How to Train Your Rescue Dog to Poop Outside

Easy
1-3 Weeks
General

Introduction

You’re not quite sure about his past. You don’t know what’s happened to him in his life or necessarily how he’s ended up here, but you do know the rescue dog you've recently adopted hasn’t been well trained. You come down in the morning, half asleep and you step in dog mess. It’s not how you want to start your day and it definitely doesn’t make the house smell too good either. At least if you step in it you know it will be cleared up properly, but if the kids step in it, you may find dog poop all over the house as they walk around after doing a half-hearted cleanup.

Training him to poop outside will remove this problem entirely. No longer will you have to worry about getting dog poop out of your carpets. No longer will your house smell rather unpleasant. You’ll also stop the spread of potentially harmful bacteria. 

Defining Tasks

The good news is that even if he’s new to your home after years of being able to go to the toilet wherever he wants, you can still train your dog to go outside. You need to look at his routine and make sure he’s always outside when he needs to go. You’ll also need to find ways of incentivizing him to go outside and making him feel relaxed and comfortable. If he’s younger then he should respond to training quickly and you may see results in just a week. If he’s older, scared and not so keen to learn, you may need up to three weeks.

Succeeding with this training could stop your kids and other pets getting ill from the bacteria. Which in turn could save you from expensive vet and medical bills. You also won’t have to worry about getting up before your guests anymore!

Getting Started

Before you set to work you’ll need a few things. Make sure you have some tasty treats to motivate and reward him. Make sure you can take him to a familiar spot outside each day too.

The main component though will be time. You need to be able to take him outside several times a day, every day. You can also rope other members of the household into training too.

Once you have all of the above, just bring a can-do attitude and you can get to work!

The Routine Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Every morning
When you wake up in the morning, give him his breakfast, wait 15 minutes and then head out. If you always give him his meal at the same time each morning, his body clock will soon become regular. That way you can always make sure you’re outside when he needs to go.
Step
2
Every evening
Again, 15 minutes or so after his evening meal, take him outside to go to the toilet. If you’re always outside when he needs to go, he’ll have no choice but to go outside. You can also take him out a couple of times in the day to make sure he doesn’t go about his business then.
Step
3
Location
Try and take him to a similar spot each day. He may be scared and nervous as a rescue dog, so you need to make him feel as relaxed as possible. Taking him to the same spot will put him at ease and he’ll be more inclined to go.
Step
4
Reward
When he does go, make sure you give him a tasty treat. You need to really make it clear that he’s done the right thing. The greater the reward, the more likely he’ll be to go outside next time. You could even spend a minute or so playing around with a toy afterwards.
Step
5
Consistency
The key to success is a consistent routine. Once he’s into the habit of going outside he won’t think or want to go inside. Plus, if you’re always outside after meals anyway he won’t be able to go on your clean, new floors.
Recommend training method?

The At Ease Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
After meals
Try and take him outside at the same times each day. His bowel movements will probably see to it that he needs to go about 20 minutes after a meal, so try and always be outside then. If he knows he’s about to go outside he’ll start holding it.
Step
2
Privacy
Don’t stare at him when he’s sniffing around and about to go. If he’s timid he needs to feel as relaxed as possible. Instead, turn around until he’s finished. This will all help make him feel comfortable, especially to start with.
Step
3
Previous poo
If he still seems too shy to go outside, you may need to take an extra step to put him at ease. If you wipe some previous excrement in the location you take him to, he’ll be more likely to think of this spot as a toilet. Taking him to the same spot each day will also help with that.
Step
4
Reward
It’s imperative he always gets a tasty reward after he’s been for a poop. The tastier the treat, the quicker he’ll learn. Once he’s got into the hang of going outside, you can slowly cut out the treats.
Step
5
Never punish him
If he does go inside, make sure you don’t shout at him. If he’s terrified, he may start going about his business out of fear. Instead, calmly and quietly clear it up. Make sure you use anti-bacterial spray. Any smell of poop may encourage him to go inside next time.
Recommend training method?

