, bring her over to that area on leash, tell her to "Go Potty", and encourage her to sniff that area. Give her a few minutes to find a spot to go. Overtime, she should learn to go on her own if you spend enough time showing her where to go, rewarding her for going there, and telling her to "Go Potty", so that you can tell her to "Go Potty" when you let her off leash later on and she will understand what she is supposed to be doing. Expect to take her potty on leash for at least a month. Do not skip the rewards. She is likely nervous about the new location and the rewards will help her get over her fear. If you are struggling to get her to poop even while you are with her, then use the "Crate Training" method fro the article that I have linked below until she will poop outside. The easiest time to start this method is the beginning of the weekend or a couple of days where you will be at home, since your goal is to simply get her used to pooping outside and not to potty train her all over again. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Hunter
Goldendoodle
4 Years
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Question
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Hunter
Goldendoodle
4 Years

I got two dogs, Hunter and Stella. They have been pooping in our yard since we got them... I would like to teach them how to poop and pee in one spot. I have selected an area, fenced it and prepared to get them started. Stella got the idea right away, we are 2 days into training and she already peed and pooped the moment I get her into the fenced area and then enthusiastically rushes for her treat..... Meanwhile, Hunter is stuck. On the first day he peed and got a treat twice. On the second day he just set in front of the fence and stared at me. I tried everything.. on the leash/off the leash... Walked all around with him, wait 10 minutes bring him back home, in an hour get back wait 30 minutes, get back home, etc... Been trying all day. He just sits and stares at me. Or follows me and sits and stares or if I'm hiding - again sits and stares.... Don't know what else should I do? He didn't go pee or poo from 10pm evening till 5pm evening next day, when I finally gave up and took them both on a walk and he had finally went potty.... What should I do?? :(

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
394 Dog owners recommended

Hello Veronika, It sounds like Hunter might need a more gradual approach. Because the area is smaller and confined he might be intentionally holding his bladder inside there because he does not think it is okay to go in such a confined space. Making the space larger by at least three feet might help. Also, add a potty encouraging spray to help him understand why he is in there. Spray the potty encouraging spray, like "Hurry Up" or "Go Here", onto the ground inside the gated area right before you walk him inside the area. If doing those two things do not work, then focus on simply getting him used to going potty on the same type of surface first. For example, if the gated area contains mulch, then take him to go potty in a larger general area of your front yard, where there is also mulch. If you have a front yard with a mulch area, then that area would be a better area to teach him to initially go than the backyard because he will not have free access to that area in a fence later, when you teach him to only use the gated area in the backyard. When you walk him around on the mulch in the front yard, tell him to "Go Potty", and when he goes, give him three treats, one at a time. When he is doing really well with going potty on the larger mulch area in the front yard and understands what "Go Potty" means, then start taking him into the gated area in the backyard and telling him to "Go Potty" there. By that time he will understand what you are asking, will want to earn his treats, and will be comfortable peeing on the mulch, or whatever that area is actually cover with. The key is for the area he practices on in the front yard to be the same type of ground as what is in the pen. If you can make your pen area larger do so. Also, be sure to clean up all but one poop in the gated area. Leaving one poop might help but is not necessary if you are using the encouraging spray, but if you leave more than one he might avoid the area because it is too dirty. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bentley
Norfolk Terrier
4 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Bentley
Norfolk Terrier
4 Years

He is a new to us rescue dog. He doesn't want to poop unless we're out on a walk, never in the yard. He has pooped in the house if we take him out in the yard alot, but not for a walk away from home. We are new to training and need help to get him to poop on leash in the yard.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
394 Dog owners recommended

