How to Train Your Rescue Dog to Poop Outside

How to Train Your Rescue Dog to Poop Outside
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon1-3 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

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. 

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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!

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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!

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The Routine Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The At Ease Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Supervision Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By James Barra

Published: 11/30/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Pepper

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Mini Aussie

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9 Years

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Question

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We have an unfenced back yard. We adopted her about 2 months ago. I take her for 2 walks a day - once in the morning a long walk and a short walk in the afternoon. We both enjoy these walks, but I can't get her to poop in our yard. She'll pee, but not poop. She doesn't poop or pee in the house. I just want her to go in the yard if I can't take her for a walk. I do reward her every time she poops on our walks.

May 1, 2022

Pepper's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, its possible that pup was trained not to go in the yard to keep someone's yard clean if she is a rescue. Second, movement helps a dog feel the urge to go, so when you take pup to your yard, also take pup on leash and walk her around your yard, telling pup "Go Potty" happily, then giving a treat if she finally goes go, to help her learn that going potty in your yard is good. You can even teach the Go Potty command ahead of time while on potty walks, then start the yard training after a few days of doing what you are currently doing, if pup needs it. Third, I would use scent to encourage pottying. You can spray a potty encouraging spray like "Hurry!" or "Go Here" on the area you want pup to poop right before taking pup outside to that spot each time while training. The smell in addition to the movement of walking around can help simulate the experience of walking down the road, so pup begins to get into the habit of going in your yard. Fourth, make walks down the street the reward for pooping in your yard, requiring pup to go potty BEFORE you go on that walk, but then still go on the walk for exercise so pup is motivated to hurry and go potty in hopes of a walk. This doesn't mean you always have to give a walk after every poop, but do it a little at first, or make it a rule that before exercise walks you plan to take anyway pup poops at home to maintain consistency. Be persistent about not taking pup on that walk until after they have pooped in your yard unless pup has gone so long without pooping that there is a medical concern - in which case do what you have to do, but then work toward pooping in the yard again the next day. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 4, 2022

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Mallory

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American Eskimo

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4 Years

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We adopted our pet almost 2 years ago and she never poops outside . It is always all over the house or in her cage . We have had enough . Any suggestions ?

Dec. 21, 2021

Mallory's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tiffany, First, 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. Check out the Crate Training article linked below for tips on how to get pup to go potty while outside - which makes accidents in the crate less likely. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you are still struggling after applying the above suggestions, then unfortunately pup may have already lost her desire to hold it while in a confined space. This commonly happens when someone accidentally teaches pup to do so by placing something like a puppy pad on one end of a larger crate or confining a puppy in cage where they are forced to pee through wired flooring - like at a pet store and some shelters. There are rare pups who simply do it anyway, even though nothing happened to teach that. In those cases you can try feeding pup her meals in there to discourage it but most of the time you simply have to switch potty training methods. I suspect the crate might not be an option anymore in your case. If that is the case, then I would move onto training the following way instead. Check out the Tethering method from the article linked below. Whenever you are home use the Tethering method. Also, set up an exercise pen in a room that you can close off access to later on (pup will learn it's okay to potty in this room so choose accordingly). A guest bathroom, laundry room, or enclosed balcony - once weather is a safe temperature are a few options. Don't set the exercise up in a main area of the house like the den or kitchen. Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Use the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below, and instead of a litter box like the article mentions, use a real grass pad to stay consistent with teaching pup to potty on grass outside - which is far less confusing than pee pads (Don't use pee pads if the end goal is pottying outside!). Since your goal is pottying outside only use the Exercise Pen at night and when you are not home. When pup will hold her bladder while in the rest of the house consistently and can hold it for as long as you are gone for during the day and overnight, then remove the exercise pen and grass pad completely, close off access to the room that the pen was in so she won't go into there looking to pee, and take her potty outside only. Since she may still chew longer even after potty training, when you leave her alone, be sure to leave her in a safe area that's been puppy proofed, like a cordoned off area of the kitchen with chew toys - until she is out of the destructive chewing phases too if no already. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad brands - Also found on Amazon www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com You can also make your own out of a piece of grass sod cut up and a large, shallow plastic storage container. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Dec. 21, 2021


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