The Supervision Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Always react
If you see him sniffing around or circling, then you know a poop is fast approaching. You need to quickly secure him to a leash and head outside. If you do this every time he’ll soon realise pooping inside is no longer allowed.
Step
2
‘NO’
If you do catch him already going inside, say ‘NO’ in a firm voice, repeatedly. You don’t want to scare him, but he needs to know you’re not happy. Then remove him and put him outside while you thoroughly clean away the mess. Do this every time and he’ll soon get the message.
Step
3
Schedule toilet breaks
To start with try and take him out several times throughout the day. If he knows he’s likely to be taken out soon then he’ll be more able to hold it. It’s particularly important he goes out first thing in the morning and evening, as well as after meals.
Step
4
Slowly increase the time
As he gets into the habit of only pooping outside, you can slowly increase the time between toilet breaks. He knows he’s going out anyway, his bowel muscles will slowly strengthen and you’ll be able to take him out less.
Step
5
Don’t play with him
It’s important that until he’s gone for his poop, you don’t speak to him. His attention needs to be solely on going about his business. If he expects you to talk and play with him then going to the toilet will be at the back of his mind. It’s also motivation for him to go as quickly as possible so he can enjoy spending time with you.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Hobo
Labrador Retriever
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Hobo
Labrador Retriever
1 Year

I recently adopted Hobo from the Humane Society. From what I understood his previous human left him in the cage - even if she was home and let him go wherever. Now I have only been able to get him to successfully pee outside once and all the other times Hobo has gone when I am not looking or not home (in his crate while I am at work). I now have noticed that he is eating his poop if he pooped in his cage. How do I go about changing these habits and let him know he doesn't have to fear going to the bathroom around me (as long as we are outside)?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
494 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alexandra, While you are at home I suggest using the "Tethering" method from the article linked below. Since he is older you might be able to make potty trips a bit less frequent than the article says, but only if he stays accident free with potty trips more spaced out. Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside When you are gone you have two options: 1. Get him used to wearing a doggie diaper and have him wear that while you are gone. If you can get him used to wearing this then it may keep him from wanting to go potty inside and will keep him from eating his poop. If he does go potty in the diaper, then I suggest confining him to an exercise pen in a room that he does not normally have accidents in so that any "accidents" in his mind are happening only in that space and not in the rest of the house (since he will be tethered to you when you are home. Introduce the diaper with lots of treats while putting it on, let him wear it around long enough for him to get used to the feel of it - like a puppy getting used to a collar. Distract him with a training session, game, or toy if he starts to bother it. This will be easiest to work on on a day when you are home most of the day. If he still takes the diaper off, look into something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Surgi-Snuggly-Washable-Disposable-Diapers/dp/B07G2V7YJP/ref=asc_df_B07G2V7YJP/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309777342402&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=15258599578908258461&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9010791&hvtargid=pla-569248346528&psc=1 Option 2. Teach him to use a teach grass pad inside of an exercise pen. Again, put the exercise pen in a room where he normally won't go in, keep him tethered to yourself while you are home, and use the "Exercise Pen" method from the article linked below. I suggest using a "real grass pad" for this instead of pee pads or a litter box - this article mentions litter box training but the same steps can also be used for other pads: Exercise Pen method - because your end goal is pottying outside you will not phase the exercise pens out eventually, but will just go straight to only pottying outside and no longer using the grass pads or letting him into the area where they used to be kept, once he is potty trained at other times. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Disposable grass pads: https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI/ref=asc_df_B005G7S6UI/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309763115430&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4628430177348674255&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015431&hvtargid=pla-568582223506&psc=1 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Hobo's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Zoey
Black Lab
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Zoey
Black Lab
8 Months

I adopted my baby from SPCA.her eating schedule is regular she goes out 15min after her meals but absolutely refuses to go when we are outside I wait about 15min and then she always goes as soon as we go back inside