Hello Andy, If he will poop on a walk but not in the yard then probably one of two things are going on. The first is, when dogs walk around that tends to get their bowel movements going and it encourages them to poop. The second is, when dogs smell where other dogs have eliminated, the smell of another dog's poop or pee sends signals to your dog's brain to eliminate. You can mimic both of these things in your yard a couple of ways. The first is to purchase a spray designed to encourage elimination with smell. It is usually called "Hurry Spray", "Training Spray", "Puppy Training Spray" or something similar. Spray this on the area that you would like for your dog to eliminate on. Although a bit grosser, you can often get the same effect by placing another dog's poop in your yard, but not all dogs are free of parasites so be careful with that one, and only place one or two poops, anymore can actually discourage your dog due to the mess. When you take him into your yard he may also need for you to walk around in your yard a bit to get things going. Even though it is annoying, the movement should help, and it is important that the walking take place close to home because some dogs will learn to "hold it" until you take them on a walk just to get to go on a walk. The routine should be poop and pee and THEN you will get to go on a walk. So encourage your pup to eliminate in your yard before a walk too to discourage that mindset during times when you do not want to take him on a walk in order to get him to go. Also be aware that dogs typically need to poop about thirty minutes after eating, so that is a good time to try this and to keep a close eye on him while he is inside around that time. If he is consistently sneaking off to poop, then you will need to attach him to yourself with a six or eight foot leash while he is in the house to break that habit while he is learning. You will also need to crate him while you cannot watch him. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Linus
Golden Retriever
13 Years
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Linus
Golden Retriever
13 Years

My dog can no longer go up or down steps due to his back legs not working well. A ramp was built and placed on the deck steps, he can go up the ramp but not down. He uses the steps to go down but really struggles. Now that winter is here, I was thinking of putting a tarp down on the deck and trying to teach him to go to the bathroom on the deck, this way he will have no steps or ramps. I was thinking blocking off the steps may help. I would shovel it each day. Any other ideas on teaching him that it is ok to do this on the deck? He has always gone in the yard......thx

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
394 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michelle, It sounds like he would benefit from not having to go down the stairs anymore. For times when he does have to go down stairs, you may want to purchase him a padded harness that will support his back legs also. Ruffwear makes a "Doubleback Harness" with a handle for you to help him that will support his back legs. For the potty training, since he is used to peeing outside, I suggest purchasing several real grass pads and creating a patch of grass with them by laying them next to one another on top of your tarp, on your porch. If you can find it this time of year, then you can also purchase about four pieces of grass sod and lay those on top of the tarp. The sod may be cheaper than the pads. You can use both for at least a couple of weeks before replacing them though, but pick up any poop. Take him to the grass area, tell him to "Go Potty", and when he goes, give him five of his favorite small treats or dog food, one piece at a time, as a reward. Do this until he will easily pee and poop on that area. When he will go when you take him there and instruct him to "Go Potty" consistently, then you can gradually decrease the size of the area that you want him to go on overtime. You will likely need to leave a small area of grass, mulch, litter, or wood chips though, to absorb his urine so that he does not end up standing in it on the tarp. Dogs do not like to stand in their own pee, and it will get him dirty. You can also spray the grass with a potty encouraging spray, like "Hurry Spray", "Go Here, or "Puppy Training spray". This will make the grass smell more like a place that he should pee. Some of the real grass pads are already scented with such sprays beforehand. Here is a link to one real grass pad: https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI You can transition to fake grass later if you prefer that, but I suggest starting with real grass because he will know the difference between real and fake grass, and he is already comfortable with real grass from going outside. The fake grass may resemble carpet too much for him to be willing to pee on it until he gets used to peeing on the real grass at that same location. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Cookie
Bernese Mountain Dog
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Cookie
Bernese Mountain Dog
5 Months

Hi there. Our puppy knows how to go out of our doggy dog but seems to pee and poo all over the yard. How do I train her to go in one spot? She comes and goes outside all day long and I can’t block the designated place off. Thanks so much!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
394 Dog owners recommended

Hello Elise, To teach her you will have to be dedicated to taking her potty on leash each time she needs to go (locking the doggie door during this time). Take her to the correct spot on leash and tell her to "Go Potty". When she goes potty in the correct location, reward her with a treat. She will need to be taken to the correct location for several months until she forms a long-term habit of preferring to go potty in that area. Once she has developed a habit of going in the correct location (and has not gone potty in the wrong location in a very long time), then you can practice giving her more freedom and watch her, rather than going with her, to see if she goes to the correct location on her own. If she starts to go potty in the wrong location, interrupt her by clapping and quickly getting her to chase you over to the correct location by running to the correct location yourself. Once she is there, tell her to "Go Potty" and act calm again so she can refocus. Do this to show her that it is ONLY in the correct location that she should go potty. Once she will go in the correct location on her own each time while you watch her, you can open the dog door up again. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Quiggley and Bandi
Border Collie
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Quiggley and Bandi
Border Collie
5 Years

