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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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The At Ease Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Supervision Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By James Barra
Published: 11/30/2017, edited: 01/08/2021