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
494 Dog owners recommended

Hello Joyful, Pup needs to be put into a crate when you bring her back inside after she has NOT gone potty outside, then try again 30 minutes later. Repeat this cycle until she finally goes potty when you take her outside. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for her. Make sure the crate is only big enough for her to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that she can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the small and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. The method I have linked below was written for younger puppies, since your dog is older you can adjust the times and take her potty less frequently. I suggest taking her potty every 3 hours when you are home. After 1.5 hours (or less if she has an accident sooner) or freedom out of the crate, return her to the crate while her bladder is filling back up again until it has been 3 hours since her last potty trip. When you have to go off she should be able to hold her bladder in the crate for 5-7 hours - less at first while she is getting used to it and longer once she is accustomed to the crate. Only have her wait that long when you are not home though, take her out about every 3 hours while home. You want her to get into the habit of holder her bladder between trips and not just eliminating whenever she feels the urge and you want to encourage that desire for cleanliness in your home - which the crate is helpful for. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If she is not already used to a crate expect crying at first. When she cries and you know she doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give her a food stuffed hollow chew toy to help her adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. If she continues protesting for long periods of time past three days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" but using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell her "Quiet" when she barks and cries. If she gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If she disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at her side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If she stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward her quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Only use the unscented air from the Pet Convincers - don't use citronella, it's too harsh and lingers for too long so can be confusing. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Zoey's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Daisy
Cocker Spaniel
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Daisy
Cocker Spaniel
5 Years

We’re beginning our 3rd week with our rescue, Daisy. The biggest issue is her not peeing and pooping in our yard on a leash (no fence yet) consistently though she’s being fed at the same time. We’ve walked her around our house outdoors if she hasn’t gone and still nothing. She has a stubborn side with going to the bathroom, not wanting to budge- we have to encourage her to walk as other neighbor dogs are barking at times. We take her out minutes after eating but she won’t do anything outside. She had 3 pee accidents since she’s arrived, when we’re home. She’s able to hold it overnight in her crate and has no accidents in the room she’s gated in where she stays with her open crate. Any advice? Winter is here and standing outdoors in these temps and winds are rough.
Thank you for your help.
Sincerely, Jill

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
494 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jill, It sounds like Daisy might be afraid of being outside. First, I would consider getting her a warm dog coat that is actually made for active dogs and not just for looks. Look into brands like rough wear that are more functional and warm. Comfort and the cold could be part of the issue but you will probably need it too for what I am about to suggest. Because pup seems scared of the neighbor dogs and generally being outside, she isn't going to want to go potty out there being going potty puts her in a vulnerable situation. As unpleasant as it may be, you need to bundle up, put her coat on her, and simply spend time outside with her doing pleasant things with her. Practice hiding large treats on the ground near her for her to find, see if you can get her interested in a little game like tug or two-foot throw fetch with a toy while on leash, reward her with treats for any calmness and relaxing while outside. Simply hang out outside in a chair with her so that the sights and sounds become normal to her - rewarding her for any good reactions with confident praise, treats, and fun. All this is to get her confidence up while outside. As far as potty training itself, continue to take her potty on the leash. Walk her around slowly and encourage her to sniff, take her to the calmest location you can within reason. Tell her to "Go Potty". If she goes, give her three small treats or pieces of dog food - one piece at a time. If she also needs to poop, after she pees and eats the treats, tell her to "Go Potty" again and walk her around again slowly. Give her three more treats if she poops. If she doesn't go potty outside within 15 minutes, take her back inside and put her into the crate, then try taking her outside again every hour, until she finally goes potty outside when you take her. Put her back in the crate each time she doesn't go until she finally goes. The success of this will be helped a lot by simply spending fun time outside desensitizing her to being outside at other times too. This will be more work and time up front in order to get over the hump of her potty outside more quickly so that you are ultimately spending less time outside and on potty training in the long run. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Daisy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd