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
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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

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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
Rocchi
cockapoo
1 Year
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Rocchi
cockapoo
1 Year

No matter when I take him outside, he never poops outside. Sometimes he’ll poop the second we get back in.

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Ball
Miniature Schnauzer
5 Months
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Question
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Ball
Miniature Schnauzer
5 Months

About two to three months ago we bought a miniature schnauzer. The first two weeks he was doing everything outside. About one month ago he only pee outside. I had been feeding him in the morning and in the night regularly. Also we take him thru the day every 2 hrs until 10 pm which is the last time we take him outside. Our problem is that he hold the poop the whole day and wait to do the poop in the cage at midnight or when we are sleeping in the night. I dont know what else to do. We talk to the vet and he has been in his regular appointments and it seem that everything is good with him. Any tips or recommendations.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
623 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kiara, First, I would start by checking out the article linked below. Pup is a bit older, so you don't necessarily need to follow the times from that method but do pay attention to the sections on walking pup around to get things going, teaching the Go Potty command, using a potty encouraging spray, and rewarding with treats when he goes. Hopefully the above tips will make a big difference, but the issue also might be pup getting distracted or being fearful while outside. Some dogs will hold it when nervous because pooping is a vulnerable position. If pup seems nervous, spend time simply hanging around outside, playing games, practicing tricks with treats, and simply relaxing - to help pup feel comfortable outside in general. Sitting outside for an hour at a time each day that you can. At this age, its common for puppies to be too distracted while outside, make sure that pup is being taken potty on leash and slowly being walked around the whole time, to keep them focused on going potty not sitting or playing, and because the continuous movement and sniffing will help stimulate the need to go. Finally, I would consult your vet about switching pup's food gradually and making sure they are drinking adequate amounts during the day. I would also ask your vet whether a dog probiotic could help the situation. I am not a vet, so check with your vet for anything medical though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Hobo
Labrador Retriever
1 Year
1 found helpful
Question
1 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
623 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

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Question
Princess
Boxer Mix
2 Years
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Question
0 found helpful
Princess
Boxer Mix
2 Years

We picked up our rescue dog on Monday. We cannot get her to poop outside. I have been able to get her to pee outside 3 times, but she has pooped in our apartment twice. What are some things I can do to get her to poop outside? I think she may be nervous to poop outside, and she doesn't seem treat motivated right now.

Thanks.

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Daisy
Cocker Spaniel
5 Years
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Question
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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
623 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

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Zoey
Black Lab
8 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 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
623 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

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Question
Layla
Beagle mix
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Layla
Beagle mix
2 Years

We rescued Layla about 2 weeks ago. We didn’t get much information about her past, just that she’s had puppies recently. She took ~40 hours after we rescued her before she peed for the first time and ~48 hours before her first poo. Since then, we’ve been taking her out every hour and spending time with her, but she just wants to roll around in the grass and won’t go to the bathroom, even though she’s been eating her meals and drinking water. We were told she is crate trained and have been leaving her periodically in the crate, never for longer than a couple of hours. She now only goes to the bathroom in the crate. We made the space smaller- just enough for her to lay down comfortably and she is still messing her crate. She’ll lift the mat up and poop on the tray and then put the mat down to cover her mess so she can still lay down. She will also pee on the mat and just lay in her own pee. We don’t know if she was used to this in her past. We aren’t sure how to get her to go outside. We take her out every hour and spend 10-15 minutes with her but she won’t go. We can’t take her on walks- she is still too anxious about being on a leash and leaving the house .

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
623 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sydney, First, check out www.primopads.com and use a bed like that in the crate - which is non-absorbent and can be tethered down with the included zipties, so that she can't lift up a mat and cover it again, which should help to discourage at least pooping in there. When you take her potty outside, calmly tell her to "Go Potty" and walk her around slowly on the leash in a distraction free environment. The movement is important for stimulating the need to go. Do this for up to 20 minutes. If she goes potty, quietly praise and give seven small treats or pieces of kibble, one at a time to make it more fun. Do this every time she goes potty to teach the Go Potty command and encourage going potty outside. When she doesn't go, go back inside and return to the crate for one hour. Making those adjustments, in addition to continuing to spend relaxing, fun time outside with her in general to help overcome fears of being outside so she will relax enough while outside to go potty, may help. The issue could also be a fear of going potty in front of you. If so, you can try taking her potty on a 30 foot training leash (not retractable - no pressure on the neck while taking her out), and tossing treats over to her if she goes potty. As she improves, you can gradually coil up the leash until finally she will go in front of you on just 6 feet of leash - at which point you can switch back to a normal leash. If the above does not solve the issue, you will need to switch potty training techniques. Check out the Tethering method from the article linked below. Whenever someone is home, use the Tethering method. When you must be away and at night while asleep, set up an exercise pen in a room that can be closed off later (she will learn that this room is okay to potty in, so choose carefully a room that can be closed off later, like a guest bathroom or laundry room with appliances turned off). Place a disposable real grass pad in an exercise pen in that room. Follow the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below, but instead of phasing the exercise pen out and making the area bigger, you will keep the pen as it is until she is fully potty trained due to tethering while in the rest of the home, and can be left out of the pen while gone in the rest of the house and will hold it the entire time - making the pen unnecessary - at which point you will stop putting her in there. The crate can likely be reintroduced after a few months of being fully potty trained, just for travel and boarding or destructive chewing purposes, but will have to happen after pup is potty trained and not as a way to potty trained, if she has learned to go potty in the crate from her past. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Disposable real grass pad brands - on amazon: www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rumi
Mini Dachshund
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Rumi
Mini Dachshund
5 Months

We just began the 2nd week with our pup, Rumi. She has been doing her business in her crate during the past 2 weeks. However, when we take her for walks (twice a day as we are working), she does not pee or poo outside.

We are lost as we do not know what we should do. Should we remove the crate? We do have a pee tray which she could use when indoors but we would like to train her to do her business outdoors during her walks. We can only take her out twice a day due to the constrain in our work hours. Any suggestions?

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