Our two dogs are 5 years old and they have always had a huge dirt yard to themselves. We have moved to a house in the suburbs and now have a smaller backyard with grass. They are having a hard time adjusting to the new house and are hardly eating unless I give them some chicken broth on top of their food. Since the backyard is smaller, I want them to go pee and poop in one area however they will only go potty on the grass. I have built a dog potty area with pea gravel on top. I have put potty pads on them with the attractant smell and I have sprayed the “go here” spray and neither have worked. I take both dogs out first thing in the morning when I know they have to go to the bathroom and I block off the area so they can’t get to the grass. But they will sit in the potty area and stare at me, refusing to go potty. This can last for over an hour and they will just hold their bladder instead of using the potty area. As soon as I let them out, they go potty on the grass. I tell them to “go potty” in their potty area, but since they’ve always had a huge yard to do whatever they want with, they don’t know what “go potty” means. Should I buy sod and put it on top of the pea gravel since they prefer grass? Should I let them roam the yard and as soon as they start to go potty take them to the potty area? I’m at a loss at what to do, please help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
394 Dog owners recommended

Hello Haley, First, remove the pee pads - they may actually be making things worse because pee pads resemble fabric so if they have been trained not to pee in the house, they may be viewing the pads like a rug and refusing to go there. Second, I would put sod down in that area. You can either leave sod there permanently or you can phase the sod out once they get comfortable going potty in that location. To phase the sod out, tell them to "Go Potty" and give treats for going potty on the sod. Do that for at least two months until they are very comfortable going potty there. Once they are comfortable going potty there, then every four weeks, remove 1.2- 1 foot of the sod so that the grass area is smaller and there is more exposed pee gravel underneath. Continue to remove sections of the sod every month. Once they will also pee on the pee gravel as well as the sod, then remove the sod entirely if you have not already done so. Continue to reward them for pottying in that area while you are making the transition from sod to gravel. Once they are completely used to the gravel, then you can phase out the treats too. Finally, make sure the area is at least five times as large as your dogs in cubic feet. Most dogs will not potty in a confined space - if the area is too small, they will probably refuse to go potty there. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Sadie
Yorkie poo
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sadie
Yorkie poo
4 Years

When we first got sadie at 6 weeks old we trained her to go potty and poop on training pads in our family room. Then I trained her to go outside for both by taking her out every 2 hours and giving her a treat after she did her business. But we left the pads in the family room in case she forgot. Now she goes outside except for when we are gone. And whenever we are in our bedroom. I am disabled and some days are spent mostly lying in my bed. On those days she uses the pads. How do I train her to go outside all the time? I’ve tried getting up at night and taking her out every 2 hours, for a couple of days and praising her and treats when she goes but no improvement. She is really smart and picks up on things quickly except for this. Can you please help me?? Nancy Remmel

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
394 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nancy, She would need to be crated whenever you cannot supervise her extremely closely until she forms a habit of pottying only outside. When she is free she needs to be tethered to you with a 6 or 8 foot leash to keep her from sneaking off to go potty somewhere inside, and the pee pads need to be removed. If you have hardwood floors, then remove rugs while training this so that she does not confuse the rugs with pee pad and try to go potty on them too. Be extra vigilant around carpeting since carpeting can be confusing for pee pad trained dogs too. If she starts to squat clap your hands, then rush her outside. The goal should be to prevent accidents completely though so that you don't have to clap most of the time though. Give treats for pottying outside so that she will understand that it is only inside she shouldn't go potty, but pottying outside is still a good thing for her. Crate training method and Tethering method article- since she is older, she can be taken outside every 3 hours instead of 1 like the article mentions. At night she should be able to hold her bladder all night long (8-10 hours straight) in the crate once she gets used to the crate and sleeps through the night. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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